Major political events in Nigeria last week

R-L: Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode; National Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; President Muhammadu Buhari; Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and National Leader, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu during the APC Presidential Campaign at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, on Saturday, February 9, 2019.
R-L: Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode; National Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; President Muhammadu Buhari; Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and National Leader, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu during the APC Presidential Campaign at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, on Saturday, February 9, 2019.

As the general election draws closer, the Nigerian political space continues to captivate its spectators with dramatic events.

In the past week, major political actors drew backlashes on some of their comments, the international community continues to provide observatory comments while the season of endorsement continues.

PREMIUM TIMES brings you a round-up of political events in the week.

Sunday

– “Do you know that Atiku Abubakar is from Cameroon? His area of Adamawa was in Cameroon”, Nnamdi Kanu, self-exiled leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) said in a live broadcast on Radio Biafra.

– In a tweet, President Muhammadu Buhari felicitated with his vice, Yemi Osinbajo, and nine others for surviving a helicopter crash on Saturday in Kabba, Kogi.

The vice president and the others escaped unhurt when a hired helicopter conveying them to Kabba, Kogi State, crashed while landing.

Monday

– The presidential candidate of PDP, Atiku Abubakar, pledged to end the strike by university lecturers, on his first day in office, if elected the next president of the country.

The strike was eventually suspended on Thursday after a fruitful meeting between ASUU and the federal government.

– The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, at a media briefing, alleged that ‘the opposition’ was dispatching a 10-member delegation to some Western capitals, to sell the idea that ”government had perfected the plan to rig the election.”

– In a statement, the PDP refuted an allegation of disagreements in the party over the handling of its presidential campaign funds.

The party said Mr Abubakar has been running a transparent and people-driven campaign, anchored on volunteered support of overwhelming majority of Nigerians.

– The PDP, in a statement, called on INEC to within 24 hours publish the list of all officials and ad-hoc staff that would play any form of role in the forthcoming general elections at all levels.

– During an interactive session with media executives in Abuja, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, said the commission had put in place measures to check vote buying but that it discovered that sometimes those involved devised other means to thwart its efforts.

He said the commission would not disclose the fresh strategies it has adopted for the coming general elections, stating that those planning to buy votes would be shocked on election day.

– The presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore, said Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, has not endorsed his presidential ambition.

– In a statement, Yusuph Olaniyonu, media aide to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said the Senate has decided to discontinue a case it filed in the Supreme Court to seek clarification on the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.

Tuesday

– The founder and presidential candidate of the National Interest Party (NIP), Eunice Atuejide, said she believed President Muhammadu Buhari was mentally and physically unfit to continue in office, saying she has commenced legal action to “stop” him.

“We will file the matter in court and we will serve him before elections. Let’s see if we can stop him even from contesting so that we see if we can create chances for people like me that is contesting,” Mrs Atuejide, a lawyer, explained in an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES.

– In a video posted on the U.S. mission’s Twitter page, the American ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, called for free and fair polls.

– Olujonwo Obasanjo, son of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, took his campaign for the re-election of President Buhari to the United States. Mr Obasanjo, who is the President of Buhari Youth Organisation (BYO), said he was in the United States to solicit support for Mr Buhari’s re-election among Nigerian diasporas and other members of the international community.

– The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, challenged Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and other members of the executive arm to prove that lawmakers had been receiving N800 million monthly since 2015.

The crisis between the two arms of government in the state began a week earlier after lawmakers said they would initiate impeachment proceedings against Mr Ambode over allegations of illegal budgetary spendings and gross misconduct.

Wednesday

– The PDP accused INEC of deliberately frustrating the collection of permanent voter cards (PVC’s) across the country. The party in a statement alleged that ‘compromised’ INEC officials at the collection centres are refusing to issue the PVCs to voters ”thereby frustrating millions of registered voters from getting their voters cards”.

– Following a massive reshuffle, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) alleged that the police hierarchy had compromised police posting for the purpose of providing election security in its favour.

– The All Progressives Congress (APC) debunked allegations by CUPP that the police hierarchy compromised police posting for the purpose of providing election security in its favour.

