THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has broken its silence over a purported judgement by an Abuja High Court nullifying the candidature of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Delta South Senatorial candidate, Dr Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan.
Addressing journalists on Wednesday at INEC headquarters in Asaba, Delta State, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr Cyril Omorogbe, said the Commission was not aware of such judgement against the former governor.
Dr Omorogbe said the court had at no time ordered the electoral umpire to delete Dr Uduaghan’s name from the list of contestants in the election.
“I am only aware of the case of eight wards in Burutu that later came to 10. We have postponed the matter until after elections. I will not talk much about the court case in Ethiope West (involving Hon. Halim Agoda, a former member of the House of Representatives and Chief Edojah) until I get information from the high command of the commission. We are not aware of any other judgement.”
Uduaghan had through his Media Assistant, Monoyo Edon, debunked his disqualification and said he remains the authentic candidate for the Delta South senatorial election for the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Saturday, this week.
Speaking further, the REC denied reports that his deployment to Delta was influenced by the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, stressing that he is not a staff under the APC chairman.
The press briefing cane on the instance of a reported Abuja Federal High Court Order, directing the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh primary for APC Delta Delta South senatorial district, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Delta State, Dr. Cyril Omorogbe, on Wednesday in Asaba, said his office is not aware of any court judgment nullifying the senatorial candidacy of Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan in Saturday, February 23 poll.
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had reportedly, last week, nullified the primary election of APC for Delta South for non-conformity with relevant sections of the Electoral Act, and ordered the party to conduct a fresh exercise to be monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
But at the press conference at the instance of INEC in Asaba, the REC said that he was unaware of the court judgment.
He said that his office in Asaba did not handle such legal issues but on a formal directive from the national headquarters of INEC in Abuja.
According to him, “In Asaba, we don’t actually handle most of those judgements; it is actually done in Abuja.
“I am particularly aware of one in Warri area where the judgment was in 10 wards that now became 12 wards, and it wanted us to revert back to 10 wards.
“This information came last week, and it was not the best time to address it. So, we were able to postpone it till after the election for discussion.
“In terms of the number of court judgments, I have never taken the time to start counting them.
“I am aware of the judgment for Ethiope West, but I will not talk on it until I get something from the commission in terms of a formal letter telling us what it is,” Omorogbe said.
Omorogbe, who’s a native of Edo State, said he was in Delta State to conduct free and fair elections.
He debunked a rumour in some quarters that he was deliberately posted to the state to do the bidding of the national chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole who had consistently boasted of unseating the incumbent governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the March 9 governorship election.
“I have never met Adams Oshiomhole in my life. I left Edo State over 30 years ago; I have never seen Oshiomhole.
“I am not here to side any party, I am here to run a free and fair election. I don’t really answer to anyone, I will definitely do my best, my doors are open.
“I am from Edo State, part of it has to do with the fact that I don’t have any stake, it does not bother me; I just want the best for the state where I work,” he stressed.
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THE Federal Road Safety Corps ( FRSC), has expressed its readiness to deployed not less than 1,078 of its personnel for elections duty in Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara State ahead of Saturday Presidential elections.
The Zonal Commanding Officer of the sector, Dr Kayode Olagunju, disclosed this in his office today during an interactive session he had with some selected journalist of Wednesday.
While speaking, Olagunju revealed that not less than 366 personnel of the command will be on duty in Sokoto, while Kebbi has 334 and Zamfara State which is makes up the command of the zones has 378 men deployed for the exercise.
He also maintained that his command is fully ready to for the forthcoming general elections, assuring that every arrangement for the successful conduction of the election from the side of FRSC is already on ground.
He further revealed that no fewer than 1,950 vehicles have been certified okay by his command for the movement of both sensitive and non-sensitive materials as well as personnel on the day of the election in Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara States.
The zonal commanding officer however disclosed the readiness of his command to embark on training and retraining for convoy drivers of important personalities, traditional rulers and many others to refresh them of certain issues related to their job.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Civil Defense and Security Agency ( NSCDC), in Sokoto has revealed that not fewer than 1,200 of its personnel will be deployed for the Presidential elections in the State.
In his remarks, the D.C. Operations for the NSCDC in the State, Mr. Ajayi Akirun, who spoke with our correspondent in the State, disclosed that his command has no fewer than seven team of standby armed personnel for security accross the State.
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WORRIED by the recent hostilities between some members of ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ila-Orangun, the Elders Consultative Forum of the community on Wednesday called on the Inspector General of Police, Mr Abubakar Mohammed Adamu deploy more security personnel to the town ahead of Saturday presidential and National Assembly elections.
They said their request for more security personnel was informed by the need to douse growing tension and create a conducive atmosphere for the electorate to cast their votes during the elections.
Addressing a press conference in Ila-Orangun, the chairman of Ila Elders Consultative Forum, Mr Gabriel Ajiboye said the report gathered so far in the area made the call for extra security a necessity.
According to him,” For some time now there have been information and report of gun shooting in some areas in Ila-Orangun, which resulted in people been injured.”
“There have been further report of likely disturbances between now and the election time next Saturday. In other to seek peace between the two rival main parties, the two organs that we represent here, including Body of Concerned Friends of Ila decided to invite stakeholders from the two parties.”
“The stakeholders of PDP turned up while that of APC did not turn up. We spoke to the representatives of PDP and appealed to them to maintain peace. We will very much like to speak to the other party representatives and because they have not turned up, we want to use this opportunity to appeal to them to also maintain peace.”
“It is our right to participate in the election. So we are appealing to everybody to keep calm and make sure elections hold in the three local government of the area”, Ajiboye remarked.
He also implored the main rival parties and other stakeholders in the area to ensure that peace is maintained to ensure free and fair election on Saturday.
