Reactions have trailed the emergence of senators Ahmad Lawan and Ovie Omo-Agege yesterday as President of the Senate and Deputy President of the Senate, respectively.
Lawan (APC-Yobe) emerged president of the 9th Senate after defeating his only contender, Sen. Ali Ndume with 79 votes. Ndume had 28.
In the same vein, Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege (APC-Delta) emerged deputy senate president after polling 68 to defeat former deputy president of the senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who polled 37.
Reacting, former President of the Senate, Adolphus Wabara said the outcome of the election was an indication that the members-elect voted their choice.
He urged them to hit the ground running, noting that Nigerians are expecting their contribution to the growth of the economy.
He said the voting was democratic and keenly contested because nobody came unopposed. “The victors should do the needful in the interest of the masses,” he said.
Former Kano State Governor, Ibrahim Shekarau said the way in which the senators-elect conducted themselves was impressive.
Shekarau, who is a member of the 9th senate, said it is a victory for democracy. “I congratulate all the senators-elect for democratic rights in their voting and I congratulate the president,” he said.
Sen. BarauJibrin (APC-Kano) said the outcome of the election was good for democracy.) He said with Lawan’s leadership, he was optimistic that the 9th senate would be rancour free.
He added that he was hopeful that democracy would get stronger as the years go by and what happened was a clear indication of how much senators-elect believed in Lawan’s leadership style.
Senator Matthew Urghoghide (PDP-Edo) said he was satisfied with the outcome of the election, saying he had no regrets publicly declaring support for Lawan’s emergence. He expressed hope that “the 9th senate will deliver on its mandate.”
Senator Clifford Ordia (PDP-Edo) also identified with Lawan, adding that “what is left is to settle to the business of lawmaking and other legislative activities.”
Our correspondent reports that the inauguration started on a rancorous note after a protest by some senators-elect over announcement by Mr Mohammed Omolori, Clerk of the National Assembly that open secret ballot system was to be used to elect the presiding officers.
It however ended peacefully as the situation was brought under control by the clerk, who officiated the election process.
The inauguration started at exactly 10:a.m. with 107 senators-elect in attendance as against 109 as two senatorial seats in Imo were declared vacant.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated heartily the newly elected presiding officers of the Ninth National Assembly.
President Buhari in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina in Abuja also saluted all the national legislators and their political parties for their display of patriotism and non-partisanship before and during the election.
He commended the transparent and fair nature of the voting process, adjudging it as a plus for the democracy in the country.
President Buhari described the emergence of the new leaders of the legislative branch of government as “a new dawn, different from duplicity and perfidy of the immediate past.”
The President charged the winners to use their exalted positions for the higher interest of the country, her people, and for the growth of democracy.
According to him, “The Executive does not desire a rubber stamp Legislature. While separation of powers is essential, collaboration among all Arms of Government should be the name of the game. Opposition need not be virulent.”
President Buhari noted that, “Stepping into the Next Level, the legislature has a big role to play for the goals of the administration to be achieved,” stressing that, “This is for the ultimate good of the nation.”
The President urged contestants who lost out to be gallant in defeat, and join hands with the victors who should exhibit magnanimity and eschew vindictiveness.
He said, “At the end of the day, we, the people, who elected our representatives at the national level, are the winners.”
On its part, the National Working Committee, NWC, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday congratulated the 9th National Assembly for its successful inauguration.
The party commended the newly elected Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege as well as the newly elected Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila and Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase for their victory in the keenly contested elections.
In a statement signed by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party vowed to stand on the side of decency and utmost respect for the institution of the National Assembly and “the values we hold as a people.”
The statement further read: “Our party charges the federal lawmakers, as representatives of the people, to place the welfare, wishes and aspirations of Nigerians above every other considerations by ensuring a strong and independent legislature that upholds the tenets of democracy and the dictates of our constitution.
“The 9th National Assembly therefore must work hard to save our nation from the prevailing despondency caused by the misrule of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, by effectively applying its statutory legislative instruments to guarantee good governance and fiscal prudence, curb corruption, check the excesses of the executive and protect the rights of Nigerians from incessant violations.
“The PDP reminds the National Assembly members to bear in mind that their allegiance is to the people and the constitution and not to any particular leader or group. “Our party charges the legislature to work only in the interest of our nation and resist the manipulations and pressure that might come from quarters that seek to undermine our democratic order.”
