Condemnation has continued to trail Monday’s declaration by President Muhammadu Buhari to contest the 2019 presidential election.
In a chat with The Tide, yesterday, a member of the National Assembly representing Degema/ Bonny Federal Constituency, Hon Randolph Brown said Buhari’s performance so far was abysmal, and as such, he should shelve his ambition.
“Nobody can deny him the right to contest, but his performance is below average,” Brown said, adding, “security is getting worse, rule of law is nothing to write home about”.
Brown said he was sure Nigerians would definitely not vote Buhari again, since he has not added value to their lives in the past three years.
The House of Representatives member called on the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to re-strategise on how to take over power at the centre in 2019, reasoning that the party has bright chances if it puts its house in order.
On his part, Head of Department of Political Science in the state-owned Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Prof. Alafuro Epelle opined that Buhari’s chances in 2019 elections were slim, considering his performance so far.
“If you ask me my objective view, he has scored very low in terms of performance,” Epelle stated, stressing “he has not added value to our lives”.
The professor of Political Science further said, “If you ask me to advise him, I would say he should not contest.”
Epelle also pointed out that contrary to public opinion, Buhari may not enjoy the huge support he had in 2015, noting that “there is likely to be a division among the Hausa-Fulani in the upcoming elections”.
He advised the PDP to exploit the shortcomings at the federal level by fielding a candidate that has the pedigree and popularity to balkanise the North and defeat APC in 2019.
Meanwhile, barely 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari made his intention to seek re-election in 2019 known, a constitutional lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, has said that President Buhari has failed Nigeria having performed abysmally and disastrously between 2015 and 2018.
Ozekhome, also a human rights activist, thus asked Nigerians to reject him at the polls, saying Buhari had failed to deliver his electoral promises to restore economy, fight corruption and ensure security.
He made the call yesterday in a statement he issued in response to Buhari’s declaration to seek re-election in 2019, noting that the speculation that the ruling APC “is banking on massive rigging of the 2019 election to win is merely illusory”.
According to him, “The plan to rig cannot work. Nigerians are more enlightened today than ever before. They will use their PVCs to vote wisely, notwithstanding any acts of intimidation or coercion. 2019 is just 10 months away. I will keep my fingers crossed to see how it all plays out.”
Ozekhome lamented that the economy “is in an all time low,” noting that from an over $500 billion rebased economy he inherited, Buhari led Nigeria into recession and now claimed to have taken it out.
Sadly enough, Ozekhome wondered that the president could call for celebration “to take Nigeria back from recession. But the figures do not tally, nor does the story jell. Nigerians are hungrier today than they were three years ago. They have been rendered destitute and impecunious”.
Citing the impact of the economic recession, Ozekhome said many resorted “to going to Libya and attempting to cross the seas to European countries to escape from hunger and squalor, thereby dying in the process. More Nigerians have taken to prostitution across European nations more than ever before”.
In their quest for greener pasture in Europe, the constitutional lawyer lamented that many of them “are gang-raped, sodomised, enslaved and bestialised. The youths have taken up arms, committing more heinous crimes, such as robberies and kidnap, more than ever in the history of this country”.
He pointed out that Buhari promised three million new jobs per annum. However, according to him, Buhari and the APC have caused Nigerians to, paradoxically, lose about 3.5 million jobs annually, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
He said the price of fuel alternates between N145 per litre and N400, whenever available, whereas the APC-led federal government met it at N87 per litre.
Ozekhome explained that a bag of rice “now sells for between N15,000 and N20,000. He met it at N7,500. Prices of goods and consumables have gone out of the reach of the common man, with Nigerians literally feeding from dust bins. So, on the economic front, one of his tripodal promises, he has failed Nigeria and Nigerians. Is this why they will vote for him again? I want to see”.
Under Buhari, Ozekhome said Boko Haram “is stronger today, more potent and more deadly than it ever was. We are regaled daily (check online, print and electronic media), with tales of Boko Haram’s blood-letting exploits, maiming, killing and burning houses across the North-east.
“With apparent government collusion, the military in Dapchi were hurriedly posted out. Chibok was re-enacted in Dapchi, where over 110 secondary school girls were viciously abducted. They were later released in a Hollywood style, in broad daylight, by the same Boko Haram after mind bungling sums were said to have been paid to them as ransom”.
Ozekhome said: “If Boko Haram regarded as one of the four leading terrorist groups in the world were considered deadly enough, the rampaging herdsmen has become more murderous.
