The outcome of a recent meeting of members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) presidential campaign council with Governor Nyesom Wike in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, had put paid to speculations that there are cracks in the party, especially following unconfirmed reports that Wike allegedly resigned his appointment as the South-South zonal coordinator of the party ahead of next year’s general elections.
Not only was that meeting held in the Rivers State Government House on Saturday, December 8, 2018 crucial to the party’s unity, it charted the way forward for the main opposition party in the country to position itself and prepare to wrest power from the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
A major fallout of that meeting of the party’s presidential campaign council, The Tide can report authoritatively that Wike agreed to lead the party’s campaign in the zone.
Needless to say that the Governor had threatened to abandon the party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, as it were, alleging that he was being sidelined in some of the decisions taken by the party and its presidential candidate.
One of the issues in contention, it was gathered was that Wike, had said and rightly so that as a stakeholder, he was not consulted before the party constituted its presidential campaign council, especially as other members had been visible in the activities of the Senator Bukola Saraki-led council.
But impeccable sources at that meeting said that Atiku and other leaders of the party held the olive branch and pleaded with Wike to join hands with them to make it easy for the PDP to defeat President Buhari and his party in general polls next year.
One of the reliable sources at the meeting said: “It was a tough but friendly meeting. The presidential candidate spoke like a father while Wike also listened and presented his areas of grievances.
“The governor threatened to abandon the campaign, but I think it was meant to get his attention and also register his displeasure over some of the actions he believed were taken without his knowledge.
“At the end of the day, he (Wike) agreed to lead the campaign and also play prominent roles in order to enable us sack the APC and the President in 2019. All of us agreed that the APC is evil and the best way we can defeat it is to work together as a team. We will do that.”
Apart from Atiku, other top party leaders who were at the Brick House, the seat of power in Rivers State include the PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal; former governor of the state, Attahiru Bafarawa; and Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa.
Others, according to a Government House source, are Senate President and Director General of Atiku Campaign Organisation, Bukola Saraki; Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State and his counterpart, from Cross River State, Ben Ayade.
The Tide learnt that some of the PDP heavyweights arrived in Port Harcourt the previous day, while Tambuwal and Bafarawa were seen with Governor Wike at the Government House on Saturday (December 8). Some of the politicians had attended the burial of the mother of Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State.
Only recently, as if foretold, a lawmaker in the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Tonye Adoki, captured the mood when he said that Governor Wike deserves respect and special recognition for stabilising the PDP in the country, stating with emphasis that the office of the state chief executive should not be undermined.
Adoki, who represents Port Harcourt Constituency 2 in the state legislature called for calm and urged friends of the PDP Presidential standard bearer, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who are leaders of the party in Rivers State not to undermine the office of the governor.
He said the State Governor, Barrister Nyesom Wike deserves special recognition for stabilising the party when some bigwigs dumped the party for the ruling APC.
According to him, “PDP leaders in Rivers State should learn how to play the game by the rules. They should not be in a hurry for power because power comes from God.
“We all know how this party (PDP) was and the problem the party went through and at the same time the strength and all that Governor Nyesom Wike put in to make this party get back to this shape that we are all enjoying today.
“For those that feel that they have known the Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar before now, and the presidential candidate himself should know that today he belongs to every member of PDP, not some group of persons that claim to be his old friends,” he noted.
Hon. Adoki further advised party leaders in the state to show restraint in their actions in order not to create disunity among party faithful in the state.
“The Governor is the leader of PDP in Rivers State, so he should be the one to call the shots. Events should not be taking place behind him. I mean, as someone that is young in politics, I do not find that so healthy or so good and I will not want to learn from such act,” the lawmaker said.
Consequent upon that meeting of the party’s presidential campaign council with Governor Wike in Port Harcourt on December 8, another parley was held where the party reiterated its unity and resolved to maintain its stronghold in the South-South.
This time around, precisely on Saturday, December 15, the party leaders in the South-South resolved to constitute the party’s Presidential Campaign Council and vowed to ensure that the zone remains under the control of the party after the 2019 general elections.
Wike, who addressed newsmen after the South-South PDP Zonal meeting in Port Harcourt, said: “We have resolved to set up a presidential campaign council in South-South and then take a date for the Zonal Presidential Campaign Rally.
”South-South is the Stronghold of the PDP and we want to retain that. All the states in the zone must continue to remain under the PDP,” adding that the meeting worked out modalities for the success of the party during the forthcoming elections.
”We have set up modalities for the success of our party in the governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly elections in 2019″, he added.