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The leadership of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), on Wednesday disclosed that the adoption of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as its choice in the Saturday’s Presidential Poll aligns with the agreement reached among the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), to ease the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration out of power.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja yesterday after the emergency meeting of its National Working Committee, NWC, its National Chairman , Chief Supo Shonibare said that the adoption was premised on the fact that after a careful study and assessment of the leading Presidential candidates, the plans of Atiku were closely interrelated to the principles and manifesto of the SDP, particularly the desire of Nigerians for restructuring .
Shonibare added that the party also adopted the PDP candidate for the election in response to the outcry of the millions of Nigerians who desired a change in the nation’s leadership and the coming together of political forces to ensure the country “is rescued from hunger, maladministration, nepotism and quasi-dictatorship.”
He, therefore, called on party members and supporters nationwide to come out in their multitude on the election day to cast their votes for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for the Presidency and the party’s candidates in other elections.
However, the party condemned in strong terms the reasons adduced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for rescheduling the elections.
According to him, “the SDP in the assessment of the postponement’s exponential cost to Nigerians and political actors considers INEC’s decision as parochial, insensitive and capable of creating voter apathy that may further diminish voter turnout on election day
“The Social Democratic Party strongly urges INEC to engage all critical national and foreign as well as election stakeholders in its pre-election and post-election processes in an open and transparent atmosphere in attestation that the electoral processes are credible, free, fair and peaceful, as democratic governance and the future of our cherished country hangs in the balance.”
On the shoot at sight order to security forces against ballot boxes snatchers by President Muhammadu Buhari, he disagreed with the directive and warned security personnel against carrying out such unlawful orders not backed by the law of the land, saying that the consequences should be better imagined.
TWO persons, suspected to be members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara state have been reported killed during a political clash in Ojoku ward, Oyun local government area of the state on Tuesday night.
The state police command, which confirmed the incident in Ilorin on Wednesday, said that it had arrested some suspects allegedly involved in the attack and also restored peace in the area.
In a statement issued by the state police command, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ajayi Okasanmi, reminded political parties of the peace accord they signed with respect to political campaigns in the state, appealing to the victims of the attack and their sympathisers not to result to self-help but to have confidence in the command to see that justice is done.
However, the leadership of the two political parties allegedly involved in the attack had continued to trade blames, as the state chairman of the APC, Bashir Bolarinwa, and his PDP counterpart, Engineer Kola Shittu, described the attack as unprovoked on their members.
The APC chairman, who said that two members of the party had died from the attack, added that eight persons were badly wounded.
“Yesterday, Tuesday, February 19, 2019, the APC senatorial candidate for Kwara South, Architect Lola Ashiru, took his electioneering campaign to Ojoku Ward in Oyun Local Government Area of Kwara. In line with tradition, he and his team paid a courtesy visit to the Olojoku of Ojoku in his palace. After the courtesy visit to the Kabiyesi, the team came out of the palace to proceed to the venue of the rally. They had barely come out of the palace when they were ambushed by PDP thugs who, apparently, have been lurking around the palace. The attackers, who were armed with different weapons, started shooting at the APC members and supporters who accompanied our candidate to the palace. The policemen who accompanied our candidate’s campaign train tried to repel the attackers, but they were massively overwhelmed. Our candidate, Architect Lola Ashiru, was quickly taken away from the place and he remained in hiding for over two hours before police reinforcement came to rescue him,” he said.
Also speaking, the PDP state chairman, Engineer Kola Shittu, who condemned the development, said that the attack was said that on its members and supporters by political thugs loyal to the Kwara South senatorial candidate of the APC, Arch Lola Ashiru.
“Ojoku is the hometown of the PDP senatorial candidate for Kwara south, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim.
“The rioting APC thugs who were on the campaign train of Ashiru shot no fewer than eight PDP members during the attack. The victims are currently receiving treatment at the Offa General Hospital and other private hospitals.
Shittu, who asked security agencies to immediately arrest and prosecute the perpetrators and their sponsors, described the attack as unfortunate, ill-conceived and barbaric, stressing that the attack has yet again revealed the violent disposition of the APC.
“This latest brazen attack on our members and supporters in Ojoku has yet again further showcased the violent disposition of the APC, which we have always alerted Kwarans and security agencies too. It is also a clear indication that the APC is synonymous to violence and is ready to do anything to achieve its rabid and desperate desire to hijack power.
“We understand that this attack is part of the plot by the APC to throw Kwara into chaos and bloodletting so that INEC can shift election and later conduct a staggered election in the State. It is unfortunate that while the PDP is preparing for the elections, the APC is busy orchestrating plots to unleash violence on our candidates and members in order to achieve its aim of having a staggered election in Kwara.
“We invite the media, local and foreign observers, Nigerians and all lovers of democracy to stand against this dangerous plot of the APC. We insist that no matter the antics and desperation of the APC, the election must hold in Kwara simultaneously with that of other states.
“While we call on our peace-loving members and supporters in Ojoku not to launch any reprisal attack, we would want to place it on record that we will no longer tolerate such acts of violence on our members.
“The PDP also restates its commitment to the conduct of peaceful and credible elections in Kwara where the people shall through the ballot choose their representatives and leaders,” he said.
MR Olatunji Smith, the Director of VerveHub, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), says awarding scholarships and creating awareness in female students will encourage them to study sciences in the nation’s tertiary institutions.
Smith told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja that government and private bodies should make available more scholarship opportunities to female students to ginger them to study science subjects.
He said “the world has moved to an era where more women have become increasingly prominent in medicine, law and business but there are few women scientists and engineers.
“If encouraged, women and girls will be interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) because females are more disadvantaged than males in schools.
“Mentorship should also be encouraged; those already working in related fields need to find ways of showing learners, especially young women, the real power of STEM to build a better future. Take them on-site visits, invite them for job shadowing, encourage internships, expose and encourage the development of digital skills.”
