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‘Bello Wasted N5bn On Melaye’s Failed Recall’

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi State has allegedly accused the state Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello of wasting over N5billion public fund on his failed plot to recall Melaye.
The party, which described Bello as, “heartless”, lamented that the over N5billion would have paid, at least, two months’ salaries of workers in the state.
Reacting to the boycott of last Saturday’s INEC verification exercise by the electorate, the PDP in a statement signed by Director, Research and Documentation, Achadu Dickson, called for thorough investigation of the claim by some of the electorate who turned out for the exercise that their signatures were forged.
“Those who were involved in the petition submitted to INEC for the recall of Senator Dino Melaye must be arrested and tried for forgery,” the PDP said.
The party said the huge human and financial resources deployed to the “Dino Melaye must go” agenda would have made meaningful impact on the lives of the downtrodden in Kogi State, especially the workers that were being owed several months’ salary.
It declared that the open rejection of the recall agenda by the people of Kogi State was a clear signal that APC and Governor Yahaya Bello have been rejected in the state.
However, reacting to the allegations, the Chief Press Secretary to the Kogi State governor, Petra Akiti Oyegbule, said it was unfortunate that the main opposition party was coming out with another bunch of lies.
She denied that the governor has any interest in the recall of the embattled senator.
“It is high time media houses start holding people responsible and accountable for what they say. Right now, it goes beyond politics. It’s our responsibility, because people cannot just continue to fabricate issues when there are none. The governor will not be interested in spending any amount on Dino Melaye’s recall.
“Melaye, the only senator our party has in Kogi State, won with 94.66 per cent leaving the remaining 5.34 per cent to the petitioners.
“The messages are very clear; that Melaye is the most popular senator ever produced by Kogi West.
“No amount of financial inducement and coercion will change the will of the people of Kogi State in future elections,’’ the statement read.
Ametuo, however, commended the high level of neutrality and transparency displayed by the Independent National Electoral Commission and other stakeholders throughout the exercise.
“It gives us high optimism that future elections will be very free and fair. INEC therefore deserves commendations for the job well done,” he said.
The chairman called on the petitioners and Melaye as well as his followers to embrace peace and heed the voice of God, “because the voice of the people is the voice of God.’’
“I call on all members of our party to conduct themselves in a manner that will boost the image of our great party and not things that will further cause disrepute in our party,” he said.
The Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, former aide to President Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri, and the PDP in Kogi State, among others, have reacted to the failed recall exercise of Senator Dino Melaye of Kogi West Senatorial District.
The Tide reports that the process of the recall of Melaye ended, last Saturday, after a low turnout of voters to the verification exercise.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which carried out the verification in Kogi West, has already declared that the exercise was a failure after the signatures verification process to the petition for his recall fell short of requirements.
Reacting via his Twitter handle, Fayose said the result was a pointer to what 2019 would look like in the state.
He wrote, “The news coming from Kogi State is to the effect that tyranny has been defeated.
“This should be a pointer as to what to expect in 2019. Those youth they referred to as lazy will speak in 2019 just as I heard they have spoken in Kogi against the recall of Sen Dino Melaye.”
Also reacting, former aide, to ex-president Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri, and Senator representing Bayelsa East, Ben Murray-Bruce, also called the failed attempt to recall Melaye the triumph of democracy against autocracy.
Murray-Bruce wrote, “I hope the federal and state governments have learnt a lesson today. Fake popularity cannot match real popularity even when it is in a hospital.
“Grow up! Focus your efforts on improving the lot of Nigerians instead of focusing it on destroying your real and imagined enemies.”
Also, sharing a picture of Dino laughing, Reno wrote, “This picture reflects what @dino_melaye is doing to Buhari and his puppet, Bello right about now!”
Meanwhile, Sen Dino Melaye has thanked the people of his constituency for “rising to his defence” by shunning the verification exercise held on April 28, to recall him from the Senate.
Melaye, in a statement issued in Lokoja, yesterday, also thanked the political leaders, elders and traditional rulers in Kogi West for “rescuing him from his political enemies.”
