Political Commentaries

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Prof Mahmood Yakubu, INEC Chairman

Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says due diligence on the part of political parties can end the nomination of certificate forgers and ex-convicts for election.

While speaking at the stakeholders’ validation conference on INEC’s strategic plan on Tuesday, Yakubu said the commission lacked the power to prevent political parties from fielding such candidates.

He said the election of such nominees often get nullified in court, which implies that INEC would have to conduct another one.

The INEC chairman said the funds expended on rerun elections were an avoidable expense.

“If a candidate that emerges from party primaries is changed, how can INEC intervene? We can only appeal to the political parties to respect their rules. The laws say that INEC has no power to reject names submitted by the headquarters of a party,” he said.

“In some cases, some of the candidates shouldn’t have been nominated. Some parties recommend ex-convicts for election, certificate forgery, only for the court to nullify that election and for INEC to conduct fresh election. The parties should do basic due diligence.”

Yakubu said the 23 INEC officials indicted during the rerun election in Rivers state had been suspended. He said over 40 electoral offenders had been prosecuted while there were 100 outstanding case files.

He called for the establishment of an election offences tribunal, saying that it will make the prosecution of election offenders more effective.

“While we continue to make efforts, my position has consistently been that it is very, very difficult for one to prosecute himself. INEC has been saddled with the responsibility of prosecuting electoral offenders. Look at the challenges; we will continue to do our best, but the ground rule is, one, you are bound to make arrest of electoral offenders and INEC is not police to make arrest,” he said.

“Secondly, you have to investigate, so that you can have the evidence that can give you successful prosecution. We have no power under the law to carry out the investigation. So, how do we successfully prosecute?

“That is why I have been saying consistently that the nation needs Election Offences Tribunal to which every electoral violation is subjected, be it INEC staff or others. This is the submission of INEC so that if you violate the electoral law, you know that there will be justice, whoever you are and whatever way you will pay.”

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APC National Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the National Leader of ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has said he will never stand in any contest against President Muhammadu Buhari or support anyone against him. Tinubu made this known through his Media Office said on Tuesday.

He pledged his continued loyalty to the president and the APC in a statement to debunk Thisday’s story published yesterday.
The statement titled: “Response to Thisday false news report” added that the former Lagos State governor was neither planning a team nor holding consultations with the intention of planning any presidential campaign. It also said Tinubu would never join the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or any mega party, having laboured hard to bring the APC to life and power.
The statement said: “The front page story of the February 28 Thisday newspaper alleging that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is actively planning a presidential run is an example of bad fiction masquerading as professional journalism.
“The story is a manufactured tale weaved by its authors to try to create division where there is none.
“Those who wrote this fantasy seek to place Asiwaju Tinubu at odds with President Buhari. Writing such a baseless report is a very foul and wrong thing to do.
“The story carried the headline ‘Tinubu Prepares for Presidential Run, Dumps PDP, Mega Party Alliance’. The headline is remarkable in the fact that every bit of it is utterly wrong.
“First, Asiwaju Tinubu is not gearing up for a presidential run. So there will not be any doubt about this core matter; we shall state Tinubu’s position clearly and unequivocally so that even Thisday reporters cannot misinterpret his position.
“As long as that patriotic and committed man named Muhammadu Buhari holds and seeks to hold the mantle as our president, then Asiwaju Tinubu stands behind him in unwavering support and confidence.
“Asiwaju Tinubu remains faithful to the mission of progressive reform and change that President Buhari, he and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have started.
“Tinubu was instrumental in the formation and success of the APC. His toil and efforts helped establish this government.  He is not one to tear down something he laboured so dutifully to build.
“Instead of trying to convey the truth, the THISDAY report opted to gain false sensation by completely mocking the tenor of the brief banter Asiwaju Tinubu had with journalists at the inauguration of Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu. When asked about future political office, Asiwaju said he could not discount that possibility if the nation called upon him for such service, provided, he emphasised, that all political conditions were appropriate; particularly the office in question would have to be vacant, even if it’s local government chairmanship. In our political lexicon, this means the office is not held by a member of the APC in good standing.  We all know this.
“Moreover, if you really listen to his words, Asiwaju did not mention any office or any time-frame.  The conditions he mentioned may not become ripe for years to come and they might not pertain to the presidency. In effect, all Asiwaju said was the position that any political figure would hold.
“As a politician, he cannot preclude the possibility of running for office in the future because no man knows what the future will hold. To translate this general statement of political reality into a tale that he is actively preparing for a 2019 presidential run is reckless in the extreme.

