Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State has expressed delight at the exit of former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), saying that it was the beginning of the ruling party’s end in 2019.
Publicity Secretary of PDP in the State, Samuel Nwanosike, who spoke in Port Harcourt yesterday on the development said it was a clear indication that APC was a “dead” political party particularly in the state.
Nwanosike, who said the PDP was ready to welcome him and his likes to the party, blasted the APC-led Federal Government for leading Nigerians to the hardship they never imagined.
He said: “To PDP, the decision of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is a welcome development. In fact, it is the beginning of the end of the All Progressives Congress in the country. His decision has shown clearly that leaders in the APC have seen that their political party has failed Nigerians. You can see the reasons he gave for leaving the party.
“It has shown clearly that APC, as a political party, does not have the capacity to manage the economy of the country. And the party is leading Nigerians into doom. The former vice president believes that, as pragmatic democrat, he cannot stay and watch somebody truncate the hard-earned democracy.
“They made lots of promises during the campaign and today, they cannot fulfill those promises or even work hard to achieve most of those promises. Virtually all the promises they made including restructuring of the economy, have not been achieved.
“They are making excuses, playing blame games from one position to the other. Worst of it all is that, we are not even seeing who is in charge of the government. The DSS and EFCC are drawing guns against each other. A situation where people are sacking and employing Maina shows that President Buhari is not in charge of the government”, PDP spokesman stated.
The resignation of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has caused a fresh division among the political forces in Northern Nigeria, with major political blocs in the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the region returning to the drawing board to plan fresh alliances.
Though Atiku, who in a letter made public last Friday, said he was resigning from the ruling APC, which he joined in 2013, is yet to declare for any other party, political forces in the North have begun a scamper to redraw strategies to either contain the ace politician or attract his interest.
It was gathered that already, no fewer than seven state governors, serving ministers, several lawmakers in both chambers of the National Assembly, as well as others holding key positions in the government and the APC have concluded plans to dump the party to follow the former vice-president, who is believed to be heading to his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
A close source to the former Vice-President told our correspondent in Abuja, last Saturday, that barring last-minute change, Atiku has concluded plans to storm the National Secretariat of the PDP in the first week of December 2017 along with his supporters after he must have declared for the party in Yola, Adamawa State.
This was just as a barrage of reactions, last Saturday trailed the resignation of the former vice-president from the APC, with prominent Northerners, including former Presidential Aide, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai; former member of the House of Representatives and critic, Alhaji Junaid Mohammed, among other individuals, groups and associations, giving divided opinions on the exit of the Adamawa-born politician from the APC and his reported 2019 presidential ambition.
The Tide gathered that some power brokers in the various camps held a series of consultations at the weekend, with the sole aim of forging fresh alliances, while more consultations were said to have been planned for different locations in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on Tuesday and Thursday this week by the arrowheads of a medley of politicians and professionals from varying backgrounds.
A source told one of our correspondents that Atiku had been chosen to speak at a public forum being put together by another coalition to set the tone for his presence at the national convention of the PDP on December 9, 2017 in Abuja.
Reports from Kaduna, the political headquarters of Northern Nigeria, indicated frenzied moves by some power brokers to review some plans on the ground before now following the likelihood of realignment of forces in the political circle, especially in the light of the PDP convention.
Findings also confirmed that Atiku indeed reached out to some key politicians of Northern extraction to apprise them of his decision to quit APC and seek another political platform to pursue his presidential bid.
A reliable source at the secretariat of PDP, Kaduna State, who spoke with our correspondent on a condition of anonymity, said the former VP had met with some top stalwarts in the state over his presidential ambition.
Though the source could not say who and who the former number two man met with, he was said to have consulted some chieftains of the party secretly before he made his resignation known.
This claim was also confirmed by the state’s chairman of the Atiku Care Foundation (ACF), Alhaji Ibrahim Dahiru Danfulani, who told newsmen that consultations with various interest groups and individuals “are currently ongoing.”
“I want to assure you that these groups and individuals have given us their words. We are waiting to see the party that our mentor (Atiku) will join and we will follow him there,” he said.
However, renowned political critic, Dr. Junaid Muhammed, has said that the resignation of the former vice-president from the APC was not a big deal, saying as far as he [Junaid Mohammed] was concerned, “the former vice -president is an expired politician, who is in politics to make money and not to contribute positive quota to nation-building.”