– INEC disclosed that 409,813 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from eight local government areas of Borno State would be casting their votes in camps within and outside Maiduguri, the state capital.

– The presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Obadiah Mailafia, promised to introduce measures that will transform Nigeria into a $1 trillion economy if elected on February 16.

Lamenting the poor strength of the naira, the candidate who is running for political office for the first time, promised to give the CBN autonomy to enhance price and financial stability as well as economic growth.

– “Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person that would come and intervene, they would go back in body bags,” Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, threatened that Nigerian forces will kill foreign soldiers who intervene in the country’s election matters.

His comments came over a week after the Nigerian government accused foreign powers including the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union of actions that could be deemed as interference, and warned of consequences.

– Following comments by Mr El-Rufai, Nigeria’s main opposition, PDP, threatened to pull out of the peace accord signed by the party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar ahead of the general elections.

– In reaction to criticisms, Mr El-Rufai clarified his statement saying he was only defending Nigeria’s sovereignty.

“Affirming that a country will defend itself against needless intervention is the kind of statement you expect to hear from a patriot. It is not a call for violence,” the governor said in the statement signed by his spokesperson, Samuel Aruwan.

– INEC Chairman, Yakubu Mahmood, says no one can use the identification number on Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) to comprise the smart card reader machine on Election Day. The chairman said it was unimaginable for someone to go and give money to collect voter identification number to manipulate the election.

Thursday

– The presidency, in an email to PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday, said it is satisfied with the clarifications made by Mr El-Rufai. President Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said the federal government would cooperate with election observers and would not let the international community down in the coming elections.

– A faction of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) adopted President Muhammadu Buhari as its candidate for the 2019 election. This is despite the fact that the party has its own presidential candidate, Donald Duke.

– During INEC’s National Stakeholders’ Forum for 2019 General Election, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Mohammed Monguno, assured Nigerians that the forthcoming general election would not be compromised by security agencies.

– At least three people were reported dead after a stampede at a campaign rally by President Muhammadu Buhari and his party, APC. The Presidency confirmed the ugly incident later in the day.

Friday

– Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, endorsed a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Kingsley Moghalu, for the February 16 presidential election. Few days to this, Mr Soyinka, a professor, had called on Nigerians not to vote for President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as well as his main challenger, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party.

– INEC said it might extend Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) collection deadline in some states as a result of uncollected PVCs and complaints received. The initial deadline for the collection of PVCs was Friday, February 8.

– The former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, said he remains the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party(SDP) and would present himself for the February 16 polls. Mr Duke said this in a statement in Lagos while reacting to the decision of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party to withdraw from the election and adopt President Muhammadu Buhari as its preferred candidate.

– The Supreme Court nullified a ruling of the Court of Appeal which allowed the APC to field candidates in Rivers State in the general elections. In a decision, the court said the appellate court failed to invoke relevant sections of the law in voiding the decision of the Federal High Court barring the party from participating in elections in the state.

Saturday

– PDP suspended its presidential rally earlier scheduled to hold on Saturday. The opposition party said this follows the refusal by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government and the Buhari Presidency to grant it access to the venue of the rally.

The party said the refusal is in spite of the fact that the party had made payments to the authorities and obtained official approval to host the mega rally at the Old Parade Ground, Garki, Abuja.

– Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari took his campaign to Lagos. At the rally, APC chieftain, Bola Tinubu, said former President Olusegun Obasanjo conducted one of Nigeria’s most flawed elections, which prompted late President Umaru Yar’adua to admit that he was rigged into power after he was sworn in.

– A broom, the party symbol of APC, erected at the Abuja City gate has continued to elicit reactions from Nigerians. In a report published by PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday, the PDP and many Nigerians condemned the APC for erecting the statue.

They also criticised the Federal Capital Territory Development Authority (FCDA) for permitting the party to use the site for the erection of the statue, saying the action defeats the unity purpose of the FCT.

Sunday

– A fire outbreak completely burnt down the Independent National Electoral Commission office in Qua’an Pan Local Government Area of Plateau State.

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