As expected, the meeting, which was attended by the South-South PDP Chairman, Bro Emmanuel Ogidi, attracted governors, State PDP Chairmen, National Assembly members, Speakers of various Houses of Assembly and former federal lawmakers from the South-South.
With the foregoing, there is no gainsaying the fact that Port Harcourt is the headquarter of the South-South, if the crucial decisions and momentous meeting taking place there is anything to go by; though that fact remains incontrovertible.
Again, that former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar had himself first declared his intention to run for the highest office in the land during a visit to Governor Wike in Government House, Port Harcourt, gives credence to the important position the crude oil and gas rich city occupies in the nation as well as the role WIke played post 2015, which Hon. Adoki aptly captured in his narrative that the Governor deserves special recognition.
In the main, now that the political scene is gathering momentum for the 2019 general elections with the lifting of the ban on campaigns, Governor Wike had on Friday, December 14 this year declared for the umpteenth time that any attempt to rig the forth-coming elections in the state will be met with stiff resistance.
He also declared that aside negative assurances that there will be the rigging option, APC Rivers State would not have attempted to field candidates for the 2019 general election.
Wike, who spoke during a chat with newsmen at the Government House, Port Harcourt, warned that it is incumbent on the security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be impartial.
The Governor said: “We want free and fair elections. We are therefore prepared to resist rigging. This is a solemn responsibility. Just take that as a bank draft. The only way forward is for the votes of the people to count. It is important that the security agencies must not only be seen to be neutral, they must be neutral”.
”If not for the expectation to rig, there is no way that the APC will contemplate sponsoring candidates in Rivers State. All the hope they have is in rigging through the security forces. If they attempt to rig, there will certainly be resistance.
Wike further said that he is certain of a second term because his projects are scattered across the state and he has governed in line with his social contract with Rivers people.
“When you put all our projects together, everybody is satisfied that we have done well enough to merit a second term. The projects that earned me the title Mr. Projects speak for themselves.
”The Vice President, who conferred that name on me went beyond politics because of what he saw on the ground. There is no local government area where we do not have projects. We made promises and we have fulfilled those promises”, he said.
He further said that APC Federal Government has no meaningful projects on the ground in Rivers State, pointing out that the International Departure Terminal commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari recently was over 79 per cent completed by the Goodluck Jonathan administration, while funding was set aside through a loan.
”The good thing that will happen in 2019 is for the PDP to win the elections. No Nigerian who wants to better his life will want the APC to win”, he said.
Governor Wike said that he is still speechless that President Muhammadu Buhari refused to sign the amended Electoral bill presented to him by the National Assembly aimed at strengthening the democratic process.
On security, the Governor expressed happiness that the vice has reduced fundamentally across the state, saying the killing of notorious cultist, Don Waney and the signing of Anti-kidnapping and Anti-Cultism laws have helped in ensuring that criminals are checked.
The Spokesman of the State Police Command, Nnamdi Omoni, had corroborated the above assertion by Governor Wike very recently when he declared that Rivers State is peaceful.
Recall that a group, ‘Niger Delta Watch 2019’ had claimed that of the 44 cases of kidnapping recorded in Nigeria within the last one month, 22 occurred in the state. The said report entitled ‘Kidnap Monitoring Registry’ which said its findings indicated that Rivers has one of the highest incident of kidnappings in the country, adding that 18 of the abduction cases had occurred in seven local government areas of the state.
But Omoni, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) faulted the report, saying “They (the authors) are just impotent alarm raised by people and that cannot see the light of the day. We in the Command under the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Zaki Ahmed, are on top of the game.
“We will continue to raise the bar and do our best to ensure that the state is safe especially with the yuletide around the corner and beyond the season. As a command, we are doing our best to contain these boys (criminals). We are arresting and prosecuting them and we believe that in no time we will overrun them,” he stated.
The state police image maker further said that night life and business activities in the state have increased as compared to the past. He said that those are indications that Rivers State is safe contrary to speculations that it is not, though there were some security challenges.
“Rivers State is safe. As far as we (Police) are concerned, there is night life in Rivers State. People go about their social activities at night unmolested,” DSP Omoni declared.
Commenting on the crisis in Rivers APC, Governor Wike said that though it is not his business, it is obvious that it a fallout of the impunity perpetrated by the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, saying that whatever the outcome, the PDP in the state will emerge victorious as it has effectively used the mandate given to the party by Rivers people.
Sanwo-Olu Signs Anti-Open Grazing Bill Into Law
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Monday, signed the bill to prohibit open cattle grazing and trespass of cattle on land in the state into laws.
With the law, Lagos has joined some states in southern Nigeria that have anti-open grazing laws in place.
