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S’Court Rules On Ekiti Guber Poll, Zamfara APC Dispute, May 24 …Ekiti APC, PDP’s Rift Deepens

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The Supreme Court yesterday heard and fixed May 24 for judgement on the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its governorship candidate in Ekiti State, Kolapo Olusola-Eleka challenging the election of Governor Kayode Fayemi.
A five-man panel of the apex court which heard the appeal was led by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad.
The appeal sought to overturn the concurrent judgments of the Ekiti State Election Petition Tribunal and the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal which had both upheld Fayemi’s election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had declared Fayemi and APC polled a total of 197,459 votes to defeated Olusola-Eleka and the PDP who placed second with 178,121 votes in the July 14, 2018 election.
Also, the Supreme Court yesterday fixed May 24 for judgment in the appeals relating to the dispute over the validity of the All Progressives Congress’ primary elections which produced the candidates fielded by the party in the last general elections.
The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad led the five-man panel which heard the appeal yesterday.
There had been two conflicting judgments of the Federal High Court in Abuja and the High Court of Zamfara State on whether or not the party conducted valid primaries in the state.
The Abuja and Sokoto divisions of the Court of Appeal had also delivered conflicting judgments on the matter.
While the Governor Abdulaziz Yari faction which, with the backing of the national leadership of the party, produced the candidates fielded for the elections in the state, had maintained that the party conducted valid primaries in the state, the Senator Kabir Marafa faction claimed otherwise.
Meanwhile,the bourgeoning rift between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) took a worsening dimension, yesterday, as the Ekiti State Government has reverted appointments of over 2,000 workers by immediate governor, Peter Ayodele Fayose after the July, 2018, gubernatorial election.
The decision followed deliberations by the State Executive Council (SEC) on the report of the committee headed by the deputy governor, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi, that reviewed irregular appointments made between 2014 and 2018.
The government said the recruitment exercise violated due process.
It was gathered that the affected 2, 000 workers comprises 600 teachers recruited into the Teaching Service Commission, 400 personnel employed into the State Universal Basic Education Board and 1,000 injected into the system through the Office of Establishment and Training, among others.
Briefing the journalists on the development in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, yesterday, the Commissioner for Information, Tourism and Values Orientation, Mr. Muyiwa Olumilua declared that the appointments were null and void because they were done hurriedly with ulterior motives and in bad faith.
The commissioner disclosed that the governor had directed the Head of Service, Mr Ayodeji Ajayi, to collate all available vacancies in the civil service, with a view to recruiting suitable and qualified Ekiti citizens into the public service, irrespective of religious and political affinities.
Olumilua, however, urged the affected workers to participate in the next recruitment exercise to be announced in due course.
“All appointments made after the Gubernatorial Election of July, 2018, violated due process, are hereby cancelled and declared null and void.
“And all affected workers are advised to participate in the next recruitment exercise to be announced in due course”, Olumilua said.
He added: “The officers reinstated into the Local Government Service Commission between October 16, 2014 and October 15, 2018 are to be reabsorbed by the relevant Personnel Board, and migrated to biometric payroll.
“All 272 officers employed by the Governor Fayose Administration, who are still on manual payroll, shall be considered for absorption into the civil service but on case-by-case basis. Absorption will be conditional on availability of vacancies.
“The 169 officers recruited in 2014 but had their appointments terminated by the Governor Fayose Administration, shall be considered for re-absorption by the Ekiti State House of Assembly Service Commission, But on a case-by-case basis. Re-absorption will be conditional on availability of vacancies in their previous offices of appointment.
“Officers dismissed between October 16, 2014 and October 15, 2018 in the Ministries of Justice, Works and Transport, Environment, SUBEB, Teaching Service Commission, Hospital Management Board should go to the Office of Establishment to ascertain their current status”, he said.
But in a swift reaction, Fayose’s Media Aide, Lere Olayinka described the development as “act of wickedness and extreme degree of political vendetta”.
Olayinka, in a statement, last Wednesday, explained: “Fayemi has only succeeded in writing his name in the history books of Ekiti as one who inflict pains and sorrow on the people.”
He added that; “Fayemi has only demonstrated the wickedness in his heart by sacking Ekiti sons and daughters who were duly employed by the state government.
“It will be on record that the PDP government of Ayodele Fayose gave jobs to over 2,000 unemployed youths in Ekiti while the APC government of Dr Kayode Fayemi sacked them.
