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43 Days To INEC’s Deadline: APC, PDP In Hide-And-Seek Over Zoning

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A hide-and-seek is ongoing between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the leading opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the zoning of their presidential tickets, ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Daily Trust analysis of the recent events of the political parties and the body language of their leaders revealed that the two leading parties are deliberately delaying the zoning of the presidential tickets as part of strategies to outsmart each other.

Issues around the zoning of the presidential tickets have created tension and divisions in the two leading political parties, socio-cultural, religious and pressure groups.  It is a battle between the North and South in both parties.

It was observed that while most of the APC aspirants are from the Southern part, the majority of the popular aspirants in the PDP are from the North. Some sources said most of the contenders from the South would not mind playing the second fiddle.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had given the

parties up till June 3, this year, to conduct their primaries and produce their flag bearers.

PDP’s card

Ten days after the zoning committee of the PDP submitted its report to the National Working Committee (NWC), the party is yet to convene its National Executive Committee (NEC) where the recommendation of the party would be ratified.

This paper had exclusively reported on April 1 that the party committee, chaired by the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom would recommend the jettisoning of the zoning. The committee, according to its members had recommended that the race be opened to all aspirants.

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Analysts said the extension of the sale of forms by the PDP to interested aspirants was part of the ploy to keep the APC guessing. Twice, the party has extended the sale of forms the latest of which was yesterday.

Debo Ologunagba, spokesman for the party in a statement said after a thorough consideration of various issues and concerns in the party, the sale has been extended to today, Friday, April 22, 2022.  According to him, the last day for the submission of completed forms has been extended to Monday, April 25, 2022.

Before the sale was extended on Wednesday, 17 aspirants had picked the presidential forms of the leading opposition party.

PDP aspirants

The PDP presidential aspirants are; Atiku Abubakar (Adamawa),  Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto), Bukola Saraki (Kwara), Anyim Pius Anyim (Ebonyi), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Nyesom Wike (Rivers) and Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom).

Others are; Peter Obi (Anambra), Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti), Nwachukwu Anakwenze (Anambra), Dele Momodu (Edo), Mohammed Hayatu-Deen (Borno), Sam Ohuabunwa (Imo), Cosmos Ndukwe (Abia), Charles Ugwu (Enugu), Chikwendu Kalu (Abia) and Oliver Tareila Diana (Bayelsa)

Spokesperson for the PDP, Debo Ologunagba could not be reached for his response on why the party did not make public its zoning formula, but a chieftain of the party who did not want his name mentioned because he was not authorised to speak on the issue, told Daily Trust that “People should not be in haste; this is our party and we know what we are doing.

“We are even ahead of other parties in our preparation for the election. No other party has talked about zoning or done what we have been able to achieve in our preparation,” he said.

APC’s game plan

In the APC, the expectation that the issues surrounding the zoning would be resolved at its NEC meeting held on Wednesday was dashed as no position was taken or made public on the matter at the end of the meeting.

While it is generally believed that since President Muhammadu Buhari hails from the North, the party ticket should be conceded to the southern part of the country, there are tendencies in the party pushing that the North should retain the ticket.

The ceding of the powers of NEC to the NWC, sources in the party said was part of the arrangement to see how the card would play out.

At the end of the NEC’s meeting on Wednesday, its powers were ceded to the NWC under the leadership of Senator Abdullahi Adamu for three months.

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A member of the APC National Executive Committee (NEC), which is the second-highest decision-making organ of the party told Daily Trust in a telephone chat yesterday that the ruling party was waiting for the PDP to decide first.

The NEC member who craved anonymity said, “We are waiting to see the direction the PDP will go. If they field their presidential candidate from the North, we will equally field ours from the North.

“More importantly, we will not leave anything to chance. We are working hard to retain power. President Buhari must hand over to another APC government. That is our resolve.

“If you are a good observant, you would realise that the PDP is ahead of us in the scheme of things, talking about convention, congresses and others. So we are watching each of their steps keenly.”

The APC National Publicity Secretary, Barrister Felix Morka, neither answered his calls nor responded to a text message sent to his line.

APC’s aspirants

For now, most of the APC presidential aspirants are from the South. These include Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (Ogun), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (Lagos), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), David Umahi (Ebonyi), Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim (Kwara), Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Ihechukwu Dallas Chima (Abia) and Usman Iwu (Imo).

The only two aspirants from the North are; Yahaya Bello (Kogi) and Adamu Garba II (Adamawa).

Those who are yet to declare but their names are being mentioned are Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun).

Game normal in politics – Bode George

Former Deputy Chairman of the PDP, Chief Olabode George said that despite the politicking, the South must produce the next president, saying zoning cannot be jettisoned.

He noted that both APC and PDP were trying to play each other by not being categorical about zoning.

George in an interview with our correspondent said, “They (APC) are keeping quiet and trying to see us make foolery of ourselves because it would become a national campaign issue.

“Since the chairmanship has now been zoned to the North, automatically they are going to choose a president from the South but they are keeping quiet to allow us to pretend and think that they don’t know what they are doing.

“I am not bothered about this game. We have a norm. We have a culture and that is the political spinal cord of our party. That was what we did that endeared Nigerians to us, turn-by-turn Nigeria Limited,” he said.

Speaking with our correspondent, former member of the House of Representatives and Executive Secretary, Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reform (CODER), Dr  Wunmi Bewaji said zoning has come to stay in Nigeria. Also, the President of the Nigeria Political Science Association (NPSA), Prof.  Hassan Saliu, told Daily Trust that Nigerians should give the parties time.

