Eight commissioners who were not listed among those expelled by the Felix Obuah-led faction of Rivers State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) for failing to appear before the Performance Assessment Committee of the party last week have dissociated themselves from the exercise.
Addressing newsmen last Wednesday in Port Harcourt, Commissioner for Health, Dr. Sampson Parker, Commissioner for Education, Dame Alice Lawrence-Nemi and their counterparts in Transport, George Tolofari, Youth Development, Owene Wonodi and Employment Generation and Empowerment, Dr Ipalibo Harry said they did not make any representation or appear before the panel, as might have been construed in some quarters.
Transport Commissioner, George Tolofari said their exclusion was a ploy to sow seed of discord amongst members of the Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi cabinet and paint them as saboteurs”.
“I see the whole thing as a calculated attempt to cause disaffection and mistrust amongst the commissioners,” he said.
The same view was held by Sampson Parker, who disclosed that he was outside the country while the exercise was conducted, saying his loyalty to Governor Amaechi remains resolute.
“The whole thing is coloured with an ulterior motive and will not succeed,” he added.
On his part, Dr. Ipalibo Harry said it would be malicious for the party officials to claim that he and other of his colleagues appeared before it.
Describing their exclusion from the expulsion as a ploy to cause disaffection, Harry added,” I am faithful to this government and will remain so’’.
Commissioner for Youth Development, Owene Wonodi stated that he did not receive any invitation, as he challenged the party committee to provide evidence of his appearance, whether in person or through a representative.
Commissioner for Finance, Chamberlain Peterside, said he returned to the country last Saturday after the committee might have concluded its activity.
He condemned the plans of the Obuah-led faction of the PDP for attempting to cause ‘’malicious’’ disaffection amongst Amaechi’s cabinet, and wondered what they would gain by fighting the government.
Peterside said their exclusion from the expusion list cannot compromise their support for the Amaechi government.
“My decision to serve in this government is based on principle and personal affection to the governor. I will go to sleep anytime, any day for serving in this administration,” he maintained.
Also, Commissioner forSpecial Duties, Barr Dickson Umunakwe challenged the Felix Obuah-led executive of the PDP to show evidence of invitation extended to him by the Performance Evaluation Panel.
Barr Umunakwe argued that he was neither present at the panel nor did he submit any document to it, because its intention remains to cause disunity in Governor Amaechi’s cabinet.
Speaking to newsmen in Port-Harcourt, the commissioner said his loyalty to Governor Chibuike Amaechi and Chief Godspower Ake-led PDP remained unflinching.
Barr Umunakwe remarked that the hallmark of a purposeful leadership was problem-solving and not divisive or vindictive tendencies, charging Governor Amaechi to remain focused in the task ahead.
He said the statement of the Obuah-led executive of the PDP concerning the presentation and appearance of some of his appointees and aides before the Performance Evaluation Committee including himself, occasioning their exclusion from the expulsion list was highly condemnable.
Similarly, the state Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Gogo Levi Charles has described as a figment of their imagination, claims by the Obuah-led PDP that he was not expelled because he allegedly honoured their invitation to appear before the panel.
Incidentally, “I did not make the list of those expelled, an indication that I am one of the commissioners who, either sent in a representation or honoured the invitation of the committee in whatever guise”, he noted.
He said that “for the avoidance of doubt, I am as shocked by this development as it has been with the horrifying development in our political space in the last couple of months.
Let me state categorically that I never received any invitation in whatsoever form from the committee for the said purpose. Consequently, there would be no basis for attending, sending representation or report to any such committee, he said.
Declare Buhari’s Seat Vacant, Owuru Urges Court
The candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) in the last presidential election, Chief Ambrose Owuru, has approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to declare the seat of President Muhammadu Buhari vacant.
Owuru, who was among the four petitioners that went to tribunal to challenge Buhari’s re-election, in his fresh suit, sought for an order to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from “undertaking or planning any other election into the office of the President”, in 2023.
The Plaintiff, in his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/480/2021, maintained that Buhari is “an unlawful President that is illegally occupying the Presidential seat”.
It would be recalled that Owuru and his party, HDP, had in an earlier appeal they litigated up to the Supreme Court, insisted that the Justice Mohammed Garba-led Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, erroneously dismissed a petition they lodged against the return of Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the presidential election that held on February 23, 2019.
They specifically prayed the apex court to sack Buhari on the premise that he emerged through an illegal process.
According to the Appellants, INEC, failed to follow condition precedents stipulated in the Electoral Act, when it unduly postponed the presidential election that was originally fixed for February 16.
The HDP claimed that its candidate, Owuru, secured over 50million votes in a referendum that was conducted by both electorates and observer networks that were dissatisfied with the unilateral postponement of the presidential election by INEC.