The PDP also reiterated its commitment to “the welfare of Nigerians,” stressing that it continue to keep its focus on “the quest for good governance, national cohesion and economic wellbeing of the people, even as we pursue our collective aspiration for the successful retrieval of our stolen Presidential mandate at the tribunal.”
However, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has decried the present government arrangement in Nigeria, saying the Senate President is from North-East, the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria is from the North-East, The President of the country is from the North-West. They are all from what we call the core north.
How can you have that kind of arrangement and then be absolutely insensitive to it (lack of geographical diversity)? this came as he said that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government is driving Nigeria towards “disaster and instability”. Speaking with newsmen, noted that although the country has made considerable progress since the new dispensation began in 1999, the pace at which it is currently moving shows the nation may be inching towards disaster and instability. “I think we have no choice but to be on the path for sustainable development.
“The progress we are making may be questionable—-Is it fast enough? Is it steady enough? Is it stable enough? Are we taking two steps forward and one step back or one step side-way?
“You can question that, but we have no choice but to be on (the) path for sustainable development. Any other thing will be a disaster. In fact, the pace at which we are going now is tending more and more toward disaster and instability and unsustainability.” ‘No Confidence in the Economy’ “The problem is that we are just not doing what we should be doing Nobody has that confidence, and we cannot develop Nigeria without that confidence in our economy.
Both for domestic investors and foreign investors.” ‘Anti-graft institutions have been corrupted’ said Obasanjo, Speaking further on the state of the nation, Obasanjo said “I set up two (anti-corruption) institutions, I came with two laws that were not there before, to fight corruption. And those who claim they are fighting corruption today have not brought in anything different. If anything, they have corrupted those two institutions.
“And the institutions were open and independent. I never, never, as president had to say to either the head of ICPC or EFCC: ‘Oh, chase this person’.”
“Nigeria was a pariah state. Within the first four years (1999-2003)… we actually hosted the commonwealth. And Nigeria which was kicked out of the Commonwealth became the host of a Commonwealth Head of Governments Meeting (CHOGOM). We became the darling of almost all nations. The economy started doing well.
“I remember on one occasion one day or one week, ChukwumaSoludo (then governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria) phoned me and said: “Sir, in one day, we had an inflow of $80 million”. From foreign direct flow; not money from our oil export or cocoa export. Just direct! And he (Soludo) said to me: “Sir, this is almost unbelievable.”
“I said we were not where I want us to be yet. I want us to be $100 million per day. That means in five working days, that will be half a billion dollars. If we are making half a billion dollars a week of five working days; in 52 weeks, it will be $26 billion. It is possible. I got debt relief.”
“I think there is a presumption in our constitution that our system will bring out competent leaders devoid of extremism, religious or tribal bigotry. Leaders who understand what it takes to hold the country together and put it in high gear for development, unity and an inclusive and shared society.
“These are assumptions. And if these assumptions come true, what is meant to be achieved in our country will be achieved. But the kind of situation you have now cannot allow those assumptions to become reality. Now you have a situation where three top officials of government will be from only two northern zones. Ahmed Lawan (who has been pencilled down as Senate President) is from the North-East, the acting chief justice of Nigeria is from the north-east, The President of the country is from the north-west. They are all from what we call the core north. How can you have that kind of arrangement and then be absolutely insensitive to it (lack of geographical diversity)?
“So the prescription that our constitution makes of the kind of leadership that should emerge, we have failed to achieve that with the present leadership we have in place. The Constitution expects the executive to care for the welfare and security of every Nigerian. But in the present situation, they don’t seem to care.”
2019 Rivers Guber Poll Tribunal: PDP Tenders Polling Units’ Results To Affirm Wike’s Victory …Election Held In Substantial Compliance With Electoral Act -Counsel …Conduct Of Poll Peaceful, Lawful, Akawor Affirms
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, yesterday, tendered strategic polling units’ results from different local government areas to the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal to justify the re-election of Governor Nyesom Wike.
The polling units’ results were tendered in respect of the petition filed against the election of Wike by the Governorship Candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Victor Fingesi.
Tendering the polling units’ results from the Bar, counsel to the PDP, Chief Godwin Obla (SAN) said the polling results were from 356 polling units.
Obla told the tribunal that the result sheets were from some of the polling units in Obio/Akpor, Khana, Ogu/Bolo, Bonny, Akuku-Toru, Ahoada East, Opobo/Nkoro and others.
