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Periscoping 2020 (5)

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The Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB 2020 (SB.510) was read for the first time on the floor of the Ninth Senate on Wednesday, September 30, 2020. As part of the business of the day, presentation of the bill was number two on the day’s Order Paper.
The leader of the Senate, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, presented the proposed legislation and the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, read the bill for the first time.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Festus  Okoye, disclosed in a release issued in Abuja on Wednesday, September 30, that over 40 companies had indicated interest and had been invited for a live presentation for a virtual or practical demonstration of electronic voting machines that may be used for the Ondo governorship election on October 10.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ forum insisted that a national dialogue was needed as a way forward for the country.
The Forum stated that a national dialogue had become imperative for the various interest groups and leaders in Nigeria to brainstorm and chart a new course for the benefit of all.
The PDP Governors; in an Independence Day Message to Nigerians by its chairman, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, on Thursday, October 1, said the country cannot continue to remain helpless in the face of the challenges confronting citizens.
Members of the # RevolutionNow   Group, on Thursday,  October 1, protested  at the United States Embassy in Abuja, over the security and socio-economic situation in the country. They demanded the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari over insecurity, hunger and corruption in the country.
An NGO, Yiaga Africa, on Sunday, October 4, said it would deploy the Paralle2 Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology to verify results during the October 10 governorship election in Ondo State.
The Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, Mr Sampson Itodo, said in a statement in Abuja that the group would also deploy 646 observers under its “Watching the Vote (WTV)” project to monitor the election.
Candidates of political parties participating in the Ondo State governorship election signed a peace accord in Akure, the Ondo State Captial on Tuesday, October 6.
Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar Saa’d; Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Hasan Kukah; former Bishop of Abuja Diocese, John Onaiyekan and traditional rulers were among others that witnessed the signing.
On Thursday, October 8, President Muhammadu Buhari presented an Appropriation Bill of N13.08 trillion to the joint session of the National Assembly in Abuja, predicting further hardship for Nigerians as he said the nation may face another recession before the end of the year, if serious and effective measures were not taken to ensure the nation’s financial security.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Sunday, October 11, declared Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of Saturday, October 10, governorship election.
Declaring the result, the Returning Officer, Prof. Idowu Olayinka said Akeredolu polled 292,914 votes to defeat his closest rival, Eyitayo jegede of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who garnered 195,791 votes.
In a memorandum to the National Assembly Committee on the Review of the 1999 constitution, northern elders who described themselves as Friends of Democracy, on Tuesday, October 13, advocated the return of the country to the 12-state structure of 1967 to be known as regions with full devolution of powers and 100 percent resource control.
Describing the proposal as “the most viable option for Nigeria at the moment and in the foreseeable future”, the memorandum was signed by Alhaji Othman Tofa, Amb. Fatimah Balla, Alhaji Sule Yahaya Hamma, Dr Abubakar Saddique Mohammed, Mr Sarn Nda-Isaiah, Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim, Mai Bilya Bala, Mr Hubert Shaiyen, Dr Kabir Az-Zubair, Prof. Jibrin Ibahim, and Dr Usman Bugaje.
On Tuesday, October 13, the Senate received a request from President Muhammadu Buhari for the confirmation of four nominees as commissioners for the  Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The request which was contained in a letter dated October 12, 2020, was read at plenary by president of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan.
The nominees listed by the president were: Prof. Muhammad Sani Kallah (National Electoral Commissioner), Katsina; Lauretta Onochie (National Electoral Commissioner), Delta; Prof. Kunle Cornelius Ajayi (National Electoral Commissioner), Ekiti and Saidu Babura Ahmad (National Electoral Commissioner), Jigawa.
The Senate, on Tuesday, October 13, ordered the police to arrest officers who fatally shot #EndSARS protesters. Senate President, Ahmad Lawan declared that the conduct of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was not acceptable.