“For that newspaper’s reporters to have engaged in this great leap of counterfeit logic means they purposefully bowed to the pressure to create false headlines instead of following the ethics of their craft to follow the truth even if the truth is more pedestrian and less volatile than what the reporters would have liked to hear. “They have turned themselves into newsmakers instead of remaining true to their calling of being neutral conveyors of events.
“Asiwaju Tinubu has not held any planning meetings for any such presidential campaign and is not contemplating any

such meetings. He has no present list of possible running mates because he has no present intention of running.
“The headline also libels Asiwaju by asserting he was going to join the PDP.  This is as shameless as a lie can be. Asiwaju is acknowledged to be the intellectual father and the driving force behind the APC.
“It makes no sense that he would abandon the party that he worked hard to build in order to enter the dilapidated building the PDP has become. Asiwaju worked for over 16 years to break the PDP yoke on the nation.
“After breaking that yoke, it is not in his nature to voluntarily place it back on our necks. Anyone who has followed his career, even his staunchest critics, knows Asiwaju for his partisan consistency. He is not a party hopper. He is loyal and sticks with the party to which he belongs.
“After fighting for so many years to elevate his party to the position of national leadership, he would not give that away in order to join with those who blame him for their currently bleak political circumstance. “We understand all too well the genesis of this false news report. For their own reasons, THISDAY has joined with those who seek to put Asiwaju Tinubu at odds with our President.
“This scam will fail. Asiwaju supports and stands behind   President Buhari. He wishes the president well and that he returns soon. Whether the president is here or away, he has the full loyalty of Asiwaju Tinubu.
“President Buhari can rest assured on this point: Asiwaju Tinubu will never contest against him nor will he support anyone who does.”

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APC National Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu

National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Ahmed Tinubu was at the inauguration of new governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu.

Director of Media and Communications to the Kano State governor, Salihu Tanko Yakasai, @Dawisu tweeted pictures from the inauguration ground that showed Tinubu exchanging pleasantries with other dignitaries at the event.


Tinubu was believed to have worked against the emergence of Akeredolu, going by a letter he wrote to the APC National chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, after the primaries which produced Akeredolu as APC’s flagbearer for the guber poll. In the letter, Tinubu demanded Oyegun’s resignation as party chairman, accusing him of unfairness in the handling of the conflict emanating from the party primary.

It is believed that Tinubu’s candidate was Olusegun Abraham who scored 635 votes, just 34 votes short of Akeredolu’s 669.

Speculations on Tinubu’s unhappiness heightened when leadership of the APC, including President Muhammadu Buhari, went to Ondo State for campaigns without Tinubu being present. Also, Lagos state governor, as well as Osun state governor, both of whom are seen to be extremely loyal to the party leader, were absent from rally.


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Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has lashed out at the Police, saying that in fair and just atmosphere, those indicted by the report of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, would have been severely dealt with in accordance with the law.

The governor spoke, yesterday, during a campaign of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, at Okehi, headquarters of Etche Local Government Area of the state, ahead of the re-run election for Etche/Omuma federal constituency and Etche state constituency seats. He said:

“If we were in a civilised country with the right leadership, the persons mentioned in the report would have resigned from their positions. They should bury their heads in shame. They are plotting how to kill us, but God is exposing them. It is only God that has the final say.”

The governor enjoined INEC and security agencies to ensure a free and fair re-run election in the area on Saturday He appealed to people of the area to vote overwhelmingly for his party. “The money that is keeping Nigeria afloat is from Rivers State. Therefore, Nigeria must listen to Rivers State. The voices of our people must be heard,” he said.

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Ali Modu-Sheriff, PDP Chairman

The court-declared National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, yesterday, took charge of the opposition party, warning those misrepresenting him in the media to respect themselves. The Court of Appeal, sitting in Port-Harcourt, had, on Friday, declared Sheriff as the National Chairman of the PDP after a legal battle for the leadership of the party launched by a faction led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi.

