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Why Orji Kalu, Arthur Eze Parted Ways

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The dramatic emergence of a member of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife as the flag-bearer of the Progressives Peoples’ Alliance (PPA) in the February 2010 governorship election in Anambra State was the proverbial last straw that irredeemably broke down the relationship between a former Governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu and chief PPA financier in the state, Prince Arthur Eze, The Tide source has uncovered.
Eze, an international oil tycoon had at a colourful ceremony in Awka at the weekend led hordes of PPA supporters, including his protégé and south east chairman of the party, Chief Austin Ndigwe, to dump PPA. They instantly embraced the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which has lately been on a roller coaster in the state.
Investigations reveal that the relationship between Kalu and Arthur Eze had lately been frosty; with the later openly complaining that he had been edged out of running of the party in Anambra State. Eze had also reportedly frowned at the handling of the last party congress where his choice lost out to Hon. Tony Igboka who emerged chairman.
The billionaire businessman had somehow managed to comport himself but that the centre gave the moment it dawn on him that Ekwunife had by the sleight of the hand trounced his candidate and nephew, Okey. That was when Ezenukpo realised he had overstayed his welcome in PPA, volunteered a source.
Ezenukpo (Arthur Eze) was miffed by the fact that Ekwunife, a PDP member who joined the party a few hours to the PPA primary crushingly defeated his nephew Okey, whom Orji Kalu had sworn to hand the ticket. It was based on this pact that Ezenukpo pumped millions of naira into Anambra PPA at a time nobody would risk touching it with a pole, no matter how long.
“What was more, Ezenukpo was totally exasperated at the obvious helplessness of his legman Ndigwe who, though regional chairman was at the primary checkmated and rendered powerless by the party’s state chairman, Chief Tony Igboka, who became chairman, protests by Eze and Ndigwe notwithstanding,” a source close to the oil tycoon offered.
The source revealed that Arthur Eze felt particularly betrayed that, having invested so much time and money into the PPA project, Kalu clandestinely approached Emeka Etiaba and Ekwunife to contest the party’s governorship ticket with his nephew for whom he had already secured the ticket.
“We got information on how Senator Annie Okonkwo, for whom Ekwunife is keeping the ticket, brought money. Plenty of it. Once the money came, Kalu now began to look the other way as Igboka and other party officers on their side hijacked the delegates’ tags and gave them to PDP members to vote in PPA primary! That was how a PDP member became our flag-bearer overnight,” lamented one PPA officer.
Indications that all was not well with PPA emerged a couple of months ago during the state congress of the party where Igboka, a former member of Anambra State House of Assembly, was returned in very controversial circumstances. Brushing aside several spirited attempts by Eze through Ndigwe to make the party’s national leadership in Abuja reject Igboka, the party forwarded his name to the Independent National Electoral Commission as the authentic chairman.
The stakes heightened last month when Ndigwe confronted the party’s deputy national chairman for setting up a committee in Anambra State chapter of the party without his knowledge. Apart from being threatened with expulsion, Ndigwe, according to party sources, from that time was never brought into the picture of goings on in Anambra PPA. This, the sources insist, largely contributed to the humiliating defeat suffered by Eze’s nephew in the hands of a rookie PPA member, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife.
However, another source close to the former Abia State governor dismissed as “hogwash” suggestions that Kalu shortchanged Arthur in the running of Anambra PPA.
“What nonsense!” fumed the source. “Ezenukpo for sure thinks this is the Abacha era where he played God. He is a very notorious godfather. Imagine that his lack of stomach for democracy made him install Uzuawka (Ndigwe) chairman of Awka south LGA even when all knew that they won not more than four wards in the council.. He bribed his way to the tribunal and got judgment in his protégé’s favour.
“This is 2009, for crying out loud! How would a party grow by remaining the personal property of a political relic? For God’s sake, we are talking about PPA that produced two governors and several members of the National Assembly. You want to keep the party in your bedroom? We said, No! Open it up. Let Okeke and Okafor join so we can become a household name in the South east, and then Nigeria. We are tired of exhuming mummified political fathers. If he’s chosen to return to his vomit in PDP, good luck. We in PPA can’t be bothered,” he declared.
From the ashes of defeat, however, Arthur Eze, who is not new to the turbulence in politics, has reportedly moved on. Aside from donating a whopping N10 million to PDP, the billionaire tycoon whose company owns Block OML 109, located just 12 miles off the shores of Nigeria, has reportedly vowed to stop PPA from winning Anambra “even if that would cost him N2 billion.”
Those who should know insist that Eze is not a man that shies away from spending sprees particularly when his ego has been bruised. “OML 109, encompassing some 773 square kilometers, is estimated to hold over 2.2 billion barrels of crude oil, so you know what that means” a source quipped.
Eze was clearly the most influential figure from the South east from the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida through that of the late General Sani Abacha. When Eze wasn’t ordering pilots of his now defunct Triax Airlines around, he was “sacking” military administrators who failed to do his bidding.
He has consistently supplied oxygen to Ndigwe’s political life beginning from the early 1990s when he bulldozed the former PPA officer into becoming the chairman of Awka South council in Anambra State. He was also reportedly instrumental in installing Ndigwe’s sister, Eucharia Anazodo chairman of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) during the Babangida regime.

