File photo: President Buhari and Mr Oyegun
President Muhammadu Buhari has met with the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr John Oyegun, behind closed doors at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Mr Oyegun declined to brief State House correspondents on his mission to the President but some of those who saw him said he walked briskly out of the Villa on Friday.
The APC Chairman’s visit may not be unconnected to the letter written to him by one of the party leaders, Senator Bola Tinubu, who accused him of sabotaging his reconciliation assignment in the party.
READ ALSO: Buhari Appoints Tinubu To Lead APC Reconciliation
President Buhari, as well as the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki; and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, Mr Tinubu, were copied in the letter.
The President had appointed Mr Tinubu on February 6 to resolve disagreements among APC members, party leadership and political office holders in the country.
The APC Governors’ Forum had also commended the appointment, saying it was a welcome development that would help to strengthen the party.
Tinubu, however, claimed that Oyegun has personal qualms with him and accused him of seeking to undermine his mandate by engaging in dilatory tactics.
The letter read in part: “My position was and is that we can only restore the party by resolving its current deficiencies in an unbiased, neutral manner that allows us to strengthen our internal democracy by annealing those internal institutions and processes vital to such internal fairness. I stated this position then and still hold to it with all sincerity.
“Yet, disappointment greeted me when I discovered out that you had swiftly acted in contravention of the spirit of our discussions. Instead of being a bulwark of support as promised, you positioned yourself in active opposition to the goal of resuscitating the progressive and democratic nature of the APC. As a party, we have strived to be the best, present hope for the nation…
“In our discussion, you personally mentioned Kogi, Kaduna, Kano and Adamawa States as places afflicted by serious party issues. Given your assessment, these were states where I believed cooperation between you and I should have been intense and detailed. Instead, you have taken it as your personal mission to thwart my presidential assignment in these key states.”
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Fela Durotoye wants to become Nigeria’s president in 2019. That isn’t going to happen. Motivational speaker Fela Durotoye threw his hat into the 2019 presidential ring on Thursday, February 22, 2018 in typical tech savvy fashion.“Therefore, to be clear, I am aspiring to contest as a presidential candidate in the 2019 general elections”, Durotoye announced via an email sent to the Fela Durotoye Leadership Network.Durotoye will be running on the platform of the Alliance for a New Nigeria (ANN), a political party “founded by professionals and technocrats with great political insight and wisdom required to build a formidable nationwide grassroot movement within the next 12 months and beyond”, he says.“It’s time to choose our future over our past”, he declares. “It is our time and together we will deliver the future”. Honestly, I very much would love for someone outside of the establishment to become Nigeria’s president in my lifetime. It was why I signed up to the Chris Okotie campaign in 2003 and 2007, distributing the candidate’s plans for a new Nigeria on cassettes all around Ojota in Lagos. Durotoye’s biggest challenge at the moment can be situated in his own declaration statement.Biggest hurdle“It’s 12 months to the presidential election and we only have enough time to act quickly. So, let’s make each day count”, he says.Therein lies the problem with the Fela Durotoye presidential dream. You don’t build a “formidable nationwide grassroot movement” under 12 months. 2019 is just too soon for Durotoye and everyone else who is just making his presidential plans public. You don’t wake up one day to become president because you talk a good game and appeal to a youthful demographic. This declaration from the 46-year-old Durotoye is coming a couple of years late. He should have been on that shop window years before. Chris Okotie exampleOkotie was pretty much the same. He would get up in the middle of the night–few months before the general election–and tell everyone who cares to listen that God has ordained him to be Nigeria’s president. Fresh faced Okotie had no grassroot structure to his name, no ground game, embarked on zilch door-to-door campaign and appealed only to the elite who flocked his church while speaking through their nostrils.To beat the PDP and APC at their own game, a newcomer had to have been working his socks off years prior. Durotoye should have been in our faces the moment Buhari was elected president in 2015. He should have been proffering solutions to Nigeria’s problems since the APC seized the reins of leadership from the PDP. Durotoye should have been offering alternative policy proposals every other day on television and the internet since 2015. He can actually start now. He’s only 46 after all. He won’t be elected president in 2019 for sure. For Durotoye, it’s time to begin walking the talk by building a ground game—one that would grant him instant name recognition in the villages of Cross River and Taraba ahead of the 2023 vote. He’s got to begin building that grassroot movement for 2023 if he’s really serious about being president. Yes, Nigeria needs a fresh face. But it’s got to be one who has earned his epaulet. Durotoye hasn’t.
