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IBB, Jonathan, Shagari Absent At Council Of States

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Former military Head of State, Gen Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), ex-Presidents Goodluck Jonathan, Alhaji Shehu Shagari and Chief Ernest Shonekan, were conspicuously absent at yesterday’s Council of States meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
This is as the Senate President Bukola Saraki was hailed on arrival by the Sokoto State Governor, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal as he sauntered into the venue of the meeting.
As at the time the meeting started few minutes after 11am before journalists left the venue, only three former Presidents, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, retired Generals Yakubu Gowon and Abdulsalami Abubakar were at the venue alongside President Muhammadu Buhari.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo arrived after the national anthem and the opening prayers were said.
The meeting was the third Council of States meeting held under the democratic administration of President Buhari.
The Council of States meeting is always attended by former Presidents or Head of States, serving and former Chief Justices of Nigeria (CJNs), serving Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives as well as State Governors.
Aside President Buhari and the three other past presidents, the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President, Bukola Saraki and four former Chief Justices of Nigeria were seated at the Council Chamber, the venue.
The past four CJNs present were Idris Kutigi, Alfa Balgore, Mariam Aloma Muktar and Mohammed Uwais, while the serving CJN, Walter Onnoghen was absent, though unconfirmed report has it that the serving CJN was not a member of the Council of States.
Also absent as at the commencement of the meeting was the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara.
Others also present at the meeting included state Governors of Adamawa, Benue, Kebbi, Jigawa, Delta, Lagos, Nasarawa, Abia, Sokoto, Imo, Bauchi, Akwa Ibom, Kano, Plateau, Ogun, Rivers, Zamfara, Ebonyi, Kaduna.
The meeting started when President Muhammadu Buhari arrived the Council Chamber, venue of the meeting, and went round to shake hands with those present.
The first meeting under Buhari was held on October 21, 2015, while the second was held in September, 2016.
The National Council of State is chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo as deputy chairman.
The opening prayers were said by Gowon and Uwais, respectively.
The meeting focused on issues of insecurity in the country as well as the coming elections in 2019.
Officials from Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) also attended to brief the council on preparations ahead for the 2019 elections.
Obasanjo, who was five minutes late, rushed when a minute silence was being observed in honour of the late former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Dahiru Musdapher.
He then went straight to shake hands with Buhari, Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Abdulsalami Abubakar, before taking his seat.
The deputy governors of Bayelsa and Enugu also attended the meeting.
The Council of State is an organ of the Federal Government saddled with the responsibility of advising the executive on policy making.
Its duties include advising the president in the exercise of his powers with respect to the National population census and compilation, publication and keeping of records and other information concerning the same; prerogative of mercy; award of national honours; the Independent National Electoral Commission (including the appointment of members of that Commission); the National Judicial Council (including the appointment of the members, other than ex-officio members of that Council); the National Population Commission (including the appointment of members of that Commission).
The council also advises the president whenever requested to do so on the maintenance of public order and on such other matters as the he may direct.
It was gathered that the hailing of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki by the Sokoto State governor may not be unconnected with the recent removal of the Chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, last Wednesday, by majority of senators from the North, and his replacement with Senator Aliyu Wammako, former governor of Sokoto State.

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Only Your Votes’ll Decide Fate Of Candidates, INEC Reassures Nigerians