The NGO director said older female scientists should do whatever it would take to engage and prepare younger women to adapt to the fourth industrial revolution that the world had found itself.
Smith urged the young female STEM professionals to also put aside the fear that science was a male-dominated field and involve in solving technology problem with platforms such as hackathons, robotics, coding and mining, among others.
He said “the future of our country will also be built on the work of these young females and male engineers, technologists and technicians.
“A well-grounded breed of new engineering talent is imperative to be able to compete on the global front and to liberate our country from underdevelopment.”
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PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has stated Nigeria’s commitment to join other stakeholders in their effort to reduce oil output in order to attract higher prices in the global market.
A statement by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity), said Buhari gave the pledge while speaking at an audience with Mr Ahmad Qattan, Special Envoy of King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and Minister of State for African Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, at the State House, Abuja on Wednesday.
President Buhari said as a responsible member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Nigeria was willing to go along with the Saudi initiative in limiting output so that prices would go up.
The President said output cuts had always been difficult for Nigeria considering the country’s peculiar circumstances of large population, a huge expanse of land and state of under-development, adding, “I wish we can produce more.”
The statement quoted the president as saying: “I have listened carefully to the message. I will speak with the Minister of State Petroleum. I will call for the latest production figures. I know that it is in our interest to listen. We will cooperate.”
President Buhari explained that higher oil prices will make both nations stronger and their citizens more prosperous.
He commended King Salman for his leadership in global oil matters, assuring that Nigeria will continue to accord respect to the Kingdom in that regard.
The Special Envoy said he had brought special greetings from King Salman and the Crown Prince, and expressed their best wishes for Nigeria as the country goes into general elections.
Mr Qattan said the important reason for which King Salman sent him was to make a request to President Buhari to ensure Nigeria’s compliance with quotas assigned in January by exiting previous exemption from output cuts.
He said his country had reduced its own output by 1.4 million barrels per day to ensure that prices went up, stressing however, that Saudi Arabia alone cannot bring stability to the oil market and shore up prices.
The Special Envoy called for greater adherence to production cuts by Nigeria and hoped that he would take a positive message back home.
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THE Presidential Candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Engineer Yabagi Yusuf Sani, on Wednesday, came hard on President Muhammadu Buhari over his shoot-at-sight order on ballot boxes snatchers on the day of election, saying the president said it out of frustration.
Engineer Sani, who lamented that the statement had portrayed the nation in a bad light, especially in a democratic setting, therefore, called President Buhari to retract it, and allow the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) carried out its mandatory roles as stipulated in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Addressing newsmen at the party National Secretary in Abuja, the ADP presidential candidate said President Buhari said it because his government has been hijacked by cabals and fear of conducting free, fair and credible elections on Saturday had gripped him.
According to him, Buhari’s government has been hijacked long ago and that was why his wife charged Nigeria men to come to their rescue because the cabals have taken over the government. The cabals have taken over and it is difficult for him to conduct free and fair election.
“We are calling on the president to retract that statement because it has portrayed the nation in a bad light and I know that he made that statement properly out of frustration but notwithstanding as a leader we expect him to always be above such statement to portray the nation well.
“We want to call on government of the day- the All Progressives Congress (APC) to understand that the country is bigger than all of us and we cannot allow the exercise that will determine the future of this country to be jeopardized in the manner that we have observed since when the last election was postponed.
“We want to align ourselves with compatriots who have sounded a note of warning that Nigeria cannot avoid failing, Nigeria is looked up to leadership, not only on the continent of Africa but all over the world because we are the biggest country in Africa we have the largest population, we have everything you can think of.
“We believe that INEC in terms of resources and preparedness is capable of delivering on its mandate of conducting free, fair and credible election, the problem Nigeria experienced in last Saturday was as a result of desperation on the side of the government of the day and also the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) because the actions of the two parties have shown.
“Nigerians should begin to reassess and come to the terms, the reality that there is an urgent need for paradigm shift in the government of this country and that cannot be achieved unless we have new faces, the people that are credibility, experienced and have the stamina to lead this country in the right direction.
“ADP is the party that came as a result of necessity to rescue this country in terms of political, economic and social engagements with other countries. We came on board because we saw what is happening today, the signs of failure in government, and we cannot avoid a country like this to fail, that is why we are calling on Nigerians to vote ADP. If you vote for ADP, this country will experience peace, unity and economic progress.” He posited.
On Governorship candidate of the party in Oyo State, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, whether he had endorsed APC or PDP Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Engineer Sani denied Alao-Akala ever endorsed any opposition candidate.
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IT was another bloody day in the Edo state capital of Benin as three persons were feared killed between Tuesday night and the early hours of Wednesday in another cult-related killing.
In a reprisal attack, a 19-year-old teenager, Gods power Edobor was reportedly killed at Omozeghiam street, off Okhoro road, in the early hours of Wednesday.
The latest killings come on the heels of the death of three persons who were killed by feuding cultists on Tuesday.
Among the Tuesday victims was a man in his 40s simply identified as Africa and one John Terry, who was said to have had his skull smashed with a stone by his assailants.
The Edo state police spokesman, Mr Chidi Nwabuzor disclosed that several persons have been apprehended in connection with the series of killings.
Nwanbuzor who spoke with journalists in Benin, however, did not disclose the number and identity of the suspects arrested.
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“Killings from clashes by rival cult groups have continued unabated in Edo state. The renewed clashes between the cult groups have claimed several lives, the police is aware of it and adequate security measures have been out in place.”
Determined to stem the serial killings by cultists, the Edo state police image maker remarked that on Monday, the police embarked on joint security raiding of criminal hide outstanding black spots.
