The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, has insisted that the All Progressives Congress (APC) in connivance with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), forcefully seized power in Kogi and Bayelsa states during the just-concluded elections.
Secondus explained that the crime allegedly committed by APC, INEC and the police indicated that Nigeria’s democracy was threat.
The PDP national chairman stated this during a press conference in Abuja, yesterday while lamenting over the killing of some party followers during the just-concluded elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.
He said: “We alert Nigerians and the international community that all is not well with our nation. A wave of terror is threatening our democracy; our constitutional order, national cohesion and safety of our citizens are now as at stake.
“As the world witnessed, the official conspiracies, bloodletting and mindless killing of innocent citizens by agents of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration in connivance with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to aid the forceful seizure of power in the November 16 Kogi and Bayelsa states’ governorship elections, clearly show that our democracy is under severe attack.
“In an apparent organized attack, government-controlled police and military, working for the APC, deployed dangerous assault weapons, including helicopters to coordinate the violent invasion of polling units with maximum force; shooting, killing and maiming unarmed civilians, who were called out by government to perform their civic responsibilities at the elections.
“The world watched with horror as killer security agents brutalized voters and carted away ballot boxes to government facilities were results were written in favour of the APC and handed to a heavily compromised INEC, which has become part of the crime, to announce.
“From the report reaching our party, no fewer than 30 innocent compatriots were killed and many more injured in this organized crime against humanity by the APC, the police and INEC.
“The only crime of the citizens was their expressed determination to vote for the candidates of their choice as governors of Kogi and Bayelsa states as clearly manifested in the results from the polling centres before the forceful seizure of the electoral processes.
“Most distressing is the gruesome incineration of one of our party’s woman leaders in Kogi State, Mrs. Acheju Abuh, in her home by APC thugs, a crime that was abetted by unscrupulous security agents.
“Our party holds that this electoral fraud and crime against humanity, including established culpable homicide committed by the APC, security agents and INEC cannot be allowed to pass.”
However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has clarified that it has nothing against former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan over the just concluded Bayelsa governorship election.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan disclosed this in an interview with newsmen after a meeting of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) in Abuja, last Wednesday.
There were reports in the media that Jonathan may be sanctioned by the party following the defeat of PDP by All Progressives Congress (APC), at the November 16, governorship election in Bayelsa.
Ologbondiyan said that the issue of Jonathan was not part of matters discussed at the NWC meeting.
“The issue of former President Goodluck Jonathan did not come up at the meeting and it was not discussed.
“You must know about the procedure and processes in our party. If we do not have a report or an issue before us, we cannot delve into.
“As we speak now, we do not have any matter concerning Jonathan before us in the party,” he said.
Ologbondiyan said that the only issue discussed at the meeting was the November 16 election in Kogi and Bayelsa.
“We have taken a decision to go to court long before but beyond that, we are going to take other measures.
“We have not done a post mortem of the election. We have only weighed the circumstances that surrounded the election.
“We have also looked at the global condemnation of the election. We have reviewed the role of INEC and the role played by security agencies. Formally, the party will come up with a position,” he said.
He, however, denied insinuation that the National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus was under pressure, saying the party was rather concern about the state of democracy in the country.
“We believe that as the main opposition party we have a responsibility to salvage democracy,” he said.
Ologbondiyan also said that there was no division within the NWC.
“All of us are here. Virtually everybody was here and we discussed freely,” he said.
Meanwhile, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party caucus in the House of Representatives has called for the cancellation of the November 16, 2019, gubernatorial elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states, saying the exercises fell below electoral standards.
The caucus accused the government of using the security agencies to intimidate the electorate and influenced the outcomes of the polls in the favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
In a statement by its leader, Rep. Kingsley Chinda, the caucus said that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s APC-led government has destroyed all known democratic tenets, norms and conventions in Nigeria.
The opposition caucus regretted that the government of the day had jettisoned significant changes introduced by the PDP government, accusing the Buhari of having plans to elongate his tenure beyond 2023.
The statement read thus: “Reports by the field agents of the PDP in both Kogi and Bayelsa, which were largely validated by the diplomatic and temperate views of both local and international observers, show the following:
“Card readers were largely ignored in area that President Buhari’s, All Progressives Congress (APC) thought it had comparative advantage while subjecting areas believed to be the strongholds of the PDP to the use of smart readers, which usually malfunctioned or were deliberately calibrated to frustrate voters not to vote.
“In addition, in areas where the APC thought it did not have much support, it unleashed violence on the people. Some instances burning of PDP women leader etc regrettably, these dastardly acts were done with the connivance or complicity of security agents. The inability of the security agencies to protect the sanctity of the electoral process even when there was an offseason election.
