Senator Magnus Abe says only direct primaries could guarantee a level-playing field for the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Rivers State amid the lingering conflict between his camp and that loyal to Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi in the state.
The Ojukaye Flag-Amachree chaired faction of the Rivers APC, loyal to Amaechi, had, three days ago, adopted indirect primaries to determine Rivers APC 2019 flag-bearers, but Abe, speaking in Port Harcourt, yesterday, countered that decision as unworkable.
The senator, the first aspirant to declare for the 2019 Rivers APC governorship ticket, said, “Rivers is one of those states where we can’t have indirect primaries because the entire structure in the state is embroiled in legal controversies.
“We have more than four, five court cases; so if you want to use indirect primaries, which particular delegates list are you going to use, based on which congress? All these issues are in legal tussles, so you can’t at this stage pick one above the other.
“So for safety and legal comfort of those to contest the election in Rivers, we just have to use direct primaries. Whatever objection anybody may have with direct primaries, be it lack of proper data base, security or whatever it is, these are all defects curable in our system”.
Meanwhile, delegates who emerged through the congresses of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the ward and local governments levels earlier this year have joined their state party executives and governors to reject the direct primary option proposed by the National Working Committee of the party.
Investigations revealed that delegates, who bought forms and contested elections before they emerged as party officials at all levels, had vowed to work against the interest of the governors if they embraced the direct primary option.
A leader of the APC in one of the South-West states, who is also a delegate, told one of our correspondents that it would be unfair to deny ward and local government officers of the party the opportunity to “reap from their investments” during the general elections.
He said, “There are lots of advantages in being a delegate. At least, you are assured that you will make enough money to defray the expenses you incurred in the course of your election.
“Where do they expect this to happen now with the direct primary option? The aspirant will expect you as ward leader to share the money given to you among all your members. That does not make sense at all.”
A source, who was a delegate in the last governorship election primary in Ondo State last year, alleged that two leading aspirants of the APC gave out N200,000 each to every delegate while three others spent N150,000 each to settle each of the delegates.
He said, “The implication of this is that a very smart delegate could pocket about N700,000 without much stress. It would be impossible to make such money in a direct primary arrangement.”
Another delegate in the last Ekiti governorship election also confirmed to one of our correspondents that each leading aspirant, who contested the APC primary, also spent between N150,000 and N200,000 to bribe each of the delegates.
He said, “That is why we are on the same page with the governors to fight the senators who are pushing for direct primary in order to secure automatic tickets from President Muhammadu Buhari and our National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.”
The party’s National Organising Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso, had, in a statement in April, said ward chairmanship aspirants would pay N10,000 each to obtain the nomination form and that aspirants for other ward offices would pay N2,000.
Local government chairmanship aspirants were expected to pay N25,000 for the nomination form while aspirants for other local government offices would purchase the form for N10,000.
State chairmanship aspirants were to pay N100,000 while the form for other state offices went for N30,000.
According to the guidelines, all females and physically challenged aspirants shall pay 50 per cent of the prescribed fees.
Speaking on the issue, the Chairman, Ondo State chapter of the APC, Mr. Ade Adetimehin, said, the decision of the National Executive Committee of the party in Abuja, actually authorised states to use indirect primaries.
He said, “At the NEC meeting, held penultimate Thursday, the resolution was that the election of the President would be by direct primary while other candidates of the party would be picked through the indirect option.
“There was, however, a caveat that each state could still determine the method that suits them. However from the opinion poll there, the majority settled for the indirect primary.
“No one is afraid of the direct primary. The problem is that there is no correct data across the country for the APC members. If we leave it open, many people will just show up at the primary venue and claim to be members.
“What the NWC wants to do is to cause confusion in all the states. We don’t have security to man the 203 wards in Ondo State. People will just invade the primary venues with fake membership cards and they will destroy the entire process if we try to stop them.”
A delegate from the Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State, who pleaded not to be named, said direct primary would be cumbersome to handle.
“If the party decides to adopt direct primaries, it would be too difficult to control the crowd for security reasons. The process could even be infiltrated by members of the opposition,” the delegate stated.
