The Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF, Salihu Moh. Lukman has cautioned ex-President Goodluck Jonathan against leaving his current Peoples Democratic Party PDP for the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, saying any such move would only serve to diminish his political stature as an elder statesman.
Lukman made the caution in a statement titled, “APC’s High-Profile Membership Recruitment and Issues for 2023″ issued Sunday in Abuja.
He also faulted the ‘red-carpet’ reception offered a former critic of the current administration, Chief Femi Fani Kayode, who last week defected to the APC, but advised aggrieved party members against protesting the gesture saying if President Muhammadu Buhari and party leaders have accepted Mr Kayode, then party members should not be more catholic than the Pope.
Lukman said; “Part of the reason why high-profile membership recruitments by political parties in Nigeria attracts a lot of debate, attention, and controversy, is that it hardly comes without any ambition to contest the election by those joining the party. Although in the case of Mr Fani-Kayode, no one can associate it with the ambition to contest the election, which is why many questioned his electoral value, with 2023 elections less than two years away, and with the APC leadership efficiently succeeding to win so many high-profile leaders joining the party, there has been lots of speculation in terms of what all the high-profile membership recruitment into APC represents.
“Partly because President Buhari will be completing his 2nd term and therefore ineligible to contest, the question of who will emerge as the Presidential candidate of the APC for 2023 is quite open.
“Two of the Governors who recently joined the APC from the PDP are speculated to have done so because of ambition for 2023. And since the 2019 Bayelsa State Governorship election, when APC leaders met former President Goodluck Jonathan to lobby support for APC candidate, Mr David Lyon, there have been speculations that he (former President Jonathan) will also be joining the APC.
“Some have even alleged that as part of the negotiations, former President Jonathan has already been offered the APC Presidential ticket for 2023. Amid the controversy around Mr Fani-Kayode, the Secretary of the APC Caretaker Committee, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe, is reported to have confirmed that anyone who joins the party will be free to contest.
However, it is important that the issue of high-profile membership recruitment by APC is clarified beyond the narrow expectations of the electoral contests.
Why should the objective of recruiting high-profile members be reduced to the issue of contesting elections? Assuming someone like former President Jonathan agrees to join the APC and he fails to emerge as the Presidential Candidate of the party for the 2023 election, what will happen to him?
“As Nigerians, we must begin to take steps to protect our leaders. As APC members, we have campaigned against former President Jonathan in 2015.
“As President, former President Jonathan made every effort to block the emergence of APC in 2013. But those should not be the reference point.
“The reference point should be the historic decision of former President Jonathan to concede defeat in 2015 even before the final votes were counted.
“With that, former President Jonathan ranked himself as one of those who fought and defended Nigeria’s democracy. On no account, therefore, should any political party be allowed to push former President Jonathan to diminish his stature, either as an aspirant or a candidate for any office. Doing so will mean that we want him to gamble away all his legendary achievements.
“It is sad enough that PDP leaders, being who they are, don’t recognise and respect former President Jonathan’s deservedly political stature. No doubt, every speculation about the possibility of former President Jonathan joining the APC has to do with the reality of being unappreciated by PDP leadership.
“Negotiating to bring him into APC should not be based on aspiring for any office. It must be recognised that former President Jonathan, and indeed every former President, is beyond holding any office in the land. Bringing former Presidents to that level will amount to diminishing their political stature.
“Already, President Buhari is doing excellently well by delegating some high-profile diplomatic responsibilities to former President Jonathan. One of the failures of PDP is the inability to create responsibilities that can match the statures of former Presidents. Inability to create responsibilities for former Presidents is perhaps what accounts for the overbearing restlessness of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“With President Buhari scheduled to end his tenure in 2023, less than two years away, negotiations to recruit former President Jonathan into APC must be used to settle the question of the roles of former Presidents within the APC.
“APC must not allow the situation to emerge whereby party leaders and members-only respect elected and appointed functionaries.
“Part of the lessons from the challenges created under the last National Working Committee led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole had to do with the absence of Board of Trustees.
“Is it possible therefore to organise the APC Board of Trustees’ and get former Presidents to provide the needed moral leadership that can serve as a check to both party leaders and elected functionaries of the party?
“Having former Presidents discharging persuasive moral responsibilities as leaders of Board of Trustees would strengthen the capacity of party leaders and members to influence decisions of elected functionaries. Just imagine two former serving Presidents of the standings of President Buhari and former President Jonathan working in harmony towards a common political goal. It will take a rascally elected functionary at whatever level to ignore their recommendations. On the other hand, the big risk is when they are unable to work in harmony.
“That will tear the party apart and may potentially destroy the party. There is the need, therefore, to broaden consultations and agree on everything required to ensure that the framework of operations of the APC Board of Trustees guarantees that former serving Presidents can work in harmony”, he stated.
On My Fani Kayode, the PGF DG said; “Almost every member of APC is angry that our leaders have brought someone like Mr Fani-Kayode into our party. This is made worse by the red-carpet reception given to him, which he doesn’t deserve. But since it has happened, there is no need to cry over spilt milk.