Odigie-Oyegun held a meeting with the president to discuss Tinubu’s allegations. National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives’ Congress (APC), John Odigie-Oyegun held a private meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday, February 23, 2018, in the wake of the allegations made against him by the party’s National Leader, Bola Tinubu.In the scathing letter that was brought to light on Thursday, February 22, Tinubu accused Odigie-Oyegun of sabotaging his efforts to unite the feuding members of the party ahead of the 2019 election.Odigie-Oyegun arrived at the Presidential Villa around 3pm and left at about 3.50pm, without speaking top State House correspondents.Reason for Tinubu’s letterOn February 6, President Buhari directed Tinubu to lead a reconciliation process to resolve disagreements among party members.The president instructed him to lead the consultation, reconciliation and confidence building efforts in the party that will involve resolving disagreements among party members, party leadership and political office holders in some states of the Federation.According to Tinubu’s letter, Oyegun has become an active opposition to the goals of his task.”Disappointment greeted me when I discovered that you had swiftly acted in contravention of the spirit of our discussions. Instead of being a bulwark of support as promised, you positioned yourself in active opposition to the goal of resuscitating the progressive and democratic nature of the APC,” he wrote.The meeting with Buhari is believed to be an opportunity for Odigie-Oyegun to respond to the concerns Tinubu expressed.
Location of Dapchi on Google map.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal Government of lying to Nigerians.
The party made the allegation on Friday in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary Kola Ologbondiyan.
The statement was in reaction to the controversy surrounding the kidnap of an unconfirmed number of students at the Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, in Yobe State.
Missing Yobe Schoolgirls: Buhari Orders Military To Take Charge
Some members of the Boko Haram terrorist group had stormed the school on Monday, carting away with some girls while others were said to have fled into the bush.
However, conflicting figures of the abducted girls emerged while President Muhammadu Buhari had sent a delegation to the school to ascertain the situation there and report back to him.
In their reaction, the PDP claimed: “While President Buhari has not uttered any word of assurance, government’s visiting team headed by the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, only had a whistle stop at the Dapchi school and made no effort to interface or even commiserate with community leaders and parents of the abducted girls, while completely shutting out the media. This only further confirms APC’s insensitivity to the plight of Nigerians.”
They also alleged that the Presidency has put Nigerians at risk by “deceiving the people and issuing false performance indices,” suggesting that insurgents have been completely routed out, a situation they claimed made the citizens “trust a lie and dropped their guards.”
“Without a doubt, if the incompetent All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government had not dished out lies to the people in a bid to score cheap political points for its ill-lucked 2019 re-election bid, more precautionary measures would have been adopted by the affected communities to ensure adequate protection,” the opposition party added.
They further accused the government of suppressing information on the girls’ abduction, saying such action resulted in conflicting reports and frustrating rescue mission.
The PDP condoled with the parents of the abducted girls and urged the security agencies to take “very decisive professional steps” to rescue the girls.