Another Edo delegate, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak on the issue, told newsmen that direct primary was not only expensive to manage but also time-consuming.
He said, “If the primaries are done directly, aspirants will spend more money because people are hungry. So, the highest bidder would have the day.”
As of Saturday, the states that had adopted the direct primary option, as proposed by the NWC of the party, are Abia, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Enugu, Jigawa, Kano, Kwara, Lagos and Niger.
Those that had embraced the indirect option are Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kogi, Nasarawa, Ondo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara states.
However, another faction of the party in Rivers State has opted for the direct primary approach to elect delegates, thereby further deepening the already polarised party in the state.
Further investigations revealed that Ebonyi, Kebbi, Ogun, Oyo, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Osun and Taraba states had yet to take a decision on the issue.
Meanwhile, some of the affected senators have refused to be specific on their chances of getting their dream tickets.
Those who declined to be specific on the matter include Senator Shehu Sani, (Kadunal Central) Lanre Tejuoso (Ogun Central) and Ajayi Borofice (Ondo North).
When contacted on the telephone, Borofice said he didn’t want to talk about the issue at all.
Tejuoso avoided the questions posed to him by one of our correspondents.
He listened to questions bordering on his fate in 2019 and asked that the questions be sent to him through WhatsApp.
He promised to respond to them in writing, saying he did not want to be misquoted.
When he was called again last Friday night, Tejuoso said he could not speak on the matter “for now” until the pending issues had been resolved.
Similarly, Sani refused to be specific on his political future.
He said, “I don’t want to comment on that. I have already made enough statements on my support for direct primary. I don’t want to be specific. In the coming days, we will take a position on that. But now, what I can say it that I want direct primary.”
Speaking to one of our correspondents, a senator from a state in the North-East, who spoke on condition of anonymity, pointed out that the governors would determine the fate of the lawmakers.
According to him, some of the lawmakers made a mistake by engaging their governors in political battles, noting that the governors were the state leaders and financiers of the parties.
The senator said, “If you are a well-grounded politician, why should you worry about whether the primary is direct or indirect? That means you must have a good relationship, rapport and acceptability of the electorate or delegates.
“However, he who pays the piper calls the tune. The governors are the ones who fund the party. In the APC, they are the leaders of the party in the states. If they are the state leaders, they should be in a position to decide which is more appropriate for the primary.
“Some of the senators, who made the mistake of fighting their governors, don’t have the reason to do that. Every state has three senators but every state has only one governor. There are some governors who are the ones going after senators’ seats. Even with that, they can settle the issue amicably.”
Also, Senator Kabiru Marafa, who hailed the decision by the APC NEC, said the choice of direct method for the presidential primary was a ‘vote of no confidence’ in the state executives elected by the congresses supervised by the governors.
He said, “The NEC’s decision passed a vote of no confidence in the congresses conducted by the former National Working Committee and the leadership of the APC.
“The fact that they were specific on the presidential primary, that it should be conducted through the direct method, tells you that they don’t have confidence in the congresses conducted in the states.”
According to Marafa, (Zamfara) lawmakers, who opposed governors on the conduct of the APC congresses, have been vindicated by the NEC’s decision.
He noted that the leadership of the party, particularly the National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; and national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, pushed for direct primary to protect President Muhammadu Buhari’s candidacy.
He said, “The intelligence of Adams Oshiomhole and his commitment to the President came to the fore yesterday.
“If indirect primary is done and issues later come up – as a lot of the congresses (that produced the executives who will serve as delegates) are being challenged in court.
“If the courts nullify these congresses and these executives are the ones who elected the presidential candidate, then the candidate has a problem. So, they want to protect the (candidacy of the) President and I am very happy about that.”
Senator Adesoji Akanbi (Oyo Central), however, said that the leaders of the APC in Oyo State were to meet yesterday to adopt either of the two primary options.
“We are having a meeting on Sunday to decide which mode – whether direct or indirect,” the senator said.
SSANU, NASU Threaten Warning Strike Over Unpaid Arrears
The Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU), University of Jos, have threatened to embark on warning strike next Monday, if the Federal Government does not pay their N30billion unpaid arrears.