“Day-in-day-out, they kill innocent Nigerians in their homes, their farms, burn others, lay siege to whole communities, rape their wives and daughters, and kidnap their males. Never has Nigeria witnessed more insecurity than it is today.”
He said although Boko Haram was limited to the North-east, Fulani herdsmen menace “spread across all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria. Federal government does not even pretend to want to curb the insurgency. Not a single herdsman has been arrested or prosecuted by the government.
“Kidnappings, murders, suicides and rape cases have since increased geometrically, rather than arithmetically. Consequently on the insecurity front, Buhari has scored below average. Is this why Nigerians will vote for him?”
He noted that Buhari’s greatest failing “is perhaps in this anti-corruption context. He had promised to fight corruption. Three years down the line, he has not secured a single conviction of any high profile, politically exposed person. Rather, Nigerians have been treated to ludicrous media trial”.
In desperation, the constitutional lawyer added that the government “has now released names of opposition members whom they have charged to court, but cannot prove their cases against as ‘looters’, without any court conviction or judicial pronouncement to that effect”.
“This is in sync with the government’s now infamous disregard for due process, rule of law, independence of the judiciary and disobedience to court orders. Impunity reigns supreme. In appointments, cronyism, nepotism, tribalism, clannishness and favouritism triumph over merit and competence.
“Transparency International, in its recent corruption perception index, has rated Nigeria as one of the most corrupt countries in Africa, beaten to the second position in West African by only one country. Nigeria placed 148th globally, out of 180 countries freedom of speech, press freedom, NGO’s freedom, and sundry liberties are seriously curbed, leading to a reign of fear and terror,” he said.
According to him, “Where the government fights ‘corruption’ amongst opposition and critics with pesticides, herbicides and insecticides, it caresses and deodorises its own corrupt officials, ministers, serving military generals and kitchen cabinet members with sweet smelling sasarabia cologne.
“Corruption reeks everywhere in the government, with many Pandora boxes of oozing gates: Mainagate, Babachirgate, health sectorgate and NNPC gate. The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, revealed to a shocked nation how $23 billion contracts, were irregularly awarded and signed by Buhari on his sick bed abroad, at a time Osibanjo was already the acting president.”
He, therefore, noted that the $2.1 billion Dasukigate, which the federal government “has pegged its anti–corruption fight is less than 10 per cent of the NNPCgate. Corruption now struts around and about proudly, unrestrained, walking on its fours, head and even buttocks”.
Also reacting, Ekiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose, has dismissed President Muhammadu Buhari’s chances of securing a second term in 2019, insisting that the President’s re-election bid was dead on arrival.
Fayose said this in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital in reaction to the declaration by the President earlier, last Monday that he would run for re-election.
The President had declared his intention during the All Progressives Congress National Executive Council meeting in Abuja before departing the country for London, where he is also expected to meet UK Prime Minister, Theresa May.
While several members of the APC and the President’s close allies have welcomed the news, Fayose told journalists that Nigeria would not need him as President in 2019.
The governor said not only would President Buhari be too old to lead the country then, he had failed to utilise the opportunity given to him in 2015.
“That ambition is dead on arrival. We don’t need grandpa as President anymore; Nigeria does not deserve a Buhari as President in 2019. Buhari is too old and tired. When people don’t know when to take their leave and say bye, Nigerians will show them the exit door,” the governor was quoted as saying in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Idowu Adelusi.
The governor further accused the President of failing “on all fronts” including the fight against corruption.
He added, “He has failed in the economic front and he has not done well in terms of security.”
PDP Inaugurates 15 Convention Sub-Committees –
Wike Chairs Special Duties Committee
6,000 Delegates Expected To Attend
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) National Convention Committee, yesterday, in Abuja inaugurated 15 sub-committees for its national convention scheduled for October 30.
The sub-committees as read by the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Duoye Diri, include the National Convention Organizing Committee, chaired by Adamawa State Governor, Hon Ahmadu Fintiri.
Others are Constitutional Amendment Committee, chaired by Akwa lbom Governor, Udom Emmanuel; Zoning Committee chaired by Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Screening Committee, chaired by former Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke.
Sub-committees and their chairmen also inaugurated were Screening Appeal Committee chaired by Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Special Duties Committee chaired by Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike; Accreditation Committee chaired by Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa; and Security Committee chaired by former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase.