He informed the tribunal that the PDP resolved to tender results to prove that elections held across the state at the polling units and declarations made under very peaceful atmosphere.
The counsel added that since INEC and Wike have called witnesses to prove that the Governorship Election was conducted in line with the Electoral Act, the PDP chose to prove the conduct of the elections through documentary evidence.
Addressing journalists after closing the PDP defence, Godwin Obla said that from documentary evidence and oral testimonies of witnesses, it was clear that the 2019 Governorship Election in Rivers State was held in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act and that Wike emerged victorious.
He said: “This morning on behalf of the 3rd respondent, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), we tendered a total of 356 exhibits in support of our case. We feel satisfied that the requirements of the law required of us, have been fully met and that is why we decided to close our case today.
“Don’t forget that the 1st respondent, INEC, called witnesses, the 2nd respondent, Governor Nyesom Wike, who is the candidate of the 3rd respondent, PDP, also called witnesses and tendered a lot of documents that relate to this same subject matter. The interests of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents are actually the same”.
Also speaking, counsel to ADP, Mr Dolapo-Telle Attoni, said “The PDP presented from the Bar a bundle of electoral documents they claimed INEC used in conducting the governorship election. They tendered about 356 alleged polling units’ results. We had asked for few minutes to study these same documents, and also obtain Certified True Copy of the said documents which was not complied with by INEC”.
Following the PDP closing its case, the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal has adjourned till September 16, 2019 for the adoption of addresses by parties in the petition filed by Action Democratic Party and its governorship candidate, Mr Victor Fingesi.
Earlier, the Director-General of Rivers State PDP Campaign Council, Amb. Desmond Akawor, had said that the 2019 Governorship Election held throughout the state with Governor Nyesom Wike emerging victorious.
Testifying at the Rivers State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, last Wednesday, as the last witness for Wike in a petition filed by the candidate of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Victor Fingesi, Akawor said that the governor won the election by the lawful votes cast on March 9, 2019.
The former Nigerian Ambassador to South Korea told the tribunal that he received his party’s duplicate certified copies of election result sheets for all the units, wards and the 23 local government areas.
Responding to a question by counsel to the ADP governorship candidate on why the state government set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry on the 2019 Elections, Akawor said that the commission of inquiry was established to find out what happened at the collation centres, because voting took place peacefully at all polling units.
However, after closing his case on cross-examination of DW31 (Akawor), the ADP counsel sought to tender an application which is a certified copy of The Tide Newspaper of April 29 in respect of the commission of inquiry.
But Counsel to the governor, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) urged the court to refuse the application, arguing that the petitioner voluntarily closed his matter on July 16 with 23 witnesses.
Ukala noted that in accordance with the rules of the tribunal, each witness was cross-examined within the time given; adding that conduct of proceedings was guided by truth and not by sympathy.
Ruling on the application after hearing arguments from the counsels, Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Orjiako, stated that “this application in our view cannot be allowed, the implication being that it should have been tendered within the time allocated to him, therefore, the application is overruled and refused”.
Justice Orjiako had adjourned the matter till yesterday for further cross examination.
In an interview, counsel for Governor Nyesom Wike, Emmanuel Ukala, explained that the ADP application was refused as a result of improper filing.
He said, “The 2nd respondent (Governor Wike) called all together 20 witnesses, and we closed our case. So, it is left to the PDP, if they wish to call any other witness. They may call, and thereafter, we will all address the court”.
Stop Deducting Money From Rivers Statutory Allocation, Court Orders FG
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to comply with the judgment of the Supreme Court in respect of OML112 offshore and stop the deduction of the sum of N502, 298,943.03 or any sum whatsoever, forming the proprietary rights of the Rivers State Government.
The presiding Judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, also ordered the defendants to make full refund of the accruable 13 per cent derivation illegally denied the plaintiff from crude oil and gas production within OML 112 and sale from September, 2018 till the determination of the suit; and thereafter.
The judge equally ordered the Attorney General of the Federation, the Accountant General of the Federation and the RMAFC to pay monthly interests at the various commercial rates at no less than 15 per cent per annum on the illegally deducted 13 per cent derivation due to the plaintiff from OML 112 until the liquidation of all outstanding and accruing debt.
