Former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, in Otuoke, Bayelsa State, said the Nigerian people have surrendered their power to elect leaders of their choice to the courts.
Jonathan, who spoke at his country home, when he received the Governor Seriake Dickson Peace and Reconciliation Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said the time had come for the people to take back their power. He condemned the rush to court at the slightest provocation when political solutions could be proffered.
This is coming at a time the Dickson committee is said to be seriously considering an out-of-court settlement on all the pending legal cases as the only solution to the long-winding crisis in the party.
If the said persuasion of the warring parties to withdraw the cases in court succeeds, the committee would have crossed the biggest hurdle standing in the way of peace and reconciliation in the PDP.
Jonathan, who lamented the rising number of cases at the election petition tribunals, contended that Nigerians had surrendered the power to choose their leaders to the judiciary.
“Here in Nigeria, we have surrendered the power to choose to the courts. We must return the power of electing our leaders back to the people,” he said, clarifying that his position on the need to allow people choose did not amount to disrespect for the judiciary and presiding judges.
He added: “I respect the judiciary and judges. They are credible men and women. They have decided to serve the people. They also starve themselves to semi imprisonment. The average judge does not socialise to maintain their integrity. When we go and enjoy ourselves, they don’t. They are respected. We (just) want our votes to count.
“Not that after voting, a judicial panel will upturn the vote. I am calling on Nigerian youths to call for a close review of the election process to hand over the power of choice to the people,” he said, adding that the resort to the courts have increasingly limited the people’s participation in the electoral process.
“After voting, it is 10 million votes for governors or president. Your mandate may be upturned by a few judges and this is anomalous in Nigeria. They (political leaders) may be distracted. They will not sit in the office and start going to court. And they are not supposed to be distracted. If a governor or president is sitting and facing litigation costing millions, his performance will be limited”, he posited.
While commending Dickson and his team for going round the country to meet with key stakeholders and leaders of the party in order to return PDP to the path of peace, he expressed the hope that the peace committee would finally put to rest, the protracted crisis in PDP, and therefore called on all members to work towards peace and stability in the party.
He implored PDP members to always explore political solutions to problems before rushing to the courts, noting that “I have always believed that political differences should be resolved outside the courts. Unfortunately, we are already involved in it. It has even gone up to the Supreme Court. But we are hopeful of a political solution. Party politics is supposed to be a family affair and ought to be resolved amicably without resorting to the courts,” Jonathan said.
He observed that while court cases would usually result in a winner-takes-all situation, deploying the tools of politics, including negotiations and compromise, would give better outcomes.
“I believe a political solution remains the best means of resolving the crisis in the party and that’s why the Dickson committee must be commended. No two parties go to court and come out smiling, especially for a political party like the PDP that’s in the opposition,” he said.
Before presenting the committee report to Jonathan, Dickson expressed Bayelsa’s indebtedness to the PDP, insisting that it was a thing of pride to work to ensure that the crisis in the party was finally resolved.
Meanwhile, the Dickson committee has recommended among other measures, the coming together of the feuding parties to hold unity national convention, a suggestion feasible only when the parties pull out of court as being suggested by the committee.
The committee also recommended that all national officers still laying claims to active tenure beyond the proposed convention date should be persuaded to discard such claims in the collective interest of the party.
Also, for the purpose of the convention, the committee contended that all officers elected at the ward, local, state and zonal levels before the first Port Harcourt convention of 21st May of 2016 would be deemed validly elected except for the elections declared inconclusive in some states by the NEC of the party.
It is worthy of note that for the first time since the peace initiative was floated, it was accorded some measure of recognition across board, when one of the parties in the dispute, the National Caretaker Committee headed by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, agreed to work towards a political solution to the crisis.
Apart from the caretaker committee, other key organs of the party, the leadership of the National Assembly PDP caucus and the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) also assured members of the party that the report would be considered.
The Tide correspondent gathered at the weekend that following the positive responses the reconciliation committee got from stakeholders, especially from unexpected quarters – it is now considering the next stage of engagement to further consolidate on the peace process.
According to a reliable PDP source, one of the steps being considered by the peace committee is to work out measures that would see to the withdrawal of multiple court cases involving the party.
But the Spokesman of the National Caretaker Committee, Dayo Adeyeye said such an arrangement could only be possible after both sides to the dispute have made necessary undertaking, including acceptance to resign from offices.
