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Osun APC in disarray as Oyetola, Aregbesola battle for supremacy

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The supremacy battle between the Governor of Osun State, Adegboyega Oyetola, and his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola, minister of interior, over the control of the structure of the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress has assumed a dangerous dimension.

The party has split into two and both camps are flexing political muscles to gain popularity.

The Aregbesola camp is known as The Osun Progressives (TOP) while Oyetola’s camp is known as Ileri Oluwa. During his campaign in 2018, Oyetola used Ileri Oluwa as his identity. It has since become a movement.

Some members of the party loyal to Aregbesola said only members of the Ileri Oluwa movement got political appointments in Oyetola’s administration, while they were sidelined because of their relationship with the former governor. They alleged that any member who wants to benefit from Oyetola’s government must not be seen to support Aregbesola.

Being fully aware of the treatment meted to his followers, the minister was able to get political appointments for some of them at the federal level. At a point, those loyal to him were tagged ‘Abuja people’ while those loyal to Oyetola were seen as Osun-based.’ That was how the division started among the party members.

Political observers in the state said the rift between the two politicians could be dated back to the 2018 governorship election as Oyetola was not Aregbesola’s preferred candidate to take over from him despite the fact that he served as his chief of staff for eight years and they had a good relationship. Oyetola was, however, allegedly imposed on the party by a former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; and Aregbesola accepted because he could not say no to his directive. As a result of this, it was believed that the minister did not work hard for Oyetola’s victory during the election.

Also, it was said that Oyetola did not support the nomination of Aregbesola for the ministerial appointment, upturned some his policies and made efforts to curtail his dominance on the party. At that point, the crisis was becoming serious, but both sides pretended as if there was no problem.

The former acting national chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, made efforts to reconcile the two political gladiators severally, to no avail. Eventually, the chairman of the party in the state, Prince Adegboyega Famodun and some executive members of the party became loyal to Oyetola, while the secretary, Alhaji Rasaq Salinsile and others pitched tent with Aregbesola.

The bubble eventually burst during the recent ward congresses of the party. While those loyal to the governor said they preferred a consensus arrangement, those in the minister’s camp insisted that there must be an election to determine their representatives at that level.

Consequently, those in Aregbesola’s camp alleged that the governor and the chairman of the party wanted to impose the consensus arrangement on them, saying it was designed to edge out the minister from the control of the party in the state.

To register their displeasure, some women and youths in the party staged a peaceful protest in major streets of Osogbo, the state capital, lamenting that the consensus arrangement would disenfranchise them. The protesters, led by Rasheed Raji, said the chairman of the electoral panel on the congress, Senator Gbenga Elegbeleye, connived with Governor Oyetola and Famodun to compromise the process in their favour.

But Elegbeleye, during a meeting with APC stakeholders at the Government House, debunked the allegation, saying he arrived Osogbo late due to a delay in flight from Abuja, as against the rumour that he refused to allow those in Aregbesola’s camp to obtain forms for the ward congress. He promised that the committee would do everything possible to champion transparency, accountability and fairness.

During that meeting, leaders of the party and political officeholders present supported consensus arrangement. Those who attended the meeting included Governor Oyetola, three former deputy governors, Senator Iyiola Omisore, Prince Sooko Adewoyin and Mrs Titi Laoye-Ponle, the senator representing Osun Central, Dr Basiru Ajibola; Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Timothy Owoeye and the state chairman of the party, Prince Famodun

Speaking during the meeting, Governor Oyetola said consensus was adopted to prevent rancour and appealed to members of the party in the state to conduct themselves peacefully during the process.

“Congress is a way of electing new officers of the party and it shouldn’t generate any crisis. The national leadership of the party asked us to adopt consensus to avoid rancour. The presence of all the stakeholders in this meeting shows that the party is formidable,” the governor said.

The chairman of the party also said, “As recommended by the national secretariat, we have adopted consensus in Osun for the purpose of the smooth running of the party. Things have been properly done. Our homework has been done properly. Our fathers and leaders have scrutinised the 332 wards we have in Osun. We have concluded the exercise.”

Senator Ajibola Basiru also affirmed his support for consensus but suggested that elections should be conducted in the wards where there were contenders so that everyone would be given equal opportunity.

On the day of the congress, names of consensus candidates were read and ratified across the state, but those in Aregbesola’s camp insisted on election, not consensus. As a way of seeking redress, the aggrieved members forwarded their petition to the Ambassador Obed Wadzain-led appeal committee, which was set up by the national body of the party.

During the sitting of the appeal committee at the party’s secretariat in Osogbo to meet the petitioners, there was pandemonium as thugs stormed the venue. Some people were injured during the attack. Both the Aregbesola and Oyetola camps accused each other of hiring the thugs to disrupt the process.

Worried over the development, Comrade Sunday Oriowo, who spoke on behalf of the Coalition of Osun Progressives Groups, an umbrella body of 15 groups in the state, urged the appeal committee to treat all petitions before it on merit.

Also, in a statement by his chief press secretary, Ismail Omipidan, the governor urged party members to allow peace to reign. He condemned what he called “unruly behaviour” by some aggrieved members of the party, saying no sane society would condone any act of lawlessness. He noted that the people of Osun were known for peace, and urged members of the party to avoid acts that could tarnish the image of the state. He further noted that political intolerance was injurious to the unity and collective peace of the state. While appealing for calm, the governor also said the government would not tolerate any act of criminality or violence in any part of the state under the guise of politics.

“I appeal to party members, especially those who have already filed petitions before the appeal committee over the conduct of the last ward congress to sheathe their swords and toe the line of peace and the law.

