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PDP crisis: APC, two more governors begin defection talks

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Following the ongoing crisis in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), two more governors have started defection talks with the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The governors might use the defection to curtail threats from APC in their states.

The APC leadership was said to be discussing some terms with the affected governors.

One of the terms is the control of party structure in order to secure a guarantee for their second term in office.

According to a source, who is involved in the preliminary talks, one of the governors is from the South while the other is a high profile governor from the Northwest, who is rumoured to have presidential ambition but now appears to have had a change of heart and views a second term as governor as a more attainable target, using the APC platform.

Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, hinted on Thursday that three PDP governors, namely those of Bauchi (Bala Mohammed), Enugu (Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi) and Oyo (Seyi Makinde) were planning to defect to the APC.

He made the declaration while he was being presented to President Muhammadu Buhari by the APC Caretaker Chairman Governor Mai Mala Buni, in Abuja.

However, Governor Ugwuanyi has since refuted the insinuation by Fani-Kayode that he was contemplating defection from PDP to APC.

Reacting to the insinuation while addressing journalists in Enugu yesterday, the Chairman of Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA), Dr Josef Onoh, described Fani-Kayode’s comment as “a figment of his imagination”, adding that Governor Ugwuanyi had no plan to leave the PDP.

Our source said the uncertainty in PDP ahead of preparations for 2023 poll was also making some Senators and members of the House of Representatives to look for alternative platforms.

The source said: “If the negotiation goes well as designed, two more PDP governors, some Senators and members of the House of Representatives will soon join the All Progressives Congress. The way the APC is coordinating and penetrating PDP, the party may end up as a carcass.

“The two governors include one from the North-East and another from the South. I don’t want to mention the second governor’s geopolitical zone in order not to jeopardise the ongoing talks.

“A respected governor is one of those trying to woo the two governors. I think the APC deal is timely for the two governors to checkmate the party’s opposition to PDP in their states.

“This is why the PDP governors have made the control of the party’s structure a condition for defecting to APC. They want to guarantee their second term ticket.”

There were indications that some Senators and members of the House of Representatives may join the two governors if the defection pact sails through.

A senator from one of the affected states said: “I have got wind of the ongoing talks. If my governor thinks that is the best, I will follow him. We work as a team.”

Meanwhile, there were conflicting signals on where PDP is headed on its zoning formula for 2023 elections.

The party’s zoning committee is being led by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State.

The report of the committee will determine the shape of the National Convention of PDP in October and its presidential ticket for 2023 poll.

But while the committee has set out to work, it was learnt that some Northern PDP leaders have been pushing for the retention of the party’s ticket in their region.

They claimed that the 2023 poll is winnable for PDP with a strong Northern candidate.

They said it will be better to erode the 12 million voting strength of the APC in the North than to fail again at the next poll.

But some Southern governors and PDP leaders believe power should shift to the South in 2023.

They aligned themselves with the position of the Southern governors on Thursday in Enugu.

A third force in the party wants all slots thrown open, especially the presidential slot, to allow the best to emerge.

A member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of PDP said: “Zoning is a major headache for the party. We have three tendencies in the party. The North is seeking the slot after eight years in power; the South is desperate for power shift; and we have a section of PDP, which is asking us to throw open all offices.

“We are all looking forward to Governor Ugwuanyi committee which some of us see as an afterthought to douse tension in the party. PDP is in custody of a report by Governor Bala Mohammed and we ought to build only on the panel’s recommendations.”

Findings confirmed that the confusion in the party accounted for alleged hide and seek game by some of its governors and leaders.

It was gathered that while Governor Nyesom Wike has been linked with a presidential aspiration, he is also said to be interested in the VP slot as a Plan B.

Others, who are allegedly interested in the office of the Vice President in 2023 include ex-Governor Peter Obi, ex-Deputy President of the Senate Senator Ike Ekweremadu and some PDP governors who will complete second term in office by the next general election.

“The lobby for VP ticket is more pronounced and profound among PDP governors and leaders from the South than any part of the country.

“Some of us are wondering whether or not these leaders are committed to power shift to the South in 2023,” a former governor said.

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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.

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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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