Nwanbuzor, an assistant superintendent of police said: “So far, we’ve recorded incidents where lives were lost. One was at Odemwegie Hotel, around Upper Sakponba. And this morning, we heard of a boy of 19 years old who was killed around Okhoro area. Several deaths have been recorded, but I can’t give you the exact number now.”
He expressed the determination of law enforcement agents to deal ruthlessly with any individual or group of people who aim to disturb the peace and tranquillity being enjoyed in the state.
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SENATOR Olufemi Lanlehin, Oyo State African Democratic Congress (ADC) governorship candidate, has assured traders at the Bola Ige International Market, New Gbagi, that in his first 100 days in office, the market will receive considerable government attention, strong enough to return it to its international status.
Lanlehin, who said this while meeting with the leadership of the market, led by its Board of Trustees (BOT) president, Alhaji M.A. Adebayo, and secretary, Evangelist Tunde Folorunso, at the market’s house, promised the market a massive turnaround in its fortunes.
“We know the challenges facing traders in this market, and we’re set to tackle them headlong. For instance, we know you need perimeter fencing, security, and car park, to facilitate trading. All of these I assure you will be met as soon as we get to the office,” Lanlehin said.
Speaking further, Lanlehin informed the traders that henceforth, the leadership of the market would be determined by the traders themselves, contrary to the current situation of appointing consultants to run the affairs of the market.
“You’re the ones who know where the shoe pinches. To that end, you should be in charge of the market’s administration,” he told the traders.
Lanlehin, and his team, which included Senator Monsurat Sunmonu, Senator representing Oyo Central, Honourable Taiwo Akintola, member representing Egbeda/Ona Ara Federal Constituency, Honourable Lasun Oguntade, member representing Egbeda State Constituency, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja, former deputy governor, Senator Gbenga Babalola, Honourable Wale Adegoke, Chief (Mrs) Mojisola Adeyemi, and a host of others, later walked around the market, receiving adulations from excited men and women.
While addressing a large crowd gathered at the market, later on, Lanlehin promised a reduction in the annual fees paid by traders, and interest-free loans to improve their capital base.
Addressing the Council of Baales and Chiefs in Egbeda Local Government Area afterwards, Lanlehin promised rapid development of all areas and zones in the state, once he assumes the reins of powers.
“Oyo State is rich enough to fend for her people. Its wealth will be judiciously utilised for the benefit of all,” he reiterated.
Reminding the elders of their prominent place in society, and the need for them to be fathers of all, Lanlehin analysed that his positive antecedents, pro-masses leaning, and record of service delivery set him apart from other governorship contenders, hence, reasons he should be supported in the coming governorship poll.
The campaign tour which later reached Ona Ara Local Government Area was in line with Lanlehin’s campaign to Egbeda/Ona Ara Federal Constituency.
Also in attendance at the Ona Ara campaign was Hon Wale Ajani, ADC candidate, Ona Ara State Constituency.
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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Rivers State on Wednesday assured political party agents that sensitive materials for the Presidential and National Assembly elections to various local government areas of the state on Thursday.
The state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Obo Effenga while addressing journalists at the at the premises of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Port Harcourt disclosed that the batching and inspection of election sensitive materials by the INEC and various party agents was on going adding that the Commission started with the batching of the election materials last week.
Effanga said: “We started with the batching of many materials, so we brought out the already batched ones so that the political parties representatives witness and we are bringing out the new ones and also keeping them according to their LGAs.
“The electoral officials are checking the content of each of the parcel to ensure that it marches with what they expect in there.”
“Peradventure there are mistakes, that can be also corrected at this stage and the political parties here represented are observing what that is going on, by the time we are through with the batching and inspections, we can now be moving them to their different local government areas.”
“We are sure that we will move the items by tomorrow but weather we can finish with any of the LGA,s today and start moving them, am not too sure because there is quite a lot of materials that we are sorting out and batching,” the REC said.
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Elder statesman, Senator Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, Wednesday, expressed fears that the 2019 general elections, commencing Saturday, February 23, may not come off free, fair and credible.
The octogenarian hinged his fears on the public confession of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu that a senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Niger State, Alhaji Muhammed Sani, was and has been involved in the production and supply of some sensitive electoral materials.
Addressing journalists at Kiagbodo, his country home in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State, the prominent Ijaw leader averred that it was curious that having admitted that Alhaji Sani, a card-carrying member of the ruling APC, is an INEC contractor, the INEC boss seemed unperturbed about the moral burden and political correctness of such action.
Clark said he was not satisfied with the ‘scanty’ answers the INEC boss gave to the impressive questions and observations raised by the APC chairman, Adams Oshiomhole and PDP’s Osita Chidoka during the stakeholders meeting held in Abuja sequel to the botched February 16 election.
According to him, Prof Mahmood’s response that Alhaji Sani’s company, Act Technology Ltd, now Activate Technology Ltd, has been ‘satisfactorily’ working for INEC since 2011 as the reason for engaging an APC member to supply sensitive electoral materials for INEC, leaves much to be desired.
“You said the company has been working satisfactorily with INEC since 2011 and you saw nothing wrong in it, and that the political parties could take up matters with the person involved.
“Yet we agreed with you when you went further to emphasise that the credibility of the election does not start with the conduct of elections at the various polling booths, but it is a process which begins during the preparations and after voting.
“How do you reconcile the credibility of the election with the involvement of an APC candidate in the very election in producing sensitive materials for your commission?
“Is it morally and politically justified and you did not believe that his incompetence and inexperience in producing these materials have not, at any time, affected the credibility and the postponement of these elections?” the former Minister of Information queried.
