Vice Presidential debate, Donald Duke’s sack, others top political news last week

From left: Umar Gesto of Young Progressives Party (YPP); Peter Obi of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Yemi Osinbajo of All Progressives Congress (APC); Khadija Abdullahi of Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN); and Ganiyu Galadima of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), during the 2018 Vice Presidential Debate organise by Nigeria Election Debates Group in Abuja on Friday (14/12/18) 06665/14/12/2018/Hogan Bassey/BJO/NAN
From left: Umar Gesto of Young Progressives Party (YPP); Peter Obi of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Yemi Osinbajo of All Progressives Congress (APC); Khadija Abdullahi of Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN); and Ganiyu Galadima of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), during the 2018 Vice Presidential Debate organise by Nigeria Election Debates Group in Abuja on Friday (14/12/18) 06665/14/12/2018/Hogan Bassey/BJO/NAN

Vice presidential debate, endorsement of peace pact by presidential candidates and the sack of Donald Duke as Social Democratic Party presidential candidate are some of the key issues that dominated political discourse last week.

Others include 71 federal lawmakers’ demand for a return to a parliamentary system of government, the controversy over the raid of Atiku’s sons’ apartments by anti-graft operatives, and northern groups’ disagreement over Buhari’s candidacy.

Sunday

2019: I’m not neutral, I want Buhari out – Obasanjo

A former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, denied media reports that he has decided not to support any candidate for next year’s presidential election in Nigeria.

Mr Obasanjo made the clarification in a statement on Sunday by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi.

“It is disingenuous, if not malicious, for anyone to suggest that Chief Obasanjo was being neutral when he chose not to use the Owu Convention as a platform for political campaign but instead adopt a communal and familial approach in talking to members of his Owu family,” Mr Akinyemi said.

He explained that Mr Obasanjo’s statement did not suggest his neutrality, as he believes that, “only a fool will sit on the fence or be neutral when his or her country is being destroyed with incompetence, corruption, lack of focus, insecurity, nepotism, brazen impunity and denial of the obvious.”

“Chief Obasanjo is no such fool nor is he so unwise,” the aide said.

The former president has since declared his support for opposition presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

2019: North Will Not Vote On Sentiment, Says Elders’ Forum

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The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has said the 2019 presidential election will be won and lost based on the capacity, performance and incompetence of the candidates rather than sentiments as was the case in 2015.

According to the forum, the ideal Nigerian president should be a patriot, committed nationalist, bridge-builder and unifier of all Nigerians, irrespective of tongue, tribe and religion.

Speaking with journalists in his Arewa Farms in Zaria, the convener of the forum, Ango Abdullahi, also revealed that power brokers in the North will not support President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election in the 2019 polls because he has woefully failed to address abject poverty and underdevelopment in the region.

He said, “No one should take the North for granted, and it is not for sale. The North will no longer vote based on sentiments. It will resist shedding its blood for any candidate, and will critically scrutinise all politicians who have betrayed the hopes and mandates of our people.”

Monday

Atiku will be defeated, FG tells Obasanjo

The federal government said though it was the constitutional right of the former President Olusegun Obasanjo to support a candidate for an election, his endorsement, however, does not guarantee victory.

“With due respect to former President Obasanjo, it is his constitutional right to support any candidate of his choice and we urge him to go out and campaign vigorously for any candidate he wants to support.

“He has not hidden his preference for the PDP candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and we wish him very best of luck.

“However, I want to assure you that his candidate will be defeated roundly and comprehensively. It is not about endorsement, endorsement does not win election,’’ the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said.

TraderMoni: Dogara accuses Buhari administration of vote buying

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, condemned the distribution of cash to Nigerians by the federal government very close to the general elections.

Mr Dogara stated this during a public hearing organised by the National Assembly Joint Committee on INEC and Political Parties Matters on Vote-buying and Improving the Electoral Processes in Nigeria.

He said no matter how noble the intent may be, such endeavours amount to vote buying and inducement, and can be considered corruption.