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He said there is currently no “qualitative and relevant alternative” to replace President Buhari. Former Kaduna State governor, Balarabe Musa, has backed President Muhammadu Buhari to run for re-election in 2019 despite admitting that his administration has failed to meet the expectations of Nigerians.The 81-year-old said there is currently no “qualitative and relevant alternative” to replace President Buhari and that this could lead to victory for him at the 2019 polls.While speaking during an interview with The Punch, published on Friday, February 23, 2018, Musa further explained that the ruling All Progressives’ Congress (APC) will rig the election to be able to defeat the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He said, “The performance of President Muhammadu Buhari since he came on board in 2015 has fallen short of the expectations of Nigerians. In other words, he has been unable to fulfil promises he made before he got the votes of Nigerians. I can reasonably say without fear that his government has failed.”Nothing stops him (Buhari) from contesting. After all, every elected public office holder in Nigeria has the right to seek a second term.”I won’t bother myself too much thinking about that because if today Buhari decides he won’t run for a second term, do you have a better person now in Nigeria who can perform better than Buhari? “Up to the end of the Second Republic, when (the late Chief Obafemi) Awolowo, Zik (the late Nnamdi Azikiwe), Aminu Kano and so on were there, you could say ‘if not Awolowo, Zik is competent’ and so on. There was, at that time, a clear alternative available for Nigerians; whether you liked it or not, it was a distinctive alternative. “But today, where is the alternative? We are now in a situation where there is no alternative or it is difficult for the alternative to emerge because this is politics and election in which ‘money power’ plays a leading role. “So, it is not possible to find a qualitative and relevant alternative to Buhari at the moment.”Igbo presidency needs to happenMusa, who is the national chairman of People’s Redemption Party (PRP), also backed the possibility of an Igbo presidency, noting that they have the right to a sense of belonging.He said, “In the first instance, this is democracy and every Nigerian has the right to aspire to any position. “Secondly, there is a zoning system. It’s a PDP policy but it is a right policy even though it was initiated and promoted by the PDP. Now, it has been accepted by every political party and every organisation now sees zoning as a means of giving everybody a sense of belonging. “Now, the North has had their opportunity to have the Presidency on many occasions. The West had it through Obasanjo and even the South-South had it. “Only the South-East has not had it. Why not? Are they not Nigerians? Do they not have the right to a sense of belonging? “If you deny them this right, would you honestly say that Nigeria is one? No. We have to be critical this time. The right person from the Igbo part must come. “We see what we have landed ourselves in by insisting that ‘any northerner or any southerner’. We see what it has led us to now. “So, I support an Igbo presidency that will be elected by Nigerians. We are not going to leave it for the Igbo to just bring ‘any Igbo’. No! We have made that mistake in the past by saying ‘any northerner or southerner’. “This time, we will be critical by choosing the Igbo man who will help us. If every Nigerian feels he has a sense of belonging, there will be no need for zoning.”2019 presidential raceMotivational speaker and leadership coach, Fela Durotoye, became the second aspirant to officially declare his intention to contest for president after he joined the Alliance for a New Nigeria (ANN) on Thursday, February 22.Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, remains the only other candidate to have officially declared his intention to contest after his announcement in September 2017.Former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, belongs to a growing list of prominent Nigerians who have dropped hints that they may contest in the 2019 presidential elections.Founder of the Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare revealed to his congregation on January 1, 2018, that God wants him to run for president despite his plan to quit politics for good.Even though President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to officially declare his reelection bid, he has also dropped hints over the past two months, and is expected to face former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who is also in contention.
Alhaji Yabagi Sani, the National Chairman of ADP, made the call at a news briefing in Abuja on Thursday. The Action Democratic Party (ADP), has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the crises in the All Progressives Congress (APC) chapters in Kaduna and Kogi States.Alhaji Yabagi Sani, the National Chairman of ADP, who made the call at a news briefing in Abuja on Thursday, frowned at the “intolerance’’ of Governors Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state and Yahaya Bello of Kogi toward opposition.The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that Yabagi was reacting to the alleged destruction of the party´s bill boards in Kogi and the demolition of APC factional secretariat in Kaduna.“Shockingly and most unfortunately, the governor of Kaduna State in an action difficult to explain demolished the house of a Senator opposed to his style of governance.“If El-Rufai could do this to his party men, what will be the faith of the real opposition parties like the ADP,” he asked.Sani noted that the worst intolerant regime never went to the extent of demolishing buildings belonging to members of the opposition.He alleged that the two governors were becoming despotic such that the people now enjoy limited rights and lived with palpable fear.According to Sani, the actions of the two governors are capable of truncating democracy, as there is the need to assure opposition parties of a level playing ground ahead of the 2019 general elections.“We know that President Muhamadu Buhari has promised to play by the rules and will not do anything to truncate democracy or present him as authoritarian.“We need the assurance that politicians do not have to go under in the journey towards 2019. The president must allay our fears.“We at the ADP are worried and afraid that unless Nigerians speak up against the present intolerance, we may all quietly be signing off 2019 to democracy terrorists,” he stressed.ALSO READ: Ezekwesili questions Buhari’s silence over 94 missing girls in YobeAccording to him, some state governors are despots pretending to be democrats.He said that Gov. El-Rufai had apparently began mobilisation against his 2019 return bid.Sani called on the President to speak up against the new political trend and to come out clearly to denounce Gov. El-Rufai and order the reconstruction of the demolished house.This, he said was critical to dissuade Nigerians from believing that the President was in support of El-Rufai’s action.
