Ahead of the 2023 general election, President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), would be given a free hand to discharge its constitutional responsibilities.
The president also reiterated the commitment of his administration to ensure that the commission delivers peaceful, transparent, free, fair and credible elections in the elections.
Speaking, last Wednesday night in Lisbon, at a meeting with representatives of Nigerians living in Portugal, the president said with the conclusion of the political parties primaries, all eyes are now on the 2023 elections in Nigeria.
He said, ‘‘We also look forward to a smooth transition to the next government. As I have said before, our administration will not compromise on doing the right things and the welfare of Nigerians, home and abroad.”
Citing the last gubernatorial elections in Anambra and Ekiti states, the president noted that the administration has proven consistently its zero tolerance for interference in elections and insistence that Nigerians should be allowed to vote for the party and candidate of their choice.
The president also used the occasion to caution against the use of social media to insult and incite from a safe and anonymous distance, urging the Diaspora to always promote Nigeria’s unity.
According to him, “The world is a global village and technology has shrunk the world even more. Although you reside beyond Nigeria’s boundaries you can engage easily with the country. In fact, we see the impact of that engagement clearly on social media.
“This platform has empowered Nigerians in the diaspora and given you great influence. As we have seen, however, social media can be a force for good as well as a force for evil.
“Many countries, including our own have had to take strong measures against some social media platforms to curb their excesses and prevent them from destabilising our societies.
“I, therefore, call upon you to use social media responsibly. We all want the best for our country and people, so let us strive to build, unite and prosper our nation and people and not to insult and incite from a safe and anonymous distance.”
Buhari expressed delight in the successful involvement of Diaspora in various fields such as agriculture, health care, education, ICT, and the food industry in Nigeria.
He noted that many countries, including Nigeria, have shown that their Diaspora can be a veritable engine for growth and development.
Acknowledging the huge contribution the Diaspora have made to Nigeria’s economy, the president said: “In every field of human endeavour, be it the creative industries, sports, health, academia, Nigerians in the Diaspora have thrived and leveraged on their skills to raise our country’s profile higher, economically, socially, technologically and culturally.
“It is for these reasons that this government established the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) to facilitate and support your engagement with our country for a win-win outcome in our effort to keep Nigerians united at home and abroad.
“You must continue to be our ambassadors-at-large in your comportment, actions and character.
“‘You must excel and be the best in all your endeavours. While here, you must also not forget home as you are the example we want to project to the rest of the world.”
The Nigerian leader assured the meeting coordinated by Chairman, NIDCOM, Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa, that the Federal Government would continue to do everything possible to catalyse development in various fields of the economy.
He also encouraged them to key into the programmes of NiDCOM, so as to contribute to initiatives such as the Nigerian Diaspora Investment Trust Fund.
Nigerian Ambassador to Portugal, Alex Enan Kefas, told Buhari that records indicate that there are some 3,000 Nigerians living in the country, who are generally well behaved and living peacefully among themselves and the host authorities.
The ambassador informed the president of the recent arrest and detention of about 13 Nigerians for alleged offences of money laundering and cybercrime.
He explained that the Embassy conducted a consular visit to the prison which revealed that the arrests were “disproportionate and unjust” as many of them were innocent of the allegations.
He said the mission was trying its best to ensure the release of the innocent to enable them to reunite with their families.
At the meeting with the Diaspora, a Nigerian professional footballer, Saviour Godwin, who plays for Portuguese side Casa Pia, presented a jersey to Buhari.
RSHA: Amaewhule-Led Lawmakers Defy Court Order, Elect New Leaders
The crisis rocking the Rivers State House of Assembly took a new twist on Wednesday as lawmakers loyal to the former Speaker, Martin Amaewhule, sat under tight security in the complex.
This is contrary to the court order asking the two factions of the State House of Assembly to maintain the status quo pending the determination of a suit filed by the Edison Ehie faction.
Recall that Ehie faction had obtained a court order that parties should maintain the status quo pending the determination of a suit seeking to sack Amaewhule as the House Speaker.
The Rivers Assembly had become factionalised following an unsuccessful move to impeach Governor Siminialayi Fubara.
The Amaewhule-led lawmakers are believed to be loyal to Fubara’s predecessor and political godfather, Nyesom Wike.
It was learnt that ahead of Wednesday’s sitting, cleaners had on Tuesday been deployed to clean up the Assembly complex, which had been under locks, since October 29, following an explosion in the complex the night before.
One of the cleaners said they were instructed to tidy up the complex ahead of a sitting on Wednesday.
It was gathered that the Wednesday sitting was held for about two hours as a team of riot policemen and security vans were stationed in front of the House to prevent any breaches.
It was gathered that the lawmakers elected a former Chief Whip as the new Majority Leader of the Assembly.
The member, representing Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Constituency 1, Frankline Nwabochi, was named the new Chief Whip.
An unsigned statement sent to the Assembly Press Corps obtained by The Tide said the two new principal officers accordingly took their oath of office.
Amaewhule congratulated them, charging them to be committed to their new responsibilities.
According to the statement, the lawmakers also passed the first reading of a Bill seeking to amend the Rivers State Local Government Law, No. 5 of 2018.
They also debated on the Rivers State House of Assembly Funds Management (Financial Autonomy) Bill, 2023, which passed second reading on Wednesday.
Amaewhule who described the Bill as important, expressed his conviction that Governor Fubara would assent to it after the lawmakers finally pass it.