“We have no hesitation in aligning ourselves with the conclusion of the Nigerian Civil Society situation room that the elections fall below the standards expected for free, fair and credible elections.
“Kogi State election represents a major dent on Nigeria’s democratic process.
“We are therefore joining our voice to the clarion call across the land and even internationally, for the cancellation, in its entirety of the Kogi State elections conducted on November 16, 2019.
“The novel and indeed, criminal conduct of ‘community voting’ in Bayelsa State, a situation where political entrepreneurs with the active connivance of security agencies force people to vote for preferred candidates offends the fundamental human rights of people to choice as well as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which all security agents, President Muhammadu Buhari and INEC officials unclose swore to protect.
“This by any stretch of the imagination cannot be regarded, like an election. There is, therefore, no reason to allow the Bayelsa elections to stand. These elections make Nigeria a laughing stock!!”
“Unfortunately for Nigeria and Nigerians, the major beneficiary of the electoral reform, President Muhammadu Buhari used the greater part of his tenure to relentlessly work to undermine the credibility of the electoral process, reduce democratic space, destroy press freedom and as well destroy the little that is left of the integrity of the Judiciary.
“You will recall, Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, that President Muhammadu Buhari, has jettisoned the innovation of the smart card reader, which weeded out fake voters.
“After the Supreme Court ruled that card readers are alien to the electoral law, the 8th National Assembly sought to correct that by empowering the INEC to use the card reader but for four times President Buhari vetoed the Electoral Act on flimsy and inexcusable grounds.
“As a matter of fact even after the National Assembly conceded to all his suggestions, he still vetoed the bill.
“Little did we know that he had planned on returning himself to power willy-nilly. We have now found out that we were wrong to have assumed that the abuse of power and desecration of the electoral system and our values will end with the Presidential elections. Now there is no reason why we should not seriously consider the wild allegations that the APC is rehearsing strategies for tenure elongation.
“Those who thought that because he had won the second term, President Buhari would make a casual and perfunctory gesture for electoral reforms have been thoroughly disgraced and disappointed by the unprecedented violation of the right and dignity of the peoples of Kogi and Bayelsa states.
“The wanton destruction of properties of the people, as well as the denial of the right of the people to choose for themselves, reflects the degeneration. The reformed electoral system inherited by President Buhari has been completely eroded since he emerged as President.”
“Furthermore, we call on President Muhammadu Buhari to take actions that will stop the slide of the country into anarchy! The growing sense of insecurity and injustice will definitely give birth to the lawlessness that Nigeria can ill afford to joke with, especially as our unemployment figures keep soaring and the economic fortunes of the country keep dwindling.
“For a start, the President should forward an executive bill to the National Assembly, on electoral reforms, which must include the compulsory use of card readers in all polling units.
“Ladies and Gentlemen given the networked nature of the present global system, there is no doubt that the growing insecurity will have a spill-over effect outside Nigeria. The comity of nations needs to be concerned about Nigeria, for it also has the moral obligation and the responsibility to protect Nigerians from the flagrant abuses of human rights, including wanton killings of innocent people, often perpetrated by secretary agents.
“We are therefore calling on all nations that wish Nigeria well to join the USA and immediately consider, the imposition of Visa bans and travel restrictions on all individuals within the Independent National Electoral Commission, security agencies, and politicians of all political parties who are involved in any form of electoral offences and violence. This will prove to Nigerians that the world is standing with them, and deter future occurrences.
“We wish to condole the people who lost their family members in the last week’s show of shame and we call on Nigerian’s to stand fast on democracy and keep sacrificing for us to have a Nigeria that is free and prosperous.”
NASS Passes N10.59trn Budget For 2020 … Jerks Its Appropriation By N264bn, Gives Reason
The two Chambers of the National Assembly (NASS), yesterday passed the Appropriation Bill of N10.59 trillion budget for the 2020 fiscal year with a view to returning the nation’s budget cycle to January to December.
The Lawmakers jerked up the budget as proposed by President Muhammad Buhari to the tune of N246 billion.
The lawmakers passed the 2020 budget following a clause-by-clause consideration of the report of the Committee on Appropriations of the two Chambers.
Briefing the press after plenary session, the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriation Committee, Barau Jubril and Stella Odua, respectively, defended the additional N246 billion the lawmakers injected into the budget.
The Chairman described the budgeting process as the best so far because it is the first time the Executive, Senate and House of Representatives came together on a roundtable to agree on a united document as budget of the country.
