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2019: Fears Over Imo APC As Okorocha, Uzodinma Fight Dirty

Sahara Reporters - Sun, 2018-11-11 12:01

Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State

Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State

Supporters of All Progressives Congress in Imo State are expressing concern over the likely effects of the current battle between Governor Rochas Okorocha and the party’s governorship candidate, Senator Hope Uzodinma, reports Associate Editor, Sam Egburonu

Following current irreconcilable differences between Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and the All Progressives Congress Governorship Candidate, Senator Hope Uzodinma, there are grave concerns that their bitter battles may endanger the fortunes of the ruling party in the 2019 elections.

There is also the fear that the current secret moves by some aggrieved stakeholders in the APC power game may be designed to mature at a time it would ultimately harm the party. This fear is informed by revelations that some APC stakeholders that lost out may have resolved on plan B arrangements which they want to hold as a secret until the last minute.

The SDP/ADC options

One of the issues that occasioned the recent tension in the state, according to Dr. Vincent Nwulu, an APC chieftain is the news that Okorocha’s supporters, who are bent on ensuring the emergence of Uche Nwosu as the next governor of the state, have allegedly renewed their talks with some political parties to field the out-going governor’s choice. A top politician and known supporter of Okorocha, who prayed not to be named, confided that supporters of Ugwumba, convinced that the national leadership of APC have not been fair on their preferred candidate, “will not fold their hands and watch the select elements from Abuja, deny us of the right successor of Owelle Rochas Okorocha. We are making the right efforts to ensure that Ugwumba contests the governorship, even if it has to be outside the APC platform.”

Nwulu alleged that “certain elements, through the connivance of selfish leaders in Abuja, have come to hijack the party we labored so hard to build in Imo; to reap where they did not sow. If they succeed in taking the party platform, our candidate will use another credible platform to win the election. That is all I can say for now.”

Although the likely platform Governor Okorocha’s supporters may choose has not been declared publicly as at Friday, insiders said the ongoing negotiations in the camp suggest that they may settle for either the Social Democratic Party (SDP) or African Democratic Congress (ADC). The two parties have, within the last three months garnered momentum within the state in preparation for the 2019 governorship election.

It would be recalled that the romance between some Imo APC chieftains and SDP for the purposes of winning 2019 elections dates back to August this year, when the power game in APC ahead the 2019 governorship election was still at the nursery stage. At that time, a group of aggrieved members of the party, under the aegis of Good Governance Forum (GGF), reportedly met with the state leadership of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) to discuss the possibility of defecting to the party.

The Publicity Secretary of SDP in the state, Godsent Chilos, who disclosed this preliminary move in a statement, added that the aggrieved leaders of GGF confided that given “the events unfolding in Imo APC, it will be very difficult for the party to win elections in Imo State come 2019.”

“Our attraction to SDP is as a result of the grassroots strength of SDP; SDP’s commitment to restructuring of Nigeria and operation of Open Government when elected to power, adherence to the principles of internal democracy, harmonious co-existence and respect to the democratic rights of members.

“We think that SDP is the only party in Imo State that has brighter chances of winning the governorship of Imo State, including majority in the State House of Assembly in 2019, because APC and PDP has failed imolites,” Chilos had quoted the leaders of GGF as saying then.

Since then, the party has been described as the plan ‘B’ for the APC governorship and other aspirants, eager to win the ticket.

That status was in a way confirmed further in October, when some aggrieved APC and APGA aspirants actually defected to SDP in the state.

Since the national leadership of APC finally submitted the name of Uzodinma, thus leaving Okorocha’s favourite aspirant, Nwosu, in the cold, there are hints that the governor may have given his nod for Nwosu’s henchemen to move over to SDP to prepare grounds even as the battle in APC continue to rage on. This calculation has been strengthened by Chilos’ recent revelation that one Okorocha’s disciple, a governorship aspirant has really commenced serious negotiations with SDP in the state.

Chilos raised the speculation that Nwosu, Okorocha’s Son-in-law, may go for SDP’s flag when he said of the APC’s governorship aspirant negotiating with SDP: “He is one of governor Okorocha’s ardent supporter; he is presently having talks with us.”

As would be expected, this development has elicited fear that the governorship candidate of the party in the state may be persuaded to drop the governorship ticket for the powerful APC aspirant. Although SDP chieftains in the state had consistently debunked the insinuations that their candidate is standing in for a particular APC aspirant, the speculation and the resultant permutations have refused to die down.

Even before speculation that SDP may be the fallback party, there was the allegation as far back as June this year that Okorocha had, at the beginning of the crisis in his political family, identified African Democratic Congress (ADC) as the likely ‘plan B platform.’ This allegation was followed with the rumour that the governor had secretly joined ADC.

The rumour became so wide spread that the Southeast Zonal Secretary of ADC, Mr. Nkem Ukandu, early in June came out and told newsmen that Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has not joined the party.

Even with that formal denial, some observers insist that ADC remains part of the likely cards that may be played in the intriguing power game in Imo APC.

Endless war of words

Perhaps to confirm their resolve to fight until the Election Day, Governor Okorocha and Senator Uzodinma have since November continued to exchange hot words against each other even as concerned party supporters plead for peace in order not to jeopardize the fortunes of APC in the forthcoming elections.

It all began when Uzodinma was quoted as saying the governor underestimated his (Uzodinma’s) popularity. Responding through a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, Okorocha alleged that Uzodinma was “burdened by at least two criminal cases, besides standing on a wealth of unknown means, including issuance of dud cheques.”

As he puts it, “Chief Uzodinma should face his two most recent criminal charges over the issuance of Dud Cheque and non-declaration of assets. We won’t talk about other similar cases. “Chief Hope Uzodinma is not a member of APC in Imo State. His purported membership of the party was announced in Abuja. He has never attended any APC meeting either in his ward or in his local government, Oru-East, or at the state level. “That is why no APC member in the state was excited when the party’s National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, announced him as his preferred governorship candidate of the party in the state. “Since Chief Uzodinma has begun to throw stone not considering the fact that he lives in a badly constructed glass house, we challenge him to publish his profile for the public to see and let Rochas also publish his own. Rochas Okorocha was born in Ogboko, and he grew up in Jos. He attended St. Joseph Primary School, Barkin Ladi Jos, and Juladaco High School Jos. He has LLB and LLM of the University of Jos, Post  Graduate Diploma in Management, of the Benue State University,” the statement said.

In his defence, Uzodinma said Okorocha made reference to a non-existent cheque.

The Director of Media and Special Duties of Senator Hope Uzodimma Campaign Organisation, Mr. Declan Emelumba, said “Imo State government is referring to a non-existent dud cheque issue and phony assets declaration matter. Imo State Government has only confirmed an open secret which is that they are behind the two baseless issues. “We know that it was Imo State Government that sponsored the jankara Abuja magistrate judgment over a matter between two corporate citizens which a magistrate court has no jurisdiction just to smear the Senator’s intimidating image.

“They are also behind the baseless assets declaration issue to achieve the same goal. But on each they failed woefully “Is Imo State government now the state, LGA and ward secretariat of APC? This only goes to confirm that Okorocha and his cohorts believe that Imo State and APC are their personal estates. “They are still dreaming and I think they should continue to wallow in their dreams,” Uzodinma said.