He hinted that the governor had withheld funds meant for the Assembly for the month of November.
He said the lawmakers were determined to perform their constitutional duties despite the distractions.
He thereafter referred the Bill to the House Committee on Public Accounts for public hearing and further legislative scrutiny.
The other faction of the Assembly led by Ehie, and loyal to Fubara, had yet to react to the Wednesday development as of the time of filing this report.
Ogoni Group Mulls Recall Of Lawmakers Over Foiled Fubara’s Impeachment
An Advocacy group in Rivers State, Ogoni Development Drive (ODD), says it has begun the process to recall four Ogoni lawmakers from the Rivers House of Assembly over their alleged roles in the botched impeachment of Governor Similanayi Fubara.
The lawmakers are Dumle Maol (PDP, Gokana constituency), Barile Nwakoh (PDP, Khana), Aforji Igwe (PDP, Eleme) and Bernard Ngba (PDP, Tai).
The group’s Convener, Comrade Solomon Lenu, made this known at a news conference in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Recall that Fubara survived an alleged impeachment plot on October 30.
ODD said it had on November 10 issued a seven-day ultimatum to the four Ogoni lawmakers who partook in the plot that attempted to serve an impeachment notice to Governor Fubara.
The four lawmakers, now suspended, were asked to apologise to the Ogoni people whom they represent and to Gov. Fubara for denigrating his exalted office or risk being recalled.
“Instead of heeding this advice and embracing the olive branch extended to them, they rather embarked on an egocentric escapade,” the group said.
Lenu further said the lawmakers rather than heed to the advice by ODD, engaged in various meetings that purportedly plotted to unseat the governor.
“Governor Fubara was collectively voted for by the entire Rivers people, and as such, the action by the lawmakers has not gone well with all men and women of conscience.
“It is illogical for the erring assembly members to think it is right to impeach an innocent governor for no just cause but wrong to recall them for erring against their constituents.
“The suspended lawmakers called a bluff of ODD ultimatum, and so, we have decided to carry out this recall process in earnest, to put our democracy aright,” he said.
Lenu said the group had already reached an advanced level in sensitising and mobilising the lawmaker’s constituents to recall them.
He said that ODD had also obtained the comprehensive voters’ register of all voters in the four local government areas and constituencies.
According to him, an electronic capture form has also been created to make the petition process easier for students at various tertiary school campuses and those on holiday to sign the petition.
“So far, the response from the aggrieved constituents has been very impressive, and we shall in a few weeks’ time complete the compilation of the required signatures.
“The signatures are required for INEC to call for a referendum, which shall be carried out in branches with strict security guidance, to abort any sinister counterplot against democracy.
“We know this process is not going to be easy, but we are ready to go all the way, to create a sense of responsibility in our elected leaders,” he said.
Lenu said instilling a sense of responsibility in politicians and elected leaders would further entrench democratic tenets in the country.
The ODD convener called on the people of Ogoni to come forward and sign the petition, to end political “jamboree and illicit godfatherism” in the state.
The Tide reports that 26 lawmakers on Oct. 30 proceeded to impeach Fubara but were stopped by four pro-Fubara lawmakers led by Ehie Edison (PDP-Ahoada East II).
Mr Martins Amaewhule (Obio Akpor constituency), a close ally of a former governor, was later ousted as Speaker and Ehie sworn in as the new Speaker.
However, Amaewhule insists that he is still the Speaker of the House of Assembly, resulting in some form of confusion over the office of the Speaker.
FRSC Commander Faces Sanction Over Unauthorised Comments
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), yesterday, disowned the Unit Commander, Central Business District Unit Command, Assistant Corps Commander IL Ibrahim, over his recent statement on Vehicle Inspection Officers, otherwise known as Directorate of Road Traffic Services.
Ibrahim was quoted to have said that VIO officials did not have the right to arrest road traffic violators, including overloaded vehicles and motorists caught using phones while driving.
But Deputy Corps Marshal, Bisi Kazeem, in a statement, yesterday, said Ibrahim’s comment was not the position of the Corps.
Kazeem added that the concerned official had been recalled to the national headquarters for necessary disciplinary action.
The statement read, “The Federal Road Safety Corps wishes to make a pertinent clarification regarding the pronouncement by the Unit Commander, Central Business District Unit Command, Assistant Corps Commander IL Ibrahim, that Vehicle Inspection Officers, otherwise known as Directorate of Road Traffic Services, do not have the right to arrest road traffic violators, including overloaded vehicles and motorists caught using phones while driving.
“The general public is advised to disregard the statement as it had no approval of the Corps Marshal, Dauda Ali Biu, and does not in anyway reflect the corporate or general position of the Corps.
“It is important for the public know that the laws establishing VIOs/State Traffic Management Agencies give them the statutory mandate to make arrests on different offences depending on the state within which they operate. As such, the agencies should be given the maximum cooperation for the enhancement of safety on our roads.
“On this note and in line with sustaining the Corps’ resolve that road safety is a collective responsibility, and in acknowledgement of the roles the State Traffic Management Agencies like the Vehicle Inspection Officers play in complementing the statutory responsibilities of the FRSC through enforcement of traffic laws, the Corps Marshal has ordered the immediate withdrawal of the Unit Commander to the national headquarters for necessary administrative and disciplinary actions.
“The public is admonished to always comply with all established traffic regulations and cooperate with security agencies deployed to maintain law and order on the highways, irrespective of their corporate mandate.”
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