“Also, whoever that applauds this show of wickedness will be reminded in future when actions of Fayemi will also be reviewed.
“As for those sons and daughters of Ekiti who have now become victims of Fayemi’s wickedness and political vendetta, they should place their hope in God and enforce their rights to seek redress in the court of law”, he said.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Sola Adigun, appealed to government not to use the error and mistake of the past government to mete out punishment on innocent workers.
“This is not a fight, but a plea to the government to allow them to remain in the system. We are going to see Governor Fayemi and Head of Service Ayodeji Ajayi to please stop this recurrent issue of government sacking those employed by their predecessors,” he said.
But in a swift reaction, the Ekiti State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party National New Media Group (PDP-NNMG) has condemned in strong terms, the retrenchment of about 2,000 workers employed into teaching and civil services of the state during the immediate past Peter Ayodele Fayose’s administration.
The group described Governor John Kayode Fayemi’s action as one filled with vile, hate, wickedness and vendetta, adding that the governor must be reminded about the ephemeral nature of power and authority.
It said that it was only a matter of time before the governor’s alleged heinous actions are brought under review since nothing lasts forever.
The group said Ekiti State has never been so divided since its creation, stressing that the seed of discord being allegedly sowed among indigenes of the singular most homogeneous state in Nigeria by the governor be stopped forthwith.
It would be recalled that the Ayo Fayose administration recruited about 2,000 junior and senior workers to fill vacancies in the state government workforce in an exercise advertised long before the July 21 governorship election.
Fayemi, however, in a statement signed, yesterday, by his Chief Press Secretary, Laolu Oyebode, declared the exercise null and void, claiming that the recruitment was done to throw his government off balance.
In a statement released and made available to newsmen, yesterday, Ekiti State Coordinator of the PDP-NNMG, Bola Agboola said the retrenchment was one devilish act too many.
He said, “Governor Fayemi has for the umpteenth time proved his viciousness by pronouncing 2,000 breadwinners hapless and helpless!
“Fayemi is known for attempting to undermine and dwarf his predecessors’ achievements, you would recall this was the same way he scrapped University of Science and Technology, Ifaki which was the hallmark of Engr. Segun Oni’s administration.
“Fayemi would have demolished Fayose’s 1.3km flyover if he had had his way. Today, the Oja Oba that was about 95% completed before Fayose left office in 2018 has been abandoned. In 2010, Fayemi sent packing duly elected local government executive members and counsellors across the 16 LGA of the state, he repeated same in 2018 after rigging his way to the government house a second time.
“It is a known fact that Fayemi was behind the case instituted against Ekiti State Government under former governor Ayo Fayose by landowners in communities where an airport would have been constructed for the state, Fayemi through his aides castigated the construction of the proposed airport but today he’s setting machinery in motion to build one, that’s Fayemi’s kind of person.
“One would have thought that an electoral robber who does not enjoy the support of majority of the citizenry would thread softly with caution, same is not the case for our kinsman whose innate tendency for crass ungodliness, profanity and profligacy will not allow to lead a chorus where he is not wanted”.
Agboola further stated that “there is no gainsaying Dr. Kayode Fayemi represents the very worst of Ekiti people. He is full of hatred for the Ekiti people, very vindictive, callous and deadly. Or what offence did those 2,000 workers he sacked yesterday commit? Must he wait till they have spent 8 months wasting their money and precious time working without salary for the government before telling them to stop?
“Why didn’t he sack them before the presidential and National Assembly elections? Why didn’t he sack them before the state assembly election? Because he knew the hue and cry won’t allow his rigging the elections sail through without challenge? Fayemi is heartless!”
“Ekiti State chapter of the PDP-NNMG hereby call on the 2,000 workers not to despair but to be strong and of good courage as the Pharaoh they see today, they will see no more. We urge you to charge this rogue government of the day to court; the lawyers know what to do.
“Your sack is temporary, keep your letters of appointment in a very safe place, a responsible government is coming and your case shall be revisited, I assure you your employment will be revalidated as this is never the end of your world”, Agboola affirmed.
Also, the Supreme Court, yesterday, fixed May 24 to deliver judgment in two election appeals seeking to ascertain authentic candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Zamfara in the last general elections. Court Oyetola’s victory:
The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, led other justices to fix the date after counsel to parties adopted their written addresses. Mahammad held that the short date became imperative as it was mandatory to resolve the issues before May 29 in order not to create constitutional crisis in the state.