However, in a unanimous decision, a five-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mary Odili, struck out the appeal for constituting “a gross abuse of the judicial process”.
Meantime, in the fresh suit, Owuru and his party argued that their suit against Buhari at the Supreme Court was inconclusive.
The Plaintiffs argued that the case was fixed outside the 60 days period that was allowed by the law.
Owuru asked the court to declare him the authentic winner of the last presidential poll, as well as, to issue an order for his immediate inauguration to take over from Buhari.
He prayed the court to declare that he is entitled to serve out a tenure of 4 years after his formal inauguration.
More so, the HDP presidential candidate, aside from asking for Buhari’s immediate removal from office, equally prayed the court to compel him to refund all salaries, allowances and emoluments he collected while he unlawfully stayed in office as President.
Owuru also asked the court to give an order that salaries, allowances and emoluments be paid to him from May 29, 2019, when he ought to have been sworn in, till date.
The Plaintiff further applied for, “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Respondents by themselves and acting through their agents, servants, privies and or proxies howsoever from any further organizing, undertaking or planning of any other election into the office of the President of Nigeria or any such other Presidential Election interfering, harassing and or disturbing the Applicant adjudged acquired right as unopposed and unchallenged winner of the original scheduled and held the February 16 Presidential Election thereof until the 1st Applicant unserved constitutional four years term of office is served pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit by this honourable court”.
Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the matter were Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation, and INEC.
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the matter to be heard.
World Bank Report Exposes Buhari’s Lies, PDP Affirms
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the report by World Bank that 7 million Nigerians have been pushed into poverty in the last year, has clinically belied the integrity posturing of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The opposition party said the World Bank report came in the face of the recent claims by President Buhari that his administration has lifted over 10 million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years.
The PDP asserted that the report by the World Bank has further vindicated its position that President Buhari runs an uncoordinated and clueless administration that thrives on lies, false performance claims, deceit, and perfidious propaganda.
The statement added that, “Nigerians can now clearly see why the APC and President Buhari’s handlers are always in a frenzy to attack our party and other well-meaning Nigerians whenever we point to the poor handling of the economy and on the need for President Buhari to always be factual on pertinent issues of governance in our country.
“Unfortunately, it indeed appears that Mr. President enjoys living in denial while watching millions of Nigerians go down in abject poverty, excruciating hunger, and starvation as our country now ranks 98th out of 107 in Global Hunger Index under his watch.
“Otherwise, why would Mr. President claim that his administration has lifted over 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty while official figures even from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show worsening poverty rate with 142.2% growth in food inflation and over 82.9 million Nigerians being unable to afford their daily meals due to the failure of the administration to take practical steps to grow and protect the food sector?
“Under President Buhari, Nigerians are now subjected to the worst form of poverty and hardship, with collapsed purchasing power, occasioned by a voodoo economy management that has wrecked our productive sectors and pummeled our naira from the about N167 to a US dollar in 2015 to the current over N500 per dollar.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. President will choose to always bandy fictitious figures and false performance claims, when he has, in a space of six years, destroyed our national productivity and reduced our country to a beggarly nation, a laughing stock and object of pity among the comity of nations.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note President Buhari and APC’s similar false performance claims in other critical sectors, including power, transportation, road infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, security, aviation among others, where the Buhari administration has been bandying fictitious figures with no tangible project to point at.
“Our party counsels President Buhari, his handlers as well as their party, the APC, to note that Nigerians have seen through their deceitful clams.
“The PDP, once again, urges Mr. President to end his false performance claims and get more competent hands to manage the economy before every Nigerian is turned into a street beggar.”
Amnesty Kicks As FG Pushes Social Media Regulation
Amnesty International has strongly opposed the call by the Nigerian Government to regulate the use of social media and online broadcasters.
It would be recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had urged the House of Representatives to include regulation of Twitter in the National Broadcasting Commission Act.
The minister made the call at the public hearing on a bill to amend the NBC Act organised by the House Committee on Information.
“I will want to add, that specifically, internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have responsibility to monitor content— including Twitter,” he said.
Reacting, Amnesty International, in a tweet via its Twitter account, yesterday, kicked against the motion.
It noted that when social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the internet and limit access to social media.
It further noted that criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“When social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the Internet and limit access to social media.
“Criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“Regulating social media in Nigeria could be easily abused to punish critics of government policies and actions, and anyone who asks difficult questions could find themselves liable for ‘diminishing public confidence in the government.’
“Seeking a law to prohibit abusive, threatening and insulting behaviour is open to very wide interpretation. This section would pose a threat to critical opinion, satire, public dialogue and political commentary,” the statement added.
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