The Uzodinma’s Campaign Organisation also challenged Okorocha, “to tell us the year Okorocha got the so-called LLB and LLM from the University of Jos so that we can expose their falsehood. “We don’t know what they are implying by talking about certificates but if its to imply that Okorocha is better educated than anybody then they must be told the bitter truth which is that he is not in a position to talk about certificate.”

Earlier, Okorocha was quoted as alleging that the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state, Senator Hope Uzodinma, “will never win governorship election.”

Also speaking through Onwuemeodo, Okorocha stated that “there was jubilation within the opposition parties in the state when Senator Hope Uzodinma was named the candidate of the APC in the state because of how unpopular he (Uzodinma) was.”

Explaining why Uzodinma cannot win the governorship election, Onwuemeodo, quoted the governor as saying, “In 2011, he took the Senate seat for Orlu Zone from Chief Osita Izunaso, through the court. In 2015, Nigerians knew what transpired in Imo.

“The state was invaded with armed security personnel by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders like Uzodinma and the rest is history. So, Uzodinma can never win election in Imo, in a free and fair election.

“And that is why the PDP and APGA members are those celebrating his Kleg governorship candidature for Imo APC.

“If Uzodinma was to be a known member of the party, there would have been celebration in Imo.

“The chieftains of the party in Abuja, who are backing him, are elite politicians, who have no relationship with the grassroots,” he said.

If Okorocha is unsparing, Uzodinma has equally been so.

He had alleged that it was aggrieved members of the Peoples Democratic Party that “manipulated Governor Rochas Okorocha into power in 2011.”

He also alleged that Okorocha did never won an election, adding that the governor “has underestimated how unpopular he has become in the state.”

In a statement signed by his Director of Media and Special Duties, Declan Emelumba, Uzodinma said, “Okorocha has run for many elections, including the governorship of Imo State, before 2011, and even the presidency, and lost all. But, in 2011, in particular, Imo people voted more against former Governor Ikedi Ohakim than for Okorocha, so, he merely benefitted from the anger of the people against Ohakim.

“Even at that, the election went into a bi-election, where Ohakim was finally manipulated out of the race and Okorocha became governor. Also, in 2015, Okorocha, as incumbent governor, could not win outright on first ballot.

“The election was concluded on a second ballot, where some aggrieved PDP members helped, again, to manipulate him into the governorship.”

He also pointed out that he defeated Okorocha’s political party in Imo West Senatorial District in 2011 and 2015, even as governorship candidate and incumbent governor, respectively.

“I think this is more than enough evidence that in terms of popularity, Senator Uzodinma is far more popular than Okorocha in Imo West (the biggest senatorial district in Nigeria) where both come from.

“The truth of the matter is that all strata of Imo society are celebrating Uzodinma’s victory as the APC governorship candidate and this has brought them back on track to vote massively for APC in 2019.

“Uzodinma’s popularity in Imo State is infectious and it will not only guarantee victory for APC, but will rake in far more than five million votes for the APC from the Southeast in 2019. So, let no one be deceived by Okorocha’s boast because he is the problem of APC in Imo State and the Southeast.”

As the war of words continue and as there seems to be no solution in the peace moves, concerned stakeholders are watching closely to see the final effect on the fortunes of the party in 2019.

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Primaries: Governor Offered Oshiomhole $500,000 Bribe In Cash

Sahara Reporters - Sun, 2018-11-11 11:46

Fresh details yesterday indicated that the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole became a target after refusing $500,000 bribe cash from a governor.

The governor wanted the APC chairman to adopt his anointed governorship candidate.

But Oshiomhole insisted on applying the guidelines of the party for primaries.

Also, there were indications that the APC leadership tried its best to strike a fair deal with Governor Rochas Okorocha on a 55-45 per cent basis.

The Imo governor however opted for 100 per cent concession which was unacceptable to APC.

Findings by our correspondent revealed that contrary to allegations, the refusal of Oshiomhole to collect bribes from godfathers and candidates accounted for the plot against him.

It was gathered that many godfathers and governorship candidates were desperate for tickets but Oshiomhole stood his ground that he will not compromise party guidelines.

A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “At a stage, a governor became agitated and offered Oshiomhole about $500,000 to make sure that his candidate got a governorship ticket.

“The bribe sum was later hauled in cash to Oshiomhole’s office by one of the emissaries of the affected governors. But the APC chairman rejected the bribery.

“What the APC chairman did was to brief some members of the National Working Committee (NWC) on what transpired. He also intimidated some leaders of the party too. The party adhered strictly to its guidelines and the governor’s candidate lost out.

“The governor later turned out to have joined forces in the plot to remove Oshiomhole to teach the APC chairman a lesson. It was surprising to see the governor coordinating nocturnal meetings to sack Oshiomhole.

“The facts and witnesses are there. In the fullness of time, the name of the governor will be released. Maybe when he does not have immunity again, he will pay the price.”

As at press time, it was learnt that President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the Department of State Security Service (DSS) to stay away from party affairs and issues.

Also, the President has appealed to those aggrieved among APC governors to sheathe the swords.

A government source said: “The President has waded in the crisis of confidence between the governors and APC national chairman. We expect peace to return to the party. There might also be some reconciliation within the substitution window allowed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“The President has however ordered DSS to avoid dabbling in party affairs. He said if there are petitions about any infraction, they should be sent to appropriate agencies. Buhari was worried that the same challenge which the DSS faced on the arrest of judges had re-occurred.”

Meanwhile, there were indications that the APC leadership did its best to offer a fair deal to Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State on the party’s candidates for 2019 poll in the state.

A reliable source said: “Okorocha is respected and loved by most of our leaders but we discovered that he cannot get all he wanted in 2019.

“APC leaders met the governor and it was agreed that as the APC leader in the state, he should go back and do justice.

“We offered him a fair deal. We said he should take 55% of the available seats and concede 45% of elective offices to others in the state. He accepted the deal but he returned to Imo to take 100% control of everything.

“At this point, we have no choice than to leave his fate to APC members to decide. This was why he lost out.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “If Okorocha was keen on his son-in-law as APC governorship candidate, there is nothing bad if he abandons his senatorial ambition.

“What made matter worse was when APC got intelligence report that the proposed running mate to his son-in-law as APC governorship aspirant has been found to be dating another girl in the governor’s family.

“This was why Oshiomhole came out to say he was not elected APC National Chairman to preserve any dynasty. We conceded a lot to Okorocha but he wanted wholesale party machinery in his care to do what he likes.

“If you look at the structure in the state, it is disproportional. Okorocha is the governor, his former Personal Assistant is the Deputy Governor, his son-in-law was a former commissioner and aspiring governorship candidate; his sister is the Deputy Chief of Staff/ Commissioner; the governor has also secured a senatorial ticket and he has given tickets to many loyalists.

“If he defects to any party, none can tolerate such indulgence because it is a mockery of democracy.”

As at press time, it was learnt that APC may still retain the current deputy governor, Eze Madumere as running mate to its governorship candidate, Chief Hope Uzodinma.

“We may give deputy governorship slot to Madumere again,” a top party source added.

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Atiku vs Buhari: APC Members Have ‘No Brain’ – Fani-Kayode Replies El-Rufai’s Statement On Peter Obi

Sahara Reporters - Sun, 2018-11-11 11:46

Femi Fani-Kayode

Femi Fani-Kayode SaharaReporters Media

Femi Fani-Kayode, the former Minister of Aviation has said those members still in the All Progressives Congress, APC, have ‘no brain’

Fani-Kayode stated this while reacting to a statement by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, in which he described Peter Obi, the running mate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar as a “religious bigot.”