The APC and Malam Sanusi Dan-Alhaji had instituted the case on the primary election conducted by the party for the nomination of candidates to participate in the last general election. Chief Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, Counsel to Dan-Alhaji, while adopting his address, prayed the apex court to restore the February13 judgment of the Zamfara High Court which allowed APC to field candidates in the general election.
Fagbemi submitted that the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division, which disqualified APC from nominating candidate for the election on the grounds that the party did not conduct lawful primary should be set aside.
He further argued that the lower court erred in law, adding that the decision was a miscarriage of justice.
Fagbemi said the APC had shown proof that the party conducted a free and fair primary to elect the candidates that contested the governorship election, the National Assembly and the House of Assembly elections respectively.
However, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, Counsel to Sen. Kabiru Marafa and 142 others, urged the appellate court to dismiss the appeal and affirm the judgment of the Appeal Court. Ozekhome submitted that the judgment was a copious description of how the APC in Zamfara failed to conduct primary election in accordance with the Electoral Act, party guideline and the 1999 Constitution.
He said the process failed both legal and integrity tests, adding that the exercise was not conducted to produce candidates for the last general election as his clients were fenced out. Mr. Tanimu Inuwa, SAN, Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) aligned himself with the argument canvassed by Ozekhome.
He further explained that the electoral body did not supervised any primary conducted by the party as mandated by law. Inuwa argued that the Court of Appeal in Sokoto was right to have stopped the APC from fielding candidates in the 2019 general election in Zamfara. Inuwa therefore, urged the appellate court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.

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Army To Mobilise Troops, Military Equipment For Crocodile Smile IV

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The Nigerian Army, yesterday, alerted the public that troops and military equipment would be mobilised frequently as Exercise Crocodile Smile IV kicks off in Lagos and Ogun states.
This was contained in a statement released by acting Deputy Director of Army Public Relations, Major Kamurudeen Adegoke for the 81 Division.
He appealed to residents of both states to stay calm at the sight of such movements noting that the exercise would run from November 19 to December 23.
Adegoke said exercise will commence with Beach Landing at Takwa-Bay Island on Tuesday morning, adding that Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu will conduct the flag off.
“The event is aimed at enhancing troops ‘operational proficiency, inter-agency cooperation and civil-military coordination. Others include effective training on Rules of Engagement, handling of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in line with international best practices.
“The exercise is also designed to curb the prevalent contemporary security challenges such as kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism, ritual killing, and pipeline vandalism among others within the division’s Area of Responsibilities (AOR)
“During the period of the exercise, there will be free medical outreach, maintenance of some selected roads as well as donations of educational materials to some schools within Lagos and Ogun states. Participants will include members of the military, paramilitary and other security agencies.
“In view of the above, 81 Division wishes to advice members of the public not to panic on sighting troops and movement of military”, he added.

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‘Buhari, Redeem Six Years Of Failed Power Privatisation’

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Contrary to all expectations, the power sector privatisation has turned out to be an unreserved fiasco. The optimism of economic and social revolution touted as an inevitable accompaniment of a steady and uninterrupted electricity supply has come to naught. Six years after the privatisation was pulled off by the Goodluck Jonathan administration, Nigerians are now yearning for an urgent intervention to save the sector from an utter collapse, which could be only a matter of time.
Encumbered by a public power sector that reeked of corruption, ineptitude and facility decay, Nigeria had readily embraced an option of reform, which could only be effectively implemented through privatisation. “To the Nigerian people, who have demonstrated such great patience and confidence, putting up often with darkness…I say better days are coming,” Jonathan had boisterously promised. But rather than carry out a transparent bidding process that would have attracted not just the much-needed investible funds but also the technical know-how, the exercise was mired in opacity.
In place of the experts and foreign investors that privatisation set out to attract, a motley group of Nigerians with practically no antecedent in power sector business and lacking the financial muscle was thrown up as the new investors. The result is now obvious; instead of an effective and efficient power sector that would guarantee constant electricity supply to light up homes and fire the industries, boosting the economy, Nigerians are now saddled with an albatross.
As currently structured, the power sector stands on a wobbly tripod, made up of the Generation Companies, the Transmission Company of Nigeria and the Distribution Companies. While it is the duty of the GenCos to generate electricity, the TCN, which is still wholly owned by the government, takes the responsibility for the transmission to the grid, from where the DisCos can then sell to the consumers. But none of them has been able to inspire confidence.