He defended the N264 billion increase injected into the 2020 budget as not padding of the appropriation bill, but harvested additional revenue, saying the additional fund was brought in conjunction and consultation with the Executive.
Denying that the extra funds injected was padding, Senator Jibrin Barau said the word padding is alien to the 9th Senate because the infusion on additional vote for capital projects was done in collaboration with the executive arm of government.
According to him, the Senate saw avenue to make additional revenue and “just fixed the expected increased revenue to sectors in need of additional revenue”.
He said “In a Presidential system of government, there is room for checks on what any arm of government is doing by the other. President Buhari no doubt presented a perfect budget, but it is our own responsibility as the parliament to critically look at what was presented by the executive and make corrections where necessary.
“During the course of deliberating on the budget, we saw opportunities of where we can get additional income for the government and we deployed them to areas that need further spending.
“The National Assembly has the right to do it and that is what we have done”, he said.
Presenting the report, Senator Barau Jibrin said the increase of N264billion allowed for interventions in critical areas such as national security, road infrastructure, mines and steel development, and health.
A breakdown of the budget, Senator Jubrin said, is that Statutory Transfer stood at N560.5billion, recurrent expenditure-N4.8billion, capital expenditure-N2.5billion, debt servicing-N2.7illionbn, fiscal deficit-N2.3trillion and deficit to GDP of 1.52 per cent.
He pointed out that daily oil production stood at 2.18 million barrels per day, Oil Benchmark stood at $57 per barrel against $55 proposed by the Executive, while the exchange rate stood at N305 per dollar.
Capital Expenditure for Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs) for the 2020 fiscal year are: Ministry of Defence N116,181,290,730; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, N7,608,141,474; Ministry of Information and Culture, N7,555,803,233; Ministry of Interior, N34,035,825,302; Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, N1,722,796,040; Ministry of Police Affairs, N15,959,986,864; Ministry of Communication Technology, N5,919,002,554; and Office of the National Security Adviser, N27,418,469,323.
Others are: Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, N25,188,940,930; Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, N2,158,620,395; Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, N124,395,096,917; Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, N4,976,199,925; Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, N38,583,331,761; Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, N24,445,756,678; Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, N62,882,531,566; Federal Ministry of Transport, N121,366,932,571; and Federal Ministry of Aviation, N52,061,533,122.
Also, for the 2020 fiscal year, the Ministry of Power has an allocation of N129,082,499,363; Ministry of Petroleum Resources, N3,337,444,887; Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, N10,431,563,177; Ministry of Works and Housing, N315,563,564,269; Ministry of Water Resources, N91,679,927,042; Ministry of Justice, N3,853,600,220; Federal Capital Territory Administration, N62,407,154,360; and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, N23,120,350,399.
Others include: Ministry of Youths and Sports Development, N3,735,486,210; Military of Women Affairs, N6,650,300,966; Federal Ministry of Education, N84,728,529,572; Ministry of Health, N59,909,430,837; Federal Ministry of Environment, N12,350,140,731; and Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, N61,085,146,003.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in his concluding remarks after the 2020 budget was passed, said, “when we came in, all of us approved our legislative agenda, and one of the key pillars of this agenda is to take back our budget cycle from the very undesirable cycle that cannot be defined to something that can be defined and bought into by our country and business partners living in and outside the country.
“Today, we have been able to achieve this. It means where there is will, there is always a way. This is something that we have been able to achieve together with the House of Representatives.
“I must give members of the Ninth National Assembly the credit, because we thought it was going to be impossible.
“Let me also commend the buying-in of the executive arm of government. When we continued to preach that we have to receive the 2020 budget estimates before the end of September, it was not easy for the executive.
“I know they (Executive) worked day and night. So it was presented to us on the 8th of October. We have been able to work harmoniously. There is no way we can achieve this without all of us working together.
“I want to commend our colleagues from the opposition. This Senate from the beginning, we said, will be bi-partisan. You have given us all the support that we require, and indeed, this is the way it should be”, Lawan added.
The Senate President also noted that with the recent passage of landmark legislations such as the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) Act, Finance Bills and Public Procurement Bills by the National Assembly, the Executive arm of government is sufficiently empowered to ensure the successful implementation of the 2020 budget.
By: Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja
Wike, Building Legacy For Tomorrow -Nsirim
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information And Communications, Rivers State, and Commissioner-designate, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, says the State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike is building lasting legacies for tomorrow through the various developmental projects going on across in the state.
Nsirim said the traffic gridlock being witnessed in major roads across part of the state, was due to the concerted efforts by the state Chief Executive’s transformation policies which, he said, havw turned the state to a construction site.