TraderMoni is one of the government’s initiatives under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), a programme targeted at awarding collateral-free loans to two million petty traders across the country.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has become the face of the programme as he has launched it in several markets in many states in the country over the past few months.

EFCC raids Atiku’s sons’ apartment in Abuja

A building housing an apartment occupied by two sons of Atiku Abubakar was searched by anti-graft operatives in Abuja.

Mr Abubakar is the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 2019 election.

The building also houses an apartment occupied by Chiemeka Orji, son of ex-Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji. That apartment was also reportedly searched by anti-graft operatives.

The EFCC would later say it targetted the home of the Orji’s.

“The recent arrest of Ogbonna Orji, son of Sen. Theodore Orji, over money laundering, has absolutely nothing to do with the son of ex-VP Atiku Abubakar.

“The former Abia governor has been under investigations by the EFCC, for money laundering activities, which was discovered to have been carried out through his sons,” the agency said.

The anti-graft agency did not say if it knew before the raid that one of the apartments was owned by Mr Abubakar’s sons. It also did not say if Mr Orji’s sons briefed the operatives before the raid that the neighbouring apartment belonged to Mr Abubakar’s sons.

Monday

2019: ACF disagrees with Northern Elders Forum over Buhari

The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) distanced itself from the comment of the chairman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Ango Abdullahi, on President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election bid.

In a response to Mr Abdullahi’s comments at a press briefing in Kaduna, Anthony Sani, the Secretary-General of ACF, said “The Arewa Consultative Forum, wishes to disassociate itself from the statement credited to the Northern Elders Forum kicking against the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari and its position that the administration has failed.

“It is Nigerians that will decide whether a president has failed or succeeded.”

Mr Sani said the ACF is “not a partisan organisation.”

Oshiomhole denies attacking Aisha Buhari

The chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, denied making any comments against the wife of the president, Aisha Buhari.

Mr Oshiomhole’s spokesperson, Simon Ebegbulem, made the clarification in a statement on Tuesday in reaction to a rumour on the social media.

“At no fora did the National Chairman make such uncomplimentary remarks against the person of the First Lady.

“This is part of the fake news from the pit of hell being propagated by highly unscrupulous elements of the PDP and their cohorts, knowing fully well that they have lost the forthcoming general elections.”

Tuesday

Katsina Rep dumps party

A member of the House of Representatives, Ibrahim Murtala, representing Musawa/Matazu federal constituency of Katsina State, dumped the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The lawmaker made this known in a letter read on the floor of the House by the speaker, Yakubu Dogara, during plenary on Tuesday.

Mr Murtala did not state the reason for his defection.

He becomes the first elected official from President Muhammadu Buhari’s home-state of Katsina to dump the ruling party for another party.

Kogi lawmaker loses his seat for defecting to PDP

The Kogi State House of Assembly declared vacant the seat of Linus Enenche, the member representing Olamaboro Constituency of the state.

The decision taken on the floor of the house in Lokoja followed the recent defection of Mr Enenche from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Mr Enenche lost his seat following a motion moved to that effect by the House Majority Leader, Bello Hassan Abdullahi.

Mr Abdullahi had hinged his motion on a letter transmitted to the House by the state Chairman of the APC, Abdul Bello, informing the House of Mr Enenche’s defection.

He said the letter also stated that Mr Enenche will be seeking a return to the house on the platform of his new party, the PDP during the 2019 elections.

2019: Atiku absent at peace accord in Abuja

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, was absent at the signing of a peace pact for 2019 presidential candidates in Abuja.

The spokespersons for Mr Abubakar and the PDP separately told PREMIUM TIMES they were not aware of the event.

Mr Buhari arrived at the International Conference Centre to join other candidates in signing the peace agreement, which was drafted by the National Peace Committee.

Abdulsalam Abubakar, a former Nigerian military ruler, is the convener of the committee and the event.

A similar pact was signed by presidential candidates in 2015 and the committee was widely deemed crucial to the peaceful outcome of that contentious election.