According to Mohammed, “this is not the first time the former vice-president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, will leave a party on the claims of being sidelined or for whatever reasons. If he could leave the PDP and go to contest on the platform of the Action Congress when he was the immediately past vice-president of the PDP; that shows you the kind of character we are dealing with.”
Former Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters to former President Shehu Shagari, Yakassai, said he was not surprised that Atiku resigned his membership of the APC, saying it would be an eye-opener to the APC, “as many people who made it possible for the APC to become the ruling party in 2015 are not happy about not being carried along.”
He said the others would sooner or later leave the party.
Speaking with our correspondent in Kano, the elder statesman noted that the body language of APC, its leaders and the former vice-president had been showing that there had been unfavourable conditions among them.
His words: “There had been disagreement among the APC, its leaders and Atiku for a long time and anybody that is familiar with partisan politics, would realise that there was total disconnect between the APC and the former vice-president. So, I am not surprised that he left the party.”
Yakassai noted that the character of Nigerian politics today “is that people move to political parties that would be convenient for them or accommodate their aspirations,” berating all political parties in the country for being the same and without ideologies.
Meanwhile, former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode has tackled the Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, who said that “God has decreed that this is President Muhammadu Buhari’s time. As long as he remains in politics, he sees no Nigerian who can match him”.
Fani-Kayode while reacting to the governor’s statement said that ‘that is what they said about Goliath until David came along! For every Goliath, there is a David. Hubris leads to nemesis.’
Fani-Kayode, in a series of tweets on his Twitter handle, also said “As a party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is now at a crossroad: the moment of truth has finally arrived.”
According to him, if the PDP makes the right choices, the party shall excel and overcome her common enemies.
“If we make the wrong choices, we shall suffer defeat and never recover again. The choice is ours. May God guide us”, he stated.
Fani-Kayode also used the opportunity to beg the former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who just left the All Progressives Congress (APC) to return to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Similarly, an author and ex-aide to former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari may have been jittery over the news of the dumping of All Progressives Congress (APC), by a presidential contender and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.
Atiku had, last Friday, announced his resignation from the APC, saying the party has failed Nigerians and has equally instituted a draconian regime that has continued to clamp down on democracy in the country.
He also accused the APC of having no regard for the youth, especially as he said the party has no single youth in its cabinet, wondering how the leaders of tomorrow are not a priority for the party.
Omokri also stated that Buhari must be very jittery that he quickly set up a committee to increase minimum wage, a ploy he said was being used by the president, perhaps, to bribe Nigerians.
According to him, “On the same day that Atiku resigned from the APC, President Buhari decided to set up a committee to increase the minimum wage. Coincidence or signs that the President is jittery over his impending 2019 defeat and wants to bribe Nigerians with a salary increase”.
Former Nigerian vice president Atiku Abubakar who last Friday announced his decision to leave APC, has arrived in Yola where he is now engaged in series of meetings with Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) officials at all levels who keep trooping to his house to woo him back into the party.
Our correspondent reports that the former Vice President had so far met with Adamawa PDP executives at all level as well as state chairmen from the six states that constituted North East, including the National Vice chairman North East of the party.
Commenting on the meeting between Atiku and the state executives of PDP, the State Secretary of PDP, Alhaji Abdulllahi Prambe, said the meeting was fruitful.
“Our meeting with him has been fruitful and from his body language he will soon return to PDP,” Prambe said.
Prambe said that it would be a big boost to the party at the state and national levels when Atiku finally returned.
“With Atiku, the party will carry more weight and more people will also troop in,” Prambe said.
When contacted about developments, Atiku’s spokesman, Mr Paul Ibe, declined to comment.
Southern Govs Back Wike, Insist On VAT Collection …A’Court Urges Rivers To Submit Written Application For Receiver
Southern Governors met in Enugu, yesterday, and declared their support for Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, insisting that it is within their purview to collect the Value Added Tax (VAT).
This is coming amid row between the Rivers State Government and the Federal Government, a case that is now subject of litigation.
The governors also reaffirmed their stand on open-grazing ban, urging every state in the region to quickly pass a law to that regards.
The resolution by the Southern Governors Forum is part of the six-point communique reached at its meeting at the Government House, Enugu, Enugu State, and read by Chairman of the Forum and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN.
The meeting of the Southern Governors Forum, which reviewed the state of the nation and the progress of the implementation of the decisions reached in its previous meetings, expressed satisfaction with the rate at which the states in Southern Nigeria were enacting and amending the anti-open grazing laws which allowed a uniform template and aspiration of Southern Governors, and encouraged the states that were yet to enact the law to do so expeditiously.