The caretaker committee had rejected the Court of Appeal ruling in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, which restored Senator Sheriff as the national chairman of the PDP and had since appealed against it at the Supreme Court.
Since then, both sides had engaged each other in battle of wits, including media war, whilst trying to win the support of stakeholders of the party. But with the signing of an undertaking for ceasefire last Thursday, many party faithful heaved a sigh of relief that the crisis might be over soon.
Adedayo, however, on Friday corrected the impression that they had resolved their differences with Senator Sheriff. He said they only signed agreement before the Governor Dickson Reconciliation Committee to stop further media attacks on officers, elders and other stakeholders of the PDP across the internal political divide.
He said what was agreed upon between their side and the representatives of the Sheriff-led PDP leadership was actually meant to stop them from dissipating energy on needless verbal attacks.
Speaking to newsmen, he said although no such discussion had taken place, the court case could only be withdrawn after both parties had reached deal on settlement out of court.
“No, we don’t have to withdraw cases in court until everything is resolved. We can reach that stage when everybody has agreed to a solution and it is acceptable to all concerned and an undertaking to that effect is presented to the court.
“Before then everything has to be agreed upon: all those that are expected to resign have resigned and an agreement deposited at the court. That is when the cases could be withdrawn but we have not gotten to that stage yet,” he said.
Adeyeye, a former minister under Jonathan, who claimed there were some other cases still pending in the courts, apart from the one at the Supreme Court, expressed the support of the caretaker committee to reconciliation process being pursued by the Dickson committee.
On his part, the Deputy National Chairman of the Sheriff leadership of the PDP, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh said his side was very much open to peaceful dialogue, adding that all workable suggestions towards the proposed unity national convention would be welcomed.
Ojougboh, who also spoke tour correspondent in a telephone conversation yesterday, reiterated that the party leadership would welcome the idea if aggrieved stakeholders agreed to embrace the political solution and withdraw from further litigations to enable genuine reconciliation take place.
2023: PDP Govs Task NASS On New Electoral Law
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum has tasked the National Assembly to immediately set up a conference committee to harmonize the two versions of the Electoral Act Amendment passed recently by the two chambers.
In a statement, yesterday, the Chairman of the forum and Sokoto State Governor, Hon Aminu Tambuwal, said any delay in the passing and assenting of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill will hamper preparations for the conduct of the 2023 polls.
The forum also charged the National Assembly to adopt the version of the bill passed by the House of Representatives, as it gives the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the latitude to adopt electronic transmission of election results.
“The PDP Governors’ Forum requests the Senate and House of Representatives (House) Conference Committee when set up, to adopt the House version of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill on the issue of electronic transmission.
“It should be noted that Section 52(2) of the House version says, ‘Voting at an election and transmission of result under this Bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the commission,’ and Section 52 (2) of the Senate version provides, ‘The commission may consider electronic transmission of results provided that the national coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and approved by the National Assembly.
“The Senate version which subjects the decision of INEC to deploy electronic transmission to the decision of the Nigerian Communications Commission and National Assembly is manifestly a usurpation of the powers of INEC and offends relevant provisions of the Nigerian Constitution that guarantees INEC’s autonomy and independence,” the opposition governors.
According to them, INEC has demonstrated capacity to transmit votes electronically with the introduction and deployment of the Biomodel Voters Accreditation System (BVAs), used in the recent bye-election in Delta State.
The PDP governors further charged the National Assembly conference committee on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, to jettison the position of the House to compel all political parties to adopt one method of conducting primary elections.
“The forum is of the view that political parties should be allowed discretion to adopt either direct or indirect primaries in their Constitutions and in practice.
“The Senate version that retains the original provision in the Electoral Act should be adopted in the interest of the growth of our political parties and freedom of choice, the hallmark of a functional democracy.
“This intervention of the PDP governors is predicted on the need to ensure a free, fair and credible election, that strengthens Nigeria’s democracy, constitutionalism and rule of law. Only a credible election will guarantee accountability and good governance which Nigeria so desperately needs today,” the governors stated.
Cholera: NCDC Records 46 New Deaths In One Week
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says 46 new deaths linked to suspected cholera cases were recorded in the country in the past one week.
The NCDC said this via its officially verified website, yesterday morning, stating that the situation report was published based on data sent in by the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, for the respective reporting week.
It stated that eight states accounted for the new cholera fatalities.