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El-Rufai recalled that Obi supported his (El-Rufai’s) arrest by the Department of State Services, DSS in 2014 on the ground that “El-Rufai has no business being in Anambra State as it is not Katsina State.”

Reacting to El-Rufai’s statement, Fani-Kayode insisted that those left in the ruling party have ‘no brain as it has been replaced with ‘Cow Dung’

The former minister tweeted: “There isn’t a single thinking brain left in the PDP”-@elrufai

“I do not want to be too harsh on an old friend but I will say this: those that insist on remaining in the APC despite its glaring failures and incompetence have NO brain at all: they have replaced it with cow dung.

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PDP: Fayose, Secondus Clash Over Ekiti Leadership Tussle

Sahara Reporters - Sun, 2018-11-11 11:28

There were strong indications that the immediate past Governor of Ekit State, Ayodele Fayose, and the National Chairman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, may have begun a subtle political battle ahead of 2019 general election in the state. Our correspondent gathered that the leadership tussle that broke out between factions of the party in Ekiti State may be the cause of the rift between the duo.

While Fayose is currently engaged in a fierce political battle for the control of the PDP in Ekiti State, there are feelers that Secondus may have thrown his weight behind those who plotted the alleged removal of the former governor as the leader of the party in the Southwest state following the loss of the state to the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the gubernatorial election held last July.

Party sources say the national leadership of the party’s decision to support those moving against Fayose is being rationalized as the provision of the PDP constitution which allegedly prescribed the most senior elective office holder in a state as the ‘leader’ of the party in any state. “This is where Secondus recognized Senator Biodun Olujimi as the leader of the party in Ekiti State,” a source explained.

But ex-Governor Fayose is unfazed by such explanation. According to sources close to him, he is highly disappointed and embarrassed by what he reportedly described as the betrayal of trust meted out to him by Secondus. “Oga will ordinarily go to sleep and not worry himself over the circus show being led by Senator Olujimi. But when signs that the plotters may have the support of some people at the top started emerging, he saw a need to dig deep.

“While it is still not confirmed where all these are coming from so soon after we left office, it is sad that the national chairman’s body language is encouraging the political rascality going on in Ekiti PDP today. Fayose is no push over in politics, especially in PDP where he has been governor twice. We will not allow anybody to dictate for us in Ekiti. The party members know their leader and they will not follow any regent,” our source, a close associate of Fayose’s said.

Prominent chieftains of Ekiti PDP had last Saturday appointed the Senator representing Ekiti South, Mrs Biodun Olujimi, as the leader of the party in Ekiti State and the Southwest. The PDP stakeholders also passed a vote of no-confidence on the Chief Gboyega Oguntuase-led State Working Committee of the party in Ekiti, calling on Secondus to dissolve the executive and set up a caretaker committee to pilot the party’s affairs. They cited alleged financial recklessness as reason for their call for the disbandment of the State executive.

The party leaders took the decision to install Olujimi as leader since she is the most top-ranking elected official in the state and the Southwest. A resolution, signed and read by the Protem Secretary of the PDP Stakeholders and former Assembly member, Bunmi Olugbade, also overruled the SWC on the suspension of former State Secretary of the party, Dr. Tope Aluko , saying he remains a bonafide member of the party. The leaders also resolved to back the candidacy of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in 2019.

Reacting, Senator Olujimi said ex-Governor Fayose was excluded from the meeting because he had just been released from detention by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged financial fraud. “We knew what he might have passed through by staying in detention and we know it might not be easy for him to attend this meeting, so there is no faction at all in our party. My being appointed the Leader does not mean there is crisis,” she said.

A party leader, Titi Oluwatuyi, while commending the national chairman of the PDP for ‘standing firm on the side of the truth’  claimed that Section 30 of the PDP’s constitution allowed leadership change in the PDP, saying the leadership change was in order. The PDP chieftain who leads a group, Integrity Women in Politics, said Secondus has restated his support for the adoption of Senator Olujimi as the party’s leader in the state.

She applauded those who spearheaded the announcement of the change in leadership of the party, saying it would “serve as a morale booster for women’s participation in politics.” Oluwatuyi also commended the former Governor Fayose for allegedly “respecting and standing by the decision of the stakeholders”, saying this was “party supremacy in action.” She contended that Senator Olujimi’s adoption was “in consonance with the party’s constitution and the rule of law” and that the action didn’t breach any law of the land.

“We commend former Governor Fayose for standing by the party’s decision and he did this because he realised that the decision was in line with the party’s guidelines and constitution contrary to some disgruntled and faceless elements who are bent on fanning the ember of discord within the party. We charge the new leader, Senator Olujimi to, as a matter of urgency constitute a reconciliation committee that will further foster unity among party members with a view to presenting a formidable party that can guarantee victory for us in 2019.”

The Nation gathered that the Olujimi camp may have sought the understanding of Secondus and other party leaders before embarking on the move to change the status quo in Ekiti PDP. Reliable sources claimed that the move was initiated by a coalition of some prominent Abuja based Ekiti politicians and many more home based politicians, especially members of the Ekiti House of Assembly.

“The event where Olujimi was announced as the replacement for Fayose as the party leader in Ekiti was the final outcome of series of meetings in Abuja and Ado-Ekiti. The decision was not just taken without consultations. That is why it has not been easy for Fayose to reverse the situation in spite of all the threats. Ekiti people and the leadership of the PDP in Abuja know the right thing to do in the current situation if the party is to survive this trying time,” a party official said.

Speaking on the development, another aide of the ex-Governor flayed the silence of the national leadership of the party on the matter, saying those accusing Secondus of having a hand in the unfolding drama may not be totally wrong after all. “Why should anyone keep quiet while something like this is going on? This is not in the interest of the PDP in Ekiti, or even in the entire Southwest. Secondus better be told,” he said.

While dissociating themselves from the Saturday meeting that installed Olujimi as state leader, PDP’s five House of Representatives members from Ekiti State expressed confidence in the leadership of the Oguntuase-led state leadership of the party. Representatives Kehinde Agboola (Ekiti North I), Thaddeus Aina (Ekiti North II), Ayo Oladimeji (Ekiti Central I), Segun Adekola (Ekiti South I) and Akin Awodumila (Ekiti South II), in a joint statement, reiterated their loyalty to Fayose.

“There is no leadership vacuum in the PDP in Ekiti State those desperate for political leadership should wait for their time. While we agree that individuals or groups have rights to hold meetings, we are miffed that Senator Olujimi was taking her selfish agenda of collapsing the party structures to the extreme. We were not consulted before the meeting was held and most of those who attended the meeting were those who worked against our party in the July 14 governorship election,” they said.

But a source at the national secretariat of the PDP told The Nation that it is wrong for anybody to read meaning to the silence of the national chairman. He explained that the matter came to the notice of the PDP leadership during the week and necessary steps are being taken to look into it. “We will not encourage discord anywhere. We will not support tyranny of any sort. We will always do what will promote the party, not an individual,” our source said.

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What I Will Do To El-Rufai For Calling Me ‘Tribal Bigot’- Peter Obi

Sahara Reporters - Sun, 2018-11-11 11:18

The Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr. Peter Obi, on Saturday called on Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State to stop making hate speeches that will divide and destroy the country

Obi said this while reacting to El Rufai’s tweet describing him as “a tribal bigot.”