The Chairperson of ASSANU and Chairperson of Joint Action Committee (JAC), Esther Ezeama disclosed this, yesterday, during a peaceful protest at the premises of University of Jos, Plateau State.
She said the staff are protesting the poor condition of service, non payment of arrears accumulated to N30billion and noted that Federal Government has being paying lip service to their plights.
“If Federal Government does not look into our matter we will be going for a compulsory five days warning strike, after that we will go for indefinite strike if our demands are not made.
“We have being on this struggle since 2009 and government is no other willing to meet their demands, it has being promising them and failing, we are saying enough is enough. We want them to do something urgent to arrest the situation.
“We want the National Assembly, the office of the Accountant General, the National Universities Commission (NUC) should all put their heads together to resolve our problem before the system is shut down.”
The staff, who were protesting and holding placards with inscriptions reads, “Government must stop lip service, Federal Government should pay us our N30billion arrears, Federal Government must respect NIC judgment on staff school” among others.
Gunmen Kill Scores, Raze Houses In Ogoni Communities
No fewer than 10 people were killed and property worth millions of Naira destroyed when gunmen, suspected to be cultists, invaded Okwale and Taabaa communities in Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The Tide reports that the first attack was launched about 6pm in Okwale community on Tuesday leaving, at least, four persons dead with the residence of one Chief Monday Abueh and others touched by the rampaging gunmen.
Also, similar violent attack was carried out in Taabaa community on Wednesday morning with about five persons killed; while the assailants razed the Palace of the Paramount Ruler of Taabaa, M.S.K Nule and burnt cars packed in the compound, three generator sets and other valuable properties.
The incident also spilled over to Nyokuru community in Khana, where the daredevil hoodlums set fire on the residence of the President, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Comrade Legborsi Pyagbara, just as it was further leant that three policemen were injured.
It was not exactly clear what led to the invasion and sporadic gunshots as residents of the area ran in different directions and into the bushes to avoid being hit by bullets.
Recounting the incident to newsmen, the Paramount Ruler of Taabaa, M.S.K. Nule said efforts by the community to have a police checkpoint near the area has been unsuccessful, saying, “”This morning (Wednesday), some cult boys invaded Taabaa through our neighbouring community called Luekum. They entered into the community at about 6am. They moved straight to my palace and burnt down the entire place. And some ancestral properties of the palace were removed by the hoodlums before they set the buildings ablaze.
“They moved from my palace into the community, where they killed five people, four indigenes of the community and one outsider (stranger) who ran away from Kpor for refuge in Taabaa. They burnt people’s cars; my elder brother’s was also burnt.
“When those people came into the community, we ran and reported to the policemen at a police checkpoint in Taabaa along East-West Road. They were over 20 policemen at that checkpoint, with three Hilux vehicles and their private cars as at the time of the attack.
“They (policemen) told us that their duty is to protect the East-West Road and not the community; that we should call the Commissioner of Police, Mustapha Dandaura. The whole people in the community were there begging them but they insisted that it is not their duty to protect the community, except directed by the CP,” Nule narrated tearfully.
Nule revealed that he had written a petition to the State Police Command when he got wind of a planned attack on his community, saying, “While the operation was going on, I also called the Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Nnamdi Omoni and reported to him.
“There has never been any crisis in the community since 2014 that the community had such experience,” Nule said, just as he called on the state government and security agencies to intervene and return normalcy in the area.
In her account, a resident who did not want her name in print for fear of being identified and attacked said, ”At about 6am this morning (Wednesday), I was preparing to travel to Port Harcourt. As soon as I got to the road, everywhere was dried; nobody was seen on the road and is a busy area. About 15minutes later, somebody came on a bike and asked me to run that the whole village is under siege. They said some militants have entered the community and that they have started killing people.
“I ran back to the house in safety. By the time the gunmen left the community, they have killed about five people, burnt cars and houses. Our Highness’ house was burnt and another building was also burnt. After they left my community, they went to Nyokuru, and we are not sure of the number of persons killed there. They invaded Okwale yesterday (Tuesday) evening and killed some people. They burnt cars and houses in the community, and one person was taken alive”.
