The leadership of the PDP will today decide on who to endorse among those aspiring to be Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, the PDP Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr Diran Odeyemi, has said.
In an interview with newsmen in Abuja at the weekend, Odeyemi stated that the party leadership wanted to make the endorsement a last-minute affair.
He said, “They want to take the decision today. They want (to make) it a last-minute affair but the horse trading and underground work are ongoing.”
Odeyemi, however, added that the possibility of the PDP presenting candidates for offices of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives should not be ruled out.
He said, “On whether we are likely to present a candidate, it depends on the situation of things generally. Anything can happen, anything can crop up. You do not rule out anything.
“In politics, 24 hours is still a long time. When Bukola Saraki became the Senate President, was Nigeria expecting it that he would win the election or that he would become the Senate President? No! Anything can happen, it depends on the strategy. We are keeping our strategy close to our chest. So we cannot say yes or no that the PDP will be presenting candidates.”
He also denied any division among the PDP senators, adding that the party had not decided who to endorse.
Meanwhile, the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) yesterday warned Nigerians against allowing Senator Ahmed Lawan, to become the President of the ninth Senate.
The AYCF linked the support Lawan is currently getting from some chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as related to the secret pursuit of personal ambitions ahead of 2023 general elections.
In a statement to newsmen yesterday by Yerima Abbas Shettima, the President of AYCF, the forum fingered Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the national leader of the APC, and Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna state, as being behind Lawan’s ambition in a desperate move ahead of 2023 polls.
The statement added, “We advise the Tinubus and Elrufais of this world to shove aside any desperate move on 2023 and allow a level-playing field for all political offices.
“No one should hide behind any political party to turn Nigerians into mere manipulable pawn. That will be undemocratic imposition and totally unacceptable,” Shettima said.
The group recalled how it predicted that Senator Danjuma Goje would step down when he is pressured into submission using his pending case at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“We also declared that he could alternatively be forced to step down from the race in exchange for his freedom from EFCC’s hot chase,” it stated.
“We are happy to inform all Nigerian progressives that we have been vindicated in all the public declarations we made recently on the contentious seat of the Senate presidency.
“It is obvious that the desperation to make the road to Senate presidency smooth for Tinubu’s acolyte (Sen Lawan), Buhari’s foot-soldiers, especially Governor Nasir El-Rufaiare coming up with a new narrative to pull a blind wool over our eyes.
“The Kaduna governor is trying to sell a dummy to Nigerians that the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) has done the needful regarding Goje’s case with the EFCC.
“And we ask: Which attorney-general, when all ministers have since resigned?
“What is the meaning of taking a case that was under investigation by an independent body, to an attorney-general who is not the judge in the court handling the Senator Goje case?
“These are questions begging for answers and we are tempted to assume that the EFCC is about to be hindered from continuing with the case because Chief Tinubu, who has been pushing Buhari harder, has vested interest to do with his 2023 presidential ambition,” AYCF claimed.
There were clear indications on Saturday that the election of the presiding officers of the 9th National Assembly will be conducted by secret ballot method tomorrow.
A senior member of the management team of the federal parliament told newsmen on condition of anonymity on Saturday that the elected lawmakers had already been given House Rules stipulating the voting method.
He said, “There were attempts to amend the rules of both chambers to give room for a secret ballot but the idea was frustrated by the outgoing leadership.
“I’m aware that advocates of the secret ballot method mounted pressure on the outgoing Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, and stressed the need to amend the rules in line with the global practices.
“There is no way management will come up with a voting method different from what is contained in the rule book distributed to elected members since April.”
Investigation revealed that the members of the Ahmad Lawan Campaign Organisation had soft-pedalled on their agitation for an open poll.
A member of the group, who spoke on condition of anonymity, on Saturday, said, “We are winning almost unopposed; so, there is no basis for argument over voting method again.”
Attempts to speak with the Director of Information, Rawlings Agada, on the issue, failed on Saturday as calls made to his mobile did not connect.
He had also not responded to the text message sent to him as of the time of filing this report on Saturday.
But speaking with newsmen on the telephone last month, the Director of Public Affairs, National Assembly, MrYahaya Dan-Zaria, said the Standing Rules of the chambers prescribed an open-secret system, which would be adopted for the next poll.
“Of course, an open-secret ballot; that is what their rule says. It is not from us; it is their rule,” Dan-Zaria had stated.
However, one of the aspirants to the position of the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, told journalists on Saturday that he would resist attempts to adopt secret ballot method.
Omo Agege stated, “In 2015, to the extent that the 2011 rules were not amended that ought to be the operative rule for use in the 8th Senate because it is the valid and subsisting rule. I can tell you there was never a time when this 8th Senate amended the 2011 rules.