El-Rufai had in a tweet claimed that Obi supported his (El-Rufai’s) arrest by the Department of State Services, DSS in 2014 on the ground that “El-Rufai has no business being in Anambra State as it is not Katsina State.”

Obi, while answering questions from journalists on the matter at a youth programme in Nnewi, Anambra State on Saturday, expressed shock at statement from El-Rufai.

According to him, he would only pray for El-Rufai and encourage him to concentrate on doing those things that will better lots of Nigerians rather than engage in hate speeches.

He said, “This is suggesting that it was what he sat down to think of rather than thinking about how to solve the many problems plaguing the country.

“What His Excellency, Gov. Nasir Ahmad El Rufai said about me has been brought to my attention. I believe that as we grow older and are saddled with more responsibilities, we are expected to become circumspect in our thinking and avoid recklessness in our speeches and utterances.

“How does the circumstance he referred to relate to bigotry to warrant such a label?

“All I do for people like El-Rufai is to pray for them and encourage them to concentrate on doing those things that will better the lots of Nigerians rather than engage in hate speeches that will divide and destroy the country.

“At this difficult times in our country, when thousands of our brothers and sisters across ethnic divide are killed all over the country, including innocent citizens in Kaduna state; millions of our children from all the parts of the country are out of school; millions of Nigerian youths from all the parts of the country are without jobs, our pre-occupation, especially among those that are in government should not be making reckless speeches.

“What our leaders should be doing today is seeking solutions to the numerous problems of our dear country.

“I am aware that during the said election he referred to, security agents merely restricted his movement because he had no business being in Anambra as I would not have been in Kaduna on an election day.”

The former governor of Anambra State further appealed to Nigerians, especially those in positions of authority, to avoid what he called “the dominance of the vice of hate”

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Bindow’s WAEC Certificate Missing As He Emerges APC Candidate

Sahara Reporters - Sun, 2018-11-11 11:09

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released particulars of 28 gubernatorial candidates in Adamawa State, amidst anxiety over who would emerge as the All Progressives Congress (APC) flag bearer.

Plethora of petitions against the candidature of Governor Muhammadu Jibrilla Bindow, who was declared winner of the controversial primary election had generated uncertainty about who will make the final list. Jibrilla emerged as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) amidst contention over his O level school certificate.

The INEC published credentials contained Jibrilla’s testimonial from Government Secondary School, Miango, rather than the WAEC certificate as presented by candidates of other parties.

An Abuja High Court had recently ordered that summon be served on Governor Jibrilla Bindow and the WAEC after a non governmental organisation filed a case of WAEC certificate forgery against the governor.

Meanwhile, a federal Commissioner of INEC, retired Air Vice Marshal Ahmad Muazu, who inspected the on-going permanent voter card distribution in the state lamented low turnout.

Muazu, who was accompanied by the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Kassim Gaidam, observed the voter apathy, advising against last-minute rush.

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You’re Liars, Dan Fulani To Clerics Who Predicted Buhari’s Failure In 2019

Sahara Reporters - Sun, 2018-11-11 10:59

Following predictions by some Christian and Muslim clerics that President Muhammadu Buhari will fail the 2019 elections, the National Coordinator of Buhari Presidential Support Committee, which was recently formed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Ya’u Adamu dan Fulani, has dismissed the prediction of the clerics, calling them liars.

Dan Fulani, who is also an Agric and import dealer, as well as the chairman Hulhulde International Ltd, said that it is only God that can stop Buhari from winning the 2019 election and not the clerics. He disclosed that Buhari’s campaign is centred on his track-record and not on blackmail. According to him, all ethnic crises are political and aimed at tarnishing the image of the Buhari administration. He spoke on many other issues.


As the polity is heated by serious criticism against Buhari’s administration for failure to perform, what is your take on this?

To start with, what some people are saying is not a new thing. We were on the opposition side three years ago, we have objectively criticized the Goodluck Jonathan administration which, of course, we later succeeded in throwing out his government. So, the same PDP now is criticizing Buhari’s government blindly, cynically and baselessly. It’s beyond theory that reforming Nigeria requires perseverance and tolerance. Buhari made that statement long ago. Can you tell me that the development projects you are seeing today are fake or not real? The new roads that are being constructed across the country are fake, or the railway constructions, new power projects, new Agricultural reform that is yielding more food for export and import or even the restoration of peace in Northeast or Niger-Delta or the anti-corruption crusade embarked by this administrations, all are not true. I think we should better remove politics when it comes to issues that are reality. Development is a continuous process as such the opposition is wrong by looking at only one aspect of the development which they destroyed long ago. I am telling you that all the present so-called politicians cannot be a match to Muhammadu Buhari in all aspects. Of course, the president is a human being and bound to make mistakes, though it is not easy to correct the damage done within only three years. But wait and see what Buhari will do in his second term come 2019.

What gives you confidence that Muhammadu Buhari will defeat his opponent when his party is full of crises?

Look, crisis whether inter or intra is a common phenomenon in party politics, but what is important is that crises bring positive or negative developments. If you look at the history of merger of political parties in 2014 to 2015 election, you could see that some parties who were against the merger split into different groups; some members quit like Peter Obi, defected to PDP from APGA along with others, but that did not stop the merger or success of the merger. So, I think, intra or inter party conflict would only strengthen chances of Buhari to win for the second term in office. Secondly, if you look at the number of people that are joining APC today just for the goodwill of Buhari are in thousands from other parties at all level; state and local governments. More importantly, the APC convention in Abuja is enough to prove our victory. Look at the result of the consensus Presidential primaries in the states, what President Muhammadu Buhari got in each state, when you compare this to other primaries, the difference is clear. To crown it all, Buhari’s achievement in the area of development is unquantifiable. Only Allah can stop Buhari from winning the 2019 election. These are some of the facts that one can see and rely on.

Your campaign at the grassroots is viewed by some Nigerians as low, and gives the opposition an opportunity to challenge Buhari’s policies. Why is it so?

No, no, Muhammadu Buhari is elected by Nigerians, especially the poor class, their hope and confidence is still with him; in fact, most Nigerian grassroots are with Buhari, and they are very much aware of the positive changes he brought to them. So, what the grassroots are talking about; let me tell you that Muhammadu Buhari doesn’t need introduction, he doesn’t need to be sold to Nigerians. Our Campaign is based on track-record policies and promises made to Nigeria, especially on correcting PDP anomalies. Our campaign is on records of transparency, accountability display not shopping for people’s weaknesses and blackmail or falsification of facts and fake promises to Nigerians. I think Nigerians know this very well and respect Buhari, certainly Nigerians know all his opponents and what they did in the past. How can those who could not improve the life of Nigerians in the past 16

years will now come to tell us they’ll put us in heaven, that is a capital lie and deceit. Our campaign strategy on sensitizing Nigerians on dangers of electing these class of people is going on seriously because Nigeria cannot afford to miss leaders like Muhammadu Buhari.

Recently, some clerics said that based on spiritual predictions, Buhari will fail the election in 2019 and Atiku Abubakar will take over. What is your reaction to this?