He also expressed gratitude to the media, observers, civil society groups, security agents and other stakeholders “for resisting to be used against the wishes of the people of his constituency”.
The statement was signed by Special Assistant on Media to Melaye, Mr Gideon Ayodele.
“We thank all democratic partners who have resisted the attempted external political robbery and brazen impunity from raising its most ugly head.
“We commend the resolve of our people who have by their popular wish and wisdom and political independence rejected the selfish and satanic recall.
“The verification exercise has come and gone and the people of Kogi West have willingly exercised their franchise by re-validating the election of Sen Dino Melaye,” the lawmaker said.
According to him, the exercise no doubt, has shown that power truly belongs to the people.
“We wish to equally, commend INEC for resisting forgery in some parts while the exercise was going on, and for finally allowing the wish of the people to prevail as expressed,” it said.
He urged the proponents of his recall to accept the results in good faith and face the task of providing the elusive democratic dividends to the people.
The senator, however, advised his supporters to remain calm and humble in the face of victory and avoid hot arguments or action that may lead to the breakdown of law and order.
But the bid to recall Sen. Dino Melaye from the Senate has finally crashed as only 5.34 per cent of the total 188,500 signatories to his recall petition were verified in an exercise held on Saturday.
The result of the verification released early yesterday in Lokoja by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) showed that 39,285 of the signatories were verified, out of which only 18,762 signatures were genuine.
The genuine signatories represent a dismal 5.34 per cent of the total signatories to the petition, which fell short of 51 per cent or 98, 364 signatures required for the petition to sail through.
It was observed that the verification failed largely due to fictitious and forged signatures and names of dead persons affixed to the recall petition by its promoters.
It would be recalled that some electorate in the Kogi West senatorial district had on June 24, 2017, submitted a petition to recall Melaye to the headquarters of the INEC in Abuja.
One Mr Cornelius Olowo led the petitioners to submit the recall petition which alleged poor representation as one of the reasons for the move to recall Melaye.
However, the INEC’s presiding officer for the verification exercise, Prof. Okente Morthy of the University of Abuja said that the number of signatures verified fell short of the number required.
He consequently gave the breakdown of the results of the verification exercise which took place in 552 polling units in seven local government areas in Kogi West senatorial district.
According to him, in Kogi Local Government with 46,727 registered voters and a total number of 24,459 signatures to the petition, only 2,335 were verified out of 2,566 signatures recorded during verification.
He said that at Kabba/Bunu Local Government with 59,319 registered voters and 27,910 petitioners, only 2,085 signatures were verified to be genuine out of 2,151 that came out for the exercise.
Also at Ijumu Local Government, with 46, 810 registered voters and 24, 389 petitioners, 2,664 were verified out of 2, 811, the returning officer announced.
According to Morthy, others are Yagba East, 35, 329 registered voters, 18, 229 petitioners while 3,506 were verified out of 3, 580 recorded at verification.
At Mopa-Amuro Local Government with 18, 350 and 9, 173, signatures, 710 were verified out of the 729 recorded.
However, the Returning Officer said that there was violence in six polling units at the Mopa town towards the end of the exercise, forcing INEC to nullify the exercise in the affected wards.
At Yagba West which has 35, 506 registered voters and 19, 444 signatories, only 3,729 petitioners were verified out of the 4, 221 that turned up, the returning officer stated.
In Lokoja Local Government with 109,105 registered voters and 66,266 petitioners, INEC said that 3,763 were verified out of the 4, 810 recorded during the botched verification exercise.
A registered voter at the polling unit on the premises of the Lokoja Club, Samuel Olokotun, protested against his wife’s name on the petition list, saying that the woman did not sign the recall sheet.
INEC said that it was not aware that Melaye was detained by the police.
The Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, told one our correspondents that INEC had received no official communication regarding Melaye’s detention.
He said INEC had only been hearing about Melaye in the media.
Osaze-Uzzi, however, said Melaye’s recall process would not be affected by his absence or presence.
The INEC official said, “I don’t know if he is in detention. You are the one telling me.”
INEC also said it cannot be held responsible for the poor turnout of petitioners in Saturday’s verification of signatures for the recall of Melaye.