Reading the communique after the closed door meeting to journalists, Akeredolu said that the meeting reiterated its earlier position that the next President of Nigeria most come from the southern part of Nigeria, in line with politics of equity, justice and fairness.
According to the communique, the Southern Governors agreed to encourage the full operationalization of already agreed regional security outfit which will meet, share intelligence and collaborate to ensure the security and safety of the region.
Akeredolu opined that the meeting also reaffirmed its earlier commitment to stick to fiscal federalism as resolved at the inaugural meeting of the forum held on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, at Asaba, Delta State, and emphasize the need for the Southern States to leverage the legislative competence of their respective state Houses of Assembly, as well as representation in the National Assembly to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution, through the ongoing constitutional amendment.
The communiqué, according to the forum’s chairman, expressed satisfaction with the array of issues around the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and ownership of NNPC by the larger Nigerian Governors Forum.
The forum thanked the host Governor, IfeanyiUgwuanyi, and chose Rivers State as the next host for the Southern Governors Forum meeting in November, 2021.
Present at the meeting were Rivers StateGovernor, Chief NyesomWike; Delta StateGovernor, Dr.IfeanyiOkowa;AkwaIbom StateGovernor, Chief Emmanuel Udom; and Osun StateGovernor, IsiakaAdegboyegaOyetola.
Others were Enugu StateGovernor, IfeanyiUgwuanyi;Bayelsa StateGovernor, Senator DuoyeDiri;Lagos State Governor,BabajideSanwo-Olu; and Ogun State Governor,EngrOluwaseyiAbiodun.
The governors of Oyo, Ekiti, Edo, Imo, Abia, and Ebonyistates were represented by their deputies.
The communiqué read in full, “The Nigerian Southern Governors’ Forum at its meeting of Thursday, September 16, 2021 held in the Government House, Enuqu, Enugu State, reviewed the state or the nation and the progress of implementation of the decisions reached in her previous meetings and further resolved as follows:
“Expressed satisfaction with the rate at which the states in the Southern Nigeria are enacting or amending the Anti-Open Grazing Laws which align with the uniform template and aspiration of Southern Governors and encouraged the states that are yet to enact this law to do so expeditiously.
“Encouraged the full operationalization of already agreed regional security outfits; which would meet, share intelligence and collaborate, to ensure the security and safety of the region.
“Reaffirmed its earlier commitment to structural and fiscal federalism as resolved at the inaugural meeting of the Forum held on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at Asaba, Delta State, and emphasized the need for the Southern States to leverage the legislative competence of their respective State Houses of Assembly as well as representation in the National assembly to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution through the ongoing constitutional amendment.
“Following from paragraph 3 above, the meeting resolved to support the position that the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.
“Expressed satisfaction with the handling of issues around the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and ownership of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by the larger Nigerian Governors’ Forum.
“Reiterated their earlier position that the next President of Nigeria must come from the Southern part of Nigeria in line with politics of equity, justice and fairness.
“The forum thanked the host Governor, IfeanyiUgwuanyi, and chose Rivers State as the next host for the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in November, 2021″.
However, the Court of Appeal, yesterday, declined to accede to the request of Rivers and Lagos states for the appointment of Receiver or Manager for the purpose of collecting and keeping Value Added Taxes (VAT) in place of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) pending the resolution of all legal disputes in the matter.
The two states separately canvassed that the order of status quo ante bellum granted on September 10 in favour of FIRS to continue the collection be put on hold given the appeal already lodged at the Supreme Court against the order.
Counsel to Rivers State, IfedayoAdedipe, SAN, in his oral application, pleaded with the appellate body to exercise its power under Order 4 Rule 6 of the Court of Appeal to appoint a Receiver or Manager to take custody of the VAT in the interest of justice to parties in the matter.
The Attorney General of Lagos State, Mr MoyosoreOnigbanjo, SAN, who stood for his state, toed the path of Rivers in canvassing that the court be fair and just in the pending appeal.
Onigbanjo specifically asked the Appeal Court to restrain FIRS from further collecting the tax and replace it with a Receiver or Manager that would act for parties that are locked in the legal battle.
The Lagos Attorney General predicated his expressed fear of unjust treatment on the fact that FIRS apart from collecting the tax has been sharing it among the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) despite the pendency of the legal tussle.
“I think it is also necessary to restrain the FIRS, because they collect the VAT, distribute to all the states and keeps their own 4 per cent.