“What is very clear is that our leaders, especially President Buhari have forgiven Mr Fani-Kayode and embrace him as one of us. As members of APC, our anger with Mr Fani-Kayode is that he has abused the APC, President Buhari and virtually every leader of the party.
“For instance, he claimed that the ‘emergence of Buhari in 2015 annihilated Nigeria and plunged her into darkness, death and destruction. He came to steal, kill and destroy and for the last disastrous 5 years that is all he has done.’ More than this, he has said unprintable things against the APC and all its leaders.
“At this point, therefore, if with all these, our leaders can accept Mr Fani-Kayode into the party, APC members should not be more Catholic than the Pope. Why should APC members be sad that our leaders are magnanimous? Perhaps, because of the red-carpet reception, which many committed APC members cannot even dream of, it should be legitimate to feel unappreciated like Mr Joe Igbokwe had cried out.
“But as APC members, especially those who have been in the party since its formation in 2013 and have endured all the challenges of being loyal members, we must always be reminded that our commitment is to contribute in whatever way and manner possible to change Nigeria for the better.
“If, therefore, someone like Mr Fani-Kayode, who is considered unreliable, and therefore, not qualified to be a member, would seek for forgiveness from our leaders, based on which they extended their arms to him, members of the APC should also show understanding”.
2023: Opobo/Nkoro Agog As Thousands Join PDP
Speaking while receiving the decampee, yesterday, in Opobo Town, the state Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Amb Desmond Akawor, described their action as wise decision, assuring them of their safety and support.
Akawor, who was represented at the colourful event by his Deputy, Chukwuemeka Aaron, urged the defectors to remain calm as the PDP, the only development-oriented political party, believes in equity, unity, fair play and justice in Nigeria, saying that the party was poised to build better transformational governance that would be a beneficial to all Rivers people.
He said that it was shameful for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to subject Nigerians to poverty, bad governance, sufferings and hardship, and described the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari as a ruined government with clear negative agenda that lacked quality governance for the well-being of the people.
On the 2023 general election, Akawor enjoined the defectors to join forces with the PDP to chase out APC for good by remaining loyal and supportive towards PDP victory at the polls both in the state and at the federal level.
Akawor warned that any attempt to rig the votes in the 2023 elections would create more hunger, stagnation, poverty and death in the land.
Responding, a former chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and decampee in the area, Dr. Promise Diri pledged to ensure the victory of Amaopusenibo Siminialayi Fubara as successor to Governor Nyesom Wike and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as president in 2023, among other PDP Candidates, describing the emergence of the duo of Fubara and Atiku as God’s divine order for Rivers State and Nigeria.
Others who spoke to The Tide, described PDP as the largest development-minded political party in Nigeria, and thanked Rivers State Governor, Chief NyesomWike, and the entire PDP family for giving the governorship ticket to Opobo son.
They assured of 100 percent victory of Fubara and other candidates of the party come 2023 polls both in Rivers State.
Also speaking, Chief Ibiwari Jeremiah, said he was happy for the party whose transform agenda for the past seven years has remained remarkable, and pledged to woo more supporters for the PDP in next year’s election.
In her remarks, one of the decampee, Madam Matilda Jaja, commended Governor Nyesom Wike’s leadership qualities and charisma ,which she said, helped produce quality services in all the hooks and crannies of the state, and stressed that she would use her capacity to mobilise for votes in 2023 for PDP, adding that victory was sure in 2023 for the party’s candidates in the elections.
By: Bethel Toby
Reps Probe 12-Year Remittances, Withdrawals From Ecological Fund
Particularly, the House mandated its Committee on Ecological Fund to “investigate the total consolidated mandatory accruals into the Ecological Fund from 2010 to March, 2022,” adding that the committee should equally “evaluate the disbursement of the Ecological Fund in line with the provision of the 1999 Constitution from 2010 to March, 2022.”
The committee is also to “investigate the utilisation of the Ecological Fund by benefiting government’s departments and agencies (MDAs) from 2010 to March, 2022 and establish infractions (if any).”
To establish these facts, the House asked the committee to conduct public hearings with all the major stakeholders on the effective and efficient utilisation of the Ecological Fund and report back within six weeks for further legislative action.
These resolutions were sequel to a motion moved by a member of the House, Femi Bamisile, titled, ‘Need to Investigate the Total Consolidation Accrual and Utilisation of Ecological Fund.’
Bamisile, while in the motion, noted the existence of the Ecological Fund as an intervention fund set up by the Federal Government to address multifarious ecological challenges across the country.
He also noted that the Federal Government, the 36 states of the federation, the 774 local government areas and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) receive funds through the Federal Allocation Committee as shares from the Ecological Fund.
The lawmaker stressed that apart from the annual statutory appropriations, four agencies of the Federal Government draw funds from the one per cent share of the Federal Government allocated to Ecology and Derivation Fund, according to their respective enabling laws.