Jega said NASS tampering with the election timetable undermines the independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega has berated the National Assembly over the amendment of the election timetable.He said the action threatens the independence of INEC and subverts its power as provided in the constitution.Jega stated this on Thursday, February 22, 2018, at an event organised by the Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Development, in Abuja.In the amendment, as it pertains to the election timetable, national assembly election will come first, followed by governorship and state house of assembly while the presidential election will come last.According to him, the altered timetable would result to more cost of conducting elections.”We should not do anything to undermine the democratic process, thus we need to keep on adding value to the process,” he said.The ex-INEC boss said there is the need to mobilise Nigerians in towns and villages to be part of the electoral process for the nation’s democratic process to remain intact.ALSO READ: 2019 Election – Reps change INEC time table, presidential poll to now come lastHe called on civil society organisations (CSOs) to reinforce their commitment to mobilise voters to come out to vote during elections.He added: “Whatever we do, we should remember where we are coming from which is as a result of sweat and blood of our compatriots.”Our challenges are difficult but not impossible to address. It’s imperative that we find ways to contain the excesses of our politicians come 2019 elections, otherwise their excesses will keep undermining the electoral processes.”Jega is a former Vice-Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano. On 8 June 2010, he was nominated by former president Goodluck Jonathan as the new Chairman of INEC, subject to Senate confirmation.He replaced Professor Maurice Iwu, who vacated the post on 28 April 2010.Jega is the only INEC chairman to oversee two General Elections – 2011 and 2015.
Jega said this at an election programme — Watching the Vote Series — with the theme “Is Nigeria’s Democracy Under Threat?, organised by Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA) in Abuja. Prof. Attahiru Jega, former Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday said politicians were the greatest threat to Nigeria’s democracy.Jega said this at an election programme — Watching the Vote Series — with the theme “Is Nigeria’s Democracy Under Threat?, organised by Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA) in Abuja.According to him, the biggest threat is the recklessness of politicians to undermine Nigeria’s democracy, thereby destabilising the process of development.He said “Nigeria like all countries face threats to its democracy, we must identify the threats that have the tendency to derail the development of our democracy and address them.“We must also checkmate the threats of politicians to undermine our democracy because all we need now is adding value to the process/“We also need to mobilise our people in towns and villages to be part of the electoral process and ensure that we do not engage in authoritarian reversal which would take us several years to get back on track.“The signals are there, the fragility of the system is evident, we are a country with enormous systemic security challenges.”The former INEC boss, therefore, advised that Nigerians should have quality representatives that would provide good governance and protect the interest of the people.Dr Garba Abari, the Director-General, National Orientation Agency (NOA) said Nigeria’s democracy was under threat and the signs and indicators were evident.Abari stressed the need for government to partner CSOs to educate Nigerians on elections to especially curb invalid votes.He said NOA was concerned about the number of invalid votes that kept recurringduring elections, adding that there was need to educate the electorate onelection procedure.Mr Samson Itodo, the Executive Director of YIAGA, said with barely 358 days to the 2019 elections, there was need for Nigerians to redesign what the future of the nation would look like.Itodo said the election programme was timely as it was aimed at assessing the state of Nigeria’s democracy and to chart the way forward.
Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, has faulted the power of the National Assembly to alter the sequence in which elections are conducted.
The immediate past INEC boss faulted the lawmakers’ move on Thursday while speaking at an event organised by the Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Development in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Delivering a speech at the event with the theme, ‘Is Nigeria’s Democracy Under Threat?’ he noted that the changing the election sequence undermines the independence of electoral body.
Professor Jega pointed out that several sections of the constitution also stated that the power to organise and set the date for elections remain the exclusive preserve of INEC.
He also decried that more funds would be needed to finance the conduct of elections if the nation was to go by the recommendation of the National Assembly.
More to follow…
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The All Progressives Congress (APC) has set up a committee to investigate the disagreement that led to the emergence of a faction in Kaduna State.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party revealed this in a statement issued by him on Thursday.
According to him, the decision was reached at the end of the APC National Working Committee meeting which held on Wednesday.
READ ALSO: Kaduna APC Suspends Senator Hunkuyi, Expels 28 Others
The APC National Chairman Mr John Odigie-Oyegun presided over the meeting which lasted for about seven hours and was attended by a majority of the NWC members.
The crisis in the Kaduna APC has been on for a while and has resulted in the suspension of Senator Shehu Sani in 2016, and Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi in February by the APC leadership in the state.
