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2019: PDP Appoints Saraki Atiku Campaign DG …Names Wike, Tambuwal, Others Zonal Coordinators …Raises Alarms Over Buhari’s Plot To Rig Polls

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The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has appointed a director-general and six zonal coordinators for the party’s 2019 Presidential campaign.
The PDP Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, shared the news on his Twitter handle, @uchesecondus.
He shared a list of party members, who have been picked to be part of the campaign team of the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
He said, “After due consultation with party stakeholders, PDP, under my leadership has approved the following as members of Atiku Presidential Campaign Council.”
A statement issued by PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday in Abuja, listed the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki as the director-general of the campaign.
Ologbondiyan gave the names of the zonal coordinators as: Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, for the North-West; Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State, for the North-East; and Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, for North-Central.
The party also appointed Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State as Zonal Coordinator, South-South; former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, for the South-West; and Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State as the Zonal Coordinator, South-East.
Others are: former Minister of Special Duties, Tanimu Turaki, as the chairman, Legal Matters; Governor Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom as the chairman, Fund Raising Committee.
Ologbondiyan added that the NWC would make further announcement on the composition and structure of the PDP Presidential campaign, in due course.
Meanwhile, a former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Timi Frank, has said that the appointment of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki as the Director General of the Atiku Abubakar campaign organization, will ensure the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) sails to victory in 2019.
He said this while commending the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his party on the appointment of Saraki as the Campaign Director-General.
Frank, who warned the ruling party not to contemplate rigging in the 2019 general elections, said with the team put together by the PDP defeat is already imminent for President Buhari and his party.
Reacting in a statement he signed and made available to newsmen, yesterday, Frank said because of the popularity and love Nigerians have for most of the PDP figures in the campaign team, victory is assured for the opposition party in the coming general elections.
While warning the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government not to contemplate rigging the next election, Frank said Nigerians will protect their votes and ensure that their votes count.
Frank added, “I join other well-meaning Nigerians to congratulate the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki on his appointment as campaign DG. Dr. Saraki and other appointees have proved their competency to deliver and I believe that their current assignment will ensure a safe return of President Muhammadu Buhari to Daura while his party return to opposition after 2019 general elections.
“I also call on other PDP leaders, most especially all other presidential aspirants to join hands with Senator Saraki during the campaign to solidify the acceptability of PDP and its presidential candidate.”
The list released by PDP:
1. President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki as Director General of Atiku Presidential Campaign Council.
2. Governor Aminu Tambuwal as the Zonal Coordinator for North-West.
3. Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo as Zonal Coordinator for North-East.
4. Governor Samuel Ortom as the Zonal Coordinator for North-Central
5. Governor Dave Umahi as the Zonal Coordinator for South-East.
6. Barrister Nyesom Wike as the Zonal Coordinator for South-South
7. Governor Ayodele Fayose is the Zonal Coordinator for the South-West.
8. Barrister Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, SAN, chairman, Legal Matters.
9. Governor Udom Emmanuel as the chairman, Fund Raising.
Meanwhile, The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, not to “succumb to pressure by the Presidency, to return Mrs. Amina Zakari as director of Operations.”
PDP alleged that Nigerians were aware of the “pressure from the Buhari Presidency to return Amina Zakari, a blood relation of President Muhammadu Buhari, as director of Operations, so that they can use her to manipulate the electoral processes and rig the election for President Buhari.”
The opposition party also charged INEC not to change its “statute-bared stand on the exclusion of Zamfara State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC)” from presenting candidates in the 2019 general elections, following its failure to conduct congresses.
A statement by the party’s spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, stated that with the “redeployment of Amina Zakari to another directorate, nevertheless, its position that her continuous stay in the commission constitutes a threat to free, fair and credible 2019 general elections, given her relationship with President Buhari, who is a major contender in the election.”
The statement said, “Amina Zakari’s removal as Director of Operations has been hailed by majority of Nigerians, a fact, which shows that voters had already lost confidence in her integrity to hold such a sensitive position, for which they prefer her outright removal from the commission.
“Furthermore, Nigerians are also already abreast of the provisions of the law leading to the exclusion of Zamfara State APC chapter from presenting candidates for the elections and we caution INEC against any contemplation to change the rules for the APC.
“The case of Amina Zakari and that of Zamfara APC constitute another direct integrity test for Prof. Yakubu on his capacity, integrity and readiness for free, fair and credible general elections in 2019.
“We, therefore, charge Prof. Yakubu to ensure that he remains on the side of the people and take urgent steps to weed the commission of compromised officials, as Nigerians will accept nothing short of a transparent process in their quest for a replacement for the reckless, vindictive, incompetent and anti-people Buhari-led APC administration.”

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Money We’re Spending On Cancer Hospital Justified -Wike

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has declared that the money his administration is spending on the Dr. Peter Odili Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease Diagnostic and Treatment Centre in the state is not a misplaced priority.
The governor made the assertion, yesterday, when he visited the project site at Rumuokuta in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, to inspect the progress of work done already.
Wike said that no amount of money spent in putting in place facilities that will secure the health of all residents in the state will be considered a waste.
“I’m very happy that the money we have spent here is not a misplaced priority. The healthcare of our people is important to us.
“It will save the time people travel overseas for cancer treatment. I think it will be something every Nigerians will be happy with. Here will be like a tourist centre. It has helipad, and doctors’ quarters. In case of emergency, they will fly in helicopter to this place and doctors who stay here will attend to them.”
The governor explained that the State government decided to build doctors’ quarters within the precincts of the Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease Diagnostic and Treatment Centre so that no doctor will claim he is unable to attend to patients timely, particularly in emergency situations, because of distance of where he stays to the hospital.
The governor expressed satisfaction with the pace of work done in view of the gigantic nature of the project and the difficult topography that requires massive piling.
“We have confidence in Julius Berger and having come here today, I think they are on schedule. We are happy with the level of work.
“It’s not a job you must rush. They are taking their time to make sure they give the citizens of the state the best and to Nigerians in general.
“You knows it is a specialist hospital, the first of its kind in this country. We are quite comfortable and confident that by end of July 2022, they would have handed over this very important project to the State.”
The Regional Manager of Julius Berger Nigeria PLC, Juergen Fischer, said they are conscious of the promise they have made to the governor to deliver the project as agreed.
Already, he noted, the milestone achieved has surpassed what was initially expected because they have done ground piling and concluded the critical baseline underground structural work done.
“You can be sure that by the end of July as we promised his excellency, we will deliver this hospital. We are a little bit ahead of schedule even in the rainy season.”

