As the countdown to the 2011 general elections in Nigeria begins, political parties are yet to announce plans for ward congresses which many believe, would provide the platform for the election of candidates that will fly the party flags come next year’s general polls.
Investigations conducted by The Tide indicate that majority of the political parties are waiting for directives from their national offices before swinging into action, but the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appears to be pre-occupied with sensitisation of party members, wooing others into its fold and reshuffling its political cards for future political gains.
While awareness of party members on ward congresses is at its lowest ebb, feelers indicate that many party faithfuls may be caught up when the lid for the congresses is removed by INEC.
Rivers State Chairman of National Movement of Progressives, Hon Ronarth Dappa told The Tide that there was no way the party would organise ward congress without official directive from its national office, noting that the moment the national body of the party came out with a timetable, the party would go ahead with the congress.
Since the party is relatively new, he said it had commenced grassroots mobilisation to woo members into the party. Dappa noted that the ward congress would be a major launching pad for his party.
Similarly, Hon Christian Finebone of the National Majority Democratic Party (NMDP), said it was too early to organise ward congresses.
The Rivers State Secretary of NMDP declared that machineries needed to be put in place before holding the exercise, assuring that before the year runs out, it would conduct its ward congress elections.
The Tide learnt that the posture of most of the political parties may not be in connection with the plans of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to make public its election time table in March.
INEC chairman, Prof Maurice Iwu, said in Abuja at an interactive session with newsmen that the commission would release the timetable for the 2011 general election in March, thsis year.
Iwu justified the measure on the need for political parties and aspirants to have enough time to plan their activities.
On what would happen to the timetable if the National Assembly amended the constitution especially, the sections that deal with election timetable, Iwu said INEC was ready to make necessary changes to take care of such developments.
On speculations that 2011 general election would be shifted to November, the INEC boss said that this would only be possible if the constitution and other relevant laws were amended before then.
However, since the inception the of the Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi administration in Rivers State, party politics may have been kept in a cooler in order not to distract the administration’s lauded development agenda in the state.
Two years into his administration, and with enviable record of remarkable service delivery of good governance, the PDP government of the state appears to be set to swing into action of party politics.
In line with this, the chairman of PDP in Obio/Akpor Local Government area, Chukwuemeka Aaron said the party has begun grassroot sensitisation to shape party members and other faithfuls into action for election.
Aaron, in a telephone chat with The Tide said the success of the sensitisation programme of the party would be a litmus test for the PDP to re-enact its success story in the LGs and the State elections. He advised party men and women including the youths in respective areas to close rank and work with a common purpose to take PDP to the next level of democratic success.
Aaron’s counterpart in Eleme Local Government area, Hon Abel Onungwe, agreed that PDP had swung into action on the sensitisation of party members and electorate in the area, preparatory to the congresses and the general elections in 2011.
A PDP chieftain in Gokana LGA, Hon Baiate Giadom said waiting was the name of the political game for now. “We are patiently waiting on the directive of our party on the congresses,” he said, adding that as soon as the directive was given from the national body, all other things would be put into shape for action.
Giadom, a former councillor, said there was no negative implication on the waiting game, arguing that each political party, had internal mechanism in organising party activities.
He, however, advised Rivers people to remain supportive of Amaechi administration in the efforts to re-position the state and deliver the dividends of democracy to the people.
Perhaps, it is the waiting game that has influenced the docile activities of the parties at their respective secretariats, and this The Tide learnt may have far-reaching implications on the political development of the parties ahead of the 2011 general elections.
A chieftain of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP), Igoniwari Haliday said the hope of HDP to relaunch itself into political reckoning was being kept alive with its grassroots moblisation.
Halliday said HDP was recording successes in its mobilisation drive, but declined comments on the speculation that a governorship aspirant of HDP was warming up to wrest power from Governor Amaechi. Sources described the HDP female governorship hopeful as an Amazon that has all it takes to make a statement in the political history of the state.
Philip-Wuwu Okparaji & Enoch Epelle
INEC Fixes February 26 For Six By-Elections
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed the conduct of six outstanding constituencies’ by-elections in four States for February 26.
The commission announced this in a statement issued by INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee Festus Okoye, on Friday evening in Abuja.
Mr Okoye said that the decision was taken at the INEC regular weekly meeting held on Thursday and an extra-ordinary meeting of Friday, where issues that led to the vacancies and the rescheduling of some of the elections, as well as the security situation in some of the states, were discussed.
He said that the decision followed the declaration of vacancies by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the speakers of some state Houses of Assembly.