Justice Taiwo further restrained the defendants, their agents, assigns, representatives, privies or howsoever called from disregarding the finality of the Supreme Court judgment delivered on March 18, 2011 in Suit No: SC/27/2010, between: Attorney General of Rivers State and Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State & Anor as it relates to the proprietary rights of the plaintiff in respect of OML 112.
The suit was instituted by the Attorney General of Rivers State to challenge the deduction of the sum of N502, 298,943.03 accruing from OML 112 from the statutory allocation of the state by the defendants.
Biafra: Fresh Questions Over Future Of Campaign
Just as the recent physical attack on former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu in faraway Germany is trending globally for the bizarre affront it represents, so many questions are raging over the integrity and future of the campaign for the actualisation of the Biafra secessionist agenda. It is no more news that Ekweremadu was ambushed and attacked during his visit to Germany to participate as a guest speaker at a traditional Igbo ‘New Yam’ festival. The trailing reactions not only captured the wide divide between the proponents and the opponents of the ‘Biafra’ agenda across the world. It also betrayed and reinforced a more profound aspect being the unmasked, hysteric xenophobic mindset to which the most ardent proponents of the Biafra agenda subscribe to. Primary among these is the endorsement of the outrage of the assailants by Nnamdi Kanu, the now exiled leader of the IPOB, which is just one of the active groups canvassing for the actualisation of the Biafra dream.
From the now trending video clips of the incident,the aggrieved assailants could be heard lamenting about the killing of their kit and kin in the ‘Operation Python Dance’ military assaults on Iboland, at the peak of the IPOB domestic activism phase. Until that point, the German assault on Ekweremadu could easily have passed as a result of the bereaved lamenting and perhaps, over-reacting over the death of their loved ones at home. However, the intervention of IPOB especially with the claim that responsibility for the attack fell on its members changed the entire narrative. First of all, information in the public domain did not specifically mention that the occasion was organised by IPOB. Hence, the intervention of the organisation by persons later identified as IPOB operatives captures the event as having been hijacked by the IPOB for reasons strange to the organisers. Now, the blame or whatever ascription from the event goes to all Ibos, just as the proverb that when a finger picks up oil, it soon spreads it to all the other fingers.
And this is where the various stakeholders of the Biafra agenda, comprising the Igbo represented by the OhanaezeNdigbo, the Eastern minorities and even the entire country need to take the Ekweremadu attack with appropriate discretion. Whatever circumstances that will instigate members of a political pressure group to leave the shores of its home country and brazenly attack a home government official in public glare and in a foreign country, deserves more than a slap on the wrist. The situation calls for renewed discretion especially by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo which can be credited with the misfortune of living in a hut on which roof a snake has climbed. That is putting it in classical Igbo metaphor.
For anybody especially the leadership of the Ibos to see the situation otherwise, is to indulge in a mis-read of the festering situation, and expose Ndigbo to a future of miasma in the politics of Iboland as well as that between Ndigbo and the rest of the country. IPOB may remain a most divisive factor in the political calculus of the Ndigbo both at home and abroad as has been dramatically demonstrated in the German attack on Ike Ekweremadu, both for now and in the unknown future. And against the backdrop that not all Ibos and even Ohanaeze are members of IPOB, the need for the group to tread with care becomes most acute. Most Ibos simply want to be left alone to pursue their legitimate businesses in which they are already excelling, and do not want to be bothered by a pie in the sky called Biafra. After all, was it not the great novelist, Chinua Achebe who cited the Ibo proverb that all lizards lie on the ground making it difficult to know which one has stomach pain.
As for the Eastern minorities whose youth especially are being enamoured with flashes of paradise in the Biafra dream, all that needs to be said is that they should go and study the history of the previous Biafra, which occurred before they were even born. They will find out not only why it failed, but also why the mainstream of Ibo intelligentsia is not supporting the campaign – at least spiritedly. Fortunately for them, there are still some survivors of that failed exercise who can provide them valuable insights, to lead them aright. On a cautionary basis, let it be stated here that a child found toying with the very strain of mushrooms that killed his or her parents, is asking for nothing better than the very fate that befell the parents.
As structured today, the Nigerian federation cannot be restructured along secessionist lines without elaborate dialogue and negotiations, in place of a full scale war, no matter the grievances of its component ethnic parts. Meanwhile, IPOB has not demonstrated willingness or capacity for negotiations and the rest of the country is not ready for war. Until further notice therefore, Biafra and all it represents remain hanging in the balance.
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