“Since the matter is already before the appeal committee, they should allow the process to run its full course. We are known for peace as a people. We should do all in our power to sustain that recognition in our collective interest,” the governor stated.

On their part, Aregbesola’s supporters said their lives were in danger as there were plans to assassinate their leaders. The chairman of the TOP, Reverend Lowo Adebiyi, said relevant security agencies had been informed about the assassination plot.

The secretary of the party also alleged that one of the leaders of the TOP, Mr Biyi Odunlade, a commissioner for youth and sport during Aregbesola’s tenure, escaped death by whiskers when gunmen attacked his house days after the ward congress.

Reacting to the claim of an assassination plot, the party’s director of publicity in the state, Mr Kunle Oyatomi, said Governor Oyetola and the chairman of the party were not known to be killers, and the APC is not a party of killers. He said those alleging threats to their lives should provide evidence. He also said the internal crisis in the party was not in anyone’s interest and appealed to all members to operate as one family.

-Saturday Trust

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Nigerians To Pay More For Beverages, Sweetened Drinks As FG Enforces Sugar Tax

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The Federal Government has commenced the implementation of the N10 per litre sugar tax on carbonated sugar drinks and beverages.

According to the Chief Superintendent of Customs, Department of Excise, Free Trade Zone and Industrial Incentives, Dennis Ituma, the tax would help combat Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs).

He spoke at a Policy Breakfast Meeting which held in Abuja this weekend.

The event was organised by the National Action on Sugar Reduction (NASR) to proffer ways to implement tax and other interventions to reduce consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) in Nigeria.

The implementation is coming despite pleas by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and some related stakeholders who asked the government to halt the policy introduced in the Finance Act, signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on December 31, 2021.

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In a statement, the Coalition Representative of the 12-member NASR, Omei Bongos-Ikwue, quoted  the Customs official as saying the services had commenced.

“The N10 per litre of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages has been implemented on June 1, by July 21, all excise duties must have been collected and paid into the federation account. It should interest you that taxation on SSBs was a policy of the Federal Government in 1984 but was stopped in January 2009.

“Previously both SSBs, alcoholic drinks and tobacco were all taxed until 2009 when SSBs was removed from taxable beverages,” he said.

Members of the NASR are Diabetes Association of Nigeria, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Nigeria Cancer Society, Breast Without Spot, Lafiya Wealth Initiative, TalkHealth9ja, Nigeria Health Watch, Project PINK BLUE, Sustainable Development Initiative, African Youth Initiative on Population, Health and Development (AfrYPoD), Bundies Care Initiative, and Nigerian Heart Foundation.

DAILY TRUST

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Ekweremadu: Immigration says Ukpo birthday certificate shows he’s 21 not 15

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Birth certificate of Ekweremadu ‘kidney donor’ shows he’s 21, says immigration

The Nigeria Immigration Service says David Ukpo, the “kidney donor” at the centre of the organ harvesting allegation against Ike Ekweremadu, is 21 years old — not 15.

Spokesman for the NIS, Amos Okpu, disclosed this in a statement released on Sunday.

Okpu said the birth certificate presented by Ukpo during his international passport registration showed that he is 21 years old.

Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice, were arrested last Thursday and arraigned in court for allegedly bringing a child to the UK for organ harvesting.

They were subsequently remanded in custody till July 7 while investigations are still ongoing.

The senator had written to the UK high commission to support a visa application of a “donor”.

Although the UK police said the donor was 15, Ukpo was listed as 21 years old on his international passport and the Bank Verification Number (BVN) portal.

The immigration spokesman said the birth certificate issued by the National Population Commission (NPC) and the national identity number (NIN) slip presented by Ukpo indicated that he is 21.

He explained that Ukpo’s date of birth was listed as October 12, 2000 — meaning he will be 22 years old in October 2022.

“The facts of the matter concerning the case above, therefore, are that the said Mr David Ukpo Nwamina applied and paid for the enhanced standard passport using the NIS portal after which he approached the Gwagwalada Passport Office, FCT Abuja, on the 2nd November 2021 for his interview,” the statement reads.

“To support his application, Mr. Nwamina presented all the necessary documents required, including his National Population Commission (NPC) issued Birth Certificate, showing 12 October, 2000, as his date of birth; his National Identity Number (NIN) corroborating the date of birth on his birth certificate, issued by NIMC; a letter of introduction issued by Ebonyi State Government Liaison Office situated at Maitama District Abuja, and a Guarantor’s form duly signed by one Mr. Uchechukwu Chukwuma Ogbonno.
“In view of the above, the general public may wish to be informed that the date of birth, or any other information for that matter, on any Nigerian passport is printed on the document only after a thorough vetting process that involves both physical and forensic examination of the applicant’s breeder documents. Mr. Nwamina’s case, therefore, was not different.”

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South African police investigate death of 20 in nightclub 

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South African police are investigating the deaths of at least 20 people at a nightclub in the coastal town of East London early Sunday morning.

According to AP, it is unclear what led to the deaths of the young people, who were reportedly attending a party to celebrate the end of winter school exams.

Local newspaper Daily Dispatch reported that bodies were strewn across tables and chairs without any visible signs of injuries.

“At this point we cannot confirm the cause of death,” said health department spokesperson Siyanda Manana.

“We are going to conduct autopsies as soon as possible to establish the probable cause of death. The deceased have been taken to state mortuaries,” Manana added.

The owner of the club, Siyakhangela Ndevu, told local broadcaster eNCA that he had been called to the scene early Sunday morning.

“I am still uncertain about what really happened, but when I was called in the morning I was told the place was too full and that some people were trying to force their way into the tavern,” he said.

“However, we will hear what the police say about the cause of death,” Ndevu added.

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