“If, at the end of the day, the court agrees with the judgment of the Federal High Court, how do we retrieve the funds that have been shared?”,Onigbanjo added.
The appeal by the FIRS is against August 9, 2021 judgment by Justice Steven Pam of the Federal High Court in Port-Harcourt, voiding the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act and holding that states could collect VAT.
Justice Haruna Simon Tsanami, who led a three-member panel, directed them to make the application formal by providing the necessary facts, including ascertaining the amount being collected as VAT.
Other members of the panel are Justices BatureGafai and Peter Affen.
Meanwhile, the court has reserved ruling on an application by Lagos State to be made a respondent in the appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
The court, after listening to arguments by lawyers to parties, yesterday, said they would be informed when the ruling was ready.
In arguing Lagos’ application, Onigbanjo (SAN) said his client was a necessary party as it would be affected by the outcome of the case.
He noted that, as a federating unit/state in Nigeria, Lagos was entitled to collect VAT by virtue of the judgment of the Federal High Court that annulled VAT Act.
Onigbanjo argued that even the appellant (the FIRS) recognised that Lagos State has an interest in the case, which he said, was evident in the affidavit it filed, wherein copious reference was made to the Lagos State Government.
He further argued that since FIRS, in an affidavit supporting its application for stay of the judgment, recognised the interest of the Lagos State Government in the case, “it cannot now turn around to say the Lagos State Government has no interest in this case and should not be joined. It cannot blow hot and cold or speak from both sides of its mouth.”
Onigbanjo also contended that it was unfair for the FIRS to oppose Lagos’ request to be heard in the case after making allegations against the state.
He added that even the court recognised the interest of Lagos State in the case when it extended its order on maintenance of status quo to Lagos State, which was not yet a party in the case.
Onigbanjo prayed the court to join his client as a respondent.
Adedipe adopted Onigbaajo’s argument, and urged the court to allow the application by Lagos State.
Following the observation by Onigbanjo that the written address filed by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) was incompetent, the lawyer representing the AGF, TijaniGazali (SAN), withdrew the address, subsequent upon which the court struck it out.
Lawyer to FIRS, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), objected to the joinder application filed by Lagos State, arguing, among others, that the state was not a necessary party.
Magaji faulted the competence of the application, and urged the court to discountenance it.
On second thought, Magaji said if the court was willing to join Lagos; it should extend such indulgence to the other states of the federation.
Okonjo-Iweala Makes ‘TIME 100’
Nigerian-born Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has thanked the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, for the kind words they penned about her as she makes the TIME 100 list of The World’s Most Influential People.
The magazine has noted the globally-rated economist’s activities around the efforts to ensure that everyone on the planet earth gets vaccinated against any preventable disease for which there is a vaccine.
The ex-World Bank guru has been the Board Chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, since January 1, 2016.
Gavi has the goal of increasing access to immunization in poor countries.
Concerning the TIME entry, the Duke and the Duchess state, “What will it take to vaccinate the world? Unity, cooperation—and leaders like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala”.
“As the first African and first woman to lead the World Trade Organization, a 164-member group of nations that oversees trade across the world, Okonjo-Iweala took on the role of director-general this March at a watershed moment for our global health and well-being. Make no mistake; her job affects every person, family and community.
“As we face a constant barrage of vaccine misinformation, bureaucratic slowdowns across both government and industry, and the rise of variants that underscore the urgency of the situation, Okonjo-Iweala has shown us that to end the pandemic, we must work together to equip every nation with equitable vaccine access.
“Our conversations with her have been as informative as they are energizing. This is partly because, despite the challenges, she knows how to get things done—even between those who don’t always agree—and does so with grace and a smile that warms the coldest of rooms.
“The fragility of our world right now cannot be overstated. Just over a quarter of the nearly 8 billion global population is fully vaccinated.
“Achieving vaccine equity is a global duty of compassion for one another. Our hope is that guided by strong leaders like Ngozi, we can get there soon”, they wrote.
Relocation Of Insurgents, Wake-Up Call, CAN Warns
The Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna State Chapter, Revd Joseph Hayab, has described the alleged relocation of Boko Haram leaders to Southern Kaduna as a wake-up call on people of the area.
Hayabsaid that though the news of the alleged relocation was not new, government has not done enough to protect the people.
He claimed all the calls from voices of reason appeared not to have moved both the federal and state governments to rise to the occasion.
“The relocation of Boko Haram to Southern Kaduna is not new. Who are those that have been killing people indiscriminately in that area in the last few years? The church, SOKAPU and the people have been complaining about killings in Southern Kaduna but only fell on the deaf ear of those in authority.
