The leadership of the Action Alliance, yesterday, besieged the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja to protest an alleged disregard for court orders by top officials of the agency.
The party faithful chanted solidarity songs and displayed placards containing various inscriptions to protest an alleged move by some INEC officials to frustrate their political party.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards read, “INEC, stop your rascality now, ‘Judiciary, save our democracy from INEC impunity’, INEC must obey order of Justice Agbaza’, and ‘INEC stop your executive lawlessness now.”
Addressing the representatives of the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, the National Chairman of the AA, Chief Kenneth Udeze, said the party would no longer tolerate any form of lawlessness from any officials of the electoral umpire.
Udeze lamented that INEC always preferred to choose the court order to obey even when it was obvious that favourable cases were always decided by the authentic party executive.
He specifically cited the case involving the forthcoming Anambra Governorship election when the INEC allegedly chose to ignore favourable court rulings towards the party leadership and recognise the candidate of another faction.
He said, “We implore you, to quickly intervene on this urgent matter, and resolve this anomaly by accepting our candidates (governorship and deputy governorship alike) as the authentic flag bearers for the Anambra State Governorship.
‘Your commission out of over zealousness and lawlessness refused to give effects to the orders and findings of courts of competent jurisdiction because it is compromised through some of your staff, who must be made to declare truly their interest in Action Alliance and the reason to destroy our party.
“You will agree with us that Action Alliance has supported your tenure as INEC Chairman, as our party through the National Chairman – Chief Kenneth Udeze, publicly and copiously supported your administration as INEC chairman, pre and post 2019 general election.
“We are left with no option than to assist you do your job as it has become obvious that there are some external forces that are blackmailing INEC from doing the needful.
“Sir, an important component in a political system is leadership, and an Institution such as INEC is expected to deliver credible and uncompromising stance to all political parties.
“It is not right that your goodwill shall be undermined by your line staff, which for a porridge of yam, could destroy yet irreparably, an already dwindling status of a supposed unbiased umpire.”
The AA chairman challenged the National Assembly Committee on INEC at both chambers to ensure oversight function that would expose INEC officials who are allegedly collaborating with external forces to destroy political parties.
He said, “It is worthy that the National Assembly Committee on INEC should rise up to their legitimate responsibility of oversight in the activities of INEC, especially as it concerns some compromised staff of this commission with a view to unknot the avoidable causes of pre-election cases by recalcitrant political parties that work in connivance with INEC staff.
“This is necessary, to support most of the credible staff of the commission, who understand the dynamics of working within the ambits of the law, to manage and spend the financial appropriation made in its favour, for the overall benefits of the masses and tax payers.
“We advise, though humbly too, that you investigate and remedy these anomalies, and if you so wish; permit us as a party, we can help to unravel part of the mystery behind this Impunity and other inimical activities going on in your office.
“A situation where the commission will be comfortable to ignore relevant court judgement is not encouraging, and also, some other uncomplimentary activities which is tarnishing your image must be investigated and dealt with urgently.
“A situation where INEC is collaborating with enemies of our party to create an imaginary division or infraction in order to satisfy the interest of some pay masters is not worthy to be tolerated by Action Alliance (AA), let alone the INEC as an institution.
“We don’t want to be coerced to start naming for public notice those involved, but it may be considered if the commission don’t act fast on this matter of urgent importance.
“We have it in good authority that majority of Nigerian electorates are aware that this is the only time to fully participate to remedy all forms of injustice by your staff and salient acts of subversion bedevilling our electoral process, which might also discredit or mar the activities of the 2023 general election.
“Not really the election itself. If INEC does not purge itself from compromised staff, then this present leadership of INEC must be watched by critical stakeholders.
“How can you explain the situation where INEC who is supposed to be an unbiased umpire, is seen dealing and hobnobbing with opponents of the party’s National Executive Committee openly in court and outside the court.
“This is travesty of justice, please make things right Sir. We have the video clips and their audio is audible for everyone to hear.
“It appears that this same INEC staff, has accepted to be used by external forces (politicians from other parties, especially in APC) to hijack the party.
“They are doing this by facilitating every form of illegality and sabotage against the leadership of Chief Kenneth Udeze – led National Executive and we have come to officially inform you that we cannot allow such intimidation to stand or thrive, not under our leadership.”
