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Governorship: Agbaso Waits On The Doorsteps Of Justice

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Slowly and steadily, Martin Agbaso, the Imo State governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) is inching his way to the state house after nearly three years of legal contention arising from the way and manner the 2007 governorship election in the state was mishandled to produce a pre-determined result. It is true that there was virtually nothing to write home about the entire farce that was passed as the 2007 election but the manner it was manipulated in Imo State to produce the present occupant of the state governorship stool stands out. The contradictions in the decision to void the election of Martin Agbaso on the contentious ground that it was marred with violence while upholding a state assembly election cast in the one and same ballot had gone to show another version of the general atrophy that was visited on the Imo governorship election in 2007. This singular faux pas will certainly point the way to the fact that there was more selfish and ulterior consideration in the decision to nullify an election that had been concluded than the flimsy one proffered by the Maurice Iwu-led INEC. The last nail was driven into the attempt by INEC and the Ohakim government to ward off the Agbaso challenge by the Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously on September 29th that it was wrong for the two parties to attempt to prevent Agbaso from demanding justice in a glaring case that will go a long way to define the sanctity of the electoral system in Nigeria. The court was unequivocal that the arguments Ohakim and INEC have been proffering on why Agbaso should not press for the validation of his mandate are trite and meaningless and it saw the clear effort on the sides of the two parties to waste time and ensure that even when Agbaso gets justice, such will amount to a pyrrhic victory because Ohakim would have succeeded in illegally exercising his mandate. I believe it was such concern on the side of the legal team of Agbaso that made the Supreme Court to counsel Agbaso to exercise patience since his mandate will start counting from the day he is sworn-in if he wins his case. This was made on the 23rd June 2009, when his counsels, apparently feeling uncomfortable with the more than five months adjournment of the case Ohakim instituted at the Supreme Court to question the jurisdiction of the Appeal Court to hear Agbaso’ s case, sought an accelerated hearing of the case. With the dismissal of the Ohakim case by the Supreme Court and the ordering for an accelerated hearing at the Appeal Court, it is obvious to INEC and Ohakim that the game is at the finishing ends. There is no better way to show this than at the Appeal Court, at the resumed hearing when the counsels for both teams were reciting trite and mute issues that have become boring fairy tales, even to their own ears. The point is clear and concise. Could INEC graciously locate where it secured the power to cancel an election that had been concluded? It is that simple and clear! Pressed further, one would go to question how violence (some say, Iwu-induced tsunami) made a clean choice of one of the two ballot papers cast in the same ballot box. If we care to go further, could INEC locate these hair-raising cases of violence, where they occurred and who and who caused them? At least, these are parts of the processes of electoral conduct. Truth is that INEC is peddling a cock-and-bull story to justify an obvious illegality. There was indeed an election in Imo State on April 14,2007. There was no significant case of violence in any part of Imo State. Martin Agbaso was the undisputed winner in the results collated in over 95 per cent of the state and was waiting to be declared winner. Somehow, Iwu felt that his fellow Mbano man should be the governor and made this plea to Obasanjo and he was granted his request. Pronto, an election that was almost concluded, was aborted in the same manner as the June 12 annulment-a case the late Chief MKO Abiola aptly captured as aborting a baby that was already born. Iwu now reached to his kinsman, Ikedi Ohakim and a sham process that never took place in over 80 per cent of the state was organised. The results must have been concluded before the mockery of a process even started and with no poster, no campaign office and no supporters, Ikedi Ohakim became governor. He rewarded Iwu by making his brother the Secretary to Government, his daughter, an Adviser and his in-law, a Special Assistant to Ohakim! Faced with the collapse of the weak and untenable argument of violence and the sparse reasoning that Agbaso forfeited his right to ask for his mandate by allegedly contesting in the purported election of April 28 (apologies to the Court of Appeal), INEC and Ohakim are grasping on straws for survival. But it is clear that their survival in this case would be impugning the electoral process by granting INEC with powers the constitution never allows it. While the argument about violence has seemingly collapsed, the one of participating in what is obviously an illegal concoction on April 28 is hollower. The case that has progressed so far to the Appeal Court was instituted at an Abuja High Court on April 18, which not only predates the April 28 purported election but also Ohakim’ s wild fantasy that he would ever be governor and not the has-run, which clearly was his intent in joining the Imo governorship race. There is this whistle acknowledgment among Ohakim’s men and INEC itself that Ohakim will not survive the present legal onslaught and is therefore, working for alternative options. Apart from allegedly ferrying some choreographed so-called Imo elders to Abuja to President Yar’ Adua to intervene in the case and save him and practically adopting the Sultan of Sokoto as his father, in the hope the he would intervene in his favour, he is putting his eggs in several baskets. There is this speculation that INEC and Ohakim are hoping that the Appeal Court, in its expected judgment will force the issue to a stalemate. This, they hope will obtain in the court ordering INEC to officially release the results of the April 14 election. There is this muted idea that if that is the case, INEC will manufacture a fresh result that will favour Ohakim who practically did not contest the April 18 election! A real wild card indeed! Questioning the validity of the results tendered by Agbaso on the grounds that they had not been officially declared by INEC does not remove anything from the validity of the results. The questioning is akin to the contention of the pro-June 12 annulment school that Abiola was not the winner of the June 12 election because the electoral body at that time didn’t get to officially announce them. Mere academic exercise that does not affect the validity of the results as collated up to the states and in the case of Agbaso, up to the local governments. While one may not put anything behind the kind of thinking that brought the Ohakim mandate and has so far sustained it, one should point out that such an attempt will not only fall flat but will further expose the dubiety in INEC. Election results for the governorship are collated at the polling booths, wards, local governments and at the state levels. The results are merely formally declared at the state level and any candidate can simply get his results from all his agents in all the wards. The declaration sought from INEC is merely formal and contrary to their thinking, INEC is not the only institution that can have the results so it will not only be foolhardy to resort to such tactics if eventually the Appeal or Supreme Court orders INEC to release the results of the April 14 election. But we believe that the Appeal or Supreme Court can easily avoid this mischief by giving an explicit ruling based on the results which have been made available at the court since the court started and which before now, have not been contradicted by either INEC or Ohakim. This is after it had established that INEC acted beyond its known powers by annulling an election that has been virtually concluded and merely awaiting its official endorsement. As it is now, the thick pall of media hustlers in Ohakim’s payroll, hiding under various pseudonyms, are running amok in the media, trying to be judges in a case where their argument has virtually collapsed. They are repeating the old, tiring tunes that have been discarded at the courts and they want the Appeal Court to invest INEC with strange powers to call their whims into play in elections and announce results as they deem fit. All these are tailored towards ensuring that Ohakim survives a clearly impending rustication. One believes that the judges that sit at the Appeal Court are not fools that could be confused by paid media hirelings to approve an illegality that will certainly worsen the corruption-ridden electoral system we have in Nigeria today. Everything points to the fact that Agbaso stands at the very doorsteps of victory and every eye is turned to the Appeal Court as Nigerians await its judgment on the lmo governorship election. Nwahiri wrote in from Mushin, Lagos. Stephen Nwahiri