A male resident of Taabaa told The Tide that “From 8am to 9am on Wednesday, some group of boys came to our community and started chasing people and shooting. We ran into the bush.”
Meanwhile, the member representing Khana/Gokana Constituency at the House of Representatives, Hon Dumnamene Dekor has promised to support security agencies to ensure that the perpetrators of the attacks were unmasked and made to face the law.
Dekor, who stated this after he visited the affected communities and the hospital where the injured policemen were being treated, said, “I understand in Okwale, there are about five persons killed; four corpses have been recovered; one person was taken alive. In Taabaa, five persons killed, several cars burnt, houses destroyed and it is quite sad.
“While thanking the security operatives for the swift way they acted to prevent loss of more lives and property, I want to call on them to improve on the security, especially in Khana Local Government Area.
“For those who carried out this dastardly act, everything is being done to unmask them and bring them to book,” the federal lawmaker stated.
Commenting on the incident in a statement, MOSOP expressed sadness over what it termed “unjustified attacks”, and called on security agencies to ensure that peace returns in the area.
The statement issued by MOSOP’s Publicity Secretary, Sunny Zorvah reads, “MOSOP receives with sadness reports from some Ogoni communities of the sudden emergence of violence and killings carried out by members of some cult groups in the area.
“Reports say the renewed violence, which took place in Okwale on Tuesday (yesterday), spilled over to Taabaa and Nyokuru communities, all in Nyokhana district in Khana LGA of Rivers State.
“MOSOP is pained over this unjustified attacks leading to the burning down of the house of the MOSOP President, Comrade Legborsi Pyagbara, in Nyokuru community.
“The movement also feels distressed over reports of the killing of about four persons early today (Wednesday) and razing of the palace of His Highness, “Chief Nule (Jnr) in Taabaa community, and yesterday’s killing of scores of persons and attack on the residence of Chief Monday Abueh and others in Okwale community by cult gangs.
“This ugly situation demands urgent and thorough actions by the security agencies and every necessary action required of the government.
“We call on the police and the Special Joint Military Task Force to ensure the return of peace to the troubled communities, go after perpetrators of this barbaric and retrogressive onslaught on the communities, but without hurt on innocent persons.
‘FG Not Committed To Ending Gas Flaring’
The Environmental Rights Activist, Nnimmo Bassey, has stated that the Federal Government lacks the commitment to bringing gas flaring by companies to an end.
Bassey, who is the executive director of Environmental Rights Action, stated that if the government was ready to end gas flaring that it should ensure that companies pay fines for gas flared.
The activist spoke in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, yesterday, at the Youth Climate Incubation Hub, organized for youths of the South-South zone by the Federal Ministry of Environment with support from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Bassey said that the government has not shown enough commitment to ending gas flaring in the nation, noting that the process requires a lot of investment.
He said: “We need to get youths active in the issues of climate change. We need to place Nigeria on a better foothold for the future. We are losing our habitat and our environment. So, we are for restoration of mangrove forests. If we are serious about tackling global warming one of the ways is tree planting.
“The only problem is that the government is not ready. If the Federal Government is committed to make companies pay fine for the gas they flare, the menace will be stopped. We have to take steps to stop global warming and climate change. Gas flaring has been going for over 62 years now and that is the primary thing that needs to be tackled.
“The deadline to end this malady is 2030, some of us feel it is too far. We are feeling that the deadline should be 2020. We should end it next year. It is achievable we should only be ready to invest.”
Politics4 days ago
Ndume Tasks Youth On Self-Reliance
Sports4 days ago
Why I’m Better Than Messi -Ronaldo
Sports4 days ago
Yobo Charges Onyekuru To Prove Self At Monaco
Politics2 days ago
Guber Aspirtant Wants Electorate To Vote Credible Candidates
Sports4 days ago
Emenalo Quits Role At Monaco
Politics4 days ago
‘2019 Rivers Poll Shows Rot In Nigerian Army’
Politics4 days ago
Xenophobic Attacks: Committee Urges Restraint From Nigerian Students
Politics4 days ago
Sanwo-Olu Sends List Of Commissi-oner-Nominees To Assembly