“So what that means is that the 2015 amended rule is a Saraki rule. It is Saraki Standing Order; it is not the 8th Senate Standing Order and I can assure you it would not be used on Tuesday because it is not valid.”
When journalists reminded him that the same Standing Order was used throughout the life of the 8th Senate, he said, “Well, anybody can distribute anything. Its use will be determined on Tuesday.
“I have support from the APC caucus; I have the support of the leadership and the caucus of the party. I also have the support of the executive arm. As we go into this contest, I am very confident that come Tuesday, I will emerge as the next Deputy Senate President.”
Meanwhile, the preferred candidate of the APC for the position of Senate President in the 9th National Assembly, Senator Ahmad Lawan, said he had the endorsement of 99 senators-elect who would vote for him tomorrow.
Lawan stated this on Saturday in Abuja where the names of the APC senators, who had endorsed him, were read out.
The implication of Lawan’s claims is that only seven senators-elect across the parties that have representatives in the 9th National Assembly might not vote for him.
The endorsement list contained the names of 60 APC senators-elect and one member of the Young Progressives Party, Ifeanyi Ubah.
Lawan explained, after the list was read by the secretary of his campaign organisation, Senator Barau Jibrin, that only two out of the 62 APC senators-elect had yet to endorse him.
He also said about 38 out of the PDP senators-elect had promised to vote for him on June 11.
Lawan said he would not make public the list of PDP Senators-elect who had signed up the endorsement list with him for obvious reasons.
He said, “For my colleagues in the APC, this is the first time that members of the National Assembly, whether in the House of Representatives or in the Senate of a particular party, would come together in this unanimous way to endorse a candidate for the office of a Presiding Officer.
“The APC, as of today, stands at 62 senators-elect and the PDP 44 members.
“We have two cases undetermined in Imo State. But one was almost determined yesterday (Friday); that of senator-elect, Rochas Okorocha, when the court said INEC should give him his return certificate.
“That will take the number of APC senators-elect to 63; and of course, YPP, one.
“Out of the 62 with returned certificates in APC, 60 have signed here. But you know, we will love to have the 62 signed.
“We are not prepared to fight each other. We will do everything possible to bring everybody on board because we don’t want distraction.”
He maintained that he was not imposed on the parliament.
Lawan said, “The trouble we have gone through tells a story. We are not an imposition because everybody here wrote their name and signed.”
But an aspirant to the position of the Senate President, Senator Ali Ndume, has said he does not believe in endorsement.
Ndume, who was reacting to the claims by his co-contestant, Lawan, that 99 senators-elect had endorsed him, told journalists on Saturday that his colleagues would vote according to their conscience on Tuesday.
He said, “Well, I have said before that I am not looking for endorsement but looking for votes on election day.
“You know clearly that there is a difference between endorsement and election.
“Recall too that in 2015 that the story of endorsement was canvassed.
“He (Lawan) had the endorsement but what happened on the floor of the Senate was different.
“I believe that my colleagues shall vote according to their conscience and they shall vote for a candidate that is more suitable for the position of the Senate President.
“I am not bothered about endorsement; rather am more worried about the election.”
Meanwhile, as part of his strategy to clinch the Speaker’s seat, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, has offered 60 PDP’s members-elect positions of chairmen and deputy chairmen of committees to vote for tomorrow.
The Director-General of the Femi Gbajabiamila/Ahmed Wase Campaign Organisation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, disclosed this in an interview with journalists in Abuja on Saturday.
Jibrin said the 60 PDP members had accepted the offer and had started working with their colleagues in the ruling All Progressives Congress to ensure that Gbajabiamila, who is the preferred candidate of the APC, emerges victorious.
He said, “Before Femi’s endorsement by the party, the President, the governors, the majority of us the lawmakers had agreed that he is the Speaker that we want. It was after that decision that other endorsements came.
“As it is today, he has a massive support across party lines. In 2015, the APC was just only guarding its votes because we believed then that we had the number to win the election.
“But this time round, the APC is more comfortable because we have more numbers with our 223. In spite of that, our campaign is more aggressive towards poaching the PDP members than the aggression of the PDP members trying to poach our members.
“But as a safety net, we already have over 60 members of the PDP working with us. There is nothing you can do to change the minds of these PDP members because their support is based on their conviction that Gbajabiamila and Wase are the best to occupy those position at this time.
“On the aspect of responsibility in the parliament, we are always reluctant mentioning this but it is the reality, sharing of committees and the rest. We have offered 60 positions.