Shell Donates Subsea Training Facilities To UNIPORT
The Nigeria deep-water arm of global energy giant, Shell, has donated multimillion naira laboratory equipment and software packages to the Offshore Technology Institute of the University of Port Harcourt as part of the company’s Nigerian content human capital development programme delivered in collaboration with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Speaking at a ceremony to hand over the facilities to the university, last Thursday, Managing Director, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCo), Mrs. Elohor Aiboni, said, “The donations are aimed at strengthening advanced practical teaching and research in subsea engineering to give the students the required skills and competences for entry level jobs in the oil and gas industry”.
The facilities, valued at over $700,000, are in alignment with the Human Capacity Development Guideline of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
Aiboni, represented by SNEPCo’s Social Investment Manager, Dr. Gloria Udoh, expressed optimism that with the level of investment by NNPC and SNEPCo in deep-water training via the establishment centres of excellence and donation of cutting-edge information and communication technology centres, among others, Nigerian oil and gas industry would surpass its local content aspiration earlier than projected.
“This investment anchored on the maintenance of subsea infrastructure on Nigeria’s pioneer deep offshore field, Bonga, is expected to develop and upskill the cognitive and technical abilities of students who pass through the Offshore Technology Institute for the ultimate benefit of our industry and of our country,” Aiboni added.
With the new laboratory and software packages, according to Aiboni, the Offshore Technology Institute is positioned to deliver effective training in engineering design; construction and installation of offshore and subsea structures; computer simulations; civil and construction tests; 3D printing/engravement capability; Measurement/Metering Technology and Robotics; Alternative Energy Technologies; and Data Acquisition Learning System.
In his remarks, Vice Chancellor, University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Onwunari Georgewill, commended NNPC and SNEPCo with its co-venture partners for their goodwill to the university and particularly to OTI, and canvassed more areas of collaboration between the university and its industry partners.
Georgewell said, “This project’s completion is timely because it latches on to the university’s leadership philosophy, which focuses on advancing education through an integrated learning environment to produce industry-ready university graduates and workforce.
“The current administration of the university places a lot of emphasis on university and industry collaboration and partnership. This donation will therefore enhance the achievement of the postgraduate degree-awarding Offshore Technological Institute in the practical context.”
Also speaking, Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr. Simbi Wabote, described the human capital initiatives of SNEPCo as commendable.
Wabote added, “I commend your remarkable and consistent collaboration and partnership with the NCDMB towards the development of in-country capacities and capabilities.”
Represented by NCDMB General Manager, Corporate Service and Logistics, Mr Halilu Abdulmalik, Wabote said, “Your Nigerian content initiatives are consistent with the objectives and aspirations of NCDMB’s 10-year strategic roadmap, and we hope that necessary adjustments will be made to the curriculum to ensure optimal utilization by students in the university community.”
Obasanjo, Osinbajo, Wike, Others Bag CAN Awards
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, Emeritus Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and Mummy Esther Ajayi, were among prominent Nigerians who received awards at the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Sapphire awards in Abuja, last weekend.
Others, including Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, and Chief Arthur Eze, also received awards at the event; while the kidnapped Dapchi school, Leah Sharibu, won in the Young Christian Achiever award category.
Former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, and Goodluck Jonathan, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustafa, and some Christian governors, serving and past National Assembly members bagged awards.
The awards were part of activities for CAN’s 45th Anniversary Sapphire Celebration Dinner and Award Night.
Earlier in his welcome address, CAN National President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, had said that the gathering was to celebrate 45 years of the church in Nigeria.
He said that Governance Category awards were for Christians in politics who had shown excellent and remarkable services.
“These include past presidents, serving governors and senators in our assessment that deserve such award.
“An award ceremony is applause of vision, personal discipline and determination; it is an event like this that makes people feel that their works are valued.
“The award is a catalyst that is expected to reinforce the awardees to serve humanity more and more,’’ he said.
The CAN president said it was heart breaking that majority of those in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps were Christians who were displaced by religious fanatics, bandits and gunmen in their territories.
He solicited the awardees’ financial support in fulfilling some of CAN’s obligations to fellow Christians and bringing to fruition the association’s projects.
Obasanjo, who was represented by the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, was the special guest of honour at the awards.