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APC Denies Zoning Chairmainship To N’Central

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) has denied zoning its national chairmanship position to the North Central.
The National Secretary, APC Caretaker and Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Sen. James Akpanudoedehe, said this on Monday in Abuja when he spoke with newsmen.
Akpanudoedehe was reacting to a media report that the party had zoned the position to the North Central, adding that the issue of zoning was not part of the mandates of the CECPC.
“I have the mandate to report that whatever decision the CECPC takes and to the best of my knowledge the committee has not discussed zoning,’’ he said.
He added that with the party‘s national convention slated for February 2022, it was expected that party members would come up with different zoning speculations.
“People are just flying what will favour their interest, all I know is that the caretaker committee has not discussed or reached a zoning decision,’’ he said.
Also, Senator Victor Lar, Media Director, Sen. Ali-Modu Sheriff Campaign Organisation, said that the report was laughable describing it as figment of the imagination of those who planted it.
Senator Ali-Modu Sheriff, a two-term governor of Borno State, is a frontline aspirant for the APC chairmanship.
“We find the purported story as very laughable because the organs of the party that are supposed to communicate that kind of information are not the ones communicating it.
“For that reason, we will take it with a pinch of salt.
“Again, the APC as a party has never adopted zoning, therefore, the story of it zoning the national championship to the North Central can better be described as a figment of the imaginations of those who planted it.
“We find the report as the very poor scheming of people who are scared of contesting the position with Sheriff,’’ Lar said.
He said it was obvious that Sheriff’s hard work and his manner of campaign had unsettled other aspirants.
This, he said, was especially because he had gained unprecedented support from party members and critical stakeholders from across the country.
Lar added that the race for the APC national chairmanship was an open contest, saying that the best candidate should be allowed to emerge.
He said this was necessary for the party to be galvanised for victory in the 2023 general elections.
He said that Sheriff- a two-term governor of Borno State remained the best candidate for the APC national chairmanship.  On the approval given by President Muhammadu Buhari for the party‘s National Convention to hold in February 2022, Lar said there was a need for the National Executive Committee (NEC) to meet and rectify the date. “Though we had commended the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) for taking the initiative to meet with Buhari on the need for the party’s National Convention to be conducted.

“The decision to hold the convention in February 2022 has to be taken by the party’s NEC. The president does not have the constitutional powers to call for a meeting.

“Neither do the governors elected on the party’s platform. It is only the party’s NEC that can take such a decision as regards when its national convention will hold.