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US Lawmakers Stop $875m Defence Equipment Sale To Nigeria

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The United States lawmakers are holding down a proposed sale of attack helicopters to Nigeria amid mounting concerns about President Muhammadu Buhari government’s human rights record as it grapples with multiple security crises.
US lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have reportedly delayed clearing a proposed sale of 12 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and accompanying defence systems to the Nigerian military.
The deal is worth $875million, according to US officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter.
In addition to the helicopters, the proposed sale includes 28 helicopter engines produced by GE Aviation, 14 military-grade aircraft navigation systems made by Honeywell, and 2,000 advanced precision kill weapon systems—laser-guided rocket munitions, according to information sent by the State Department to Congress and reviewed by ‘Foreign Policy’ magazine.
A report by ‘Foreign Policy’, last Tuesday, said the behind-the-scenes controversy over the proposed arms sale illustrates a broader debate among Washington policymakers over how to balance national security with human rights objectives.
The hold on the sale also showcases how powerful US lawmakers want to push President Joseph Biden administration to rethink US relations with Nigeria amid overarching concerns that Buhari is drifting toward authoritarianism as his government is besieged by multiple security challenges, including the Boko Haram insurgency.
But Western governments and international human rights organisations have ramped up their criticisms of the Buhari regime, particularly in the wake of its ban on Twitter, systemic corruption issues, and the Nigerian military’s role in deadly crackdowns on #EndSARS protesters, last October.
The Chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Menendez, called for a “fundamental rethink of the framework of our overall engagement” with Nigeria during a Senate hearing with US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken in June.
Both Menendez and Sen. Jim Risch, a top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have placed a hold on the proposed arms sale, according to multiple US officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter, who spoke to ‘Foreign Policy’ on condition of anonymity.
The details on the proposed sale were first sent by the US State Department to Congress in January before then-former Vice President Joe Biden was inaugurated as president, according to officials familiar with the matter.
Nigeria has just received six out of the 12 Tucano jet fighters purchased from the US Government.
Some experts said the United States should hit the pause button on major defence sales until it makes a broader assessment of the extent to which corruption and mismanagement hobble the Nigerian military, and whether the military is doing enough to minimize civilian casualties in its campaign against Boko Haram and other violent insurrectionists.
Administration officials say they are tired of regular efforts by Capitol Hill to review arms sales to some countries.
“There doesn’t have to be a reason why we don’t provide weapons or equipment to the Nigerian military,” the Director of the Africa Programme at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank, Judd Devermont, said.
“But it has to be done with an assessment of how it will actually, one, change the direction of conflict in Nigeria, and, two, that they will use it consistent with our laws. In both cases, it’s either a question mark or a fail.
“There is a culture of impunity that exists around abuses by the military,” Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch, Anietie Ewang, said.
Ewang cited the Nigerian military’s killing of unarmed protesters during the massive #EndSARS demonstrations against police corruption and brutality last year as well as cases documented by human rights organizations of abuses in the military’s campaign against Boko Haram.
“I’m sure it’s a difficult situation. There are so many conflicts springing up across the country now,” Ewang said.
“The authorities, I presume, are trying to do the best they can to save lives and properties. But this must be done in accordance with human rights standards. You can’t throw one out just to be able to achieve the other.”

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Nigerians Waiting To Elect PDP In 2023, Atiku Claims

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The former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar says Nigerians are waiting eagerly for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) to take over power at the federal level in 2023.
Speaking to journalists at the Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday, Atiku said his meeting with the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike was fruitful.
Atiku explained that party affairs brought him to Port Harcourt, and he had spent the time reconciling touching issues with the governor.
According to him, the issues bother on how to ensure unity and stability in the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), that are critical for the party in clinching electoral victory in 2003.
“Well, I came here to reconcile with the governor on party affairs and how we can ensure that there is unity and stability in the party, so, that we can take over government in 2023. I believe that Nigerians can’t wait for 2023 to come, so that PDP will return.”
Speaking on the current insecurity challenges that have overwhelmed the capability of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government, Atiku described the prevailing situation in the country as bad.
He urged Nigerians to wait for the appropriate time when PDP shall unveil its policies on how it wants to address the issue of insecurity across the country.
“I have never seen it (insecurity) this bad. I am 70 years plus, I have never seen it this bad in terms of security challenges, in terms of economy, in terms of unemployment. This is the worst.
“Why can’t you give us time? We will come up with our policies. We will present them to Nigerians when the time comes.
“We have done that before. Under PDP, we recorded the highest economic growth, the best foreign reserves, we reduced unemployment. You know that we can do it”.
The former vice president also acknowledged the tremendous leadership success recorded by Wike, who he described as a topmost governor among his peers in the party.
“I think he (Wike) is the topmost governor we have in the party. There is no doubt about that in terms of projects, youth empowerment and employment; in terms of security. Yes, we have security challenges all over the country.”
He further commended the governor for his outstanding leadership and sterling performance in office.

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