Leave those beggars, they are liars, they always tell lies to get money from wealthy politicians. They are not god, not even saint. It is true, I read the same story in one of the newspapers recently. The same clerics that predicted the failure of Buhari in 2015, but he eventually won with support of the majority of Nigerians. So, I think people should not allow such predictions to work on their consciousness. It’s divine power of God, and He gives power to whom He wants and takes it from anybody He wants. This is my philosophy that I expect anybody to believe in and make his submission to. Buhari will win 2019 election by God’s willing, and those clerics will be disappointed. The issue of Muhammadu Buhari as a president is a destiny and nobody can alter someone’s destiny, so it is wrong to make predictions based on things that are beyond their powers.

You are fully into Agriculture and livestock production, especially fertilizer production and distributions. It is said that 2017/2018 budget allocation to Agric sector did not portray Buhari’s administration seriousness in the sector as he promised. What can you that say on this?

I don’t want to sue of budget simply because if you understand Agricultural sector very well, you ‘ll not expect high amount to be injected into it. Modern Agriculture is business driven, government does not have to spend much money in it, instead government should only provide enabling environment and allow the private sector to carry on with the rest. Government can only support with policies, research, provision of inputs and to some extent grant to farmers. The rest is private sector responsibilities like storage, loan, marketing and others . And you know Agriculture in Nigeria provides 60 per cent of employment opportunities. No matter how cynic one can be, you must testify that the Buhari administration has done more than the past regimes in the agriculture sector. Go to any part of the North, including areas affected by violence, you’ll see everywhere green, the same scenario in the South. Or visit your village market and ask the prices of new agricultural commodities. Buhari has ensured that fertilizer is available in the country and sold at reasonable uniform price of N5,500. The administration has also provided access to grant and soft loan to both young and big farmers. On livestock, it is so glaring on the concern of Muhammadu Buhari on Fulani nomads’, and domestic animal production. So, for goodness sake if Buhari’s government can transform this sector within three years only, what do you expect again?

One of the issues that received serious criticism in the Buhari administration is how the government handled herdsmen rampage where several people have been killed. What can you say on this?

Let me tell Nigerians without contradictions, that herdsmen violence was more political than anything. I am fully a Fulani man from the grazing bush. I rear cows and it is the business of my entire family. Having participated in the investigation, mediation and reconciliation of the violence at both local and national level, I am telling you that herdsmen issue was gingered and fueled by some politicians to tarnish the image of Buhari’s administration. You see, Fulani tribe is the only tribe that has the highest number of different ethnics communities within it, in Nigeria and lineage at the neighbouring countries. So, in most cases, the crises of neighbouring countries automatically become our crises. I believe there are some political opponents who see value in attributing the herdsmen killings to Muhammadu Buhari administration simply because Buhari is a Fulani man.

If herdsmen violence is politically motivated what of the others like religious violence in Kaduna, Plateau and the Zamfara gunmen rampage?

Yes, they all have political motives if you look at the way they are carried out. You see, there is nothing in any religion except peace. Religion only teach you how to worship your God and relate well with fellow human beings. So, what brought killing in the matter? It is clear that the perpetrators are working for benefits directly or indirectly. We have had reports of various violence and crimes tribunals. Some indicted prominent individuals, but none of them have been prosecuted except one who was later released by the same government. The remote causes of these so-called religious or ethnic violence are more of political than what it appeared to be. Other violence, including Boko Haram have shared political motivations directly or indirectly. President Muhammadu Buhari inherited these crises and he used his experience to put it off except in few cases that are still glaring, which I believe with time would be overcome.

It has become so glaring that some governors that are assumed to be closer to Buhari appear to have some questionable attitude. Don’t you see this as a factor that would affect his success at the 2019 presidential election?

Not at all. Buhari is Buhari, there is no way a governor’s offence will effect the success of Buhari in the coming election. It is true that some governors honestly did not help Buhari and his policies. For example, Buhari released billions of naira to governors as bailout to pay outstanding salaries and allowances for staff. In addition he paid the weaver of Paris Club loan to governors, but most governors failed to pay salaries or execute meaningful projects in their states, which portrayed the government as insensitive to the people. Thank God, Nigerians hold the governors responsible not Buhari. In a nutshell, the election of governors will come after presidential election so everyone will see the result of his action.

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Oshiomhole Returns, Opens Up On DSS Quiz

Sahara Reporters - Sun, 2018-11-11 10:04

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, returned to the country yesterday and opened up on his encounter with officers of the Department of State Services (DSS).

Oshiomhole, who met with Editors in Lagos, after his return from London, however, described his engagement with the DSS officers as a “conversation” and not an “arrest” or “detention.”

The embattled National Chairman was said to have visited his wife, who is ill, in the United States and later met with  the APC National Leader,  Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in London.

Oshiomhole had been at the centre of controversy emanating from his purported arrest and detention by DSS officers in the past few days.

“The conversation centred around APC primaries. The question now is whether or not it is the DSS job to interfere in a political party’s issues. And if there’s an allegation of corruption, it is the responsibility of EFCC and ICPC,” the former Edo State governor said.

He dismissed the rumor that the DSS rescheduled another meeting with him after the initial one. He also denied the report that he was released on administrative bail by the Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, saying he only invited the governor who showed up where he had interaction with the DSS officials.

“I was the one who called Yahaya Bello and he came, but I drove home in my own car,” Oshiomhole said.

On the call for his arrest by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the APC National Chairman said: “what would they have said if it was the PDP chairman that was invited by the DSS, for instance, over the dollar bazaar at their Port Harcourt primary? They would have said democracy is under threat and would have fired a letter to the UN, as they often ridicule themselves”.

His “arrest” and subsequent “detention” was said to have been orchestrated by some aggrieved party leaders, many of whom are sitting governors, wherein their preferred aspirants failed to win the party’s tickets for various positions.

Oshiomhole suddenly left the country Tuesday after interrogation for hours by the Department of State Services (DSS) last Sunday and Monday.

The quiz was said to have been prompted by petitions from Imo, Ogun, Niger, Zamfara, Kaduna, Bauchi, Adamawa, Delta and Cross River states over the outcome of the party’s primary elections.

The petitions, in which Oshiomhole was accused of alleged bribery and manipulation were sent to the DSS, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Presidency

The National Chairman was also accused of usurping the functions of the APC National Working Committee (NWC), “relocated” from the national headquarters to his personal campaign secretariat at Asokoro, Abuja and delayed the appointment of screening and primary election committees for the states, among others.

The National Chairman’s major squabbles are with Governors Rochas Okoroacha and Ibikunle Amosun of Imo and Ogun states respectively.

Both governors didn’t get their “preferred” candidates through to contest in next year’s governorship election and they blame Oshiomhole for their loss.

In the case of Ogun State, the National Chairman said the matter had been concluded after the party submitted the name of Prince Dapo Abiodun as the governorship candidate.

For Imo State, Oshiomhole said the NWC accepted the governorship candidature of Senator Hope Uzodinma, as the primary that produced him was in substantial compliance with the constitutional provisions.

The APC National Publicity Secretary, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, also confirmed Oshiomhole’s return to Daily Trust on Sunday via telephone. He said the chairman arrived Abuja after a stop-over in Lagos State.

Issa-Onilu, however, said most of the stories written on Oshiomhole’s encounter with the DSS and subsequent trip out of the country were “fiction.”

When asked to confirm the report that the national chairman was now in the country, Issa-Onilu said, “Which story are you people writing? The stories are fabrications and fiction. Everything you wrote is fiction. The chairman is in Abuja. People who are giving the story are pursuing an agenda.