“If not that the party has been broken into two factions, it is what we would have offered to all of them, but since we have concluded with one faction, we have given them that offer and they have accepted it.”
Jibrin also boasted that the camp was not bothered about the voting method to be adopted for the election, whether open or secret ballot.
In the meantime, the South-South zone of the APC, on Saturday, said it had resolved to support the aspiration of Omo-Agege as the Deputy Senate President in the 9th Assembly.
The party’s Zonal Working Committee in a statement by its National Vice-Chairman (South-South), Chief Hilliard Eta, and Zonal Secretary, Mr David Okumagba, said they took the decision after deliberating on the senators-elect from the zone that had shown an interest in vying for the position.
The statement noted that after the deliberating on the candidacy of Senator Francis Alimikhena from Edo State and Omo-Agege from Delta State, it settled for the latter because the National Chairman of the party, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, was from Edo State.
It read in part, “However, considering the current zoning of political offices in our zone, whereby Edo State produced the current National Chairman of our party, Adams Oshiomhole, and other considerations, it became imperative that our zone supports the candidature of Senator OvieOmo-Agege for the office of the deputy senate president.”
In a related development, more than 1,500 concerned Nigerians, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), BudgIT and Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE) have filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court to restrain, prevent and stop the National Assembly Service Commission from paying the incoming members of the 9th National Assembly individually and/or collectively over N4.68 billion as ‘welcome package’.
SERAP, BudgIT and EiE, suing for themselves and on behalf of 1,522 concerned Nigerians, stated that: “The Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) has failed to do any downward review of salaries and allowances of members of the National Assembly since 2007 in spite of the economic downturn in Nigeria. Yet, the commission is statutorily required to review the pay of the lawmakers, in conformity with the country’s economic realities and to achieve fiscal efficiency.”
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/943/2019 filed before the Federal High Court in Lagos, the plaintiffs argued: “Given many years of extreme poverty in the country, and the inability of several state governments to pay salaries of workers and pensions, the refusal or failure of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission to review and cut the salaries and allowances of members of the National Assembly is a gross violation of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) and the commission’s own Act.”
Joined as defendants in the suit are the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, National Assembly Service Commission and Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
The plaintiffs also argued that: “The duty of the RMAFC to review the salaries and allowances of members of the National Assembly is mandatory and the Commission cannot choose not to comply. Therefore, the failure or refusal by the Commission to comply with its own Act amounts to arbitrariness.
The suit reads in part: “Unless the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs are granted, the defendants and members of the National Assembly will continue to benefit from these outrageous salaries and allowances, in breach of the law and at the expense of millions of Nigerians living in extreme poverty.
“The amounts budgeted as payment for furniture and accommodation allowance to members of the 9th National Assembly negates the oath of office under the Seventh Schedule of the 1999 Constitution by members to perform their functions in the interest of the well-being and prosperity of Nigeria.
“The National Assembly comprises of 469 members – with 109 in the Senate and 360 in the House of Representatives. These public officers form a very tiny percentage of about 200 million Nigerians. Members are still eligible to collect huge sums of money as monthly allowances and severance pay at the end of their respective terms.
“The RMAFC is required to advise the Federal, State and Local Governments on fiscal efficiency and methods by which their revenue is to be increased. Prescribing N9,926,062.5 and N10,132,000:00 to members of the House of Representatives and Senate respectively, as furniture and accommodation allowance, is not in tandem with the Commission’s statutory mandate and advisory roles on fiscal efficiency.
“The action of members of the National Assembly in ‘rubber-stamping’ the passage of the Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders [Salaries and Allowances] [Amendments] Act 2008 is also in clear breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, particularly paragraph 1 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers which provides that ‘a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities’.
“It can be inferred that in passing the Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders [Salaries and Allowances] [Amendments] Act 2008, members of the National Assembly more or less appropriated these payments as allowance to themselves, thereby bringing about conflict of their personal interests with national interest of fiscal efficiency, a conflict eventually resolved in favour of personal interest.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit
MASSOB Locks Horns With IPOB Over Attack On Ekweremadu …Urges Arrest Of Perpetrators In Germany …Senators, Reps Seek Protection For Political Leaders Abroad …FG, PDP Condemn Attack By IPOB Members
The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) has disagreed with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) over the attack on Senator Ike Ekweremadu, last Saturday.
In a statement signed by its Director of Information, Edeson Samuel, yesterday, MASSOB stated that, “The leadership of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) has condemned in its totality, the assault, physical attack and disrespectful actions of some Igbos against Senator Ike Ekweremadu in Nuremberg, Germany, which we later confirmed as members of IPOB in Germany through the affirmation of IPOB’s spokesman, Emma Powerful.
