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We Insist That Power Must Shift In 2023 -Ken Robinson

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As the activities leading up to the 2023 general elections in Nigeria go into full swing, socio-political and cultural regional organizations and pressure groups have also been very vocal in their advocacy for what they think is best for the country, lending their voices and addressing burning national issues.
One of such foremost organizations that has left no one in doubt concerning where it stands on such issues as what the part of the country that should produce the next president of Nigeria and corollary matters is the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF).
Acting Political Editor, Opaka Dokubo caught up with the National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Hon Ken Robinson in Port Harcourt and had this chat with him:
PANDEF is
demanding a Nigerian president of southern extraction, are you satisfied with the way things have gone so far?
Our major concern has been the attitude of some of our brothers from other parts of the country, particularly Northern Nigeria because of a supposed majority . In every country, you will find that the South is more populated than the northern part. But here in Nigeria, the reverse is the case and because of that supposed majority, they throw up this attitude of thinking that they can always control power or always decide who becomes the president of Nigeria. And that is the attitude that is being displayed as we go towards the 2023 elections.
Having said that, if we love this country; if we want this country to be united, to be peaceful, to be progressive, to become the great country that it should be, or to be what we claim to be the giant if Africa, then we must do things in a way and manner that will promote equity, fairness and justice.
Without equity, fairness and justice, without ever sharing of power in a diverse country like Nigeria, what you’re calling for is further crisis, is anarchy, is disaffection. There is a strong feeling of alienation in certain sections of the country, particilarly in Southern Nigeria and that is why we have insisted and will continue to insist that after eight years of a northern presidency, the next president of Nigeria should come from Southern Nigeria.
And for us in PANDEF, we have said that whether it goes to the South west, Southeast or South South, it’s a different matter all together and we will not mind if the next president comes from the Southwest, Southeast or South South, power must rotate, or Power should rotate to Southern Nigeria in 2023.
What we see today is the display of political arrogance, political irrationality, political dishonesty to the greatest height. We hear particularly in the Peoples Democratic Party, that the people should consider winning election rather than zoning the presidency. Does that mean that there is any zone in Nigeria where there are no competent persons to win election in Nigeria?
Obasanjo won an election for the PDP; he is not from the north. Goodluck Jonathan won an election for the PDP, he is from the North. Of course. Yar Adua won election for the PDP, he is not from the North.
What it means is that anybody in Nigeria that is competent, that is capable can win election for any political party. The person must not come from the north in particular for him or her to win an election. So, the insinuation or the inpression that if PDP zones its presidency to southern Nigeria, PDP cannot win an election is insulting to the people of Sothern Nigeria and completely unacceptable to us, and we have insisted that power must rotate.
Any political party in Nigeria that does not zone its presidency to Southern Nigeria, the people of Southern Nigeria will mobilize and work against that party. That’s our position.
I was actually going to ask you what will happen to the PDP in particular that seems not keen on zoning the presidency to the south?
PANDEF is actually working with Afnifere from the Southwest, Ohanaeze Ndigbo in the Southeast and elements of the Middle Melt under the Middle Belt Forum. We want to believe that they are together with us in all that we have said because these pronounaments have been made under the anspices of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum comprising these aforementioned orgainsations.
We have said that if any of the major political parties in the country does not zone its presidential ticket to the south, we are going to work against that party.
The position we have taken is that we will wait until the party primaries are concluded. After the party primaries are concluded, we will see the choices that are presidented to us and if one of the two parties gives us a southern presidency, and the others does not, we will sit down and discuss and see how we can mobilize and ensure that Southern Nigeria punishes the party that is against us.
Beyond the issue of zoning, what are some of the other issues that should be on the front burner as we go into the 2023 elections?
One of the greatest challenges in Nigeria today is insecurity and the next president of Nigeria should be able to stabilize Nigeria the next president of Nigeria; should be able to defuse the disaffections and the feelings of dissent in the country. The next president should be able to promote unity. And of course, the economy of the countr. The next president of the country should be able to see how we can boost Nigeria’s economy and make lining in Nigeria less difficult. And we are saying we have those kind of persons in abundance in the south south, in the southeast, and of course in the southwest.
So, beyond the issue of zoning, we need a Nigeria that is stable if we are not stable, we can’t talk about any other thing.
Now, after the stability of Nigeria, for PANDEF and the Southern and the Middle Belt Leaders forum, we are concerned about the inqualities, structural defects in the country, and that’s about restructuring to bring about devolution of power; let some issues that are over centralised at the centre be devolved to the states; and let there be stronger institutions so that some of the excesses that people fear may arise if more powers are given to states may as well be checked.
So, outside zoning, we’re talking about the stability of Nigeria, the restruturing of Nigeria; we’re talking about peace in Nigeria.
Going into 2023, are you confident that the elections are going to be remarkably different from previous exercises?
Nigerians clamored and insisted that the National Assembly should incorporate the electronic transmition of election results into the ElectoralAct and reluctantly they did; reluctantly the president signed it into law. So, INEC has a legal mandate to ensure that the transmission of results is done electronically.
Don’t forget that one of the major problems the Nigerian electoral process has faced is the transformation of results between the voting point and the collation point. We had seen situations where results that are announced at the polling units are completely different from final results that are announced.
So, if this electronic transmission of results is strictly adhered to in all parts of Nigeria (don’t forget that when the card reader issue came as, in some party of Nigeria card readers would work, in some other parts of Nigeria card readers would not work).
So, we will hope that INEC will have the administrative will and courage to stick to the electronic transmission of results across Nigeria without stories of network failures in parts of the country and network access in other parts of the country.
If it is done across Nigeria, we think that the 2023 results will, significantly, have a shift from previous ones.