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North Can Live Without VAT Accruals, NEF Boasts …Backs Wike, Southern Govs On Fiscal Federalism, Restructuring

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The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has boasted that the North was a rich region, and can survive on its resources without the “billions” accruing to Southern states.
The NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, made this known, yesterday, when he featured on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ breakfast programme.
He was reacting to the tussle between states and the Federal Government on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).
VAT is a consumption tax paid when goods are purchased and services are rendered, and charged at a rate of 7.5 per cent.
Although Rivers and Lagos states have started the process of collecting VAT within their territories, the Court of Appeal, in a ruling on September 10, ordered that status quo be maintained pending the determination of an appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) against the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt.
Apart from Lagos and Rivers states, Ogun State has also started the process of passing a bill on VAT in its House of Assembly.
At the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in Enugu, last Thursday, the 17 governors insisted that they have the constitutional mandate to collect VAT, and vowed to ensure that the rule of law prevails in the matter.
While some northern governors like Aminu Masari (Katsina), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), amongst others, had kicked against the move, the 17 Southern Governors led by Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) had unanimously supported the position that “the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.”
Speaking, yesterday, during the television programme, Baba-Ahmed said, “I will advise that we wait to hear what the court says. However, even the fact that it has become an issue suggests that we really do need to address the fundamentals and the manner in which the federation works.
“We have always supported restructuring. We have always asked that a major and genuine shift initiative either by groups or the National Assembly so that matters like this be addressed properly.
“If we don’t do that now, then, we should get a leader that would do that in 2023. This administration appears not to understand the importance of restructuring; we do in the North, we recognise the fact that we need to change the manner in which we generate wealth and allocate (it).
“The thing is: the North wants restructuring; the North wants fiscal federalism. We are a rich region, and we can live on what we have, even if we don’t have the billions that accrue to others states. Our poverty is not a kind of problem that we would break this country over.”
According to him, the VAT war is a wake-up call to northern governors who need to recognise the fact that VAT or no VAT, they need to develop their resources and develop the human capital of the North.
The NEF spokesman added, “North, you said you have many people but you are under-developing your own people – the biggest liability of the North is that we have a huge population that is under-developed. You need to develop the human capital that you have.
“We need leaders; the current governors don’t recognise this. Otherwise, they won’t be involved in this argument; allow the court to decide.
“But for goodness sake, (they should) begin to think — what else can we do if the court decides now that Rivers State is right, Lagos State is right, and the Southern states are right, and they won’t be getting all these billions coming in from VAT? What happens?”
Baba-Ahmed said the Northern governors at this stage should not be sleeping, noting that the North is “sitting on wealth, we have massive resources in this country, we have to fight insecurity first, and the Federal Government has to help us, we need to clear the bushes, the forests and all the criminals that are there, and we need to go back to farming.
“Agriculture is a major asset; we have land, we have water, we have livestock, we have minerals that are literally begging to be picked from the ground but our governors are too focused on the pittance that they are getting. This is wrong”, he argued.

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Boxing: Joshua Facing Toughest Test In Usyk?