When the power assets were handed over to private investors on November 1, 2013, the electricity generated in Nigeria that day was 3,712.4 megawatts, from an installed generation capacity of 12, 910.40 MW and available capacity of 7,652.60 MW, according to data attributed to the Nigerian Electricity System Operator. For a population of 171.8 million then, this was ridiculous. But despite the generation capacity of 12,910.40 MW, the transmission could only boast a wheeling capacity of 8, 100 MW, while 5,375 MW remained the peak that had ever been generated.
Six years down the line, with a population of about 200 million, very little has changed. The distribution capacity is still estimated at around 4,000 MW, barely over the 3.712.4 MW of November 1, 2013. The Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, was quoted in a report two months ago as saying that installed power generation had improved to 13, 427MW (as against 12,910.40 MW in 2013), while the TCN Managing Director, Usman Mohammed, said the national grid had the capacity to transmit 7,000 MW.
These figures remain mere academic, as long as they do not translate into improved electricity supply to consumers. What is however undeniable is the fact that the DisCos, which directly interface with the consumers, have emerged as the weakest link in the electricity supply value chain. They keep complaining about cost-reflective tariff, even though they have been found wanting through and through.
They whine over the reluctance of consumers to pay when more than 55 per cent of those consumers are not metered, and access to electricity remains a mirage. For sure, the GenCos are not generating enough and the TCN is not transmitting adequately, yet, even the little that is available is rejected by the DisCos. For example, 9,310.64 MW of electricity was reportedly rejected between August 13 and August 20.
Rejecting loads when there is not enough to go round may sound outrageous but there are other weighty issues that pointedly betray the investors as utterly out of their depth. Particularly, funding has remained a knotty issue. Having raided the local banks for money to buy the firms, the local investors have not been able to fund the needed facility upgrade that should have brought about improvement in electricity supply.
Although a REUTERS report put the cost of the purchase of the power assets in 2013 at $2.5 billion, the TCN MD said the DisCos alone would require a whopping $4.3bn investment to make the desired impact. Shorn of credit options, following challenges in servicing their loans, the investors are now at their wits’ end – uncertain of what step to take next, except perhaps to let go of their majority shares and pave the way for a takeover by capable foreign investors.
As the designated revenue collectors on behalf of other operators in the industry, the DisCos are heavily in debt and have failed to remit money collected to the others. As of July, the TCN said it was being owed N270 billion by the DisCos. The former Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, had also said last year that the Discos’ indebtedness to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Company stood at N500 billion. “NBET also owes GenCos N325.784 billion, which can be settled if NBET collects what the DisCos are owing,” he said.
This debt burden has completely thrown the power sector off balance. Admitting that it would be difficult to pay, the Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, Sunday Oduntan, said only a monthly revenue of N725 million by each of the DisCos could guarantee them meeting the 35 per cent threshold remittance requirement. Yet, the regulatory authority, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Authority, appears helpless.
As Osinbajo has contended, only a recapitalisation can solve the problem. The government has already made some strides in this direction by bringing in Siemens, whose three-phased road map is expected to ultimately deliver 25,000 MW. The deal involves the German government and Siemens collaborating to increase electricity transmission and distribution capacities in Nigeria.
Although the government, which owns 40 per cent equity in the DisCos, has been castigated for not discharging its responsibilities satisfactorily, it has still taken some notable steps to pull the power sector out of its current mess. Apart from a loan intervention of N213 billion in 2014, another sum of N701 billion was announced two years ago to guarantee the NBET to be able to pay GenCos for two years. In August, President Muhammadu Buhari announced another intervention of N600 billion.
It is time for President Buhari to intervene decisively in the power sector logjam. The government cannot just continue to shell out public funds in this manner for a sector that has been privatised. Nobody needs to be told now that the privatisation was shoddily done but something drastic has to be done to salvage the situation in the national interest. The government has to take advantage of the performance review due in December to see whether to continue with the status quo or not.
Power remains a big incentive for economic and social development. When the government manages to get rid of the current investors, efforts should be geared towards targeted foreign investors, as is currently the case with Siemens, to get replacements. In Singapore, the system of Open Electricity Market is adopted. It allows consumers to migrate to other companies if they are not satisfied with the services they are getting. Nigeria will benefit immensely from such a system. What obtains now is still a monopoly that was in place before privatisation.

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IYC Tackles Amaechi Over Warri Port Dredging Accuses Minister Of Anti-N’Delta Activities

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The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) has taken a swipe at the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi over his poor handling of the dredging of Warri Port in Delta State, accusing him of playing anti-Niger Delta politics with the project.