The public health agency, in its epidemiological report for August 30 to September 5, said a total of 2,323 people had so far died as a result of suspected cholera infections in 25 states and the federal capital territory (FCT), since the beginning of 2021.
It stated that 1,677 cholera infections were recorded in 12 states within the period of one-week, bringing the total suspected cases to 69,925 as at September 5.
“In the reporting week, 12 states reported 1,677 suspected cases – Bauchi (566), Katsina (282), Sokoto (258), Yobe (183), Borno (179), Niger (94), Kaduna (66), Adamawa (34), Gombe (8), Kano (4), Kebbi (2), and Nasarawa (1),” the report said.
“There was a 58% decrease in the number of new suspected cases in week 35 (1,667) compared with week 34 (3,992).
“Of the cases reported, there were 46 deaths from Borno (13), Sokoto (12), Katsina (8), Bauchi (6), Niger (3), Kaduna (2), Adamawa (1) and Kano (1) states with a weekly case fatality ratio (CFR) of 2.7%.
“Twenty-five states and the FCT have reported suspected cholera cases in 2021. These are Adamawa, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ekiti, Enugu, FCT, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Osun, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, and Zamfara.
“As at September 5, 2021, a total of 69,925 suspected cases, including 2,323 deaths (CFR 3.3%) have been reported from 25 states and FCT in 2021.
“Two new states (Osun and Ekiti) reported cases, though with dates of onset in weeks prior to week 35,” it explained.
The NCDC added that the national multi-sectoral EOC activated at level 02 continued to coordinate the national response.
Cholera is a waterborne disease with a high risk of transmission where there are poor sanitation and disruption of clean water supply.
The wrong disposal of refuse and practices, such as open defecation, endanger the safety of water used for drinking and for personal use, thereby leading to the spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera, and without proper WASH, Nigeria remained at risk of cholera cases and deaths.
Buhari Seeks Senate’s Approval For $4bn, €710m External Loan
President Muhammadu Buhari, has asked the Senate to approve a fresh loan of $4,054,476, 863.00, €710million, and a grant of $125million to finance critical projects in the 2021 budget.
Buhari’s request was contained in his letter read by Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, at plenary following the resumption of the upper chamber from its two-month annual vacation, yesterday.
According to the President, the request is an addendum to the proposed 2018–2021 Federal Government External Borrowing Rolling Plan earlier approved by the National Assembly.
He said that the projects listed in the addendum to the 2018–2021 Federal Government External Borrowing Rolling Plan are to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency, China Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Credit Suisse Group, among others.
“In view of other emerging needs and to ensure that all critical projects approved by FEC as at June, 2021 are incorporated, I hereby forward an addendum to the proposed borrowing plan,” Buhari said.
The letter titled, ‘Addendum to the request for Senate’s concurrent approval of multilateral fund projects under the 2018-2021 Federal Government external borrowing (rolling) plan’ reads, “I write in respect of the above subject and to submit the attached addendum to the proposed 2018-2021 Federal Government external borrowing (rolling) plan for the consideration and concurrent approval of the Senate for same to become effective.
“The distinguishing Senate President may wish to recall that I earlier transmitted a request on the proposed 2018-2020 Federal Government External Borrowing Plan for the concurrent approval of the Senate in May, 2021.
“However, in view of other emerging needs and to ensure that all critical projects approved by FEC as at June, 2021 are incorporated. I hereby forward an addendum to the proposed borrowing plan.
“The projects listed in the addendum to the 2018-2021 Federal Government External Borrowing Rolling Plan are to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency, China Exim Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chartered/China Export and Credit (SINOSURE), in the total sum of $4,054,476,863.00, plus €710million, and grant component of $125million.
“The Senate is kindly invited to note that the projects and programmes in the borrowing plan were selected based on positive, technical and economic evaluations and the contribution they would make to the socio-economic development of the country, including employment generation and poverty reduction as well as protection of the most vulnerable and very poor segments of the Nigerian society
“The Senate may also wish to note that all the listed projects in the addendum form part of the 2018-2021 External Borrowing Plan and covered both the Federal and States Government Projects and are geared towards the realization of the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan that cut across key sectors such as infrastructure, health, agriculture and food security, energy, education and human capital development and Covid-19 response efforts.
“I hereby wish to request for the kind consideration and concurrent approval of the Senate for projects listed in the addendum to the 2018-2021 Federal Government External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan to enable the projects become effective.”
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