“It is disheartening that some groups have turned the non-violent struggle for the actualisation of Biafra State into an abusive and systematic Gestapo against the supposed citizens of Biafra.
“The physical attack on Ike Ekweremadu by IPOB is not commendable. Igbo culture abhors disrespect on elders and persons in authoritative positions. If Ike Ekweremadu is sabotaging or has sabotaged Biafra struggle as alleged by IPOB, what meaningful and acceptable steps has IPOB taken to draw the attention of Ike Ekweremadu to the alleged degradation?
“MASSOB as a leading figure of current Biafra agitation advise other pro- Biafra groups, including IPOB that Igbo political leaders are not the major obstacle of our chances of achieving independence from the Nigerian state, the major hurdles militating against the freedom of Biafra people from Nigeria is non-cohesion and brotherhood among the leaders of leading pro-Biafra groups. The tendency of superiority complex on ideology and the spirit of lordship over others are the detrimental tendencies grossly affecting the freedom of Biafrans.
“Ike Ekweremadu and other perceived and alleged enemies of Biafra are not our major obstacle. IPOB can never actualise Biafra alone, neither MASSOB, LNC, BNC, BIM and others operating individually can achieve Biafra alone. Biafra will be more achievable when a strong coalition of MASSOB, IPOB, Lower Niger Congress, BNC, BIM and others from Niger Delta regions are established under a collegiate leadership.
“The tendency of grooming authoritarian leadership under any guise in Igbo land and Biafra in general will never be tolerated because the republican nature of Igbo man does not allow such authoritative and empirical rulership.
“MASSOB also condemns the directives to attack the governors of southeast, consciously attacking a governor will never give us Biafra but will continue sending our youths to untimely deaths because every attack on a governor will attract the trigger happy Hausa Fulani security agents in Igbo land to open fire on our defenceless youths. Tomorrow, they will say governors ordered the killings of IPOB members.
“MASSOB also apologized to Chief Ike Ekweremadu for the physical assault on his person at Germany during the Igbo traditional ceremony of iri ji. We admonished Senator Ike Ekweremadu to abreast the assault as a family affair between a father and his children. Hausa Fulanis and other enemies of Ndigbo are happy but we must shame them when they see you in a cordial relationship with your people.
“MASSOB calls and extend a hand of fellowship to IPOB led by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, BIM led by Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, BNC led Alhaji Dokubo Asari and other pro Biafra groups to rally together in the true spirit of Biafra and defend Biafra land from the Fulani invaders and marauders. The era of propagandas and talking on radio/newspaper have gone, people’s opinions on social media will never give us Biafra. Let’s unite and confront our common enemy. Though our governors and other leaders are not assisting the Biafra struggle, we can engage them traditionally, not insulting them”, the statement added.
Also, the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, condemned the violent attack on former Deputy President of the Senate in the Eighth Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, by some members of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra.
Omo-Agege said this in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Yomi Odunuga, in Abuja, yesterday.
He said the dastardly act was not only an exportation of irrationality, but also an international affront against the image of the Igbos and Nigeria in general.
He expressed shock over the undeserved assault and called on law enforcement agencies in Germany to investigate and bring to book the perpetrators of the attack.
He said: “Sen. Ekweremadu honoured the invitation of patriotic Igbos in Germany who wanted him to deliver a keynote address at the event organised to commemorate the new yam festival.
“But some aggressively discourteous elements hijacked the effort to perpetrate a disgraceful assault that seeks to deepen the portrayal of members of the IPOB as enemies of democratic norms and values.
“What they did is not only a violent assault against the good image of the Igbo race across the world.
“It is also an aggressive attack against the traditional norms of a people known to be hardworking and respectful of meaningful contributions by leaders such as Ekweremadu.
“Such disappointing physical abuse also grossly disregards Ekweremadu’s democratic antecedents and his long-standing commitment to the cause of his people.
“Such criminal attack along with other anti-social attempt, to accuse, condemn and lynch anyone remains utterly condemnable and illegal.”
Omo-Agege said it was notwithstanding whether the attack took place on Nigerian or foreign soil, it was the “easiest invitation to anomie.”
However, miffed by the attack on the immediate past Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu in Nuremberg, Germany, the House of Representatives is contemplating a legislation that would protect politically exposed people abroad.
The Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Hon. Yusuf Buba Yakub made the disclosure in a statement he personally signed, yesterday, on the heels of the attack.
It would be recalled that Ekweremadu was attacked by suspected members of IPOB while participating in Iri Iji Festival of Igbo in the Diaspora.
Condemning in strong terms the assault, Yakub said that there were other civilized ways within a democratic setting to show grievances by any individuals or groups.