The law is coming more than two weeks after the September 1 deadline set by the Southern Governors Forum for states.
The governor also signed the Lagos State Domestic And Sexual Violence Agency Bill, into Law.
Meanwhile, the state government has said it is committed to tackling the menace of drug abuse frontally to reduce the ravage among youths in the state.
Sanwo-Olu stated this on Monday at the Lagos House, Ikeja, during a courtesy visit by the delegates of Anglican Communion Church of Nigeria, led by the Archbishop Metropolitan and Primate, Most Reverend Henry Ndukuba.
Sanwo-Olu said his government was building a massive rehabilitation hospital at Ketu-Ejirin to tackle drug abuse, adding that his administration would partner with the Church to ensure that the people lived a better life.
He said governance started from the leadership of spiritual homes, noting that government and church can jointly build a community that would outlive all, while restating the commitment to improve the movement of people on road, water as well as building rail infrastructure to make Lagos a livable city.
Speaking earlier, Ndukuba thanked the governor for partnering with the church in the welfare of the people and commended him for his outstanding performance in tackling Covid-19.
Also present at the courtesy visit were the Deputy Governor, Obafemi Hamzat, Chief of Staff to the Governor, Tayo Ayinde, Secretary to the State Government, Folashade Jaji, Commissioner for Information, Gbenga Omotoso, among other dignitaries.
Okowa Tasks NASS On True Federalism
Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, has called on the National Assembly to embody in the 1999 Constitution being amended, true federalism and independence of Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
The governor made the call on Monday at a nationwide sensitisation on the review of the existing revenue allocation formula held at Unity Hall, Government House, Asaba.
He explained that an independent RMAFC would carry out its functions independently, including laying its proposals directly before the National Assembly for approval.
According to the governor, the current practice where recommendations of the commission are presented to the President has led to the non-review of the revenue allocation formula since 1992 as no President demonstrated the political will to forward the amendments to the parliament.
He commended RMAFC for ongoing sensitisation of the states before a zonal exercise where recommendations from the states would be received.
“For quite some time a lot of talks have gone on in the revenue allocation and it’s very unfortunate that in this country we are still operating a revenue allocation formula that was actually reviewed in 1992.
“As we look forward to a new revenue allocation formula, we hope that you come out with something that is fair, justifiable and equitable.
“But, the challenge is that when you have done all this work, you are going to eventually, by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, lay this before the President and the President ought to lay it before the National Assembly.
“There is a challenge there and there has always been a challenge there, because what is there in our laws that will ensure that the President lays the recommendations of RMAFC before the National Assembly?
“We hope that the National Assembly takes a look at this amendment because RMAFC is supposed to be an independent commission, a commission on behalf of all federating units and component parts of the federation.
“They cannot tie your hands; the constitution ought to be amended to enable chairman of RMAFC to directly lay before the national assembly whatever review it has come up with so that nobody stands it down,’’ he said.
Okowa stated that the National Assembly must do what was right because “a nation is a nation.
Reps Query Presidential Committee Over Assets Seized From Past Leaders
The House of Representatives on Monday ordered the Presidential Implementation Committee (PIC) on Landed Property to produce reports of all assets seized from former Nigerian leaders.
Members were more particular about the late Head of State, Sani Abacha, whose property and money were recovered by the Federal Government.
The chairman, ad-hoc Committee on Abandoned Property, Ademora Kuye, said the House wanted a report on all assets seized from Nigerian leaders in and out of Nigeria, particularly Abacha.
He said this when the Executive Secretary of PIC appeared before the committee in Abuja.
“We need to know the state of those property and to also know if the property have titles of deed,’’ Mr Kuye said.
The committee also queried the sale of federal government’s assets held in trust by the PIC.
Mr Kuye said the committee discovered that some of the property the PIC claimed to have sold were either not sold or were not paid for, contrary to claims made by the PIC.
He added that some of the seized houses which the PIC claimed were vacant were still being occupied.
He directed the PIC to furnish the House of Representatives committee with up-to-date reports of federal government’s assets sold, amount realised from the sales, those yet to be sold and those under litigation.
Mr Kuye also asked that the PIC must state the amount of money remitted to the federal government from the sales with evidence of remittance, adding that all assets pointed out to the committee but not included in its first report should be forwarded to the House of Representatives committee.
Responding to Mr Kuye’s submissions, the Executive Secretary, PIC, Bala Samid, stated that some of the people occupying government quarters had refused to vacate them.
He added that as soon as the occupants were approached for payment or to vacate the houses they went to court to obtain injunctions restraining the PIC.
“We approached the federal government to report them and the federal government said that we should give them time”.
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