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Boxing champion, Anthony Joshua could face his toughest test yet when he fights Oleksandr Usyk in London on Saturday, says ex-world champion George Groves.
Joshua, 31, puts his WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world heavyweight titles on the line against Usyk, a former undisputed cruiserweight world champion.
The 34-year-old Ukrainian has won all 18 professional fights, beating Tony Bellew and Derek Chisora on that run.
“Technically, Usyk is brilliant,” said Groves . “He showed that in unifying the cruiserweight division in great fights and I believe he could be Joshua’s toughest test to date. This is the first fight when I wouldn’t be surprised if Joshua got beaten.
“Joshua has fought [Wladimir] Klitschko and been in with Joseph Parker and also been beaten [by Andy Ruiz] and the only question mark for Usyk Is he big enough to compete with AJ?
“If Usyk keeps a high pace and makes Joshua miss with a lot of shots, that will work to Usyk’s advantage as he has probably got a better engine.
“Joshua is a phenomenal athlete with tremendous punching power and strength but has a tendency to tire out if the pace is uncomfortable for him.”
A crowd of more than 60,000 is expected and it will be the largest attendance Joshua has fought in front of since his win over Alexander Povetkin with 80,000 at Wembley Stadium in September, 2018.
Since then, Joshua has lost to Ruiz in New York before winning the rematch in Saudi Arabia and gained a ninth-round victory over Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena last December, with only 1,000 fans attending because of Coronavirus restrictions.
Both Joshua and Usyk won gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, at super-heavyweight and heavyweight respectively, with the Briton going on to win 24 of his 25 professional fights, including 22 inside the distance.
Meanwhile, Dillian Whyte, who lost to Joshua in 2015 and is pushing for a rematch with him or a shot at WBC champion, Tyson Fury, believes the key to beating Usyk on Saturday is to adopt an attacking strategy.
“I think it’s a great fight and Joshua will stop him in the first six or seven rounds,” Whyte told Tidesports source.
“Usyk will start fast and Joshua should be cagey as Usyk is a bit lighter. Joshua can sometimes lack confidence but hopefully he goes back to the old him, starts pressing, being the bigger, stronger guy and gets the job done early.
“If Joshua sets the pace, he can get an early knockout and if he is strong, confident and walks him down, then I don’t see Usyk’s punches troubling Joshua.”
Groves, who held the WBA Super-Middleweight belt in 2017 and 2018, added: “If I was Joshua, I would take control of the ring and try to dominate and bully off the front foot.
“Usyk will want to be off the back foot for the first couple of rounds, then try to pepper Joshua.
“If I was in the Joshua camp, I would say: You want to keep this guy in his box. You don’t want Usyk having any confidence, so hit him hard and early.
“In the first three rounds, you want to land something big on him.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn also suggested Joshua could get an early victory.
Hearn said: “I’m always nervous for an Anthony Joshua fight, especially when you’re fighting someone that really believes he is going to win”.

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2022 AFCON: ‘Cameroon On Track’

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The Confederation of African Football (CAF) President, Patrice Motsepe, has said that Cameroon is “on track” to successfully host the Africa Cup of Nations early next year after visiting Olembe Stadium in Yaounde last weekend.
The venue will host the opening match and final of the AFCON in January and February of 2022.
A CAF delegation, including President Motsepe and General Secretary, Veron Mosengo-Omba, were joined by Cameroon’s Sports Minister, Professor Narcisse Mouelle Kombi in inspecting progress made at the Olembe Stadium and various other facilities in the capital city.
“I’m very satisfied with the briefing I got and what I saw. I saw the Olembe Stadium and it is world class; we should all be proud as people of Cameroon and as Africans,” said Motsepe, as quoted by CAF’s website.
“We must applaud Cameroon [for] building such infrastructure. In partnership with the Government, the Minister of Sports, LOC, FECAFOOT President and CAF administration under Veron [Mosengo-Omba], I’m certain that in January next year, the rest of the world will be impressed. I’m very satisfied with what I have seen. We are on track.”
Motsepe continued: “The quality of football that will be played here will once again show the world that Africa has the quality to one day win the FIFA World Cup, that is the ultimate goal. The AFCON is special and I think it is important for us to set the tone in Cameroon.”
Mosengo-Omba also heaped praises on Olembe Stadium: “The infrastructure and architecture of the stadium is world class and can be compared to many other famous stadiums globally. In Cameroon, we have six beautiful match venues. Our job now is to ensure that we are ready with everything else.”

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