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reassured Nigerian voters that only their votes will be the sole determinant of the winners among the 15,322 candidates nationwide contesting in next year’s general election.
The commission reiterated its commitment to ensuring that it delivers a credible, free and fair election, reassuring that the votes of the electorate will definitely count.
INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, gave the assurance in his keynote address at the Annual Conference of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers, held in Lagos, yesterday.
He admitted that with the lifting of the ban on political campaigns, the tempo of political activities has increased with parties, candidates and their supporters commencing campaigns, rallies, processions and media advertisements to canvass the support of the electorate.
The chairman, however, warned that the commission will pay particular attention to the conduct of parties, candidates and their supporters, stressing that as the regulator, it will play its role to ensure compliance with the provision of the law as well as our guidelines and regulations.
“The 2023 general election is fast approaching. It is now 141 days to Election Day. Polling Units will open at 8:30 am on Saturday, February 25, 2023, for national elections (Presidential and National Assembly) and the same time on Saturday, March 11, 2023, for state elections (governorship and state assembly).
“Campaign in public by political parties officially commenced on Wednesday, September 28, 2022. Therefore, the tempo of political activities has increased as parties, candidates and their supporters commence campaigns, rallies, processions and media advertisements to canvass the support of the electorate.
“The commission has published the final list of 15,322 candidates for the General Election contesting for 1,491 seats (one Presidential, 28 Governorship, 109 Senatorial, 360 House of Representatives and 993 State Assembly constituencies).
“I wish to restate once again the commitment of INEC to credible elections. Votes will continue to count and will be the sole determinant of the electoral outcome,” he assured.
The electoral umpire boss further explained that technological innovations introduced by the commission will guarantee and protect the sanctity of the choice made by Nigerians at the polls.
“For this reason, the commission has introduced many new innovations, supported by the deployment of appropriate technology, to protect the sanctity of the choice made by Nigerians at the polls ranging from voter registration to voter accreditation and result management,” he said.
“The deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) with its dual fingerprint and facial biometric accreditation process has ensured that only genuine voters are accredited to vote during election. This has curtailed the incidence of multiple voting and other sharp practices associated with voter accreditation during elections.
“The BVAS has come to stay and will be the only means by which voters will be accredited in the 2023 general election.
“Furthermore, the introduction of the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) Portal has made the result management procedure more transparent. Polling Unit results are now uploaded in real-time to the IReV portal for public view.
“This has enhanced the transparency, credibility and consequently public confidence in the outcome of elections. The IReV has come to stay and polling unit results will be uploaded to the portal in real-time in the 2023 general election,” he said.
Yakubu further emphasised that; “as campaigns commence, I also wish to remind political parties and candidates that you all signed the Peace Accord organised by the National Peace Committee (NPC) in which you committed yourselves to peaceful electioneering campaign. I urge you to be guided by the letter and spirit of the accord.
“For our part, the commission will pay particular attention to the conduct of parties, candidates and their supporters. As a regulator, the commission will play its role to ensure compliance with the provision of the law as well as our guidelines and regulations.
“We will pay particular attention to a peaceful campaign devoid of abusive, intemperate and slanderous language as well as the use of innuendoes or insinuations likely to provoke a counter-reaction resulting in the breach of the peace.
“Similarly, we will pay special attention to the observance of limits on party and candidate finance. I urge political parties and candidates to carefully study the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and familiarise themselves with their obligations as well as the penalties under the law.
“As you are aware, elections are a multi-stakeholder activity. As the commission is doing its best to ensure a credible process, we also appeal to the media for a continuous partnership. Managing the electoral process for credible outcomes is the responsibility of all of us. As campaign activities get underway, the media will continue to play an important role. A lot of the activities will take place in the media of which the new media is a critical player.
“We must continue to work together against the spread of fake news, misinformation and disinformation that seek to create or exacerbate tension or de-legitimise processes and outcomes,” Yakubu charged.

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2023: Era Of Ballot Box Snatching Over, Banigo Insists …Lauds Wike For Reappointing Danagogo

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Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, has expressed gratitude to Governor Nyesom Wike for the reappointment of Dr. Tammy Danagogo as Secretary to the State Government.
Banigo stated this during a meeting with leaders and critical stakeholders of the Peoples Democratic Party in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area at the Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The deputy governor, who congratulated Danagogo for his re-appointment, described the re-appointment as well-deserved.
Banigo said she does not take lightly the call to represent Rivers West at the Senate, and noted that her kind of representation at the Upper Legislative Chambers would bring glory to God.
“I encourage you to tell your people to collect their PVCs, because this time around the votes will count, as the new Electoral Act does not allow what they did in 2019, they cannot try it as nobody can carry ballot boxes”, the deputy governor stressed.
In a related development, Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, has commended leaders of the PDP in Ahoada West Local Government Area, for keying into the Divine Kingdom Mandate.
Banigo made this commendation while meeting with them at the Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday, preparatory to the commencement of her campaigns in the upcoming elections.
She motivated the people to exercise their franchise, by collecting their PVCs to vote for credible candidates of the PDP.
“They should come out and vote, because this is our opportunity to chase out this bad All Progressives Congress-led government at the federal level, as they have brought so much untold suffering, untold hardship, bloodshed and kidnapping. We have seen the developmental strides of our governor so much development is going on in Rivers State, and we are poised to give you more”, Banigo added.

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Wike Signs Instrument To Withdraw Omehia’s Recognition As Ex-Gov, Today …Re-Appoints Danagogo As SSG

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, will today sign the official instrument to withdraw the recognition of Sir Celestine Omehia as former governor of the state.
A statement signed by the Special Assistant on Media to the Rivers State Governor, Kelvin Ebiri, yesterday, said that the ceremony would “take place at the Government House, Port Harcourt, on Friday, 7th October, 2022 by 12 noon”.
The statement further read, “His Excellency, the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, is to sign the instrument on cancellation of the recognition of Sir Celestine Omehia as a former governor of Rivers State.
“The cancellation of the recognition is sequel to the resolution of the Rivers State House of Assembly adopted on Thursday, October 6, 2022, to derecognise Sir Celestine Omehia as a former governor of the state”, the statement added.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has approved the re-appointment of Dr Tammy Danagogo as the Secretary to the State Government.
A statement signed by the Special Assistant on Media to the Rivers State Governor, Kelvin Ebiri, last Wednesday, said that “the appointment takes immediate effect.”
It added, “His Excellency, the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, has approved the re-appointment of Dr.Tammy Wenike Danagogo as the Secretary to the Rivers State Government (SSG).”

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