“The February date must therefore be rectified by the party’s NEC to make it constitutional,” he said.

Lar appealed to APC members and Sheriff‘s teeming supporters to remain calm and focused.

“We are on course and victory is certain.
“I want to assure that Sheriff will work amicably and with an open heart with everyone, irrespective of religion and tribe when he becomes the party national chairman by God’s grace and with their support,” he said.

 

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No Father Christmas In Politics, Ayu Tells Youths

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The incoming National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Iyorchia Ayu, has charged youths not to fold their arms and wait for power-shift but rise to the challenge of leadership at various levels, noting that power is never given on a platter of gold.
He gave the charge at when a delegation of Benue youths, under the auspices of Benue Transition Mentees (BTM), paid him a courtesy visit at his Maitama residence in Abuja, recently.
Youths in the country have consistently accused old politicians of sitting tight in power and denying them the opportunity to govern.
But Ayu, a former Senate president, who advised Nigerian youths to channel their energy into the right direction, said the future belonged to youths who prepared themselves.
“We often hear that youths are the leaders of tomorrow, but that is not automatic. The future really belongs to youths who follow their passions, who prepare themselves and who go after what they want.
“There are youths who are doing drugs, who are into all sorts of vices like kidnapping, prostitution, what they call Yahoo-yahoo. Some make up the battalions in the banditry ravaging the country. The future does not belong to these.
“Organise yourselves, mobilise your large constituency and go for what you want, including public office. There is no Father Christmas in politics.
“Sometimes, young people forget that many of us started out on this route as young men too. I became a graduate at 23, got my PhD at 31, was a senior lecturer at 37 and was elected to the Senate at 39 where my colleagues made me Senate President at 40. I can say that for others too.
“And in many of these outings, we successfully competed against older, more experienced people. So, when youths say, ‘Give us a chance,’ I tell them, ‘Chance is not always a gift. Power is never given on a platter or in a parcel.’ So, mobilise and take your chance as we march to 2023,” he said.
Meanwhile, allies of a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, under the aegis of Waziri Atiku Political Family and Associates (WAPFA) have appealed to Nigerians to return the PDP to power in 2023.
They also called on PDP leaders across the six geopolitical zones to rise above partisanship, regional interest and endorse Atiku as consensus presidential candidate for the election.
A statement yesterday by the WAPFA National Coordinator, Deacon Elijah Afolabi, said PDP would rescue Nigerians from what he described as mis-governance.
But reacting, the Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON) and a chieftain of the APC, Osita Okechukwu, in a statement yesterday said the PDP cannot be trusted.
He argued that the PDP had been in power for 16 years but failed to deliver good governance to the masses.
“How can Nigerians trust our sister political party, the PDP given their antecedents riddled with trust deficit? We know that times are hard; it is better to allow APC to fix Nigeria,” he said.

 

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Orji Blasts Sit-Tight Politicians

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The immediate-past Governor of Abia State, and Senator representing Abia Central, Senator Theodore Orji, has said that re-cycling of expired politicians and the refusal of sit-tight politicians to vacate the political space for the younger ones are the reasons Nigeria is not making much progress in governance.
Senator Orji, who stated this while addressing newsmen in Umuahia, restated that his decision to quit elective position come 2023 was irrevocable. He said that his decision to bow out at the completion of his second tenure at the Senate was to allow the young generation prove their mettle.
Orji argued that there was no way the Not Too Young to Run Act signed into law in 2018 would be effectively implemented without the cooperation of the old politicians.
According to Senator Orji,  the Not Too Young to Run Act will remain a paper tiger until the old politicians are willing to vacate the political space.
His words: “I don’t speak from both sides of my mouth. By 2023 I will not seek elective position again. “Dominating the political space till eternity is inimical to raising new crop of political leaders.”
Orji who further explained that his decision to step aside in 2023 was personal and not under any pressure, urged old politicians to allow the young ones test their hands on the saddle.
On the corruption allegations against him being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which his kinsman and critic, Prince Benjamin Apugo, has always used against him, the former governor regretted that “Apugo does not comprehend the fact that being investigated by the EFCC does not automatically translate to being found guilty.”
Senator Orji dismissed Apugo’s attacks on him as misguided vituperations which he would not dignify with a response.
The former governor further  said that “unlike Apugo who is already in court with EFCC  over land grabbing, EFCC has neither indicted nor charged me to court for any offence.”
He accused his detractors of writing petitions against him to distract him. Senator Orji also said that the Bill on the conversion  of Abia State Polytechnic Aba which he sponsored was still awaiting  presidential assent so that Abia would rightly get a Federal Polytechnic like other states as provided for in the Constitution.
On the delapidated Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene federal road, which has been recently awarded for reconstruction, Orji expressed hope that the federal government would live up to its promise.
He attributed the feat to a collaborative efforts of National Assembly members from Abia and  Akwa Ibom State.

 

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