“This is the first time I am making a statement since the Court of Appeal in Port-Harcourt made its pronouncement; but I have seen and read many stories purported to have come from me against leaders of the party. People should respect themselves and not create more problems for the party,” he told journalists in Abuja.


The PDP National Chairman, however, extended olive branch to the Makarfi group, saying the court affirmation of his leadership was a “victory for all”.

Meanwhile, he unfolded a roadmap for the PDP which, according to him, aims at upstaging the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 presidential election.

Sounding conciliatory to the Makarfi faction of the PDP, Sheriff, flanked by Shehu Umar, a former Special Assistant to Vice President Namadi Sambo; Senator Hope Uzodinwa and Chief Chris Uba, among others, Sheriff said he was ready to make sacrifices to ensure that the party remains united, strong and ready to go into the next elections better prepared.

He stated: “The verdict of the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt is victory for all. There are no losers and no winners. As a party, we have had some little misunderstanding within ourselves and what happened, yesterday, is beginning of all the good things that will come for the Peoples Democratic Party. Sheriff is not the winner, Makarfi is not the loser. All of us are winners.

“We are going to unite the party. I was not even in town when the decision of the appeal court was reached. I have come back so that we can put our house in order. I have received many calls from different leaders and I have also made several calls to leaders of the party ever since the verdict was passed. I have received calls from our governors, members of the National assembly and other leaders of the party.”

According to him, the APC is the one campaigning for the PDP. “As a party we were doing nothing. I want to assure you that this party will come back to the position it was in 1999. All the leaders of the party will be consulted between now and the next one week and we will come out with a roadmap that will culminate in a successful convention. I am not interested in continuing as the National Chairman of the party. What I am interested in is to unite and rebuild the party to make sure that we have credible leaders that will take us to a successful election in 2019.

“Let me put it on record that the survival of the PDP is greater than any one of us. This party is a party that was in government for more than sixteen years. Today marks the beginning of going back to winning elections.”

The PDP leader asked people not look at the PDP crisis as an issue or as a personal problem between him and Makarfi or any leader of the party.

“I will formally consult the national assembly, the governors, the Board of Trustees so that we can come out with a proper roadmap. Within the shortest period, we will organise a convention so that people will aspire to whatever position that they want.

“Nobody is a victor and nobody is a loser. I have spoken to almost all the people that have been affected by this position and I want to assure that everybody will come back together to form one united party.

“I have full confidence in the judiciary of this country but the judiciary is not the best place to settle political disputes but our judiciary is first class. Let me caution people that have been making misguided statements against our judiciary to desist from doing so.

“There are many well meaning Nigerians from all walks of life that want this party to be united and that is what I want. Nothing more. I do not believe in all the insinuations that are coming from different quarters that APC is sponsoring me; my hands are clean. There is nothing to hide. Those that are making those statements, check their antecedents. As a person, I want to make sure that I make my contribution to the success of this party and by doing that, I am ready to make any sacrifice for the PDP. We want impunity to stop. We do not want to lose election again. Unless and until we do things correctly, people will not take us serious. Democracy is about people. You either give them their rights or they leave you. What I want to do is to give the party back to the people.

“I want to assure all the leaders of the party across Nigeria that all the elections that were conducted prior to the convention stand. We will only conduct election in those places that elections were not held. “I will call the leader of the reconciliation committee, Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, to ensure that we have a quick roadmap that will lead to a successful convention.”

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Ali Modu-Sheriff, PDP Chairman

The factional PDP chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff has won his case at the Appeal Court. As a result of this latest development, the caretaker committee may have been nullified by the court, upholding Justice Abang’s judgement.

Recall that the power tussle between Ali Modu Sheriff and Ahmed Makarfi have been ongoing for a very long time now.

It was gathered that the three judges of the court in a unanimous decision agreed that the Modu Sheriff is the chairman of the PDP.

Chieftains of the party from the two sides had at various fora expressed readiness to abide by the outcome of the appeal court verdict with a view to bringing lasting peace in the party.