The vacancies according to Mr Okoye are Akure North/Akure South Federal Constituency, Ondo State; Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency, Plateau and Pankshin South State Constituency, Plateau.
Others are Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency, Cross River; Akpabuyo State Constituency, Cross River and Ngor-Okpala State Constituency, Imo.
Mr Okoye said that the by-elections would hold on February 26 immediately after the FCT Area Council elections.
“This will enable the commission to clear most of the by-elections, focus on the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections and ongoing preparations for the 2023 general election,” Mr Okoye said.
The national commissioner said that some of the vacancies arose as a result of the death of the previous occupants; substantial disruption of the electoral process and fulfilment of constitutional and legal requirements in the electoral process.
He said that INEC had decided to combine the Ekiti East 1 State Constituency election with the governorship election in Ekiti, which would hold on June 18.
Mr Okoye also said that the commission was consulting with security agencies and the critical stakeholders relating to the vacancy in Shinkafi State Constituency of Zamfara.
He added that the Speaker of the Kaduna State House of Assembly had not declared a vacancy in relation to Giwa State Constituency of Kaduna State.
Mr Okoye said that the official notification for the elections would be published on January 24.
“Political Parties shall conduct their primaries, including resolution of disputes arising from the primaries, between Jan. 26 and Feb. 5,” he said.
He added that the last day for submission of the list of nominated candidates is on February 9 at 6 p.m. and that must be done through the commission’s online nomination portal.
“Political parties shall submit the names of their polling agents for the election to the electoral officer of the local government on or before Feb. 12 and campaigns by political parties shall stop on Feb. 24.
“The access code for the nomination forms shall be available for collection from Feb. 5 at the commission’s headquarters,” he explained.
He advised parties to comply with INEC timelines and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) in conducting transparent and valid direct or indirect primaries.
He warned that any party that presents a candidate who does not meet the qualifications stipulated in the constitution and the Electoral Act shall be guilty of an offence and on conviction shall be liable to a maximum fine of N500,000.
Mr Okoye said that INEC at the meetings also reviewed its preparations for the area council elections in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) holding on February 12.
He said that INEC was finalising all arrangements for the election.
He appealed to citizens who applied for fresh registration as well as transfers and replacement of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to immediately collect them and avoid a last-minute rush for those cards.
He said that PVC for all new registrants as well as requests for transfers and replacement of damaged cards had been printed and were available in all the six area councils of FCT for collection.
Ex-Chief Judge Declares For Presidency
A former Chief Judge of Anambra State, Professor Peter Nnanna Umeadi, has announced his intention to contest the office of President of Nigeria on the platform of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in the 2023 general elections in Nigeria.
Umeadi in his declaration speech pledged to administer Nigeria with firmness and fairness and reposition the country to the path of progress, harmony and prosperity.
He announced this in a statement addressed to the National Chairman of APGA, Ozonkpu Victor Oye and issued on Friday.
The APGA chieftain also said that he would initiate genuine reconciliation across the length and breadth of the country, if elected the President.
He said, “the governing class, that is men and women who find themselves entrusted with the power to govern should learn to remove their personal interest from the picture.
“Governance should be seen for what it is, holding forth for the masses of Nigerian citizens, showing that the natural and human resources of our richly endowed country would be applied to and for the benefit of the greatest number of our citizens.
“I say that Nigeria could only be repositioned from within. We all need to roll up our sleeves and go to work in all facets of our national life and we should be able to reposition Nigeria in 4 years from 2023”.
He pledged to usher in patriotism, collective reconstruction of the nation’s economy, upliftment of all segments of the society, promoting probity, accountability and dedication in public and private lives.
Umeadi said having served under the government of former Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi as Chief Judge for three years and same position under the incumbent Governor, Willie Obiano for five years, he has the capacity, sense of history, humility and self-effacement to reconcile and weld ethnic groups together.
He assured that his efforts would be geared towards a Nigeria where justice would reign for all citizens equally, irrespective of tribe or status.
“We should arrive for a sound education, affordable health care, food on the table, security of lives and property and people’s ability to achieve their life ambitions in a setting presenting a level playing field and predetermined standards.
“Nigeria requires change which only good leadership could provide. We need to change the way we think so we could change the way we do things. If I get the ticket of APGA then we stand a good chance to win the presidential election in 2023”, he added.
PGF-DG Fumes Over APC National Convention
Director General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), SalihuLukman, has again slammed the Governor. Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for making excuses as to why it cannot conduct its national convention as scheduled until certain conditions are met.