Senator Buhari Abdulfatai, presented a motion on the death of a member of his constituency, Jimoh Isiaka and attack on the palace of Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Oladunni Oyewumi. The lawmakers observed a minute silence in honour of Isiaka and other Nigerians that lost their lives to police brutality.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Tuesday, October 13, at plenary, disclosed that the lower legislative chamber will be compensating families of Nigerians who died while protesting against police brutality.
Gbajabiamila, while addressing the House stated that the House was committed to reform of the police, adding that as part of the process, the leadership of the House would meet with the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and other Civil Society Organisations.
The 2023 presidential election would hold on February 18,2023, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed on Thursday, October 15.
In a goodwill message at the inauguration of the Special adhoc committee on the review of the 1999 constitution, the INEC chairman told members of the House of Representatives that there were about 855 days left for the next general election.
On Thursday, October 15, the House of Representatives inaugurated a special committee to be chaired by the Deputy Speaker, Rep. Ahmed Wase, to review  the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Speaking at the ceremony, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said that the 9th House of Representatives had continued to prove to be a catalyst for positive change and development in the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the National Assembly met behind closed doors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja over the #EndSARS protests on Sunday, October 18.
Speaking to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan said the meeting specifically deliberated on how best to address the #EndSARS demonstrations in some parts of the country.
The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) 2020, on Tuesday, October 20, scaled second reading at the Senate after exhaustive debate by senators across party divides and was subsequently referred to the Senate Committee on Petroleum Downstrean, Petroleum Upstream and Gas for further legislative action.
The committee was mandated to report back to the senate after eight weeks as the upper legislative chamber also adjourned plenary for five weeks to give its committees time for consideration of the N13.08 trillion 2021 budget.
The Rivers State House Assembly, during its plenary on Tuesday, October 20, passed a total of 18 bills into law. The bills included those to Amend the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital Bill 2017 and other related matters, and the renaming of Liberation Stadium to Gen. Yakubu Gowon Stadium; Bill seeking to rename Old Aba Road to Yakubu Gowon Road; and the renaming of the newly built judges quarters to Emmanuel Aguma Judges Quarters.
Senate, at plenary, on Tuesday, October 20, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to as soon as possible, address the nation on issues of the EndSARS protest in the country while asking the protesting youths to stop the protest to enable the Federal Government address their demands.
The resolutions were sequel to a point of order motion on “Matters of Urgent National Importance” brought by Sen. Biodum Olujimi (Ekiti PDP).
On Thursday, October 22, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), announced the postponement of 15 by-elections earlier slated for October 31 in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests which had seen hoodlums hijacking the agitations to wreak havoc across the nation.
The National Commissioner and Chairman of INEC’s Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr Festus Okoye disclosed this in a statement.
The United States Government, on Thursday, October 22, condemned the excessive use of force by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government in quelling peaceful #EndSARs protests in parts of the country.
A statement by the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, in Washington D.C. said that the action by the government security agencies failed to meet global best practices of respect for peaceful assembly and the fundamental rights of citizens to freely express their discontent over any anti-people policies of the government.
In a nationwide broadcast, President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, October 22, vowed not to allow anybody to disrupt the peace of the nation amidst violent protests in the country.
He said that his government respected and would continue to respect all the democratic rights and civil liberties of the people, but that it would not allow anybody or groups to disrupt the peace of the nation. “I must warn those who have hijacked and misdirected the initial genuine and well-intended protest of some of our youths in parts of the country, against the excesses of some members of the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS)”, he stressed.
Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, told the BBC on Saturday, October 24, that, at least, 69 people were killed in the protests against police brutality that rocked the country Adesina said President Muhammadu Buhari announced the toll in an emergency meeting with former Nigerian leaders aimed at finding ways to end the unrest, adding that the deaths were mainly civilians but included police-officers and soldiers.
The Rivers State Government, in line with the proscription order of the Federal Government announced a reinforcement of the ban on activities of Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) in the state.
The State governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, in a statewide broadcast reinforcing the proscription of IPOB in the state on Friday, October 23, said no form of procession or agitation by the group or any of its affiliates was allowed to take place in the state henceforth.