A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had last year given legitimacy to Makarfi as the chairman of the party, while another court of coordinate jurisdiction in Abuja, headed by Justice Okon Abang, had ruled that Sheriff should be recognized as the chairman.

The PDP has not been able to play the role of leading opposition to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) because of the crisis ravaging it from within.

An appeal court in Abuja had on December 16, 2016, adjourned indefinitely, the separate hearing in the leadership tussle so as to pave way for the Port Harcourt division of the court to exhaust the case before it.

Both Makarfi and Sheriff have been operating from satellite offices following the closure of the national headquarters of the party, at Wadata Plaza in Abuja.

The crisis in the PDP is also raging in many states where Makarfi and Sheriff share the loyalty of members.

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Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha

Mixed reactions yesterday trailed the comment by Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha urging the South-East to wait till 2023 for the Presidency.

Okorocha said the Presidency has been zoned to the North for two terms of eight years (2015-2023), hence, Ndigbo should exercise patience till 2023. His comment followed former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s advice that Ndigbo should go for the slot in 2019.

Okorocha bared his mind on the Presidency when he visited Acting President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja on Monday.

Prominent Igbos took on the governor, some condemned the statement, while others saw nothing wrong in his opinion.

Chairman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Anambra State, Chief Damian Okeke-Ogene, said the position of the socio-cultural group would be unveiled by the National President, Chief John Nwodo on the issue.

He said Okorocha was speaking for himself and not the entire opinion of Ndigbo, noting that Igbo presidency was overdue.

“For me, the Igbo presidency is overdue, Okorocha’s statement was his personal opinion. How were sure that 2023 will be guaranteed. I believed in the assertion of the former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo that Igbos should position themselves for the presidency in 2019 and he gave reasons for his opinion”.

But a Board of Trustees member of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Remmy Ezeonwuka, supported Okorocha, saying President Muhammadu Buhari should be allowed to finish his second term then, an Igbo man should be the next President after him.

“I’m supporting the idea of Rochas Okorocha that President Buhari be allowed to finish his second term. Then, an Igbo man should be the next president.

A former Minister for Power and Steel, Chief Goddy Ogbaga, said Ndigbo will be ready to take a shot at the Presidency in 2019, describing Okorocha’s statement as anti-South-East.

He said Ndigbo would be most honoured to take a shot at the presidency by coming together to form a formidable block that would enable them succeed in the project.

Supporting Okorocha is the Director-General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr Osita Okechukwu.

Okechukwu backed the governor while addressing party faithful at the ongoing registration and revalidation of All Progressives Congress (APC) membership at Iwollo Oghe, Ezeagu Local Government Area, Enugu State. He said Okorocha’s comment was strategic.

President of Frank Worpet Inc, Prince Frank Okoye, in disagreeing with Okorocha, said: “It is unfortunate that Obasanjo, who is from another tribe is encouraging Igbos for the Presidency in 2019, while Okorocha is talking about 2023. Okorocha has always been on his own.

“As an Igbo man and a governor, how can he be saying something like that. How many years after the war, Igbos have not had a shot at the presidency and he is now saying we should wait till 2023,” he said.

On his part, Chief Alphonsus E.Udeigbo, President-General of Aba Landlords Association, had said: “I don’t know the  basis under which Okorocha is saying so, if it is as a result of an understanding the Igbos have with the North, one can say that it should be considered, but if it just for the Igbos to wait endlessly as we have been waiting since after the civil war, it does not worth it.

Reacting, former Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly and APC chieftain, Stanley Ohajuruka, said: “Okorocha’s call is a consensus position of the Igbos as it is, that we should support the second tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019, so that by 2023, he will also support us. That will be a reciprocal gesture from the North, having given them all the support they needed from us as Igbo people in 2019.”

Meanwhile, the Igbo Youth Movement (IYM) yesterday berated Okorocha.

Speaking through its Founder, Evang. Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, the IYM said the governor has not shown any evidence of good leadership.

“Leaders advance the wishes and the good of their people like Ojukwu, M.I. Okpara and Nnamdi Kalu. Leaders live in the heart of their people, nobody takes Okorocha serious in Igboland.

 “Ndigbo, like 80 per cent of Nigerians, want to see a restructured Nigeria anchored on regional autonomy and true fiscal federation built on justice and equity,” the group said.