Bamisile stated that the National Emergency Management Agency, by virtue of Section 13(2) (b) of its Act, draws 20per cent; National Agency for the Great Green Wall, by virtue of Section 12 (2) (b) of its Act, draws 15per cent; the North East Development Commission, by virtue of Section 14(12) (b) of its Act, draws 10 per cent; and the National Agricultural Land Development Authority, by virtue of Section 18 (2) (a) of its Act, draws 10per cent.
He said, “The House is worried that efforts at making beneficiaries of the Ecological Fund accountable for their accrued shared funds in the last few years have been ignored. Sections 88 and 89 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) empowers the National Assembly to conduct investigation and power as to matters of evidence.”
Organ Harvesting Charges UK Court Denies Ekweremadu, Wife Bail
The arrest was announced by the London Metropolitan Police, yesterday, with officials saying that the couple would be charged promptly before a court in Uxbridge.
Ekweremadu appeared before a magistrate, yesterday afternoon, and was denied bail.
The case was subsequently adjourned until July 7, after the child involved was identified as a homeless 15-year-old from Lagos.
However, details of the alleged offence of Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice Nwanneka, were unveiled, yesterday, as they were accused of plotting to traffic a homeless child from Lagos into the UK to harvest his organs.
The court heard the couple, who have four children and a house in Willesden, North London, hoped to transplant the boy’s organs to their daughter who suffers from kidney failure.
Police were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery laws last month and arrested the couple two days ago at Heathrow Airport as they attempted to board a plane to Turkey, the court heard.
Ekweremadu, 60, is said to have had £20,000 on him at the time of his arrest, according to prosecutors.
The child is now under the care of safeguarding authorities and the Metropolitan Police, officials say.
Ekweremadu, and accountant wife, Beatrice, 55, are charged with conspiracy to arrange or facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting.
The senator was wearing a grey sweater while his wife was wearing a black and white knitted cardigan at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court, yesterday.
Prosecutor Damla Ayas said: “It is conspiracy in relation to human trafficking offences for the purposes of organ harvesting. The victim in this case is 15 years old.
“They (the couple), were interviewed at the police station. Both of the defendants have provided a prepared statement.
“Mr Ekweremadu, in his prepared statement, denied allegations of human trafficking.
“He said at no stage has he arranged transport for anyone with intention to exploit them.”
His wife similarly denied the allegations in her prepared statement, the court heard.
Counsel to Ekweremadu, Gavin Irwin, said: “There is no question this is a serious allegation. Mr Ekweremadu is a member of the Senate in Nigeria.
“He has previously held an even more senior role as deputy president of the Senate.
“He is a member of the bar in Nigeria. He is a principal in a law firm that bears his name.
“Those issues taken together go way beyond him being a person of good character…rather that he has led a blameless life as a public servant.”
Irwin added that the allegations were “nothing short of preposterous”.
Also speaking, Counsel for Mrs Ekweremadu, Antonia Gray, said: “She has never been complicit or involved in any alleged illegal trafficking of any young person.
“She is a financial accountant with an unblemished record.”
The couple have an address they could stay at in Willesden, northwest London, the court heard.
The prosecutor made an application to adjourn the matters for 14 days.
Ms Ayas said: “In respect of these offences, Attorney General’s consent is required and the Crown requires 14 days for that to be obtained.”
Magistrate Lois Sheard said: “These are serious allegations and these matters are now adjourned until July 7, back here at Uxbridge.”
Ms Sheard remanded both defendants into custody ahead of their hearing next month.
The Ekweremadus are charged with “conspiring to arrange or facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation….between August 1, 2021 and May 5, 2022 within the jurisdiction of Central Criminal Court”.
The investigation was launched by the Met’s Specialist Crime team after detectives were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery legislation in May, 2022.
The Met Police has confirmed that the boy is safe and being looked after.
Mr Ekweremadu was held with Nwanneka Ekweremadu in Britain this month.
Ekweremadu has been an elected senator in Abuja since 2003 after moving into politics after years as a lawyer.
His wife, five years his junior, is an academic and doctor, and also a major public figure in Nigeria.
They are believed to have four adult children.
The Metropolitan Police has said that the child, who is under the age of 18, at the centre of the alleged plot, is in care.
Organ harvesting involves removing parts of the body, often for cash and against the victim’s will.
Ekweremadu has been in the UK for, at least, the past fortnight having met with members of the Nigerian community in Britain in Lincoln around 10 days ago.
He tweeted: “It was a pleasure and an honour to receive a letter of appointment by the University of Lincoln, UK, as Visiting Professor of Corporate and International Linkages. I also got a highly treasured gift – a copy of the Magna Carter. It was created in 1215, about 807 years ago”.
The investigation was launched after detectives were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery legislation in May, 2022, the force said.
Spokesman for Ekweremadu, Uche Anichukwu, confirmed that his principal had been held in the UK.
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