He explained that the state government reached the firm conclusion,  having observed that the activities of the banned IPOB were not just dangerous to lives and property, but also constitute clear and present threat to the existential interest and aspirations of Rivers State and her people.
By: Opaka Dokubo
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Okowa Sends Names Of 18 Commissioner- Nominees To Assembly

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Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has forwarded the names of 18 nominees for appointment as commissioners to the state House of Assembly for screening and confirmation.
The names of the nominees were contained in a letter read by the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Chief Sheriff Oborevwori, during plenary of the Assembly in Asaba, yesterday.
The Tide reports that Okowa on May 18, dissolved the State Executive Council.
The 11 former commissioners that have been re-appointed and their portfolios, incelude: Mr Charles Aniagwu, Information, Dr Barry Gbe, Economic Planning, Mr Julius Egbedi, Agriculture and Mr Lawrence Ejiofor, Culture and Tourism.
Others are:  Mr Ifeanyi Egwuyenga, Youths Development, Chief Arthur Akpowowo, Urban Renewal and Chief Festus Ochonogor, Housing, Mrs Flora Alanta, Women Affairs, Mr Churchill Amagada, Lands, Chief Fidelis Tilije, Finance and Mr Chris Onogba, Environment.
The seven new nominees are:  Mr Jonathan Ukodhiko, Mrs  Evelyn Oboro, Mr Noel Omordon, Mrs Rose Esenwu, Princess Shola Ogbemi-Daibo, Mrs Kate Oniawan, and Mr Johnbull Edema.
The speaker directed the nominees to forward 35 copies each of their Curriculum Vitae to the office of the clerk of the assembly on or before June 21.
He called on the nominees to appear for screening and confirmation on June 22.
The Assembly, yesterday, also screened and confirmed the appointments of Justice Theresa Diai as the Chief Judge of Delta State as well as Justice Patience Elumeze as President of Customary Court, Delta State.
The confirmation of the nominees followed a motion moved by the Deputy Majority Leader of the Assembly, Mr Oboro Preyor.
The motion supported by Mr Emeke Nwaobi, member representing Aniocha North Constituency in the state Assembly was unanimously adopted by the Assembly, when it was put to a voice vote by the speaker.

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Anambra Guber: CLO Calls For Level Playing Ground

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The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), an NGO, has urged political parties participating in the November 6 governorship election in Anambra to ensure free, fair, credible and generally acceptable primaries, devoid of acrimony and manipulations.
The Chairman of CLO, Anambra, Mr Vincent Ezekwueme, made the appeal while speaking with newsmen in Enugu, yesterday.
Ezekwueme urged political parties to adhere strictly to the principles of participatory and constitutional democracy; thus ensuring the tenets of internal democracy.
According to him, it is pertinent for party leaders to be honest, transparent and selfless in the conduct of their various primaries.
He urged political delegates to the various primaries to get it right by voting for the most credible, God-fearing, articulate and most qualified candidates that would render selfless service to the citizenry.
The CLO boss advised party delegates to vote with their conscience and conviction, devoid of monetary inducement or influence by political leaders and stakeholders.
“CLO decries with great disdain any attempt to impose candidates on the delegates or unjustifiably screen out or bar some candidates from contesting after collecting outrageous nomination and expression of interest fees, to pave way for emergence of anointed or favoured candidates.
“Significantly, it is only justice that will precipitate credible elections and guarantee peaceful atmosphere before, during and after the elections. This is the best and greatest yearnings and aspirations of all Anambrarians.
“Let all the stakeholders work harmonious with patriotism and selflessness for the conduct of free, fair and credible primaries and the November 6 governorship election,’’ he said.
Ezekwueme noted that any party that could not conduct free and fair primaries would be unable to guarantee and ensure a free election in the main gubernatorial contest.
The CLO boss, however, appealed to all the political parties to zone their governorship candidates to Anambra South Senatorial Zone.