Perturbed Clark, in the press briefing titled: “Who is fooling who? Senatorial Candidate is your contractor supplying sensitive materials?” backed up his claims with the reproduction of excerpts from a petition by the Concerned Nigerian Professionals dated March 24, 2015, to the Inspector General of Police copies of which were channelled to NSA! DG DSS! DIG FCIID! DG NIA, Chairman, INEC, among others, detailing the extent of the involvement of Alhaji Sani and his company in the presidential and National Assembly elections in 2011 and 2015.
Clark further recollected that during the 2011 presidential and National Assembly elections, Alhaji Sani’s company was earlier blacklisted by INEC for failure to produce the sensitive materials for the election that was botched midway after which he was arrested and later released.
According to Clark, on March 26, 2015, after the petition by Concerned Nigerian Professionals, the same Alhaji Sani and his partners were invited by the security forces and in their custody until the end of the presidential and National Assembly polls.
He wondered how the INEC boss, Prof Mahmood could tell Nigerians that the commission had been working “satisfactorily” with Alhaji Sani’s company since 2011!
“I could forgive him (Prof Mahmood) for the benefit of the doubt that he was not in INEC in 2011 and 2015. But there are senior electoral commissioners who should, if thy at honest, brief the chairman of this fact,” he noted.
Clark asked Prof Mahmood to, therefore, tell Nigerians categorically “whether the engagement of an interested party as a contractor for the production of sensitive materials is morally and politically justifiable” and if elections conducted in such a situation “will be free, fair and credible.”
He added that peradventure Nigerians are unable to return to where they registered to cast their votes due to the midnight cancellation and rescheduling of the February 16 election to February 23, such voting exercise could not be said to be free, fair and credible.
While commending Prof Mahmood for his courage and wisdom to halt and postpone the February 16 poll, the elder statesman, however, enthused that the excuses of Prof Mahmood bordering on unfavourable weather, which was debunked by the Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, showed that the INEC boss was being economical with the truth.
Clark, who said his briefing the press was based on his undying love and patriotism towards the country, observed that it was unfathomable for Prof Mahmood to state that he did not take an order from the leadership of the country before halting the botched February 16 poll barely six hours to commencement.
He appealed to Nigerians to get over the inconveniences and come out massively to cast their votes come Saturday, February 23.
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The State of Osun in southwestern Nigeria raised the first sukuk bond in Nigeria worth ten billion naira (some $62 million) from the capital market to fund educational development. Today Osun Sukuk is driving national fund for development projects. It was the first of such step by Africa’s biggest economy. Former Governor Aregbesola is aware that Islamic financial instruments such as sukuk have been used to finance infrastructure projects in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, and in the Middle East, and could attract investors from such countries. The former Governor knows that Islamic finance requires a clear link with real economic activity and transactions have to relate to a tangible, identifiable asset, which comes in handy in the case of infrastructure financing.
Following the success of Osun Sukuk, the first Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) Sukuk Bond in 2017, FBNQuest Merchant Bank Limited has again been appointed as Co-Financial Adviser to the Debt Management Office (DMO) on the issuance of the second N100 billion Sukuk offer. The Sukuk 2 offer was aimed at consolidating on the gains of the Sukuk 1 by injecting an additional N100billion, which will be directed at funding more infrastructure development projects across the country. The Sukuk further seeks to diversify the FGN’s source of funding, deepen the market for domestic securities and improve financial inclusion, particularly for ethical investors.
The Federal Government took an example from Rauf Aregbesola by taken N100bn sukuk bond for the financing of 25 road projects being handled by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing across the country. The sukuk proceed would unlock the potential of Nigeria. The minister said, “This is the first sukuk bond issuance for Nigeria. It is about financial inclusion and deepening of our financial markets. The proceeds are used to support government capital spending for 2017 – the construction and rehabilitation of 25 key economic roads across the six geo-political zones of the country.
Rauf Aregbesola has institutionalized sukuk in Nigeria. Osun Sukuk strategic plan was the first in Nigeria to use non interest debt financing instrument for investment in critical national development and sectors. The sukuk centre will carry out studies on sukuk projects in Nigeria. South-South Coalition decided to build Rauf Aregbesola Sukuk Centre in Benin City in recognition of the role played by the former governor of Osun State in institutionalizing sukuk in Nigeria. It is on record that the first set of Sukuk projects emerged from Osun State, hence, the Sukuk projects in Nigeria will ever remain the bequeathed legacy of Governor Rauf Aregbesola who was the first Nigerian to introduce it. He has always maintained that Sukuk projects are purely for business purposes and that the global issuance of it is “expanding with remarkable international reach and driven, in particular, by strong economic growth”, saying it resembles “public-private partnership financing whereby investors finance the assets and then own them which leads to real securitisation (a process of pooling/repackaging the non-marketable assets into tradable certificates of investment) after which they transfer them at maturity to the government”. There is clear indication of the growing relevance and importance of the Sukuk market in Osun State which spread to other parts of Nigeria with the growing interest from both emerging and developed jurisdictions and the strategic approaches taken to diversify the funding sources through the market.
The overall direction and potential of sukuk market are certainly well recognized, particularly in its role in contributing towards greater economic development of Osun. Osun High Schools were financed by sukuk fund for education. There is significant potential for the Sukuk, in particular to fund infrastructure projects. This would contribute towards building deeper and more liquid, efficient and effective global Sukuk market. The dynamism of the market also contributes towards strengthening financial stability and in facilitating the expansion of inter-regional investment flows. As we move towards increasing this internationalisation of Islamic finance, and thus towards greater global financial integration, it will contribute towards a global growth process and financial stability that will be mutually reinforcing. With this calibre of governments following suit to obtain Sukuk, it is now crystal clear that Aregbesola is not just a leader, but a leader that set positive pace globally.
The Federal Government has released the proceeds of the N100 billion Sukuk bond to 25 key economic road projects of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. Finance Minister handed over the cheque to Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola. The offer was oversubscribed at N105.87 billion.