Wednesday

2019: Atiku, Ezekwesili endorse peace pact, flay Buhari

Mr Abubakar and his Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN, counterpart, Obiageli Ezekwesili, signed the peace accord, with both insisting that President Muhammadu Buhari’s signing of the accord must be followed up with assent to the Electoral Bill.

In signing the peace accord to uphold decency and focus ahead and during the election, Mr Abubakar said Mr Buhari’s failure to sign the 2018 Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill cast doubts on his sincerity towards free and credible elections.

Mrs Ezekwesili, on her part, accused Mr Buhari of taking contradictory positions on credible elections, affirming that he should not practice political corruption by using his exalted office as president to further his own interest as a candidate.

2019: I’ll reward hard work, loyalty this time — Buhari

President Buhari assured his supporters that their handwork and loyalty would be adequately rewarded.

Mr Buhari gave the assurance in Abuja while delivering a speech at the inauguration of his support group tagged, “Together Nigeria’’.

The event was organised by the Buhari Support Organisation.

Mr Buhari, who expressed gratitude to the organisation, said, “some individuals and organisations might be feeling disappointed because we have not been able to please everyone.

“I would like to assure you that this time, hard work and loyalty will be rewarded adequately.’’

Thursday

71 Nigerian lawmakers demand return to parliamentary democracy

A bill to amend the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria to reintroduce a parliamentary system of government passed first reading in the House of Representatives.

The bill sponsored by 71 members seeks to change the system of government from presidential to parliamentary where the government will be run by the parliament.

Addressing journalists at the National Assembly on Thursday, the lawmakers said the parliamentary system of government will help achieve economic growth and development in the country.

“We are 71 bi-partisan members of the House of Representatives, who feel that the parliamentary system of government promulgated by the Lyttleton Constitution of 1954 is the best for Nigeria since the presidential system has reduced us to the poverty capital of the world.”

Prominent amongst the sponsors of the bill are Abdussamad Dasuki (PDP, Sokoto), Tahir Monguno (APC, Borno), Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta), Ossey Prestige (APGA, Abia) and Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers).

Friday

Court sacks Duke as SDP presidential candidate

An FCT High Court in Maitama, Abuja declared a former Minister of Information, Jerry Gana, the winner of the presidential primary election of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) conducted on October 6.

The party had declared a former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, the winner of the election and its flag bearer for the 2019 presidential election.

The party said Mr Duke polled 812 votes while Mr Gana had 611.

However, Mr Gana went to court seeking to be declared the winner in line with the zoning and rotation formula of the party’s constitution.

In his judgment, Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf held that the regulations contained in the party’s constitution were binding on every member and must be obeyed.

He held that the zoning and rotation formula as contained in the party’s constitution stipulated that both the chairman of the party and the flag bearer should not come from the same zone.

“In this instance, the party’s Chairman, Chief Olu Falae, is from the South and Duke is from the South too; the law is clear; there is nothing to write in-between.

Osinbajo, Peter Obi, three other vice presidential candidates debate

Five candidates participated in the vice-presidential debates of the 2019 general elections tonight at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.

The candidates were selected earlier by the presidential election debates group and a group of broadcast stations affiliated to the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON).

The parties that participated were Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN); Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN); All Progressives Congress (APC); Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Young Progressives Party (YPP).

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo represented the APC, while Peter Obi stood in for the PDP. The VP candidates of ACPN, Ganiyu Galadima, ANN’s Khadijat Abdullahi and YPP’s Umma Gesto, also participated.

During the debate, which focused mainly on the economy, Mr Osinbajo listed the successes of the government. He said the administration if re-elected would focus on building on its achievements.

Mr Obi listed areas a PDP administration would do differently and reeled out statistics to show the economy was not in a good state under the APC. The other three candidates also reeled out what they would do if elected.

During the debate, supporters of a presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore, protested outside the venue against the exclusion of their candidate and his running mate from the debate.

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