“I’m not saying that the DSS didn’t invite him. But every detail around it is fiction. The invitation itself was by some people who had scores to settle with him and not the government.  Despite all these allegations, they could not present anything. They thought they could force him to sign a paper, which he didn’t do,” Issa-Onilu said.

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I’ve Never Been Declared Mentally Unstable, Sanwo-Olu Tells INEC

Sahara Reporters - Sun, 2018-11-11 10:03

The Lagos State governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, says he has never been declared unfit and having an unsound mind at any point in time.

This is contrary to allegations leveled against him by the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.

The governor on September 30, 2018, while addressing a World Press Conference alleged that Sanwo-Olu was once a patient at the Gbagada General Hospital, Lagos, where he underwent rehabilitation.

Sanwo-Olu had emerged as the governorship candidate of the party in the state based on the support received from the Mandate Movement of the Lagos APC and that of the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

Ambode, who lashed out at his then-opponent for the party’s governorship primary election, after failing to secure the backing of the Mandate Movement for a second term, had said, “The aspirant that has been put up to contest against me (referring to Sanwo-Olu) is not a fit and proper person to take this job.”

He had added, “This particular aspirant is somebody that has been arrested for spending fake dollars in a nightclub in America, and was detained for months.

“It is also known that he doesn’t have the competence to do what he is being propelled to do. This is somebody that has gone for rehabilitation before. The records are there at the Gbagada General Hospital.”

But in the Form CF001 submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission by Sanwo-Olu, he said he had never at any time been adjudged to be of unsound mind.

Responding to one of the questions in the form: “Have you ever been adjudged a lunatic or declared to be of unsound mind?” the governorship candidate ticked “No.”

According to INEC, one of the grounds for disqualification for anyone seeking public offices specified in sections 65, 106, 131 and 177 of the 1999 Constitution is if such a person is “adjudged to be a lunatic or declared to be of unsound mind.”

Meanwhile, Sanwo-Olu and his counterpart in the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, failed to attach their tax certificates to the Form CF001 submitted to INEC.

Our correspondent observed this at the INEC office in Yaba, Lagos, where names of governorship candidates in the state were pasted.

However, analysts said they did no wrong since submission of tax certificate was not required by the candidates in the Electoral Act.

“They could have attached their tax certificates in the name of transparency,” a Lagos-based lawyer and political commentator, Mr. Niyi Abayomi, said

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Nigerians Are Frustrated, Says Obasanjo

Sahara Reporters - Sun, 2018-11-11 10:02

Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday lamented the state of the nation, saying that many Nigerians are “disillusioned and hopelessly frustrated.”

He equally hinted that Nigeria ought to have ceased to exist owing to “many mistakes that have been made, but God did not allow such calamity to befall the country”.

Obasanjo spoke yesterday at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, when the governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Gboyega Nasiru Isiaka, was formally presented to him alongside other candidates of the party ahead of the 2019 elections.

According to him, God did not create Nigeria to be a failed country, rather one of the leading countries among the comity of nations.

The Ota-farmer said the country still lags behind other developed nations because of the “conscious and unconscious choice of the people of Nigeria.”

Obasanjo said, “some people are hopelessly frustrated and when I see people like that I tell them – don’t be frustrated because of the situation in Nigeria. Otherwise, we have made many mistakes in this country that Nigeria should have ceased to exist, but that has not been our lot. That has not been our situation, we thank God for that”.

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'Police Afraid Of Attack' As 'Herdsmen' Kill Seven Farmers In Kaduna

Sahara Reporters - Sat, 2018-11-10 23:36

Seven people have been allegedly murdered by suspected herdsmen while working on their farms in Kaduna.

The incident occurred on Friday evening at Jan Tsani, behind Kurgi Sabon Layi Kakangi ward in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

According to a relative of one of the victims, who preferred not to be named, the attackers overpowered the victims while they were working on their farms and fled the scene immediately they sighted the security guards in the community (Yan Sakai) who chased them into a nearby bush.

The locals were said to have arrived the scene shortly after the incident, and they made frantic efforts to apprehend the attackers. The hoodlums eventually escaped through a forest in the area.

The source said the Police could not go to the area because of its volatile nature and activities of herdsmen and kidnappers, which had become rampant.

"The Police cannot go to the area because they are afraid of being attacked by the herdsmen. Even if you call them, they will not come, but we have local vigilantes in the village," one of the villagers, said.

He said the entire village had been thrown into mourning, adding that a similar incident happened a few weeks ago.

He also called on government to expedite action in restoring peace to the area.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Air Force has revealed plans to establish a base in Birnin Gwari forest, with a view to curtailing the incessant killing of innocent citizens in the state.

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VIDEO: Lawmaker Beaten Up As Ondo Assembly Speaker, Deputy Are Impeached

Sahara Reporters - Sat, 2018-11-10 23:22

Video of Lawmaker Beaten Up As Ondo Assembly Speaker, Deputy Are Impeached Lawmaker Beaten Up As Ondo Assembly Speaker, Deputy Are Impeached Lawmaker Beaten Up As Ondo Assembly Speaker, Deputy Are Impeached

On Friday, Honourable Bamidele Oloyelogun was removed as Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, alongside his Deputy, Honourable Ogundeji Iroju.

This video captures a bit of how events unfolded, including the physical assault on a lawmaker.

Oloyelogun, representing Ifedore Constituency, and Ogundeji, representing Odigbo Constituency II, were removed by two-third majority of the Assembly over alleged "gross misconduct and incompetence, and exhaustion of the budget allocation to the Assembly running into N1.5billion". See Also Sahara Reporters BREAKING: Journalists Chased Out With Broken Bottles As Hoodlums Take Over Ondo Assembly 0 Comments 1 Week Ago

Honourable Olamide George, representing Akure North Constituency, was elected as the new Speaker, while Abimbola Fajolu, representing Ile Oluji/Oke Igbo, was elected as the new Deputy Speaker.

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BREAKING: Residents Flee In Their Hundreds As Boko Haram Closes In On Maiduguri

Sahara Reporters - Sat, 2018-11-10 23:22

There was pandemonium in Maiduguri, Borno State, on Saturday evening as Boko Haram attacked at least two villages in the state and attempted to gain entry into the state capital.

The attack occurred in Bale Shuwari and Jimine, two villages linking up with Giwa Barracks area some 12 kilometres from Maiduguri. During the attack, houses were set ablaze.

As the insurgents neared Maiduguri and the gunshots got heavier, residents were seen fleeing their homes in their hundreds.

The Military responded by deploying a helicopter to provide support for ground troops heading towards the scene. 

SaharaReporters understands that the soldiers succeeded in temporarily repelling the insurgents, and that the gun battle is still ongoing.

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There Isn’t A Single Thinking Brain Left In PDP, Says el-Rufai

Sahara Reporters - Sat, 2018-11-10 18:39

Nasir el-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, has said there isn't a "single thinking brain left in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

He stated this in his response to the party's reaction on his statement regarding the party's vice-presidential candidate, Peter Obi.

On Friday, el-Rufai had specifically referred to Peter Obi as a "tribal bigot". See Also Politics Peter Obi Is A Tribal Bigot, Says el-Rufai 0 Comments 1 Week Ago

The governor's comment had generated varying reactions, and the PDP had responded to el-Rufai's expression with a press statement.