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2023: Southern PDP Leaders Consider Fresh Option

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Leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Southern 17 states have begun move to ensure that the presidential ticket is secured by an aspirant from one of the three geo-political zones.
In the alternative, they are also looking at a northerner with strong roots in the South.
The plan, according to sources, is to have a second strategy or an Option B, as it has become obvious that the party leadership will not yield to the demand for the presidential ticket to be specifically zoned to the South.
The Southern leaders are moving to ensure that their delegates vote only for either a particular southern aspirant or to adopt a northern candidate, who is not from the far North.
The strategy of the southern PDP leaders behind this plot is to ensure that the outcome of the PDP primary produces a win-win situation for the South, irrespective of where the candidates come from.
A chieftain, who spoke on phone, said: “We want to ensure that the South converts the disadvantage of the PDP refusing to zone the presidential position to the South in line with the rotation arrangement in the party’s constitution becomes a benefit to us.
“We will work to ensure that the South decides who the presidential candidate is, even if he is not from our zone.
“Southern delegates may come together and choose a northern candidate who has strong roots in the South. He must be somebody who has a close affinity and filial relationship with us. He must be somebody who understands the challenges facing the South and can run a government that is based on equity, justice and inclusiveness, and knows what it is to suffer injustice or the pains of the minority.”
“It is the reason why we will not support aspirants from the far North. We will rather support an aspirant whose zone has not produced any of the two positions in the Presidency. An ideal candidate for the PDP is somebody from either the South or the Northern minority.
“It is the only way we can show that without having a southern candidate; we can have a president who believes he owes the South and that the support of the southern delegates is instrumental to his victory. That means that if the South plays its card very well, it can produce a southern candidate from the North.”

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Buhari To Determine Malami,Other Returning Ministers’ Fate – Lai Mohammed

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President Muhammadu Buhari will decide the fate of those members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) who made a u-turn on their political ambitions and continue to serve in the current administration.
Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this Wednesday to newsmen after the FEC meeting at the State House, Abuja, said he will need to confirm from the president the status of the returning ministers on whether or not they have been reabsorbed into the cabinet.
He said: “The  question about ministers returning or not going, I think you need to give me more time so that I can tell you exactly what the situation is. Right now, I need to cross check. I need to confirm again from Mr President what the situation is. You see the final decision on who is going, who’s coming back, who’s not going lies with Mr. President.”
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige; his Women Affairs counterpart, Dame Pauline Tallen; Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timpre Sylva, had earlier rescinded their decision to contest for elective offices in 2023.
Malami was physically present at Wednesday’s Council meeting, while Tallen and Sylva attended the meeting virtually from their various offices in Abuja.
Ngige is said to be away on official engagement in Durban, South Africa, where he is attending the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) global conference on Child Labour.

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2023: Ganduje Refuses To Endorse Amaechi For Presidency

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Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State has refused to endorse the former Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, for the presidency come 2023.
Amaechi visited Kano on Wednesday as part of his consultations ahead of the All Progressives Congress’ presidential primary.
The former minister had resigned from President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet to pursue his presidential ambition under the platform of the APC.
At the meeting, with other APC stakeholders present, Ganduje said Kano as a “swing state, will continue to swing.”
He added that Amaechi would know where the state eventually swung to at the right time.
TheTide source gathered that Amaechi, who had told the governor that the people in the APC already knew where Ganduje’s loyalty was, added that he was in Kano to convince him that he was the most qualified among the aspirants.
Our source recalled that when Amaechi visited the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, he was equally not endorsed as the governor told him former Governor Bola Tinubu was their rallying point.
Ganduje is also known to be an ally of Tinubu, who is also aspiring for the Presidency.
Meanwhile, Amaechi said he was more qualified than Tinubu, noting that the former Lagos governor had never been a minister, and even as a lawmaker, Tinubu only served for a few months.
He equally noted that he was more qualified than Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, adding that while Osinbajo was a commissioner in Lagos, he was already a Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly.

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