Citing media reports which alleged that the convention could be shifted to June, Lukman, in a statement, yesterday, picked holes in the CECPC’s statement that it would conduct the convention after addressing some critical issues.
He faulted claims that the CECPC was waiting for APC governors to decide on convention date, and lamented that failure to conduct the convention was hurting the party’s preparation for the 2023 general polls.
He said: “Shortly following the news of the alleged postponement, the Secretary of the CECPC, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe issued a statement of rebuttal, calling on the general public to ‘completely disregard fake news on the reported suspension of the planned National Convention’.
“The statement further informed the public that the CECPC ‘is already embarking on consultations with party stakeholders to prepare the ground for a rancour-free National Convention.’ Sadly, the statement, like previous ones from the CECPC didn’t announce any date and venue for the National Convention. Very disappointingly, the statement said ‘sub-committee on budgeting and other substructures will be set up in due course.’
“This is a slap on the faces of Nigerians and an insult on party members. How can a statement from ‘a focus-driven, process-oriented political party’, make such a scandalous statement allegedly assuring that a convention is scheduled to hold in February without indicating the date and venue for the convention? If subcommittees, whether for budget or anything are to be set up, to perhaps mobilise funds for the convention, why are they not set up with just about two weeks to the end of January?” he queried.
According to Lukman, it is now somehow difficult not to conclude that the CECPC is intentionally promoting speculations around the APC National Convention by claiming to embark on ‘consultations with party stakeholders to prepare the ground for a rancour-free National Convention.’
He recalled that on November 22, 2021, the Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) AbubakarAtikuBagudu led a delegation, which includes the CECPC Chairman, Mai Mala Buni, to President MuhammaduBuhari to finalise consultations on the date of the Convention. Immediately after the meeting with President Buhari, Bagudu announced the agreement reached with President Buhari to the effect that the Convention would hold in February 2022.
“With such an agreement, the responsibility of the CECPC is to go ahead and start organising the Convention. Almost two months after, the CECPC has not issued any notice of the Convention to anyone. Not even the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which by the provision of the Electoral Act as amended is required to be given at least 21 days’ notice.
“It is very difficult not to conclude that both the Chairman and all members of the CECPC have no respect for President Buhari, which is responsible for why they are doing everything possible to sabotage decisions validly taken to hold the APC National Convention in February after consultation with the President.
“For whatever reasons, it would appear that the leadership of CECPC are enjoying all the public speculations maligning Governors and some other senior leaders of the party as working to stop the APC National Convention from holding in February 2022.
“This is most unfortunate. The truth must be told, the responsibility of organising the February 2022 APC National Convention rests squarely with the CECPC.
“At this point, it will be necessary to remind all members of the CECPC and by extension, all leaders of APC that part of the reasons that made it very necessary to dissolve the AdamsOshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) was the disrespect for leaders and members of the party, especially by Oshiomhole, the former National Chairman of the party. It was on record that during the tenure of Oshiomhole as National Chairman, the recommendations of party leaders and members were hardly considered.
“The CECPC leadership has returned the party back to the mode of open disrespect for any recommendation given. It is even worse now given that the CECPC is ready to sacrifice the future of the party. Clearly, what is steering us in the face is that all the bad leadership record under Oshiomhole-led NWC is about to be met and outstripped by the present CECPC.
“However, the first challenge now is to ensure that the CECPC has no option but to organise the APC National Convention in February 2022 as decided based on all the consultations that have taken place. The CECPC must be told that all consultations about organising the Convention ended with the meeting with President Buhari on November 22, 2021, and therefore the CECPC leadership should stop lying to Nigerians and APC members.
“The CECPC should also stop claiming that it is waiting for the meeting of Progressive Governors before it takes all the necessary decisions to commence the process of organising the Convention. Such a claim is not only dishonest but also taking the support of Progressive Governors for granted, which is why Progressive Governors have been reduced to punching bags of all party members regarding all the challenges facing the party.
“Largely on account of delaying the implementation of decisions to organise the February APC National Convention, there is hardly any internal party preparation for the 2023 electoral contest beyond individual leaders declaring their personal aspirations for offices.
“Without any prejudice to the aspirations of leaders, it is important that the party is able to set some minimum standards for the 2023 campaigns so that individual aspirants can orient their internal party mobilisation around those minimum standards. APC must not make the mistake of orientating its internal party mobilisation for the emergence of candidates for 2023 elections, especially Presidential Candidate only based on personality contest”.
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