The statement read in part: "We therefore [advise] @elrufai to face the myriad of problems he has caused in Kaduna State for which the people have resolved to vote him out and stop his attempt to further foul the nation’s political space by making comments capable of stoking religious and ethnic division".

However, el-Rufai took to Twitter on Saturday to respond to the PDP.

The governor berated the PDP for its "cluelessness", and alluded to Peter Obi being "not fit to be VP of Nigeria".

His statement was contained in a series of tweets that read: "I never respond to cluelessness, compounded by bad English. There isn’t a single thinking brain left in PDP....sad, only Wendell Simlins and their sort......sigh! We will meet first on February 16, 2019 - my birthday by the way..... then March 2 in sha Allah - Goodbye.....- Nasir."

I never respond to cluelessness, compounded by bad English. There isn’t a single thinking brain left in PDP....sad, only Wendell Simlins and their sort......sigh! We will meet first on February 16, 2019 - my birthday by the way..... then March 2 in sha Allah - Goodbye.....- Nasir https://t.co/fOqZ5q5wjh

— Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai (@elrufai) November 10, 2018

"Any person that doesn’t recognize the human right of every citizen to move freely, live and work in any part of Nigeria, but implies that though foreigners can observe elections in his state, other Nigerians may only do so in their states of origin is not fit to be VP of Nigeria!"

Any person that doesn’t recognize the human right of every citizen to move freely, live and work in any part of Nigeria, but implies that though foreigners can observe elections in his state, other Nigerians may only do so in their states of origin is not fit to be VP of Nigeria!

— Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai (@elrufai) November 10, 2018

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2019: Mirroring Nigeria In Buhari’s Lens By Anthony Kolawole

Sahara Reporters - Sat, 2018-11-10 17:50

As usual, the frenzy is back as the elections draw near. Various narratives are traded by multiple groups and political parties on why electorates should give them their votes. Some have promised heaven and earth. Some have started implementing a new minimum wage. Some have also begun distributing political offices. As usual, this frenzied feeling is and has remained the norm from time immemorial.

I am worried for two reasons. One is the fact that those that helped in higher proportion in destroying Nigeria in the last 16 years are now parading themselves as that messiah Nigeria needs. Secondly, is that we might be cursed as a nation always to turn a blind eye to good things. I must add that there is indeed a thin line between a blessing and a curse. For 16 years, we were cursed with bad leadership. For three years we have been blessed with excellent and purposeful leadership. And yet, we are complaining and making a comparison.

I recall when a senior colleague of mine once jokingly argued that even Jesus Christ cannot fix Nigeria’s numerous problems in three years because they are multifaceted. He said: “Fixing Nigeria would take a minimum of 10 uninterrupted years of solid and purposeful leadership.” And I agreed with him instantly.

The story of Nigeria could be likened to a mother that gave birth and was bleeding continuously, and the doctors initially ignored and left her to her fate, not until God sent a helper her way that figured out what was wrong, and the bleeding stooped. Mind you; she had lost so much blood that she had to be placed on life support with blood transfusion. Now, do we expect that the woman in question would rise to her feet the next day or in three days? The answer is no. She won't. She would be monitored. She would be given stabilization medication, and gradually the healing process would begin.

The above narrative explains Nigeria before the coming of the administration of President Muhammdu Buhari. You don’t have to like his face. But what you must like is the fact that he has brought Nigeria from that comatose state to a seating position through his numerous offerings in critical sectors of the economy.  President Muhammadu Buhari has reset the country and taken it through the surgical knife. He has used three years to build a solid foundation in education by removing institutional corruption that once permeated the system. Transportation is back, and our roads are wearing new looks.

Sometime last week, I stumbled on a report by one of the major newspapers in Nigeria titled “despite cash crunch, Buhari’s road constructions across Nigeria continues” and I was pleased that gradually, the truth is coming out for Nigerians to be the judge. Also in another report, it was stated that the Buhari led administration kick-started the National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) to aid economic recovery, taking the country out of her worst recession in 29 years, despite fall in oil prices.

In an unprecedented move in the annals of the country, the Buhari-led administration has expended a whopping N1.2 trillion on capital/infrastructure projects nationwide. Flashback to those dark years when a particular political party held sway. Would these monies not end up in private pockets? Your guess is as good as mine. Nigeria today is showing prospects of walking once again after years of comatose. And to think that some architects of Nigeria’s misfortune are still parading themselves as patriotic individuals gives me goose pimples. That I ask, are we that gullible? 

Still under the Buhari administration, in three years, there was a practical implementation of the Treasury Single Account, which resulted in an increase in government revenue by over N3 trillion as well as entrenching transparency and accountability. There is also the implementation of the Bank Verification Number (BVN), thus tackling corruption by plugging loopholes for siphoning of public fund and tracking of illicit funds through multiple accounts.

The country has also witnessed a massive investment in agriculture in the last three years. An example is the Anchors Borrowers Programme to improve local produce, improving fertilizer distribution and access across states through the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative. And in my opinion, this initiative has led to a reduction in rice imports as a result of the government’s policies that have encouraged massive rice production across Nigeria. This much was corroborated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) when it stated that the volume of rice imported into the country had declined drastically in 2018 despite “political demand.”.

Has anyone heard of the Graduates-in-Agriculture Scheme in several states of the federation, a self-driven, government-assisted programme by which our young men and women are stopping their endless wait for white-collar jobs and creating wealth for themselves and the nation? What about the audacious Social Investment Programme to the tune of N500 billion, the most massive pro-poor programme in our nation’s history, and the most extensive social safety net in Sub-Saharan Africa?

Are we even aware that in three years, 11 of the dead 33 fertilizer plants in Nigeria have been resuscitated? Are we also aware that for the first time in more than 45 years, the Mambila Power Plant is set to take off with the allocation of $5.6billion for its realization and an expected 3,050 MW output upon completion?

Again, last year, the World Bank ranked Nigeria among the top 10 reforming economies in the world because the government is spending more on infrastructure than previous administrations. The list is endless. So much so that I ask again. Is there a thin line between a blessing and a curse?

The Buhari administration is building lasting legacies for Nigeria and Nigerians. This much I have tried to highlight, as the elections draw near. My expository might not be suitable for some people that are against the progress of this country. But trust me, what Nigeria needs at this critical moment of our existence is a continuity of the legacies that are being put in place. If the PDP could not do a fraction of what has been done in three years, do we have a reason to express reservations about the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to the Nigerian cause?

If not for anything, we know the simple fact that in all that he does, the sincerity of heart and purpose are his trademarks. In my opinion, with a Buhari at the helms of affairs in Nigeria post-2019, Nigeria would be great. We won’t fall for the trick anymore by allowing those that plunged our commonwealth to have access to it again because it is not business as usual. I see a great country called Nigeria. I look at the prospects, and I know the president. And the president is Muhammadu Buhari. It, therefore, behoves on all of us that means well for this country to ensure that President Muhammdu Buhari returns in 2019. If we don’t rise to this challenge and we allow this opportunity to slip. History won’t be kind to us. A word is enough for the wise.

Kolawole, PhD, a university teacher writes from Keffi

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Winner Emerges For Ken Saro-Wiwa Prize For Review At LABAF 2018

Sahara Reporters - Sat, 2018-11-10 17:33

Gbade Gabriel has emerged the winner of the Ken Saro-Wiwa Prize for Review at the 2018 Lagos Book and Art Festival.