Consequently, a faction of the party emerged but its secretariat was demolished by the Kaduna State government which said its action was not politically motivated.
Reaction to the crisis, the national leadership noted that the unfolding situation in Kaduna is deeply regrettable and asked all parties in the disagreement to maintain utmost decorum and give an opportunity for true reconciliation.
They added that this led to the setting up of the three-man committee led by the APC Deputy National Chairman (South), Mr Segun Oni.
The committee has been directed to embark on a fact-finding mission to Kaduna, with a view to identifying the remote and immediate causes of the disagreement.
It also has a responsibility to uncover the circumstance that led to the demolition of the house of Senator Hunkuyi.
The committee, which has the National Auditor, George Moghalu, and the National Woman Leader, Rahmatu Alliyu, as members, is to report back to the NWC within a week.
Meanwhile, the national leadership reaffirmed Mr Haddy Ametuo as the APC Chairman in Kogi State, until the appropriate organ of the party decides otherwise in accordance with their constitution.
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The lawmaker made it clear he won’t run against Ambode in 2019 as he enjoys his work in the National Assembly. Lagos lawmaker, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, has dismissed rumours that he’s planning to contest to be the state’s next governor in the 2019 gubernatorial election.The lawmaker representing the Lagos East senatorial district issued a statement through his aide, Temitope Atiba, on Thursday, February 22, 2018, to ask his constituents to disregard the report by an online news blog.Senator Ashafa explained further that he supports incumbent governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, and that he’s firmly focused on his duties as a lawmaker.The statement read, “The attention of the office of the Senator Representing the good and hardworking people of Lagos East Senatorial District has this morning 22 February, 2018 been drawn to a news item published on an online news blog known as “Society Now” and captioned “AGAIN TALKS GBENGA ASHAFA INTERESTED IN BECOMING NEXT LAGOS GOV FLOAT ABOUT TOWN”.”The Distinguished Senator Gbenga B. Ashafa hereby uses this medium to reiterate his support for the government of his Excellency, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and to state that he is firmly focused on his assignment as the Senator representing the people of Lagos East Senatorial District in the upper chamber of the Legislature. “Senator Ashafa is equally committed to supporting the brilliant strides of the incumbent Governor of Lagos State and would continue to support him accordingly.”It is pertinent to state at this juncture that only last week, on Friday 16 February, 2018, Senator Gbenga Ashafa used the medium of his address at the closing ceremony of the Entrepreneurship Training and Skill Acquisition program for constituents of Lagos East by his office in conjunction with SMEDAN to further publicly drum up support for the government of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, noting the good works of the governor particularly in the aspect of youth empowerment.”It has therefore come to the Distinguished Senator as a surprise that any news medium would contemplate the possibility of him contesting against the candidacy of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode in the 2019 general elections.”The lawmaker made it clear he won’t run against Ambode in 2019 as he enjoys his work in the National Assembly, and urged all Lagosians to back the governor.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has taken a swipe at the Federal Government over what it perceives as an attempt to censor the media.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement on Thursday faulted the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, who briefed journalists on the government’s achievements so far.
“APC’s attempt to gag the media is pathetic, as no amount of censorship or bandying of false figures would stop Nigerians from reflecting on the real state of affairs in our country today,” he said while criticising the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ologbondiyan believes President Muhammadu Buhari’s government seems to have dashed the expectations of numerous Nigerians.
He claimed that the minister gave “unverifiable statistics” of the government’s achievements when he received a team of journalists on Tuesday in Abuja.
The PDP spokesman noted that the purported failures of the Federal Government must not be downplayed by censoring the media.
“Nigerians know that the APC has failed and that the Buhari-led Presidency is directly responsible for the collapse of our economy, which was thriving under the PDP.
“They know that the torrents started buffeting the nation from May 29, 2015, and no amount of propaganda and futile efforts to censor the media by the APC will change the facts,” Ologbondiyan said.
The statement read further: “While we note the minister’s snap that the media should contextualise their reporting, we ask; how else should the media contextualise the sudden collapse of the economy with the naira tumbling from N197/ 1USD in 2015 when PDP handed over power, to N360-N400/ 1USD, without placing the blame at the doorsteps of President Muhammadu Buhari and his dysfunctional APC?