The Electoral (Statutory) Committee, with Adamawa Governor, Hon Ahmadu Fintiri as the chairman; Publicity Committee chaired by Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki; and Venue Committee, chaired by Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed are also among them.
Others include: Welfare and Entertainment Committee with Mariya Waziri as chairperson; Transportation Committee, with Ibrahim Dankwambo as chairman; and Contact and Mobilization Committee with Taraba Governor, Darius Ishaku as chairman.
The rest are, Protocol Committee with Sen. Biodun Olujimi as chairperson; Medical Committee — Nuhu Zagbayi; and Secretariat Committee — Umaru Ibrahim Tsauri.
Inaugurating the sub-committees, Fintiri expressed belief that the October convention would be successful and lead PDP to victory in 2023.
Fintiri said that the leaders and members of the sub-committees were carefully selected to organize a credible convention for the party.
The Adamawa governor urged them to make the necessary sacrifices to deliver the best convention to the party.
Fintiri, fielding questions from newsmen after the inauguration, said that by PDP’s new constitution, over 6,000 delegates were expected at the convention.
“We are fully prepared for that. We are expecting everybody in every ward that is a delegate to attend the convention.”
He said that the sub-committees had been given directions and they were expected to go back, adequately prepare and submit their report to the main committee for approval.
On which part of the party’s Constitution would be amended, Fintiri said he could not pre-empt the Constitution Sub-Committee, but allow them do their job.
On how far the zoning committee had gone after the one-week appeal he gave them, last week, Fintiri said the committee was in a meeting in Enugu carrying out its responsibilities.
“You can see the party is working, and it is a turning point for all of us,” Fintiri said.
According to him, the leadership tussle in the party has largely been addressed even as he came short of saying the PDP has moved on from the crisis.
He said, “We are moving on. I am the chairman of the convention committee and you can see that we are doing our work. Everybody is happy and participating. I don’t see any crisis in this party.”
The party’s national elective convention is slated for October 30 and 31 this year in Abuja.
RSG Recommits To Building Agric Sector
The Rivers State Government has said that it was committed to building the agricultural sector and utilise the huge potentials the state has for the benefit of Rivers people.
The state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, stated this while speaking at a seminar of the Norwegian Seafood Council at Hotel Presidential in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Represented by his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, Wike said, “In the face of dwindling oil prices, and the need to diversify the economy, we see a lot of potentials in the seafood industry especially post Covid-19. This is an important industry for creating employment opportunities, generate revenue and boost economic activities in our area”.
Wike, who said that Rivers State was one of the coastal states in the Niger Delta endowed with valuable seafood resources, revealed that Norway and Nigeria have had a long history of relationship and trade.
According to the governor, “Rivers State, known as the oil and gas hub of Nigeria, is open to do business in all sectors including maritime and welcome more partnerships and investments from stakeholders who wish to do business in the state”.
Wike further said, “In the effort to grow our economy, the Government of Rivers State supports making laws that work for us all, by putting laws in place to improve society’s efficiency. Hence, the assent and signing of the VAT law”.
The Rivers State chief executive, who commended the Norwegian Seafood Council for conducting the seminar in the state, stressed that stock fish was enjoyed across Rivers State by all groups, including low and high earners, while both men and women are involved in the sales in our markets.
“I believe this seminar will examine the many advantages and gains of seafood as well as anticipated support from the Norwegian Embassy in the areas of encouraging deep sea fishing, trawlers, good storage for sea products, training to grow and nurture fish production standard, fish ponds and open fish farms, use of technology and encouragement, support to artisan farmers.
“We believe that the gains for removing stock fish and stock fish heads from the list of items not valid for the FX windows far outweigh the losses if any.
“For all the reasons stated above and many more, we anticipate Federal Government and the CBN’s removal of stock fish and stock fish heads from the list of items not valid for the Central Bank of Nigeria FX window”, Wike further stressed.
In his remarks, the Ambassador Royal Norwegian Embassy, Knut Lein, who described the history of stock fish in Nigeria and Norway as fascinating, said it creates a bond between both countries, and expressed the desire to foster increased cooperation, build on bilateral relations and inform the government of Norway about the opportunities in the country.
He said, “together we could create lots of jobs”, insisting that “doing what we can to promote stock fish trade was a win-win for all of us”.
Highlights of the occasion were the presentation of papers by the Director Africa, Norwegian Seafood Council, Mr. Trond Kostveit, and other stakeholders.