Obasanjo said that the award was significant in that it would encourage other citizens to serve humanity, adding “I will continue to do the best I can to uphold the principles of justice, love, equity, mutual respect, industry and the fear of God which epitomise the church of Christ until there’s no breath left in me.”
While showing appreciation to CAN on behalf of all the award recipients, VP Osinbajo said Nigerians needed to be more tolerant of other people’s views.
The vice president dedicated the award to those who, daily in different locations, distant and near, propagated the message of the love and reconciliation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, sometimes in difficult and life-threatening situations.
He said that the awardees were not necessarily the most deserving of Christians to be given any recognition but by the special grace of God which placed them in the high capacity they served.
He said, “As we have seen in the past few years, there’s a growing ethnic and religious chauvinism, and almost intemperate, vehement and violent dismissal of the views of people of other persuasions and faith without adequate consideration.
“At the same time, there is also the rise of cultural and identity politics. The answer to hate and intolerance and conflicts is the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must believe enough in it, to live it out as our article of faith.
“The gospel commands consideration of the views of others, treating them we would wish to be treated. Our words must be of grace, seasoned with salt.
“We must remain constant and relentless advocates of freedom of worship, respect for human rights, fairness, justice, rule of law because they are fundamental to peace and security. We cannot talk of peace and security without fairness and justice, and compliance with the rule of law.
“We are in the advantageous position that our contribution will be more easily noticed.
“So, this award is dedicated to the men who, daily in different locations, distant and near propagate this message of the love and reconciliation of the gospel of Jesus Christ in sometimes even difficult and life-threatening situations.
“And to many who have suffered deprivations, the families of those who have lost their lives by reason of their belief.
“And we are deeply grateful to the Almighty God for the opportunity and enablement to serve in the positions to which we have been referred.
“I bring, also, the very warm felicitations of the President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government of Nigeria on the 45th anniversary of the birth of this foremost association of Nigerian Christians.
“CAN was formed to, among other objectives, nurture the unity of the church in Nigeria and to work with the leaders of other faith and persuasions to build bridges and forge understanding, peace and unity among the various people and faith in our nation.
“CAN has not only been continually faithful to its founding vision, it has become a veritable force for peace, for unity and for social justice.
“Pursuant to the gospel, CAN has consistently spoken up on behalf of the least of those in our society,’’ he said.
He said that the current and past leaderships of CAN had acted in full realiasation and recognition of their roles as pivotal stakeholders alongside the government and private sector in nation building.
Earlier, Senator Rochas Okorocha, who noted the dire financial condition of the umbrella Christian organisation in the country, advised clerics to tone down their criticism of those in authority.
He said, “I just want to caution some Christian pastors concerning the way we use our pulpit and the kind of fire of insults and abuses that comes from there. When you abuse those who will give you money where will you get the money.
“The Bible says to pray for those in authority. You need to draw your leaders close. When you draw us closer and tell us what your problems are, it will energise us to help. Money will flow more than you need.”
Also, Imam Abubakar Abdullahi, who sheltered no fewer than 200 Christians in Barkin Ladi, Plateau, during an attack, was presented with the Special Recognition award.
The late Obadiah Mailafia, former CBN Deputy Governor, was given a post-humous award of Spokesperson for Oppressed alongside Matthew Kukah, Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Sokoto and Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana.
Awards were also given to best candidates in the 2020 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination and Senior School Certificate Examination.
Highlight of the event was the cutting of the anniversary cake.
Bandits Free 10 More Kaduna Baptist Students, Keep 11
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), yesterday, confirmed that 10 more students of Bethel Baptist School in Kaduna State have been released.
The Vice President of CAN (19 Northern States and Abuja) and its Chairman in Kaduna State, Rev. Joseph John Hayab, said this in a short WhatsApp message to newsmen.
He said, “Ten more students of Baptist High School were released this afternoon. We have 11 now with bandits.
“We are thanking all Nigerians for their prayers and support.
“We are trusting God that the rest will be released very soon. All have been reunited with their parents.”
Earlier, 10 students of Bethel Baptist School in Kaduna were released on Saturday, September 18, after spending 74 days captivity of terrorists, with 22 others still being held.
Hayab had said, “10 students were released this (Saturday) evening and have reunited with their parents. We are now hoping for the remaining 21 who are still with the bandits.”
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