The federal lawmakers hinted the House upon resumption in September would thoroughly investigate the matter, urging the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, Yusuf Maitama Tugger to immediately probe the issue with a view to bringing the perpetrators to book.
The statement read thus: “I, like most concerned Nigerians and others across the globe, have followed with utmost concern and worry about the treatment that was meted out on Senator Ike Ekweremadu in far away Nuremberg, Germany, where he had, on the invitation of his people, gone to attend the Second Igbo Cultural Festival of Iri Ji in that part of Europe as a Distinguished Guest of Honour.
“Sen. Ekweremadu, an accomplished scholar in the legal profession and political leader of high standing in society, is one of our longest-serving senators, who had also in the last twelve years until June this year held sway as the Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate. Before joining the Senate, he was also Secretary to the Enugu State Government and had before then served in various capacities in that state.
“Given the high personality profile and the public service record which Sen. Ekweremadu parades, it is unthinkable that any individual or group anywhere in the world, let alone his very own people in the Diaspora, who ought to know better, should contemplate and carry out the despicable public act of shame that was brought upon a well-respected national leader of Sen. Ekweremadu’s stature before the glare of the entire global community in Germany.
“I, therefore, in very strong terms, condemn in its entirety the action of the group of Igbo people, alleged to be members of the outlawed IPOB, that had attacked Sen. Ike Ekweremadu in Nuremberg, Germany on Saturday, August 17. I also wish to join other Nigerians and leaders to call on the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, Amb.Yusuf Maitama Tugger to make good his promise to investigate and bring to book everyone who was part of that dastardly assault on a serving national leader.
“On my part, I promise to lead the House Committee on Foreign Affairs which I currently chair, and, indeed, other members of the House, who have since yesterday continued to call in to express their indignation against and condemnation of the act, to move a motion on the floor of the House and to call for broader investigations on the matter with a view to decisively dealing with all those involved and seeking protection for the politically-exposed persons on foreign trips and assignments in foreign jurisdictions.
“While conceding that it is the right of any group or individual to protest against a perceived wrong done to them in every democratic set-up, like ours, but it goes without saying that there is a limit to the extent any protest can go. It ceases to be a protest, for instance, when those involved in such a protest begin to make attempts on life or endanger the rights of others to peaceful and lawful assembly as we saw in the case at Nuremberg, Germany. As law-abiding people, we must have recourse to civility and proper ways of doing things at all times.”
Similarly, the Chief Whip of the Ninth Senate, Dr Orji Kalu condemned the attack on the former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweramadu in Germany by some members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
A video showing the assault on Ekweremadu by the group had gone viral across the various social media platforms.
Kalu, a two-time governor of Abia, in a statement issued by his Media Team, yesterday in Abuja, described the action of the group as uncivilised, unacceptable and barbaric.
He urged Igbo people to respect leaders at all levels, noting that the only way the South-East zone could be prosperous was to embrace dialogue, peace and unity.
Kalu, in the statement made available to newsmen, yesterday, also urged the Embassy of Nigeria in Germany, the German Government and appropriate authorities to bring the perpetrators of the act to book.
“After watching a viral video of the physical attack on former Deputy President of the Senate Sen. Ike Ekweramadu, I was not only disappointed but irritated and disturbed with the action of some members of IPOB.
“The assault on the senator is a slap on Igbo leaders regardless of age, party affiliation and religion,’’ Kalu said.
According to him, the perpetrators of the uncivilised act must face the wrath of the law.
“Sen. Ekweramadu is not only one of the Igbo leaders but also a prominent Nigerian and as such should be accorded due respect by all and sundry at home and abroad.
“For the South-East to move forward, the people of the region must embrace dialogue as a way of resolving pertinent issues and eschew violence.”
Kalu, who appealed to Igbo across the globe to be law-abiding and remain good ambassadors of Nigeria, urged Igbo groups to educate their members on the consequences of social vices.
Earlier, Nigerians In Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) condemned the attack on Senator Ike Ekweremadu at the 2nd Annual Igbo Cultural Festival held in Nuremberg, Germany.
In a statement in Abuja, the Chairman of NIDCOM, Mrs AbiKe Dabiri-Erewa, said that the incident was an embarrassment to the country.
“It is also shamefully pathetic that an event, which was nobly put together by the Ndi-Igbo community whose members make up the majority of Nigerians living in Germany, ended up in such a disgraceful manner,” she said.
Dabiri-Erewa noted that the event was to provide a forum for those in Diaspora and various stakeholders to network and facilitate better cooperation between German and Nigerian businesses.