The Norwegian Ambassador, Mr. Knut Lein, had earlier paid a courtesy call on Governor Nyesom Wike, at the Government House in Port Harcourt, where the state chief executive expressed the state government’s desire to continue to partner with the Norwegian Embassy to facilitate economy growth and development of both countries, and the state in particular.
Encourage States To Harness Own Resources For Dev, Wike Tasks FG
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said Nigeria must encourage federating states to harness their resources and generate revenues, including Value Added Tax (VAT) to advance their development.
He also stressed that it was baffling to note that Rivers State was not included among states to benefit from any of the projects to be executed with the fresh loan that the Federal Government was seeking to obtain from the World Bank.
Wike made the observation when the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, led a delegation to present letter of nomination to him as the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award at Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday.
The Rivers State governor observed that there were mounted attempts to frustrate federating states like Rivers, to actualise the constitutional provisions that empower them to harness their resources and revenues, particularly VAT.
The governor decried the situation where the legality of states collecting VAT was not considered on the merit of the law by some public commentators, including state executives, rather, they were politicising it and looking at it from prism of ethnicity and religion.
According to Wike, what the FIRS was doing was illegal, and could be likened to robbing some states to pay others.
“You don’t even need to be a lawyer to know that VAT is not in Items 58 and 59 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended. Everybody knows that. It is not even in the Concurrent List. Therefore, it falls under the Residual List. It is not arguable. That yesterday, nothing happened, does not mean that today, nothing will happen or tomorrow, something will not happen.
“Nigeria should encourage states to be strong enough to have resources to develop themselves. We are in a federal system where we are practicing unitary system. Everybody at the end of the month will run to Abuja to share money. Nobody comes back to the state to think, how do I develop my state.”
He explained that the contest against the collection of Valued Added Tax (VAT) was started by Lagos State, which had sued the Federal Government at the Supreme Court.
According to him, Rivers State only avoided their pitfall by suing the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which is an agency of the Federal Government that was illegally collecting the tax in the state.
“The issue of VAT did not start from Rivers State. It started in Lagos State when Lagos State challenged it in Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court said you (Lagos) shouldn’t have sued the Federal Government. All you would have done was to sue the agency.”
The governor observed that rather than commend Rivers State Government for seeking to entrench fiscal federalism and constitutionalism, a particular state governor had threatened that the judgement of the court that declared that states, and not FIRS, are entitled to collect VAT within their jurisdiction, will not stand.
He urged those demanding for a brothers’ keeper consideration to first, appreciate the position of the law and situate it rightly.
“Some people say, ‘be your brother’s keeper’. I have no problem in being my brother’s keeper, but why not come out and say, let us tell ourselves the simple truth: as it is provided in the law, who is the person responsible to collect the VAT?
“When you agree to that, that it is the state, then, we can sit down to look at the different problems of states. And not to say ‘be your brother’s keeper’ while you’re doing an illegal thing, in disobeying what the law says you should not do.”
Wike stated that it was sheer act of discrimination for the Federal Government not to include Rivers State as one of the states that will benefit from projects for which it was seeking fresh foreign loans to execute.
“Look at the money that Federal Government has gone to borrow from the World Bank. Of all the projects, in all the states, Federal Government did not include Rivers State.
“Look at the list of projects that states will benefit from this money they’re borrowing from the World Bank that they have sent to National Assembly for approval, the only state that is not benefitting is Rivers State”.
He further noted, “It is the prerogative of Mr President; if he says he does not like Rivers State, if the ruling party says they don’t like Rivers State, I won’t kill myself. But leave the one that the law says I should be the one to collect so that I will be able to develop my own state.”
Speaking further, Wike explained that beyond the provision of infrastructure, his administration was seeking a law that would provide comfortable accommodation for judicial officers on retirement.
The reason, he said, was to ensure that, while in service, the judicial officers can concentrate on their jobs without cutting corners, and avoid corrupt practices.
In his remarks, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, said the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award was the flagship of award the company.
According to him, Wike was unanimously selected for his remarkable contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria and promotion of fiscal federalism with his position on VAT, which would help in the restructuring of Nigeria.
“Today, His Excellency has guided Nigeria to true federalism with the issue of VAT. Knowing what fiscal federalism should be, His Excellency went to court to challenge the collection of VAT, and the court stated that actually the states should collect VAT. And that is laying the foundation for true federalism and fiscal federalism”, he said.
Ukeh commended Wike for his sterling performance in office and infrastructural revolution taking place in Rivers State.
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