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Rt Hon Jumoke Akindele, suspended Speaker of Ondo HoA

The Ondo State House of Assembly Speaker, Jumoke Akindele of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has been suspended from office over allegation of N15 million fraud.

Akindele’s suspension took place on Friday evening during an emergency Plenary at the assembly complex in Akure.

The suspension process was executed by 14 lawmakers, including five All Progressives Congress (APC) and nine PDP members.

Mr Bode Adeyelu, the Clerk and the mace were present during the session.

Akindele, member representing Okitipupa 2, was suspended for alleged fraud and not carrying along his colleagues.

She was alleged to have withdrawn N15 million from the House account without parliamentary approval.

Mr Malachi Coker, member representing Ilaje 2 constituency, was sworn in by the clerk as the acting Speaker.

Mr Olamide George (PDP-Akure North Constituency) confirmed the development to NAN on phone.

“The process has been carried out,” he said.

However, Mr Olusiji Akindiose (PDP-Ondo East Constituency) told journalists that the process was null and void.

He explained that the process would not stand because of inadequate quorum to execute such action.

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Alex Otti, former Group CEO, Diamond Bank Plc

Candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the Abia State 2015 governorship election, Alex Otti, scored a major victory in Nigeria’s Supreme Court Friday morning as his appeal to the Court to be joined in the forgery case between Uche Ogah and Okezie Ikpeazu, two candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), during the primaries for the governorship election. Okezie Ikpeazu won the primaries, and went on to win the governorship. Both victories were mired in controversy as Otti won in more local governments of the state than the governor.

A  high court judge in Owerri, Okon Abang, had earlier sacked Ikpeazu as the state governor, declaring that he was not qualified initially to fly PDP’s flag. But in his consequential order, he declared Oche Ogah who came second in the party primaries the rightful governor of the state.

Alex Otti approached the courts, seeking to be joined in the matter, citing relevant sections of the Nigerian Electoral Act which forbids a candidate who did not go through all stages of election from being declared winner.

The Appeal Court struck out Otti’s appeal, the reason for which he approached the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court, in granting Otti his appeal, held that Justice Okon Abang erred by not considering Otti in the consequential order he gave upon delivering the judgement.

The forgery case is still at the Supreme Court.



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President Muhammadu Buhari is not ill and admitted in any hospital in London as being speculated. But he cannot be forced to speak to Nigerians, the president’s handlers declared yesterday.

The clarification came amid rumours that Buhari is critically down with an undisclosed sickness that may lead to his death. But according to the presidency, Buhari is in London on vacation.

This clarification may not stop the rumour mill being stoked by those who expect the president to speak out or appear in the public to dispel the speculation about his health .
Buhari transmitted a letter to the National Assembly to the effect that he would begin a 10-day vacation from January 23, 2017, but he actually began the vacation two days earlier, January 21. If the date to reckon with is January 23, he will be due to resume work on February 3. But if January 21 is the date to take, Buhari will be expected back at work on February 1.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, made the clarification yesterday in a live interview programme on CNBC Africa, which was monitored in Abuja. He said that the rumoured hospitalisation of the president was a figment of people’s imagination.

“The president is in London on vacation. He is not in any hospital and he is not ill. When he was travelling last week, the statement we put out was that he was going on vacation, and during the vacation he would do routine medical check-up and nothing has changed from what we pushed out last week. If anybody has fed something else into the rumour mill, that is just what it is – rumour,” Adesina said.

He said the president would decide if he wished to talk to Nigerians from the UK or not. “Despite the fact that he is a president, he still has his rights. Compelling him to come out and talk will be infringing on his rights. The president will talk if he wishes to, if he doesn’t wish to, nobody will compel him to talk. The truth is that the president is on vacation and he has given a date on which he will return to work.”

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed also refuted a media report alleging that governors were planning to send a delegation to confirm the health status of Buhari in London. He says there is no need for such an emissary since the president is in good health.

Receiving members of the Presidential Committee on the Northeast Initiative’s Sub-Committee on Economic Development yesterday, the minister stated that governors were not meeting in Abuja because there was no need for it and there was no plan to send any emissary to London to see the president.