“Therefore, the leaked document has simply confirmed our worries and shows that more days for killings of innocent citizens are coming unless the people take personal initiative to defend their lives and land. Our government has not done enough to convince us that they want to stop the killings going on all over the area.
“Now, we were being told that there is a leaked memo about Boko Haram when those in authority have always turned deaf ears to cries of our people when we complain about killers that people see every day. Boko Haram fleeing North-East to Southern Kaduna is simply a wake-up call for the Southern Kaduna people to rise to the occasion,” he said.
A leaked DSS memo had said insurgents were relocating from Sambisa forest in BornoState to Chikun LGA in Kaduna State.
The alert was in a leaked memo marked NSCDC/NHQ/INT&INVST/323/2021, dated September 9, 2021, and signed by the Acting Deputy Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Intelligence and Investigation, B.O. Bassey.
The DSS, therefore, asked the civil defence to be on the alert.
“It has been uncovered, plans by senior Boko Haram fighter, Ibrahim (FNU) alongside his foot soldiers relocating from ‘Sambisa Forest in Borno State to Rijana Forest in ChikunLocal Government Area of Kaduna State with a view to joining their counterpart under the leadership of one AdamuYunusu (aka Saddiqu).
“In light of the above, you are hereby directed to step up surveillance and intelligence gathering on the aforementioned areas and environs.”
Meanwhile, months after the crash involving a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) King Air 350 aircraft on May 21 at the Kaduna Civil Airport, Commissioner of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Akin Olateru, has submitted an interim report to the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Amao, at his office at NAF Headquarters, Abuja.
After the crash, the CAS directed that a joint investigative body consisting of NAF safety officers and the AIB be constituted to investigate the causes.
A joint statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, and General Manager, Public Affairs, AIB, TunjiOketunbi, revealed that at this interim stage, a total of 27 initial findings and eight safety recommendations were made for the convening authority as well as other aviation-related agencies for immediate implementation.
They further disclosed that it is expected that the final report would contain the flight data recorder readout, the reviewed operator’s and service provider’s standard operating procedures as well as other detailed analyses.
While receiving the report, the CAS reiterated the main essence of activating the ‘joint investigative’ clause contained in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the NAF and the AIB on July 1, 2020.
He said successful collaboration is a clear indication of the potency of collaboration in aircraft accident investigation, which must be encouraged.
Similarly, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has blamed Almajiri system in the North for the increasing cases of banditry, kidnapping, terrorism and armed robbery in the country.
The Chairman of CAN in Imo State, Rev. Eches Divine Eches, stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja, ahead of the organisation’s 45th anniversary and Founder’s Day billed to hold today in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
According to him, banditry and kidnapping are increasing because the authorities have failed to pay more attention to the critical factors behind the widespread insecurity in the country.
Eches also expressed concern over Sheikh Ahmed Gumi’s links with the bandits terrorising the North-West region and the alleged helplessness of the government to arrest and caution him for his many ‘unguarded utterances’ about their activities.
He said, “You can’t have Almajiri system of life and government in the last 40 years in our nation bringing up people without any trace to families, hometowns or nationalities.
“They are scattered all over the street, without you knowing that someday they will leave the street and go to the bush where they will begin to do the trade of kidnapping.
“Also, you can’t, in any sane nation, have the likes of Gumi, a religious scholar, going about promoting banditry and you don’t think that this will continue. Yet, that is what we are seeing today. We are not seeing anything more than what we have planted.
“We allowed this thing (insecurity) to continue and it is now going to consume the nation, if drastic measures are not put in place to take them (Almajiri) out of the streets, give them a sense of belonging, put them in school, and help them realise their potentials.
“These bandits we find today were the Almajiri who used to be in front of our houses and begging for food.
“We are praying and that is why God is still sustaining our nation. I trust God will continue to sustain us in Jesus name.”
On CAN’s 45th anniversary of its Founder’s Day, Eches said the programme was necessary to remember the labour of past heroes, including over 250 retired church leaders and indigent youth and women who were weak.
“They retired church leaders laboured to bring to bear what we are enjoying and working on today.
“We thought it very necessary to remember the weak among us as most of them are passing through terrible times, especially in such a time as this in our nation.
“So, we thought it very important that we will use this 45th anniversary of our Founders’ Day to celebrate such a people and remember their labours, and say to them ‘you deserve to be celebrated’ both by cash and gift,” he said.
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