“This appeal is in the spirit of justice, equity, morality and good conscience in tandem with the zoning formula propagated by former Gov. Peter Obi and which has helped douse political tension in the state.
“We commend the unique wisdom and political sagacity of Obi and we implore Anambra political gladiators and stakeholders to respect the zoning arrangement for the interest of peace and unity,’’ he said.

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Ayade And The APC Albatross

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Like Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State before him, Prof. Ben Ayade, Governor of Cross River State, did not take many by surprise when he eventually broke camp with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and pitched tent with the All Progressives Congress (APC), Nigeria’s ruling party at the centre on Thursday, May 20, 2021.
A pointer to the fact that Governor Ayade had long signaled his romance with the APC was evident in the statement of welcome by a party chieftain and one-time leader of the 7th Senate of the Federal Republic, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, when he noted that Ayade had “consciously navigated the ship of governance in sync with the APC-led Federal Government”.
Of course, for a long time, close watchers of the Cross River State Governor had noted how he had openly expressed admiration for the president and leader of the APC while overtly distancing himself from every criticism by the PDP, his party then, against the Federal Government and the ruling party. In fact, it was even obvious to casual observers that all was not well between Ayade and the PDP when he became consistently absent in the meetings of his fellow governors on the platform of the party and other high profile party engagements.
However, there has been some interesting political developments in Cross River State following the defection of the state Chief Executive, and leader of the PDP until that select group of APC governors and other top ranking party leaders stormed the Government House in Calabar to receive him into their fold. Buoyed by the gathering of members of his cabinet, members of the Cross Rivers State House of Assembly led by the Speaker, some National Assembly members from the state, Chairmen of local government councils and their councilors, and other stakeholders in the state including Dame Princess Florence Ita-Giwa and High Chief Asuquo Ekpeyong, Prof. Ayade boldly declared that by virtue of the event of his detection, Cross River State had become an APC state.
As if to prove the point that there could not be another party, particularly the PDP, without the government that he leads, the governor ordered the annexation of the PDP state secretariat and convert all its property into the use of the APC just two days after. Responding to the turn of event at the party secretariat, Christian Ita, Chief Press Secretary to the governor said the PDP could not claim to be the ones to continue to occupy the property as the rent was paid by the governor. He said the rent for the said property was only renewed recently by the same PDP that has now totally collapsed into the APC.
“The same officials of PDP who occupied the property when it was secretariat of the PDP still occupy it, having switched allegiance and moved to the APC with the governor”|, he said.
In a swift reaction, the PDP Federal Lawmakers and Stakeholders Forum in Cross River State dissociated themselves from the governor’s move. Addressing a press conference on Friday, May 21, 2021 in Abuja, the forum pledged to remain in the PDP and declared Cross River State as a stronghold of the party.
“As far as I know, till date, the National Assembly caucus remains intact. I don’t see any of us leaving. We are legacy members of the party who have been in this party for the past 15 to 20 years. So, we are not going anywhere”, Senator Geshan Bassey who spoke on behalf of the lawmakers said, accusing Ayade of not consulting them but insisting that even if he had “we will not follow him”.
On the same occasion, Senator Liyel Imoke, former governor of the state, on behalf of the PDP Stakeholders Forum in Cross River described Ayade’s defection as regrettable, even though not unexpected.
According to Imoke, an overwhelming number of Cross Riverians remains resolute with the PDP, emphasizing that “our key stakeholders, members of the national and state assemblies, and strategic grassroots mobilisers are still members of our great party. We, as a party, therefore, remain virile and strong. Our shell remains uncracked”.
Imoke said “We understand that the people of Cross River, who have stood firmly with the PDP since 1999 and other lovers of the state are deeply disappointed by this move made by a governor, who has won all his elections under the platform of the party. Given the overwhelming support which he enjoyed under the PDP and the fact that PDP has undeniable strong grassroots in the state, we affirm that Cross River remains a PDP state”.