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CAN Accuses El-Rufai Of Hidden Agenda

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The Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has accused Governor Nasir El-Rufai of engaging in politics with civil servants and residents of the state.
This was contained in a statement issued on Tuesday by the state chairman of CAN, Rev. John Joseph Hayab, in the aftermath of the pronouncement of a four-day work week by the governor.
El-Rufai had said the state government would begin implementing the transitional arrangement in the public service starting from December 1, 2021.
However, the CAN Chairman urged caution, stating that the citizens of the state had been subjected to pains by this government through some of its unpopular policies.
He advised civil servants in the state not to celebrate the policy yet until they were convinced that there was no hidden agenda behind it.
“Workers must be sure that the policy is not aimed at reducing their salaries.
“They must be convinced that the government will not wake up one day with another shocking news of salary reduction since the five working days have been reduced to four.”
“How can a state that is not secured talk about giving workers time for agriculture and be with family when bandits move about freely, terrorising people in their homes, on the farms, and on the highways!
“How can one spend time with family when you have nothing to feed them or provide for their basic needs?” he said.

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Meagre Allocation Stalls Adamawa LG Polls

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The Adamawa State Independent Electoral Commission (ADSIEC) has postponed the December 4 local government council polls indefinitely due to  lack of funds.
ADSIEC Information Officer, Innocent Daniel, said on Monday that the commission was awaiting funds from the government to conduct a free, fair and transparent election.
“Among the major challenges that led to the postponement of the election was the meagre allocation to the commission in the state’s 2021 budget.
“The allocation is too meagre for the commission to organise and conduct the election.
“Also, the re-usable election materials such as ballot boxes, duty vests, bags and kits were completely vandalised during the #Endsars protest,” he said.
The Information officer said that the commission was also faced with the problem of handling the new polling units that were converted from voting points by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He said that the conversion had raised the polling units in the state from 2,609 to 4,104.
“This development will lead to an increase in facilities and ad hoc staff. The ongoing registration of new voters will also have a resultant increase in ballot paper requirements.
“It is in this regard that the preparations for the local government council election for December 4, is hereby suspended to give the government time to source for funds,” Mr Daniel said.

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2023: Northern Youths Urge Old Politicians To Steer Clear

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Politicians above 60 years of age have been urged to stay away from the presidential race come 2023.
The appeal was made by the leadership of the Concerned Northern Youth Forum (CNYF) in Kaduna yesterday.
They argued that in developed nations, people of that age and experience were mostly engaged in charitable activities, free consultancy services and other forms of selfless services.
The spokesman of the group, Comrade Abdulsalam Moh’d Kazeem, called on youths to take advantage of the “not too young to rule”  to participate actively in the political arena.
Also, a north-based group has tasked Nigerian youths to join politics to free the country of bad governance.
Coordinator of the group, National Youth Movement for Good Governance, Nasiru Aliyu, who disclosed this at a news briefing in Kaduna, said Nigeria requires young hands that can work assiduously to address its developmental challenges.
Meanwhile, some stakeholders in the North Central zone and bigwigs of the PDP in the region, have thrown their weight behind the candidature of Bukola Saraki in the 2023 presidency.
The group, led by Professor Iyorwuese Hagher, stated this on Monday during the advocacy committee meeting for Saraki with party members and delegations from across the zone at the Nasarawa State party secretariat in Lafia.
An associate of Saraki, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, urged the party to consider Saraki as its presidential candidate for 2023 to salvage the country from total collapse.
Also, the campaign team of a former presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Monday met with the party’s officials and stakeholders from the three senatorial districts of Benue State over the 2023 general elections.
The leader of the team, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, said they were in Benue as forerunners of Atiku to consult with the elders of the PDP in the state and ask them for support for their principal who will be contesting the presidential poll in 2023.
Similarly, a support group, Tinubu Legacy Forum (TLF), has said the national leader of the ruling APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is not too old to contest the presidency.
While 69-year-old Tinubu has not formally declared his presidential interest, his recent visitations and series of support groups, rooting for him, show his interest in contesting the 2023 presidency, probably under the APC.
Addressing newsmen on Monday in Abuja, the Coordinator, TLF, FCT Chapter, Barrister Abdullahi Awwal Muhammad, said Tinubu was not too old to contest for the presidency.
In Lagos, a Yoruba group yesterday endorsed the former Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha as the next president. The group, under the aegis of Oduduwa Sons and Daughters for Equity and Justice, declared that the Yoruba people have decided to support a South-Easterner as successor to President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

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