She disclosed that some of the culprits who perpetrated the act had been apprehended.
Dabiri-Erewa called on the German government and law enforcement agencies to ensure that there are consequences for the actions of the culprits.
She also appealed to Nigerians to be of good behaviour wherever they find themselves; as such unruly incidents tarnish the image of the country.
In a statement, last Saturday, Ekweremadu confirmed that he was physically assaulted by some members of the proscribed IPOB in Nuremberg, Germany.
Enweremadu confirmed the attack in a statement released by his Media Assistant, Uche Anichukwu in Abuja.
Reacting, the senator representing Abia-South Senatorial District, Enyinnaya Abaribe condemned the attack on the former deputy Senate president, Dr Ike Ekweremadu by members identified as IPOB.
Abaribe, who along with two other sureties bailed Nnamdi Kanu, frowned at the incident, noting that it was un-Igbo for IPOB members in Germany to treat Ekweremadu that way.
His words, “Obviously this is not how to repay a man, an outstanding leader of men, an unpretentious Igbo leader.
“He has given his all even going as far as deploying his means to arrange for the bail of Nnamdi Kanu, not minding the repercussions to his illustrious political career.
“It is unfortunate. The perpetrators of the attack should know that as the Igbo, we respect elders and reverence our leaders.
“The unwarranted attack is not the character of the Igbo. This is un-Igbo.
“It is most worrisome and even inconceivable that the attackers will choose an auspicious occasion where our people are celebrating and showcasing our rich culture to exhibit such unbecoming and condemnable conduct in the name of agitation.
“No, that was not agitation, no right thinking human will identify with such behaviour.
“Yes, Nigeria is going through a horrendous phase, which is a fault line that her leaders, particularly we the Igbo leaders are engaging others to find a lasting solution to.
“Resorting to mob mentality and venting the spleen on our leaders rather creates a vacuum that will leave our people helpless and confused in the circumstance”, he said.
Also speaking, Senator Shehu Sani, said that IPOB spanked the wrong horse with the wrong whip on the wrong track with the attack on the former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.
Sani on his Twitter handle said: “Ike; IPOB spanked the wrong horse with the wrong whip on the wrong track.
“The attack on Senator Ekweremadu in Germany stands unreservedly condemned.
“Whatever is the political or philosophical agenda of the people that attacked him, the strategy of physical assault or violence cannot lead them to success.”
A 64-second video about the attack had gone viral on the social media earlier on Saturday.
In the video, Ekweremadu was seen being violently questioned over his alleged conspiracy with the Federal Government to proscribe the IPOB in the South-East and killing several of its followers.
There were initial speculations on the veracity of the video where the senator was attacked with eggs by the irate IPOB members.
The Senator who also gave an account of the event on his social media handle, @iamekweremdu, however, assured that he was safe.
He said: “I attended the Second Annual Cultural Festival and Convention organised by Ndi-Igbo Germany in Nurnberg today (Saturday) where I was billed to give a keynote address along with the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, who, however could not make it eventually.
“I was given a resounding welcome by Ndigbo in Germany and everything went smoothly until some men, who identified themselves as IPOB members stormed the venue and began to complain about the killings in the South-East, stressing that there would be no Igbo event at the venue.
“I tried to engage them, but when they became unruly, I had to leave the venue. The organisers also invited the police, and I was accompanied out of the venue.
“Much as I am disappointed in their conduct, especially as I am one of the persons, who have spoken up on justice for Ndigbo, the Python Dance, judicial killings in Igbo land, and elsewhere both on the floor of the Senate and in my written and personal engagements with the Presidency and the media as well as rallied the South-East Senate Caucus to secure Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s release with Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe taking him on bail to douse tension in the South-East, I nevertheless do not hold this to heart against them, for they know not what they do.
“I have received thousands of solidarity calls and messages from well-meaning Ndigbo. I want to assure them that I am hail and hearty. I have also spoken with the Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar.”
Meanwhile, the former Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose and Peoples Democratic Party stalwart and ex-minister Chief Femi Fani-Kayode also condemned the attack on Senator Ike Ekweremadu.
Fayose said the attack on Ekweremadu was an assault against the Igbos and Nigerians in general, adding that “Igbo touts” demonstrated that pigs have no value for gold.’
He said: “Attackers of Ekweremadu, a defender of democracy who symbolizes courage and decency, are miscreants who don’t deserve a place in a civilized society”.
Fani-Kayode said “What happened to my friend and brother Sen. Ike Ekweremadu in Nuremberg, Germany at the hands of IPOB is an eye-opener and clear signal to every political leader in southern Nigeria! The people of the south are getting angry and you either stand up and defend them or stand aside!”