He was announced as the winner on Friday at the Freedom Park, Lagos.

The annual competition is designed to encourage culture of critical engagement of the written text or any work of art.

It is the third edition of the prize that was launched at the 17th edition in 2015, which focused on reviews of any two of the books of the writer, environmental activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was murdered on November 10, 1995. Literature researcher, Benson Eluma won the first edition. There was no competition in 2016.

The 2017 edition focus was on Niyi Osundare’s poetry collections. Writer and journalist, Henry Chiemeke, won the N100,000 prize money for his review of Osundare’s 'Tender Moments: Love Poems'.

For the 2018 edition, contestants were expected to review three of Tunde Kelani’s films.

Kelani, who turned 70 in March, is the second festival honouree for the year; the other being the master painter and teacher, Kolade Oshinowo, who clocked 70 in March.

According to the judges, a total of nine entries were received, out of which Abayomi Folaranmi, Tunde Onikoyi and Gbade Gabriel were shortlisted.

The award will be presented by Veteran Filmmaker Tunde Kelani on Sunday.

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PDP Suffering From 'Masses Rejection Syndrome', Says Group

Sahara Reporters - Sat, 2018-11-10 16:32

A civil society group has labelled the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a “wicked version of witchcraft” suffering from “masses rejection syndrome” for questioning the Social Intervention Programme (SIP) of the Federal Government.

There was a rowdy session at the Senate last Wednesday when Abiodun Olujimi, the Senator representing Ekiti South at the National Assembly on the platform of the PDP, accused the present administration of politicising the social intervention programme. See Also Breaking News BREAKING: Senate In Rowdy Session Over 'Politicisation' Of Buhari's Social Intervention Programme 0 Comments 1 Week Ago

However, the group said the PDP has no moral right to query the SIP scheme aimed at alleviating poverty in the country.

In a statement on Friday, Itodo Gideon, President of the group, noted that the PDP was already anticipating defeat ahead of the 2019 general election, hence its move to seek sympathisers.

The statement read: "Good Governance Initiative has followed with interest the accusation by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the Social Intervention Programme (SIP) of President Muhammadu Buhari amounted to vote buying, but we have come to conclusion that the party is prematurely mourning its loss ahead of the 2019 general election and must be suffering from ‘Masses Rejection Syndrome’ (MRS).

“Only a party that has lost touch with reality will claim that SIP, Sure-P, TraderMoni and other schemes that directly put money in the pockets of Nigerians are meant to induce people for the reelection of President Buhari.

"These programmes are in reality the foundation to building a system of economic safety nets for the vulnerable as practised in other countries. The knowledge that the PDP failed woefully to introduce similar schemes, particularly one not meant to reward party urchins, made it conclude that President Buhari’s programmes are meant for vote buying, even when beneficiaries are drawn from across party lines. The whimpering of the PDP is therefore a clear sign that it is forecasting a resounding defeat for itself at the general election.

“PDP’s pain at this looming defeat is understandable because the kind of failure it has to its credit takes a political party 50 years of hard work to recover from, and that is only when it is contrite enough to stop insulting the populace by condemning programmes meant to improve their lot. Its current illusion is therefore not necessary, as it will only further isolate it from the people with the potential to deny Nigerians of a virile opposition.

“Our candid counsel to the PDP is for it to stop chasing shadows and face the reality that President Buhari and Nigerians have a contract that met expectations and will be renewed beyond 2019. No amount of propaganda can terminate the contract, especially since there has been no better offer to rival what Nigerians are getting other than the empty lies emanating from the PDP.

“It is most reassuring that the PDP would have to keep learning from the way President Buhari has positively affected the lives of Nigerians through the numerous projects he has delivered to the citizens.”

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Hoodlums Kill Policeman, Cart Away Rifles In Delta

Sahara Reporters - Sat, 2018-11-10 15:47

The Delta State Police Command has lost one of its officers to the bullets of armed hoodlums in Asaba, the Delta State capital.

Service rifles were also stolen during the incident.

SaharaReporters learnt that the policemen were on their routine stop-and-search duty on Friday at about 8pm at the Kowen Plaza, Asaba, when armed hoodlums emerged from nowhere and began to rain bullets on the team. The incident led to the death of one of the officers and two service rifles and a pistol belonging to the policemen were taken away by the hoodlums.

An eyewitness said other policemen on duty in the area at the time of the attack escaped, while the air was rented with sporadic gunshots as residents scampered for safety.

Confirming the incident to our correspondent, the Delta State Commissioner of Police, Muhammad Mustafa, disclosed that the attack occurred between the hours of 7pm and 8pm on Friday.

The Police boss, however, said investigation is already on, noting that the Police will get to the bottom of the matter and those involved would be brought to book.

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Four Catholic Priests Kidnapped In Delta Freed

Sahara Reporters - Sat, 2018-11-10 15:33

Four Catholic priests kidnapped in Delta State last week have been freed.

The priests were said to be returning from a function when they were abducted by gunmen and a N20 million ransom was demanded for their freedom.

A priest in Asaba, the Delta State capital, who preferred not to be named, told our correspondent that the kidnapped priests regained their freedom on Friday through the efforts of the Police.

He said: "Although a ransom was paid, we won't mention the amount. They initially demanded for N20 million ransom, but there was a negotiation."

The priest, however, gave the names of the freed priests as Victor Adigboluja of Ijebu Ode Diocese; Anthony Otegbola of Abeokuta Diocese; Joseph Ediae of Benin Archdiocese, and Emmanuel Obadjere of Warri Diocese.

"I can confirm to you that they have all been taken to the hospital for medical treatment and some persons connected to the unholy act have also been arrested by the Police," he said.

When contacted by SaharaReporters, the Delta State Commissioner of Police, Muhammad Mustafa, confirmed the release of the priests. He added that some persons have also been apprehended in connection to the crime.

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Abducted Ondo ADC Chairman, Senatorial Candidate Regain Freedom

Sahara Reporters - Sat, 2018-11-10 15:14

Olujide Ipinsagba

Olujide Ipinsagba

Bisi Ogbungbemi, Chairman of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in Ondo State, who was kidnapped on Wednesday by gunmen has been freed.

Ogbungbemi was released alongside Jide Ipinsagba, the ADC Senatorial Candidate from Ondo North for the 2019 general election. Both men were abducted on the Oba Akoko/Owo road while returning to Akure after a political engagement.

Boye Oletuyise, Ipinsagba's driver, who was abducted alongside the two men, had been released late Wednesday evening. Oletuyise was freed with Princess Jumoke Abdulkareem, a chiefain of the ADC, who was also kidnapped.

Family sources told SaharaReporters that Ogungbemi and Ipinsagba were released on Friday evening.

One of them, who preferred not to be named, revealed that the victims parted with some money before they were freed.

"They were freed yesterday evening after the family rallied round to raise some funds. That is all I can tell you and I don't think their abduction had political undertones. They were just victims of armed robbery on that road.

"You know since they were driving a crested campaign bus, those boys (kidnappers) must have thought they were money-bag politicians and they abducted them," he said.

Femi Joseph, Police Spokesperson in Ondo State confirmed the release of the two men on Saturday morning.

He said: "Yes, they have been released. I am aware they were released yesterday (Friday), but don't have the details for now. I will get back to you as soon as I get details about their release by the abductors."

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