As developments have shown, Governor Ayade may not have had the support of all his close functionaries in his voyage as he has had to offload not less than four of his commissioners and a number of aides believed to still be loyal to the PDP.
In a press statement signed by his CPS/Special Adviser Media and Publicity, Christian Ita, the governor, relieved the appointment of Mr Mike Usibe, Commissioner for New Cities Development; Rita Ayim, Commissioner in charge of Women Affairs, Mr Asu Okang, Commissioner for Information and Ntufam Donatus Etim, Commissioner for Climate Change and Forestry.
On the part of the PDP, the regrouping of forces, especially the return of the likes of former governor Donald Duke, has not been without hitches.
Recently, the state caretaker committee chairman and secretary of the party were constrained to issue a warning to party stalwarts to restrain themselves from unguarded statements capable of causing division among their ranks. “The party will like to caution all stakeholders that this is a time for rebuilding, restoration and reconciliation. It is not a time for trading blames.
“The larger purpose of the development of Cross River State should remain our unwavering focus and should insulate party stakeholders from all other distractions”, the statement said in reaction to unauthenticated social media post by Ex-Governor Donald Duke accusing his successor in office, Senator Liyel Imoke of running a dictatorial administration.
The party, however, commended the courage of former governor Duke for returning to the party at such a time as this, hoping that his return would further strengthen the party to face the new threat posed by the APC and Governor Ben Ayade.
“We congratulate His Excellency Donald Duke for finding the courage to re-join the party on whose platform he twice contested and won elections as governor of Cross River State.
“It is our firm belief that his coming back to the party is not only indicative of the party’s strength in the state, but more importantly, will help in rebuilding a strong and virile party”, the statement said.
Prof Ben Ayade may have left the PDP but it is difficult to say if the PDP has left Cross River State. With the regrouping of battle-tested war horses in the state under the umbrella, the governor and his new party may have to work extra hard to dislodge the deep roots of the PDP in the state.
Asked how the governor’s move will affect the fortunes of the PDP in coming elections in the state, Senator Imoke said. “I think in the past, you would see that states that have that type of strength, irrespective of a defection, tend at all times to remain strong. There’s a reason for that. What you perceive as power will determine how you lead. If you perceive power to be a political party, then you will be moving from one political party to another, but if you understand that power ultimately is the people, and that it belongs to the people, you’ll appreciate that it’s not about the party.
“PDP in Cross River State has always been about the people and I think we still remain about the people; so the party has endeared itself to the people and as such a movement by the governor does not, of its own, translate to the people moving into another political party because they have already identified strongly with the party-the PDP. It is sort of like what you have in the United States and other countries where there are strongholds – a state like California, it is defined as a Democratic stronghold. Cross River State is a PDP stronghold”.
Even Ayade himself is without a doubt that Cross River State is a PDP stronghold but for how long this stronghold will hold is what is now being put to test as the governor has already made inroads into the traditional institution from whom he has extracted the same commitment and support they had always given to successive governors and their political agenda.
However, politics is about politicians and Victor Ndoma-Egba tells Ayade: “As you join us in the progressives fold, my expectation is that your coming will enrich our internal democracy and I enjoin you to be consultative, inclusive, democratic, transparent and accountable because these are the hallmarks of the All Progressives Congress family. I also expect that your presence in the APC will further strengthen the party and improve our electoral fortunes in Cross River State”.
Ndoma-Egba’s expectations are not just his expectation and those of the members of the APC in Cross River alone, they were the same expectations of the party faithful in Rivers State in 2015 and the ones in Edo State through the reign of Adams Aliu Oshiomohole. Whether the APC members in the Peoples Paradise will have a different experience remains to be seen.
What is certain is that the South-South region has not been a welcoming environment for the APC and it does not appear as it is ready to change that disposition just yet because of Prof. Ayade. He may just soon find out that what could flourish in the Southeast may require humongous effort to sprout on South-South soil.

By: Opaka Dokubo

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