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Amaechi, Akinyemi Hail Ekwueme At 80 …As Fiscal Federalism, Nat.Confab Top Discourse

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Former Minister of External Affairs Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi says a national conference to dialogue on Nigeria’s future is pertinent in view of challenges currently rocking the country.

Prof. Akinyemi made his position public  yesterday while speaking at a special lecture to commemorate the 80th birthday of former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme in Port Harcourt.

Speaking on the topic,’’ Strengthening the Foundation of Peace and Stability, ‘’ the professor of International Affairs and Diplomacy also said the present federal system being practised in the country needs dire restructuring.

He believed that,’’ Nigerian federalism has been driven by the agitation for identity recognition by nationality groups ‘’.

Akinyemi  who served as external Affairs Minister during the regime of military president, Ibrahim Babangida re-echoed Governor Chibuike Amaechi’s position earlier in the church thanksgiving service, where he recommended that some powers should be given to the federating states in areas concerning fiscal federalism, state police and equal representation.

The former minister who flayed the present federal structure opined that its not working hence the rising agitation among the different nationalities.

He asserted,’’…national groups continue to agitate for states of their own even though embedded in each new state will be minorities that will agitate for new states of their own. Does this mean that endless creation of states is the only way to ensure peace, equity and stability in Nigeria? The answer is no’’.

Prof. Akinyemi called for a restructuring based on equity,’’ Just as Dr. Ekwueme came up with ingenious idea of zonal federalism, we must come up with ingenious new ideas to address our own realities. We cannot have state for each national group in Nigeria,’’ he said.

Rather than creating more states to satisfy regional demands, Akinyemi suggested the need to engender trust based on what he called the ‘principle of reciprocity and mutual respect’ where all ethnic groups will have a sense of belonging in the polity.

Meanwhile, Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi has extolled former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekuweme for being a detribalised and passionate leader for a better Nigeria.

Amaechi made the commendation at the 80th birthday thanksgiving service organised by Ekwueme’s Committee of Friends in collaboration with state government yesterday at St Paul’s Cathedral Diobu in Port Harcourt.

The governor said the Second Republic number two citizen has demonstrated great zeal towards having a better Nigeria, and promised to follow in his steps.

The Chairman of Nigeria Governor’s Forum noted that Ekwueme’s lifestyle is a challenge for the younger politicians like him, saying” be rest assured that some of us who look up to you after looking to God, will continue the struggle as you are still struggling for, and see whether there will be a better Nigeria. And I pray that there will be a better Nigeria’’, he added.

He continued,’’ the best birthday gift we have for you is to reassure you that we will support you in this struggle’’.

While congratulating him for the milestone of clocking 80 years, Amaechi wished the former Vice President well in the future.

Responding, Dr. Ekwueme expressed elation for the honour accorded him.

He expressed delight that so much honour was coming from all parts of the country, adding that’’ as I told everybody I’am not in a hurry and I think every one will have a memory of me to celebrate’’.

The former vice president thanked the government and people of the state for the honour done him, and prayed for more years ahead.

Earlier in his sermon, Bishop of Niger Delta North Province, Rt Rev. Ignatius Kattey had said the birthday marks the beginning of a new era in the life of Dr. Ekwueme and prayed God to continue to use him as an instrument of change.

The cleric reminded the celebrant of the need to be grateful to God at every stage of life, stressing that,’’at every stage of our life, God gives us a task to accomplish ‘’.

Meanwhile, Governor Amaechi has sued for better federalism through constitutional amendment.

He made his mind public while speaking at the thanksgiving service in honour of Dr. Alex Ekwueme in Port Harcourt, yesterday.

Amaechi maintained that Nigerians should use the current constitutional amendment exercise to seek for better polity.

‘’ It is important that we get the unity of the country in a proper way that the country will move forward and I will join in that ‘’, he observed.

Said he,’’as usual, Nigerians have started dealing with cosmetics and not the reality…not the reality of power devolution, not the reality of the structure of the country, but the reality of how  much is shared and who is sharing what.’’

He maintained that it is pertinent to bring into proper perspective issues addressing the unity of the country, so the country can move forward.

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Buhari Pays Tribute To Diya

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday mourned the passing of retired Lt.-Gen. Oladipo Diya GCON, who served as Chief of General Staff from 1993 to 1997 and Vice Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council in 1994.
The President, in a statement by his Spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja paid tribute to Diya’s bold and courageous career in the Nigeria military.
He particularly lauded him for his dedicated service to the country as General Officer Commanding, 82 Division, Commandant, National War College (1991–1993), Chief of Defence Staff and Military Governor of Ogun from January 1984 to August 1985.
Buhari recalled that the late Diya was known for his brilliance, exceptional organisational skills and discipline, and he displayed these virtues in the important roles he held in office as a military officer.
The president saluted the former Chief of General Staff for his love, belief and loyalty to the country he cherished so much and fought gallantly on the frontlines to defend her unity.
Buhari, who extended heartfelt condolences to Diya’s family, friends and colleagues, prayed that “Diya’s soul finds rest with his Creator, and may his contributions to the nation never be forgotten.”
Diya, who was born on April 3, 1944 in Odogbolu, Ogun State, died on Sunday in Lagos.