“How else should the media contextualise the fact that under the Buhari Government, over 8 million Nigerians lost their jobs between 2016 to 2017; 16 million were unemployed, 18 million more were underemployed, while another 27.44 million refused to work in 2016 for various reasons related to frustration in the polity?”
The PDP further reiterated that the government should accept its failures and seek help from well-meaning Nigerians.
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The president met two of his biggest critics at the Council of State meeting in Abuja. President Muhammadu Buhari was all smiles at the Presidential Villa as he met with some of his biggest critics, former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, and Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, during the Council of State meeting on Thursday, February 22, 2018.The president was pictured separately shaking hands and smiling broadly with the duo as he hosted top government officials including former presidents, heads of both legislative chambers of the National Assembly, all living former Chief Justices of Nigeria, all the 36 state governors and the Attorney General of the Federation. The meeting kicked off around 11am with the issue of national security expected to be one of the most pressing concerns.The Council will also consider the appointment of National Commissioners for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), among other issues.The meeting is president Buhari’s third as Nigerian president, as he entertains some of his administration’s biggest critics in Obasanjo and Fayose.
The leadership coach is eyeing President Buhari’s job because he wants to transform Nigeria. Motivational speaker and leadership coach, Fela Durotoye, has declared his intention to run for president in the 2019 general elections on the platform of the Alliance for a New Nigeria (ANN).In a statement sent to members of the Fela Durotoye Leadership Network, he revealed that he’s joined the ANN to realise his ambition of transforming the country.According to him, the country has all the resources it needs to be a desirable place for anyone to inhabit, provided it gets the right leadership.His full statement read, “As you may already know, over the last 13 years, I have committed my life and resources to doing all I can to build a New Nigeria that would be the most desirable Nation to live in by December 31, 2025.”From nation building projects like Mushin Makeover (which was recorded as the largest non-governmental urban renewal project in Africa’s history), to raising the standard of education in our schools and higher institutions through projects & initiatives, to helping our young people across our nation Deliver The Future to corporate transformation projects and most importantly championing the largest non-governmental Values Infusion project through the 10 lifestyle personal creed that we share together on this network that has now been endorsed and actively promoted by a multitude of Nigerians across all gender, tribe, social class or religious affirmation..”As I have stated severally on this platform and in public, I have come to the conclusion that good governance is critical for any nation to accomplish its full potential. In fact, without good governance every other good work carried out by its citizens would ultimately be like pouring water into a basket and is therefore not sustainable.”This is why it became important for us to set up the RUNNING FOR A NEW NIGERIA platform, where we galvanize a critical mass of people who would participate in the governance process either by VOTING or BEING VOTED FOR at the 2019 General Elections and beyond.”In line with our Values one of which is to “BE A ROLE MODEL WORTHY OF EMULATION”, I had to decide to get involved in the political arena rather than staying on the sidelines and only challenging others to go in.”It is my hope that as I step unto the political scene, many more of our brightest and best will arise to heed our nation’s clarion call to contest for elective offices, win the elections, and most importantly collectively deliver good governance to our nation.”Therefore, to be clear, I am aspiring to contest as a Presidential Candidate in the 2019 General Elections.””A lot of people have asked me ‘FD, what party will you be running on? Is it APC or PDP?’”Whilst it is true that these parties may have formidable grassroots structures, I strongly doubt that these old parties with their old ideology (of God-Fatherism also known as Selectocracy, Rulership, Money Politricks etc) would be able to deliver to us a New Nigeria.”And so, over the last few months, I have researched into several political parties to determine if their ideologies, vision and values resonate with those we share together on this Network.”I am glad to announce that one party has resonated more with me than others in Ideology, principles & a truly democratic internal political process that is open to all to aspire & provides a level playing field for the best candidates to emerge at all levels for Legislative & Executive offices.”I believe it is safe to say that I have found my political home, which I truly believe would be a HOME FOR ALL NATION BUILDERS.”Today, 2pm, 22nd of February 2018, I would be formalizing my membership with the ALLIANCE FOR A NEW NIGERIA (ANN) and formally joining the party.”ANN is a party founded by Professionals & technocrats with great political insight and wisdom required to build a formidable nationwide grassroot movement within the next 12 months and beyond. The National Chairman is Dr. Jay Osi Samuels, a Medical Doctor and a Renowned Public Health Practitioner respected globally.”As I move further on this noble cause, I’d like you to pray with me for divine wisdom, grace, favor, courage, strength & discernment.”Secondly, it is my desire that you will, like I have done, decide to step in the political arena and go beyond just registering to vote but also becoming a member of a Political Party where you would have voting rights, ability to choose your own candidates amongst those aspiring for office and where your potential aspirations cannot be stifled by any god father.”I strongly believe that your involvement in the political arena either as a member or aspirant within a political party would strongly enhance our ability to deliver good governance for the New Nigeria.”As you thoroughly consider the various political parties, I’ll like to recommend for your favorable consideration the Alliance for a New Nigeria. I want you to join ANN not just because I asked you to, but only if the Party Ideology resonates with yours as it does with mine.”Lastly, as we together run for a New Nigeria, I would like us to create a buzz for this major milestone and spread the news by sharing the images from my page to all your social media handles, using the hashtag #RunningForANewNigeria & #DeliverTheFuture.”It’s 12 months the Presidential Election and we only have enough time to ACT QUICKLY, so let’s make each day count.”It’s time to choose our future over our past. IT IS OUR TIME… And together, we will deliver the future.”God Bless You. And May God Bless our Federal Republic of Nigeria.”2019 presidential raceFormer governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, belongs to a growing list of prominent Nigerians who have dropped hints that they may contest in the 2019 presidential elections.Founder of the Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare revealed to his congregation on January 1, 2018, that God wants him to run for president despite his plan to quit politics for good.Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, remains the only other candidate to have officially declared his intention to contest the election after his announcement in September 2017.Even though President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to officially declare his reelection bid, he has also dropped hints over the past two months, and is expected to face former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who is also in contention.
The recent controversy about underage voting has thrown the legitimacy of the 2019 elections into disrepute. The short explanation for the role democracy plays in the framework of a nation is that its result is a representation of the people’s choice, a majority of them anyway.For years, Nigerians have obsessed over ensuring that the process of the country’s democracy reaches an optimum level where the interests of the nation are most pivotal.Every election cycle, this obsession reaches its peak as candidates, political parties and the electorate extol the values of democracy and the importance of making every single vote count.This obsession with free and fair elections has been the catalyst for countless electoral litigations that have resulted in countless overruled election results and court-appointed victories.With the way elections have been conducted in Nigeria over the past two decades, it is fair to say it hasn’t been smooth sailing. The country’s history with electoral irregularities has informed Nigerians’ fervent vigilance towards electoral conducts as the 2019 general elections approach.Judging by recent events, there might be a genuine reason to worry about the sanctity of the nation’s so-called democracy.Kano underage voting controversyDuring the Kano State local government elections that took place on February 10, 2018, the ruling All Progressives’ Congress (APC) swept all the 44 chairmanship and 484 councillorship seats.The election was conducted by the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission (KANSIEC) and, unsurprisingly, was heavily criticised by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for outright cheating, underage voting and ballot stuffing.Days after the election, pictures emerged on social media showing that children, apparently under the voting age of 18, participated in the elections, brandishing Permanent Voter’s Cards that shouldn’t be in their possession by the laws of democracy. The disturbing images solidified the position of the PDP and the party has not wasted the opportunity of piling the pressure on INEC and ramping up concerns about the state of the 2019 general elections.INEC’s initial poor reactionIn reaction to the public storm that gathered over the images that flooded social media, INEC tried to absolve itself of the blame and failed miserably.According to the commission’s Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, the blame for the underage voting mess was not its responsibility in any way.He said, “The attention of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been drawn to videos and pictures purportedly showing some underage thumb printing ballot papers in a recent election. These images have been circulating online since Saturday. “The Commission wishes to inform the public that the images do not relate in any way to any election organised, conducted or superintended by INEC. As far as the Commission can ascertain, they relate to a Local Government election conducted at the weekend, and over which we have no legal control or responsibility whatsoever.”As far as we can ascertain, they (the pictures) relate to a local government election conducted at the weekend (in Kano).”While the Commission remains resolute in our commitment to sanitise the nation’s electoral process and deliver free, fair and credible elections, we cannot be held directly or vicariously liable for a process outside our legal purview.”While KANSIEC should indeed take the bulk of the blame for whatever irregularities arose from that election, INEC’s