To the minister, “the milestone was a sign of confidence in the Nigerian economy and the administration of President Buhari”, adding that the Sukuk proceeds would unlock Nigeria’s potential. “This is the first Sukuk bond issuance for the Federal Government and second Sukuk bond in Nigeria because Osun State was the first to issue Sukuk bond in 2013. It is about financial inclusion and deepening of our financial markets. The proceeds will be used to further support government capital spending for 2017 and 2018 the construction and rehabilitation of 25 key economic roads across the six geo-political zones of the country.”
The question now is: are there implications of Islamic financing of these roads and their subsequent ownership by the Sukuk holders? Christians Association of Nigeria fears that the Islamic financial institutions will own the 25 major roads after construction. The answer to that fear is no and Nigerians are eulogizing Aregbesola for introducing Sukuk to Nigeria. There is no doubt about the potentials for using Sukuk as a tool for capital raising and infrastructural development in Nigeria. The Sukuk issuance attracted international acclaim by winning the IFN Africa Deal of the Year Award 2013. The Government of Osun through a wholly owned Special Purpose Company, Osun Sukuk Company Plc issued on the 8th of October, 2013 the first Sukuk in Sub-Saharan Africa worth N11.4 billion to fund the development of 11 High Schools in the State.
Aregbesola embarked on global initiative aims to support capacity building in Osun and the rest of Nigeria to advance future leadership focusing on sustainable global development by investing in human capital. As a symbol of national development, Aregbesola introduced sukuk Islamic bonds issuance programme to help fund big infrastructure needs in Africa’s biggest economy, aiming to tie the transaction to one of several projects
History will remember Rauf Aregbesola for indeed four major developments in Nigeria, school feeding programme, sukuk bond for national development, first governor to embrace 4th industrial revolution and Nigerian chocolate. Aregbesola has encouraged the issuance of sukuk in Nigeria because we needed to diversify the instrument in the bond market. Aregbesola worked hard to introduce sukuk fund for education in Nigeria. Osun took the initiative and helped in introducing it to Nigeria. The greatest lesson is that when Governor Aregbesola adopted Sukuk, an Islamic bond to help the state execute educational projects, his critics were calling for his head. Many said it was part of his ploy to islamize Osun.
Former Governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola has made sukuk an established financial instrument for financing government budget deficits and liquidity management of Islamic financial institutions, corporate refinancing of existing debt and business expansion. This boosts bank capital and liquidity, under Basle III provisions, financing infrastructure, especially in renewable energy, transport, healthcare, and oil and gas sectors, and in social finance to fund education and vaccination programmes, as well as monetising waqf (trust) assets for the benefit of the community it serves.
Rauf Aregbesola was the first to recognize in Nigeria that sukuk instruments as investment vehicles is used to link borrowing with the purchase of a specific asset The global sukuk market is poised for exciting new developments, not only in its traditional Middle Eastern and Asian markets, but also in the UK, the acknowledged Western hub for Islamic finance. Supply of sukuk has been driven primarily by the entry of Saudi Arabia into the market in 2017, Malaysia’s pioneering socially responsible sukuk investment strategy and, more recently, the world’s first three green sukuk issuances. Sukuk were developed as an alternative to conventional bonds which are not considered permissible by many Muslims as they pay interest and may finance businesses involved in non-Sharia-compliant activities (gambling, alcohol, pork, etc.). Sukuk securities are structured to comply with Sharia by paying profit, not interest—generally by involving a tangible asset in the investment.
Africa is for the first time embracing large-scale Islamic finance as countries seek to tap cash-rich Middle Eastern investors to finance their large infrastructure programmes. The market for sukuk, or Islamic bonds, received a boost after Nigeria became the first major economy in sub-Saharan Africa to use the $100bn a year Islamic market, followed days later by Senegal.
Inwalomhe Donald writes from Benin City firstname.lastname@example.org
The gubernatorial candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) in Oyo State and former governor of the state, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala on Wednesday stated that the suspension of his son, Olamijuwon, who is the executive chairman of Ogbomoso North Local Government Area of Oyo State by some councillors is nothing beyond an expensive joke which cannot hold.
Alao-Akala who was reacting to the suspension at his Ibadan residence stated that such actions is beyond the abilities of the councillors who are mere pawns in the hands of the state government.
According to him, it is illegal that his son will be suspended by a minority in the Commissioner’s office, adding that it is not the work of the councillors who allowed themselves to be used but the electorate to send the person they vote for packing.
“How legal is it for councillors that have not been inaugurated to come together to suspend a duly elected chairman? Who suspends a chairman in a commissioner’s office. They did not even carry out the suspension in Ogbomoso but on the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs office here at the Secretariat in Ibadan.
“No one can suspend my son except the electorate which in this case is the people of Ogbomoso because my son is not a political appointee but a duly elected officer by his people; the party has no power to do so.
“Why are they pained? People have been coming into their party and no one had complained, now that it is their turn, they are practising illegality. The governor of Kwara State decamped from the All Progressive Congress (APC) and nothing happened, many people left their party got APC and they did not cry. Now my son came to my party and they are pained.
“Why are they pained? Is he the first to decamp? They should not cause unnecessary chaos in the state because I have not seen where the police are used to sack an elected officer. There are rules; every individual is subject to the law and the APC should follow the provisions of the constitution,” Alao-Akala stated.
The post My son’s purported suspension a big joke ― Alao-Akala appeared first on Tribune Online.
THE Federal Executive Council (FEC) has given its backing to President Muhammadu Buhari’s order to the military to deal ruthlessly with ballot box snatchers during the coming elections.
The president had disclosed the order at a meeting of the National Caucus of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in Abuja on Monday, saying that whoever engages in the act will pay with his life.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, told State House correspondents at the end of the council meeting presided over by President Buhari in Abuja that the FEC agreed with his position.