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PDP Suspends Ayu For Anti-Party Activities

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The ongoing crisis in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has deepened as the Executive Committee of the party in Igyorov Ward of Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State has suspended the National Chairman of the party, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, with immediate effect.
They suspended Ayu for anti-party activities after passing a vote-of-no confidence on him.
While reading a resolution, the Secretary of the party in Igyorov ward, Banger Dooyum, said Ayu’s anti-party activities, alongside his allies, contributed to PDP’s loss in his ward and local government in the governorship election.
Ayu was also accused of not paying his annual dues as enshrined by the party’s constitution.
Twelve out of the 17 exco members signed the documents endorsing his suspension.
They also alleged that the PDP chieftain did not vote during the governorship and state assembly elections held on March 18, 2023.
According to them, most of Ayu’s closest allies worked for the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) which resulted in the abysmal performance of the PDP in Igyorov Ward.
The ward chairman of Igyorov, Kashi Philip, also signed the letter alongside the exco.

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I Didn’t Work Against Obi, Wike Fires Back …Describes Obi’s Allegation As Unfortunate

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has taken strong exception to Labour Party presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi’s allegations that he denied him of victory in the state in the February 25 presidential election.
Wike clarified that there was never a time that the G-5 governors or the Integrity Group endorsed Obi or another candidate as their preferred candidate for the presidential election.
Speaking during a media chat last Wednesday in his home town, Rumuepirikom, the governor described Obi’s accusation that he manipulated the electoral process to his disadvantage as unfortunate.
“I don’t work for INEC, I don’t have INEC documents with me. I am not an ad hoc staff of INEC and so I am not in a place to rig election for anybody. It is when you have the materials of INEC that you talk about rigging. But I take exception to Peter Obi’s comments that I came out against him. People are not being sincere, people are not appreciative.”
The Rivers State governor, maintained that his primary preoccupation as far as the 2023 presidential election was concerned was for a southern Nigerian to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, whose tenure ends on May 29, 2023.
“I never told Rivers people to vote for the candidate (of the APC). I told Rivers people (to vote) for the unity of Nigeria. As far as Rivers State is concerned, their position is that ‘look, we want a power shift.’ And there are two candidates from the South – Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Peter Obi.
“If Rivers people have chosen to vote for Asiwaju, and the same Rivers people also voted for Peter Obi, that tells you that their decision was to vote for a Southern President. So, amongst them one must always get the highest vote. If you look at the votes, APC won, followed by the Labour Party. So that tells you what the decision they took. That is the decision of Rivers people”, the governor stated.
Wike said he was among those who recommended Obi to be PDP candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s running mate in 2019.
“In 2019, ask Peter Obi, I was one of the team that chose Obi to be the Vice Presidential candidate of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. When we met at Abubakar’s house, he said these are the names, I will choose Obi. Obi was invited while we were at Saraki’s house in the night.
“I was fought by people like (Senator Ike) Ekweremadu; my own friend, the governor of Ebonyi State, (David) Umahi, and Pius Anyim. Every blame was on me, why will I be the one that will say Peter Obi? Why should I chose for the South-East? Did he come out to say Wike was the one who supported me to be the vice presidential candidate? He didn’t say so.”
He declared that the G-5 governors and the Integrity Group never during any of their meetings unanimously endorsed Obi or any presidential candidate of southern Nigeria extraction.
He said, “There was never a time the integrity Group met and say it must be this person. We only agreed on southern President. We formulated strategies and the southern President emerged. Our interest is that a southern President should emerge.
“When we went to our meeting, we decided on southern President. We didn’t say it must be this. We said whatever you are doing it must be southern President. The aim of G5 was equity, fairness and justice”.
The governor also said the G-5 governor and members of the Integrity Group cannot be accused of betraying the PDP.
He stressed that those who blatantly refused to implement the provisions of the party’s constitution on rotation of elective and appointive offices are to blame the party’s electoral misfortune.
He said all the G-5 governors consisting of Seyi Makinde of Oyo State; Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State; Samuel Ortom of Benue; and Victor Ikpeazu of Abia; made tremendous sacrifice to ensure the emergence of a southern president.
The governor particularly expressed delight that the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, who had earlier said he would not mind sacrificing his second term on the altar of equity, justice, and fairness, was re-elected.
“Ortom said even if he loses his senatorial election, let equity, justice, and fairness prevail. He may not gain it now. But history will be kind to him. The same applies to Ugwuanyi and Ikpeazu. Even Makinde said even if he lost his governorship ambition, he was interested in the unity of Nigeria”, Wike recalled.
He boasted that in Rivers State, PDP won the governorship, three senatorial seats, 10 federal and 31 state constituencies in the general election.
He said, ironically, the PDP National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, who once derided that the G-5 governors are small boys failed to win his ward, local government and state for the presidential candidate in the February 25 election.
According to him, PDP also lost woefully in Niger, Jigawa, Imo, Sokoto, Yobe and other states.
“Ayu lost his polling unit. I won three senatorial seats, and 31 House of Assembly seats. He didn’t get anything. Lamido did not win the presidential election in Jigawa. Babangida Aliyu did not win. So, who is the betrayer? We won to make sure PDP exists. Of what relevance is he as national chairman? He couldn’t deliver his polling unit”, the governor stated.
Wike dismissed insinuation that he would manipulate the Rivers State governor-elect, Siminialayi Fubara, after leaving office.
The governor also clarified that Fubara, who resigned as Accountant General of the state to contest the 2023 governorship election, is not wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
According to him, some disgruntled politicians in the state were behind the rumour.
Wike stated that Fubara on assumption of office will continue from where his administration stopped and would consolidate on the NEW Rivers Vision.

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