attempt to completely float above the scandal fails since it was the one that provided KANSIEC with the national voter register to conduct the election.Those underage voters only have made it to the voting stage because INEC handed them PVCs and put them in its register.So, what’s up, INEC?INEC helpless against underage votingWith the undignified failure of its initial response and the increased scrutiny it invited, Osaze-Uzzi returned to explain INEC’s struggle with the menace of underage voting.According to him, registration officers are threatened by local communities to register underage applicants, with their lives under mortal risk.”I agree that it is the responsibility of the registration officer to do that (refuse to register underage people), but there are times that circumstances are such that where there is present and clear danger that he risks being assaulted or being killed, I think it will be unreasonable to expect him not to succumb to the pressure. But we encourage them to report immediately they get out of that dangerous zone,” he said.In what was a chilling admission, Osaze-Uzzi lamented that despite INEC’s best efforts to rid the system of anomalies such as underage voting, it’s impossible for the process to be perfect.He said, “I think the law recognises that being a human endeavour, it may not be perfect and that is why it gives some kind of leeway such that when you weigh everything together, it is a reflection of what the people have chosen.”If one percent of the register has underage persons; will this affect the outcome?” An ugly truthNigeria’s struggle with the multifaceted monster of electoral misconduct has been gruelling as underage voting remains one of the most persistent troubles.According to a former INEC national commissioner, Prof. Lai Olurode, underage voting was also a problem when he served under the widely-acclaimed tenure of former chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega.Prof. Olurode suggested that there are certain parts of the country notorious for encouraging underage voting with community leaders taking an active part in the process.He lamented, “I had to run for my life at one of the election centres in a part of the country because these people said children must vote or there would be no election at all. It is that bad.”In the course of my service to the nation during the Jega’s era, it was happening in many parts of the country but there are specific geographic locations where it is very common which means the problem can be tackled if responded to promptly by all the stakeholders.”It’s no secret that the rest of the country has always treated the high electoral numbers of the northern zones with great suspicion.It’s a widely held belief that numbers from the zone, more than most, are always inflated to serve selfish agendas, especially for presidential elections.Events such as the one that happened in Kano is a manifestation of such suspicions and sort of legitimises it as a genuine concern heading into 2019.While high off the euphoria of the absolute victory of the APC in the February 10 elections, Kano governor, Abdullahi Ganduje promised to rally 5 million votes in the state for President Muhammadu Buhari if he seeks re-election next year.According to INEC’s statistics, as of January 2018, Kano has 5,149,070 registered voters. When the state had just 4,975,702 in 2015, only less than half (2,172,447) voted, as Buhari got an overwhelming 1,903,999.The confidence that spurred the governor’s brave promise is one of the markers fueling concern about how free the nation’s voting system is.If underage voting is as rampant as many suspect, then how reliable, really, is Nigeria’s electoral system?No one is under any illusion that the system is stellar, or even close to that, but the knowledge that INEC’s own Director of Voter Education thinks one percent of illegal underage voters is an insignificant problem is a worrying thought.On Wednesday, February 21, INEC announced the formation of an eight-member committee to investigate the claims in Kano but the outcome of the committee’s probe is not expected to affect the results of the election in any significant form; the deed, it appears, has been done.However, this event presents a huge moment for INEC to explore innovative measures of getting around the problem of voter fraud.Prof. Olurode suggests that the Federal Government should effect a system of harmonising several databases in the country to deter underage voting.He said if the database of people with driving licences, passports, national identity cards and Bank Verification Numbers could be harmonised, it would be easier to get authentic information of Nigerians and curb underage voting.While that will go a long way in easing the problem of verification for registration officers, the problem of threats to their lives still linger.Osaze-Uzzi already revealed that there’s a process for when officers register illegals under duress as they can report to the commission and expunge the fraudulent names from the register, but it’s apparent that this is not effective enough.INEC needs to realise how much of a pressing need there is to reach a definitive solution on this mess that’ll convince the Nigerian public that their votes are not being sabotaged by the fraudulence of a few.The commission is one of the most significant custodians of Nigeria’s democracy and it is vital that it is not perceived as too incompetent to accurately represent the will of legal voters. One percent of illegal voters in the voter register is not a negligible figure.It is critical that when the dust settles on the 2019 general elections, INEC can boast that it conducted free, fair and credible elections.More importantly, Nigerians should be convinced enough to believe them.As it stands, there’s so much to be desired.