When asked if the council supported the order to the military, he said: “Absolutely. I mean if you want to intimidate voters to steal the mandate of the people, you should be able to face the wrath of the law.”
The minister also spoke on measures to lessen the problems of Nigerians who will be travelling back to various places to vote, revealing that the government has authorised the immediate payment of February salary to its workers.
He also spoke of the offers by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and some airlines to reduce their prices as a way of ameliorating commuters’ plight.
The minister said: “The Independent Petroleum organisation of Nigeria, (IPMAN), with over 50,000 members and who control almost 80 per cent of our distribution network, met a couple days ago met on how to cushion the effect of postponement, announced the reduction of the price of Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS) from N145 per liter to N140 per liter. This discount reflects the alignment of IPMAN with government and the discount is valid between the 21st of February and the 25th, this year to allow those who want to go back home to vote.
“Also, the National Union of Road Transport Workers, which has about 2 million members and who operate motor parks in all 774 local government areas of the country, an affiliate of Nigeria Labour Congress with members cutting across drivers, busboys, motor parks operators etc, have offered to provide discounts to travelers using their motor parks and members who are looking to travel to their respective voting points. This discount is also to encourage voters who would have normally been disenfranchised as a result of INEC’s postponement. This discount is also valid between the 21st of February and the 25th of February.
“Arik and Aero airlines have also thrown in their own incentives. Aero contractors have offered a 50 per cent discount to all travellers who present their the permanent Voters card (PVC) at the purchasing point. Arik will be selling their one-way ticket at N16,000 to any destination across the country. This is to support Nigerians looking to travel to cast their vote. The discount is valid between the 18th of February and the 11th of March.
“On the part of the federal government also, we decided that to make it easy for those who will want to go back to vote, salary payment started yesterday (Tuesday) as opposed to the normal 25th of every month. This is just to ease the burden of people who want to go back and cast their vote.”
The post Ballot box snatchers: FEC okays Buhari’s ‘shoot-at-sight’ order appeared first on Tribune Online.
WARRI – The postponement of the 2019 General Elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has continued to generate reactions not only across the nation, but also globally especially with the influx of International Observers that were all ready in Nigeria, ready to monitor the elections at different locations.
To majority of the people, postponing the elections barely few hours to the proposed commencement was not only a national embarrassment, but also shows that Nigeria never really learns from the past; because history always repeats itself.
In 2015, the Independent National Electoral Commission under the leadership of Professor Attahiru Jega, also gave logistics as reason for the postponement of the general elections by one week, but one would have expected that, these grey areas had been taken care of by the Professor Mahmood Yakubu led INEC especially with series of assurances from him at different fora that the elections would go on as scheduled.
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Donor Agencies, having spent huge amounts of money in organizing workshops and trainings for key stakeholders as well as the Media have in no doubt incurred huge losses: with the deployment of staff Outside Broadcasting Vans (OBV) and other equipments for the postponed exercise.
The postponement has indeed impacted negatively on most people.
In Effurun /Warri for example, the enthusiasm with which a lot of people were ready to exercise their franchise came crumbling as the news of the postponement filtered in, early hours of Saturday, February 16th.
Streets were deserted, with shops under lock and key. The ever busy Warri Sapele Road in Uvwie Local Government of Delta State was almost like a ghost land ; the bustling Ekpan and Jakpa Roads, were also deserted especially with the early hours of Saturday’s assassination of an Aide to the state government, which a lot of people alleged was politically motivated.
A lot of people who had traveled from different parts of the country to town, to enable them perform their civic responsibilities, blamed the electoral umpire and accused them of inefficiency.
Paul Adipe, who had traveled down from his station because of the elections said, ” Postponing the elections for whatever reason is in itself bad; but worse is the timing. How can you postpone elections few hours to the scheduled time. I mean this is so annoying.
“Do you know the inconveniences, the risk on the road and the amount of time and money that just went down the drain? ” He qurreied.
Mrs.Nkechi Eze, a local food vendor, who was although not going to vote as according to her, all efforts she made to get her PVC was unsuccessful, lamented her losses because she had planned to make brisk business from selling food to voters.
She said” I am so confused now. I don’t know what to do with the food I prepared. These people are wicked!
Imagine the money…over #20, 000 who do I sell to? Will I go and start knocking on the doors of individuals to sell food to them? No, just tell me, she lamented.
Another lady simply identified as Pat, said” I woke up around 1am to start frying puff puff, only to hear that there is no election. Now what happens to the money I have spent? The only thing I can manage to preserve if there is light , is the Zobo drink. This is bad. ”
Also expressing displeasure over the postponed elections, Tina, who was recently bereaved of a relative, lamented the negative impact they felt as a family.
According to her, ” Everything has been put in place and we were just waiting for the day. What kind of country is this?”
However, few residents appear to be resolute in their quest for entrenching democracy.
Mr. Ibe John , is one of such. According to him, ” If they like let them postpone the elections by 2 two years, we are not moved. We will still go and vote our right candidate on that day. ” He enthused.
Oke Akpors, another respondent, said” With this kid doing of thing now, how do they expect us to come out to vote? You tell me why I will waste my time to go and vote. ”
Academic calendar of schools have been altered because most students were on Midterm break. Another unplanned school break seems inevitable as Nigerians prepared to go the polls on the new dates.
Church activities were also not left out of the negative impact of the postponed elections as they have their programmes either cancelled on put on hold wasting resources earlier deployed in preparing for such programmes.
A popular saying goes thus: “Different strokes for different folks. Even with the plethora of challenges and complaints over the postponed elections, some people especially the hotel owners are smiling to the banks because it also means more money in their accounts.