“I think at the appropriate time, the parties will come out to address Nigerians on their final decision. The fact that the issue didn’t come at the last APC meeting and the PDP NEC is yet to ratify it does not suggest they have forgotten about it.

“Political process is not a straitjacket thing and they have to consider several factors at their disposal, talk to all the people involved and reach an agreement. Consensus building in politics is not an easy thing, it takes time,” he said.

DAILY TRUST

Politics

Adeleke freezes government accounts, reverses state name

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Ademola Adeleke

The newly inaugurated Governor of Osun State, Ademola Adeleke, has frozen all government accounts in the state.

Adeleke directed this in his first executive order upon inauguration on Sunday.

Adeleke, in his speech delivered at the inauguration, alleged that the erstwhile governor of the state, Adegboyega Oyetola, carried out some actions “maliciously” after he (Adeleke) won the July 16 governorship election, including “hurried” employments without provisions to sustain them.

He claimed these actions were roadblocks channeled at making things difficult in his administration.

Adeleke also reversed the state name from ‘State of Osun’ to ‘Osun State’, saying the former was alien to the constitution.

“My good people of Osun, since you elected me as your governor on the July 16, 2022, which the Independent National Electoral Commission announced on July 17, 2022, the former Governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, maliciously started putting road blocks to make things difficult and almost impossible for the new administration to serve you.

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“Mass employments were carried out without budgetary provisions for salary payments for the new employees; even when the state was struggling to pay salaries and deliver other services. Various hurried and criminally backdated contracts were awarded and again without budgetary provisions.

“Appointments of several Obas were hurriedly done without following due process, just to mention a few.

 “All efforts to get the governor set up a Transition Committee and submit hand-over notes in line with best practices proved abortive.

“It is therefore my desire to ask for your patience and understanding to give my administration a few weeks to review and sort out all the actions and malicious confusions which the immediate past administration has created since July 17, 2022. Those actions were indeed vindictive measures against the people of Osun State for voting them out of office,” Adeleke said.

Giving new orders, he said, “Consequently, I hereby issue the following directives which will be backed up with appropriate Executive orders:

“Immediate freezing of all government accounts in banks and other financial institutions;

“Immediate establishment of a panel to carry out an inventory and recover all government assets.

“An immediate establishment of a panel to review all appointments and major decisions of the immediate past administration taken after July 17, 2022.

“An immediate reversal to the constitutionally recognised name of our state, ‘Osun State’. All government insignia, correspondences and signages should henceforth reflect Osun State rather than State of Osun which is unknown to the Nigerian constitution.”

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Ebonyi INEC office set on fire, PVCs, ballot boxes burnt

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Hoodlums on Sunday set ablaze the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office at Iboko in the Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

This was disclosed by the National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, in a statement.

He said the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Ebonyi State, Mrs Onyeka Pauline Ugochi, reported that that the incident occurred around 10am.

Although he said no casualties resulted from the attack, the main building and all the movable and immovable items inside it were destroyed.

“These include 340 ballot boxes, 130 voting cubicles, 14 electric power generators, large water storage tanks, assorted office furniture and fixtures and yet to be determined quantities of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs),” Okoye said.

According to him, this is the third attack on INEC local government office in less than three weeks having earlier recorded similar attacks on the commission’s offices in Ogun and Osun states.

He said that the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies had commenced a full investigation into the incident.

 

The statement read, “The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Ebonyi State, Mrs Onyeka Ugochi, reported that our Izzi Local Government Area office located in Iboko, was set ablaze this morning.

“The incident occurred around 10.00am when some unidentified persons set the entire building ablaze.

“Although no casualties resulted from the attack, the main building and all the movable and immovable items inside it were destroyed. These include 340 ballot boxes, 130 voting cubicles, 14 electric power generators, large water storage tanks, assorted office furniture and fixtures and yet to be determined quantities of Permanent Voters’ Cards.

“The attention of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies has been drawn to the incident and have commenced investigation.

“Sadly, this is the third attack on our Local Government office in less than three weeks following similar attacks on our offices in Ogun and Osun States on 10th November 2022.”

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We haven’t endorsed Peter Obi, Dogara, aggrieved Northern APC

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Former House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara

Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and other members of the aggrieved Northern All Progressives Congress, APC camp have dismissed speculations that the group has endorsed the Obi-Datti presidency ahead of the 2023 general elections.

The group made the dismissal in a statement jointly-signed by Simon Achuba, Hon Albert Atiwurcha, Prof Doknan Sheni, Mela A. Nunge, SAN, Gen Ishaya Bauka Rtd, Prof Ibrahim Haruna and Mrs Leah Olusiyi.

Recall that the Chairman of the group and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, had said the group has endorsed the Labour Party presidential candidate, Obi and his running mate, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed.

According to him, Obi was endorsed, after painstakingly reviewing and analysing the alternative candidates.

But, Dogara and other members of the group have distanced themselves from the endorsement, saying they are yet to conclude consultations and that their position will be made public.

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He said, “We want to draw the attention of the general public to the recent position canvassed by our Chairman, Engr B D Lawal as the position of our Group. We wish to state that necessary consultations have been concluded, and based on manifestly unassailable empirical data, the group is poised to adopt a position that will be made known to the public at an interfaith event to be held very soon.

“Suffices to say that no one in the group including the Chairman has been mandated to speak to the public about our position at this material time. Based on our modus Operandi, our position was meant to be presented to the general public at the event above referred to. That has not changed.

“Consequently, the decision to endorse a particular candidate and the statement credited to the chairman are solely the decision and views of the Chairman which he is absolutely entitled to but not that of the group. We hope this statement clears all the queries most of us have been inundated with on this all-important subject matter,” he added.

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