The National Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), South-East zone, Chief Austin Umahi, condemned the attack on Senator Ike Ekweremadu by suspected members of the proscribed IPOB in Nurnberg, Germany.
Umahi made this known in a statement signed and forwarded to newsmen at the weekend in Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi State.
He frowned at the action of the group against Ekweremadu whom he said has been on the forefront of the struggle against the marginalization of Ndi-Igbo in the Nigerian Federation.
The zonal chairman said he was surprised that some individuals could hide under the name of the proscribed IPOB to attack Ekweremadu after all his efforts as the leader of South-East Senate Caucus in the 8th Senate to secure the release of Nnamdi Kanu, the self acclaimed leader of the group, from detention.
He said for Ekweremadu to have travelled to far away Nurnberg in Germany to attend the second annual festival and convention organized by Ndi-Igbo resident there, was a demonstration of his undying love for Ndi-Igbo which he has been exhibiting over the years.
Umahi urged Ekweremadu not to be discouraged by the attack; but see it as one of the many sacrifices he has to pay in pursuit for justice and better treatment for Ndi-Igbo both within and outside the country.
He also called for the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of the dastardly act to serve as a deterrent to others.
“I advised any individual or group that has any genuine reason to agitate, to do so, through the South-East Governors Forum, the Ohanaeze Ndi-igbo and through other legitimate means within the Nigerian federation; rather than resorting to self help” he stated.
Responding to criticism on the IPOB action, the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, yesterday, described the attack on the former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, in Nuremberg, Germany, as a ‘courageous act’.
Reacting in his official Twitter page, Kanu said the attack was a polite warning.
He tweeted, “the courageous act by IPOB at Nürnberg, Germany, is a polite warning to those engaged in selling our collective interest to Fulani caliphate. Nwodo, Igbo governors are warned.”
The IPOB explained that the attack serves as a warning to Nnia Nwodo, Dave Umahi, Okezie Ikpeazu, Willie Obiano and others to stay away from any public event abroad unless they want to be humiliated.
Wike Seeks Clerics, Monarchs’ Support On Security …Calls For Unity Amongst Christians
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has declared that with greater collaboration with the church, members of the society and traditional rulers, the new security architecture of the state will attain greater success.
Speaking during the first session of the Fourth Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Evo in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, yesterday, Wike said that successes have been recorded since the state government launched ‘Operation Sting’.
He said: “With robust collaboration with the church, society and traditional rulers, we will win the fight against insecurity.
“The church should also support our efforts in crime fighting. The church should continue to pray for the administration to achieve greater success in the fight to promote security.
“Beyond prayers, church members should also provide information to the state security council and security services on the activities of criminal elements. This will help in tackling insecurity”.
Represented by his Chief of Staff, Engr Chukwuemeka Woke, the governor urged members of the society to support the Rivers State Government to improve security, which will enhance investments in the state.
He said: “Once we achieve better security, more investments will come to the state. These investments will translate to jobs for our people”.
Wike thanked the Anglican Dioceses in Rivers State for the Thanksgiving Service they held for his re-election on July 7, 2019, and thanked the Christian community for their support.
Anglican Bishop of Evo Diocese, Rt Rev Innocent Ordu thanked Wike for his consistent support for the church.
“The governor has done so well for us. He has supported the church in diverse ways. The diocese owes it a duty to always support the state government in prayers”, he said.
Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Mr Solomon Eke expressed the appreciation of Obio/Akpor people for the governor’s support to the Evo Diocese.
He assured the Rivers State governor that the people of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area will provide the needed support to ensure the success of ‘Operation Sting’.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has called on Christians to work in unity for the growth of the faith.
Wike also regretted the level of disunity among Christian denominations, saying that it was hindering the expansion of the church.
He spoke during a courtesy visit by Baba Aladura and Prelate of The Eternal Sacred Order of Cherubim and Seraphim Worldwide, Dr David Bob-Manuel, Moses Orimolade IX, at the Government House, Port Harcourt, last Friday.
He said:”Let me appeal to Christians that the time has come when we have to work as a body.
“There are too many divisions in the faith. Look at the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Rivers State; it has been divided into factions. This is not necessary. We cannot be the body of Christ and we are not work together.
“Working as a team will make the church grow faster than it is doing right now”.
Wike assured the Christian community that his administration would continue to support them, adding that the support was borne out of the fact that Rivers State is a Christian state.
He reiterated that there was no gain in youths becoming cultists, and urged the church to work with the Rivers State Government to discourage cultism.
“There is no gain in joining cult groups. Cultism does not pay. We need to continue talking to our youths on the need to shun cultism”, he added.