In a statement signed by the IYC President, Eric Omare, Esq, and made available to newsmen in Port Harcourt, yesterday, the Ijaw youth think-tank said that Amaechi’s behaviour portrayed him as a politician who was against the development aspirations of the Niger Delta people.
The statement read, “The attention of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) has been drawn to a statement credited to the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to the effect that he would have stopped the planned dredging of the Warri port, if he was not from the South-South region over youth disturbances.
“Amaechi was reported to have made the comment at the Palace of the Ovie of Uvwie in Delta State during the reception in honour of the Minister of State, Labour and Productivity, Chief Festus Keyamo on Thursday, November 14, 2019. When the story was reported in the media, we had initially thought that the minister was quoted out of context. However, having waited for more than three days without a correction from the minister’s media office, we wish to correct the wrong impression created in the said media report.
“That the IYC completely condemn the statement made by Rt. Hon. Amaechi that youths are disturbing the commencement of the proposed Warri Port dredging because it is very far from the truth and calculated to paint the youths of the Niger Delta region in the wrong light before the Nigerian public.
“On the contrary, we state clearly without fear of contradiction that there is no existing contract to dredge the Warri Port that is being delayed by youth disturbances.
“For the purpose of clarity, we state that sometime in 2018, the Federal Government announced its intention to carry out dredging of the Warri Port channel so as to allow bigger vessels use the Warri Port and make the port functional.
“In response and to create the conducive environment for the project to take-off, the youths of Ijaw and Itsekiri under whose area the dredging was supposed to take place at their own initiative and expense organized a sensitisation workshop and indeed set up an advocacy team which went round the communities affected to allow for peaceful dredging in the interest of the Warri economy. This initiative was widely reported by the media and the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) management was excited by the initiative of the youths.
“The Warri Port dredging was supposed to be in three phases; which are the dredging of the Escravos bar, construction of the breakwater and the dredging of the Warri Port channel from Escravos to Warri.
“After the sensitisation workshop organized by the Ijaw and Itsekiri youths, there was supposed to be a meeting between the affected communities and stakeholders with Federal Government officials before the commencement of the first phase of the work which is the dredging of the Escravos bar.
“However, instead of meeting with the communities and stakeholders, Rt. Hon. Minister Amaechi as Minister of Transportation directed and handed over all community rights to a party chieftain from Delta State from one of the ethnic groups at the expense of the generality of the communities and stakeholders without regard to the multi ethnic sensitivity of the Warri area.
“However, the Ijaw leadership saw that this was another attempt by Rt. Hon. Amaechi to create room not to go on with the dredging as he is now doing. Therefore, the affected communities did not raise any issue and allowed the dredging of the Escravos bar to go on without any problem. In this dredging, the communities and stakeholders were not involved in anyway, hence they are not in a position to know if the dredging was actually done up to specification or not.
“The Escravos bar dredging was done without any disturbances whatsoever despite Minister Amaechi’s provocative conduct. Therefore, we are amazed that Hon. Amaechi is now accusing youths of the South-South especially from the Warri area of acting as hindrance to the Warri Port dredging. If we may ask Amaechi, who are the youths disturbing the Warri Port dredging and when did the engagement with the youths took place? Is there a contract in place to dredge the Warri Port by the Federal Government and who is the contractor and when was the contract awarded?
“To the best of our knowledge, after the dredging of the Escravos bar, the next phase ought to be the construction of the Escravos breakwater and then dredging of the channel from Escravos to Warri and none of these contracts has been awarded. So, which dredging contract and youth disturbances is Amaechi talking about? Who are the youth or community representatives that have been arguing with Amaechi over the Warri Port dredging in the past six months?
“It is obvious that Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi despite being from the South-South is allergic to anything development of the region. He always hide under spurious reasons to opposed any developmental initiative of the region just as he did with the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko.
“Consequently, we call on the general public, especially President Muhammadu Buhari to completely disregard the claim by Minister Amaechi that youths are obstructing the dredging of the Warri Port channel. On the contrary the youths have been very supportive of the Warri Port channel dredging but the Minister Amaechi seems to be playing politics with the dredging.
“However, Minister Amaechi should remember that he would not be Minister of Transportation forever and at the end of this tenure he would be asked what he achieved for the South-South region just as he used to ask former President Jonathan”, Omare added.

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