He, therefore, urged residents and visitors to the state, to bear with the State Government and not worry about what they see around, saying that it is the vision of the NEW Rivers mantra to place the state on the trajectory of leadership and governance.
Nsirim, said this while declaring open a two-day workshop for Universal Basic Education Board (UBEC), State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), and Heads of Public Relations (PR) and protocol being hosted by the RSUBEB in Port Harcourt yesterday, with the theme, “Bridging the Gap and Breaking New Grounds in UBE Public Relations/Protocol Practice”.
He described the role of PROs and Protocol officers in basic education management in the country as very strategic and urged them to improve on their professional competencies in order to drive the programmes in their various boards.
“Your roles in basic education is very strategic.There are new strategies being introduced by government to ensure that basic education receives a boost in the country”, he stated
Nsirim also urged them not to see the workshop as an avenue to make new friends, but to improve on their proficiency in order to bring in various stakeholders into the activities of the board .
“What ever opportunity and duty you find yourself, see it as a service to God and write story of prosperity”.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the state SUBEB, Ven. Fyneface Akah, said the workshop was a unifying event that offers a moment of exchange of ideas and skills as well as orderliness among the Public Relations Officers and Protocol managers in order to streamline the way of doing things.
According to him, the workshop will help them on how to get the public to know and understand the workings of the board, adding that they have much work to do in making people understand the activities of the board.
In his own speech, the head, UBEC Public Relations and Protocol, Abuja, Mr. Ossom M. Ossom, who read the good- will message of the UBEC Chairman, said “Public Relations and Protocol practitioners owe it a duty, especially to Nigeria’s school-age population, to use every available opportunity in drawing the attention of all UBE stakeholders to the fact that our country cannot afford to berth and pass through the coming decade as largely uneducated entity and with the largest population of out-of-school children in the world”.
Earlier in an interview with newsmen, the Head of legal and Public Relations, SUBEB, Barr Karibi T. George, said “Public Relations is the live wire of every organization because it builds on the corporate image and reputations of organisation to build public Confidence”.
We’ll Monitor Commissioners’ Performance -RSHA …As NUJ commends Wike on Nsirim’s Appointment
The Rivers State House of Assembly has finally confirmed the nomination of 13 Commissioner-nominees sent to it by the governor, Chief Nyesom Wike.
The confirmation was finally done after debate and sitting to scrutinize complete tax certificate and clearance of one of the nominees, Mr. Sylvanus Nwankwo.
Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani said it was the constitutional mandate of the legislature to screen and confirm Commissioner-nominees; hence, it was not a witch-hunt on any of the nominees.
Debate on whether the nominees should be confirmed after they appeared on the floor of the House on Tuesday started when the Leader, Hon Martin Amaewhule, described all the nominees as, “fit and zealous” persons with requisite qualifications.
In the same vein, Hon. Matthew Dike of Tai Constituency said, “The Commissioner Nominees sent to this Assembly are landmark. It is full of men and women of proven integrity “.
On his part, Hon. Michael Chinda of Obio/Akpor Constituency 2 submitted that the Assembly will beef up its oversight on them, and therefore urged the nominees to be alive to their duties or bow out.
Chinda insisted that performance is key, saying that the House will monitor the activities of the screened and approved Commissioner nominees.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Rivers State Council, has commended the Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike for appointing their past State Chairman and two times Press Secretary to the Governor, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim as Commissioner.
Chairman of the State NUJ, Stanley Job Stanley, in a chat with The Tide, said the union is excited that after few years a professional communicator has been chosen to serve the state.
Though the nominees, who have been screened and confirmed by the Assembly, are yet to be sworn in and assigned port, folios, the NUJ Chairman expressed confidence that Nsirim will man the Information and Communications Ministry which he (Nsirim) had been a Permanent Secretary in the past three years.
“We are happy for the appointment because as a union, we have been advocating that professionals be appointed to man the Ministry.
“It will be a boost to the image of the NUJ because Nsirim was our former Chairman and for a very long time we have been longing for press/government relations to be cordial,” Stanley stated.
He described the appointment of the Permanent Secretary as well deserving, urging him to use his good offices to boost journalists/ government relations in the state.
Pastor Nsirim was among the 13 Commissioner-nominees screened and confirmed by the Assembly on Wednesday.
Nisirm, a Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Information and Communications until his nomination as a Commissioner, is currently the State Chairman of the Nigeria Institute of Public Relations(NIPR).
He has in the last six months championed a statewide image advocacy campaign tagged,” Our State, Our Responsibility.”
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