Wike congratulated the Baba Aladura on his emergence as the leader of Cherubim and Seraphim Worldwide, explaining that Rivers people were proud of him.
Earlier, the Baba Aladura; Dr David Bob-Manuel, commended the Rivers State governor for his consistent support for the Christian community.
The Prelate of The Eternal Sacred Order of Cherubim and Seraphim Worldwide congratulated the Rivers State governor on his victories at the poll and the tribunal, urging him to use his second term to consolidate on his first term achievements.
“Your achievements in the state are monumental. Your effort to address insecurity in the state through the launch of ‘Operation Sting’ is quite commendable.
“You have left your footprints in the sands of time. God will grant you the enablement”, he stressed.
He said that he was in Rivers State for the International Youth Conference of the church, which would attract 7,000 youths from across the world, adding that this year’s event was the first time the church was holding the programme outside Lagos.
NDDC’s New Debt Recovery Exercise
The recent initiative of the Nige Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to engage debt collectors for the purpose of recovering debts owed it and which is reported to be as high as N1.2 trillion,is a development of interest, with a promise to change the narrative of the commission. That is if such is executed effectively without any tinge of politicisation of the process from sundry external influences, as well as the ever present possibility of sabotage from in-house, insidious power-play schemes across its rank and file. Recently, the commission appointed a debt collector – Paris Trust Limited (PTL) to tackle its debtors who are in the main oil and gas companies, operating in the Niger Delta region. The debt collector has reportedly swung into action by sending demand notices to the defaulting companies conveying a seven-day ultimatum on the latter, to address their respective cases of indebtedness.
This is a positive development by the commission pursuant to repositioning itself for more predictable business activities in respect of its statutory obligation of driving development in the Niger Delta. Created in 2000 as an interventionist agency by the Federal Government under President Olusegun Obasanjo, the NDDC had its operational mandate clearly identifying the oil and gas companies operating in the Niger Delta region as statutory contributors to its war chest. In the 2000 Act establishing the commission, the designated oil and gas companies were assigned the responsibility of contributing just 3% of their annual operating budgets to the purse of the commission. Other sources of funding for the NDDC include 15% of the monthly statutory allocation to member states from the Federation Account and 50% of the Ecological Fund. The foregoing funding sources are to be augmented with other options such as business profits, loan and gifts, to name a few.
The initiative of recovering debts from defaulting oil and gas companies is therefore a legitimate exercise that is backed by law and contemporary best fit business practice. The denial of the commission of its due revenue by the offending debtors translates into its compromised capacity to deliver on its commitments to the host states. This, however, is not to state that the failure of the debtors to oblige it has been the only problem of the commission with respect to delivering on its mandate to member states. Beyond the indebtedness of the oil and gas companies lies the bigger debt by the Federal Government itself, which the commission has demonstrated incapacity or otherwise to recover. Meanwhile, efforts to exploit other sources of funding which are market based, like returns on investible funds are yet to feature on the commission’s portfolio.
In this state of financial miasma plays out the proclivities of some potentates since 2015, to make Rivers State the ‘whipping boy’ of the commission’s operational incontinences. While the commission had since its inception battled with issues around both the operation of the funding set up as well as the process of accounting for whatever funds that accessed its coffers, the period from 2015 to date has been a season of concern with respect to its relationship with the state. The coincidence of the low points of this period with the control of the Federal Government by the APC and associated animosity towards the PDP government in the state was not difficult for any observer to associate with the victimisation of the state.
The plight of the Rivers State in this unsavoury situation has been highlighted in several instances. A typical case is the running matter of tax evasion by the NDDC in respect of which the Rivers State Internal Revenue Service (RIRS) sealed off in April this year, the commission’s corporate headquarters in Port Harcourt over an outstanding tax sum of N50 billion through a court order. While the commission protested against the action, its case was weakened as it was acting on a compromised financial operational template that provided scant transparency even with respect to its founding NDDC Act 2000. While the Act under consideration provides that the commission produces an audited report of its operations not later than six months after the end of each year, such a report from the NDDC has remained largely in the terrain of the voodoo, as far as the public is concerned.
It is therefore for good measure that Governor Nyesom Wike conveyed the pain of the State from its unfair treatment by the commission, to its Managing Director, Professor Nelson Brambaifa during the latter’s visit to mend fences. Wike had raised the issue of the commission’s slips as including the failure to pay up on its counterpart funding obligations, in respect of the Mother and Child Hospital project in the state after the government had delivered on its end.
It is hoped that dividends from the current debt recovery exercise will benefit Rivers State in addressing some of the debts owed it by the NDDC.
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