While the ruling all Progressives Congress ( APC) and the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) continue to trade blames of influencing the postponement of the 2019 general elections, what is most important to Nigerians at this crucial time of our history as a people , is to have a free, fair, credible elections devoid of violence in line with global best practice. That will also serve as some form of damage control ; at least the International community will applaud Nigeria for getting it right at last.
WARRI – Schneider Electric, global leader in energy management and automation, recently signed an MOU with NIGERCHIN, a leading cable manufacturer in Nigeria, for the expansion of Schneider Electric’s Electricians Program through partners. This partnership will provide added benefits to registered electricians and contractors, such as discounts on the purchase of premium cables and support with training.
The Schneider Electricians’ Club, which was launched in February 2018, rewards electricians for their loyalty with gifts on purchases, free access to Schneider Electric training programs in electrical installation, and VIP access to the Schneider Electric Experience lounge.
According to Mojola Ola, Head, Building Business Anglophone West Africa, “This partnership will generate a valuable synergy to provide complementary offers to the market with guaranteed quality, while enhancing the experience of members of the program through more rewards and training opportunities.”
Schneider Electric is the only original equipment manufacturer in Nigeria to provide such a loyalty program dedicated to electricians.
BENIN CITY – Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has expressed deep sadness over the passing of the Okuokpellagbe of Okpella, Alhaji Dr. Andrew Yesufu Eshioroamhe Dirisu, JP, OON.
Obaseki noted that the Okuokpellagbe worked tirelessly with other royal fathers for the growth and development of the state, particularly, Okpella land.
“Since I received the news of the passing of the Okuokpellagbe, I have read inspiring comments from sons and daughters of our state and other Nigerians who knew him, while he was alive.
“I recall his fatherly guidance, prayers and the role he played in restoring lasting peace in Okpella land at various times.
“He was committed to building bridges of unity and identified with ideas and projects aimed at uplifting Okpella and the whole of Edo State, a royal disposition that has attracted several businesses to Okpella and environs.
“We will miss his fatherly counsels but we take solace in the fact that he had a successful reign and lived a good life. May Allah grant him eternal comfort.
BENIN CITY – In a concerted effort to ensure youth in Edo State are well equipped to maximise grants opportunities to scale small businesses, EdoJobs, the state’s skills development platform, has trained not less than 525 young persons on grant writing.
The grant writing master class for entrepreneurs was organised by EdoJobs in Auchi, Etsako West Local Government Area of the state, and is aimed at training young people in the area on how to access, apply for and successfully win grants to boost their businesses.
The over 525 participants in attendance were trained on requisite skills to scale their businesses and properly position them to become bankable and ready to access external support and funding.
One of the facilitators and co-founder of Mobicure, Dr. Charles Akhimien, said it was important for small business owners to leverage external support within and outside the country in fast-tracking growth. He added, “A good number of people in Edo State have accessed grants to grow their businesses. We want to share our experiences with others.”
EdoJobs Training Consultant, Mr. Niyi Omole, said that the skills agency is poised to train more entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and contribute to the state’s economy.
According to him, “There are a number of grants that are available for small businesses especially businesses that are bankable. So, what we are doing here is to train the small business owners on the important tips and tools they need to employ in ensuring that they are prepared to access these grants. That is why we organised the training.”
A recipient of the Tony Elumelu Foundation grant, Ifedayo Durosinmi-Etti, said that entrepreneurs need to focus on what impact they intend to make on society instead of just thinking about the money.
According to him, “The idea of grants is to ensure that the entrepreneur gets the necessary support they need to scale their business after it has been proven that they have a good business case. So, it allows small business owners to scale their operations without having to think about things like collateral and interests on funds. So, if a business is well managed, it might just be a launchpad to make more impact.”
Obaseki’s Aide Leads Campaign For Buhari, Other APC Candidates In Edo Central Ahead Of General Elections
BENIN CITY – Few days to the conduct of the February 23 general elections, an aide to the Edo State Governor, Mr. Charles Osadebamien Imariagbie, has urged residents of Eguare-Ogua in Esan West Local Government to support President Muhammadu Buhari and other candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) across different elective offices in the state.
During meetings with women groups and other stakeholders across wards in the local council, Imariagbie assured the people that APC candidates in Edo Central and other parts of the state will support Governor Godwin Obaseki in delivering development to every part of the state.
He noted that votes for all APC candidates in the general elections will enable Governor Obaseki to sustain the developmental strides unfolding in the state, adding that Ogua people and residents will also benefit from the impactful policies and projects being executed in the state by the APC-led government.
While addressing journalists after the meeting, Imariagbie said, “We are here to show appreciation to women in the area who have continued to support and campaign for APC candidates from top-to-bottom.
“For the presidency, we are fully ready to vote for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, for Senate, Hon John Inegbedion has our votes, for House of Representatives we are fully ready to vote for Patrick Ideaken, while for Edo State House of Assembly Markus Onoboh is our candidate.
This is the message we are taking to every units across the ward which I am convicened the women fully understands and like foot soldiers, they are going around across all corners to canvass for support for the APC.”
“We have the assurance that Ogua is delivered for the APC in Ogua Ward One, Esan West LGA,” the governor’s aide added.
Speaking on behalf of supporters of APC in one of the communities, Mr. Abraham Otuoghamiem assured the governor’s aide of the community’s preparedness to fully mobilise support for all APC candidates in the area.
Otuoghamiem said that for appointing one of their sons to head the state’s Waste Management Board, Governor Obaseki has demonstrated his resolve to work with youths who are ready to contribute to the growth and development of the state.
Also speaking at the meeting, a former member of Edo State Waste Management Board, Chief (Mrs) Doris Ogbefun, expressed readiness of women in the area to vote for APC candidates in the elections, adding that the APC-led state government has supported women empowerment and other initiatives that have improved women’s livelihood in the area.