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Tinubu returns to Nigeria after three-month UK medical trip

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The National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, returned to Nigeria on Friday after about three-month medical trip to the United Kingdom, where he underwent a knee surgery.

The former Lagos State governor arrived in Lagos barely 24 hours after the incumbent Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, inaugurated the South-West Agenda 2023 (SWAGA ‘23), a group rooting for Tinubu as the APC presidential candidate in the 2023 election.

Though Tinubu had yet to declare his intention to contest any office in 2023, there have been rumours and veiled indications that he might be interested in the exalted seat.

Members of the House of Representatives from the North who endorsed Tinubu’s candidacy when they visited him in the UK recently also lent credence to his purported interest.

While he was in London, he was visited by a number of politicians, including the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.); Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Governors Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), and Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti).

Others who visited Tinubu  included a former governor of Ogun State and incumbent Senator representing Ogun Central, Ibikunle Amosun; former governor of Borno State and Senator representing Borno Central, Kashim Shettima; and member representing Gubio, Kaga and Magumeri Federal Constituency of Borno State, Usman Zanna.

Also on the list are Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Obafemi Hamzat; Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa; Chief of Staff to Lagos State Governor, Tayo Ayinde; Deputy Chief of Staff to Lagos State Governor, Gboyega Soyannwo; Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Education, Tokunbo Wahab; and a former APC National Legal Adviser, Muiz Banire.

It was learnt that Tinubu arrived in Lagos on Friday evening unannounced, two days earlier than his reported plan to return to the country.

A statement from the Tinubu Media Office on Friday, titled, ‘Asiwaju is back’, said the ex-governor underwent surgery on his right knee as well as rigorous post-surgery physiotherapy, adding that he was now fully healed.

The statement read in part, “Contrary to unfounded rumour, he underwent no other surgical procedures and contemplates none in the future. His recuperation has been without complication and ahead of the schedule by the attending surgeon.

“He has returned fully healed from the knee surgery and fully committed to doing his modest part of advancing the cause of progressive democratic good governance throughout our beloved nation.

“Asiwaju, first and foremost, would like to thank President Muhammadu Buhari for taking the time to visit him in London to express his wishes for a speedy recovery from the knee operation.

“He is also not forgetting others who would have loved to visit him but couldn’t make it and his numerous friends, associates, supporters and well-wishers who have been with him in prayers and supplications to Allah.”

Meanwhile, SWAGA 23 has said Tinubu already has 12 million votes in the bag ahead of the 2023 presidential election.

The chairman of the pro-Tinubu group, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye, made this known on Friday as a guest on Channels TV’s ‘Politics Today’ programme monitored by The PUNCH.

Adeyeye, a former Minister of State for Works and Housing, boasted that just like Buhari who raked in 12 million votes from the North before the 2015 elections, Tinubu also had at least 12 million votes from the South-West.

He said traditional rulers in the South-West were also in support of Tinubu’s 2023 presidential bid.

The SWAGA chairman, however, said his group was not launched by Tinubu but they were prodding the ex-Lagos governor to run for Presidency in 2023.

Adeyeye said, “When this movement started, we wanted our candidate who some people, particularly in Abuja and some circles, have been saying has no home base; he is no longer popular and all that. We wanted to prove to them that the man is very acceptable, not only in his home base but throughout the country.

“We want everybody in the South-West to rally around this man and support him and so far we have been very successful.

“We have moved round the palaces to see most of our top traditional rulers who have endorsed him.

“Charity begins at home; we wanted to solidify the home base. Once the home base is solidified, I believe other Nigerians, particular in our party, will feel more comfortable to field this candidate, knowing that he can win the election for them.”

Speaking on the chances of Tinubu in the 2023 elections, the APC chieftain said, “Don’t forget that one of the selling points for President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 was that he already had 12 million votes in his pocket (in previous elections) particularly in the North-West and North-East. So, it was easy with support from a few other places for him to win the presidency.

“We are also saying that come 2023, the man we are projecting already has at least 12 to 13 million votes in his pocket and so it will be easy.”

Asked how sure he was about his statistics, Adeyeye said, “I am giving it (figure) based on what I have seen on the ground, having to transverse the length and breadth of the South-West and having seen people from political parties saying that when it comes to the issue of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, they will shed their partisan toga and embrace him and vote for him. I have seen that in the palaces of the Obas, amongst artisans and market women.

“When it comes to the issue of the Presidency in 2023, all of these people in unison, they will shed every difference and vote for this man.

“The votes in the South-West are more than 20 million votes. I am only saying 12 to 13 million votes are already assured and I say it with all sense of responsibility without fear of contradiction that those 12 to 13 votes are already in the bag.”

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$418m Paris Club Refund: Govs Tackle Malami, Say Action Fraudulent, Self-Serving

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Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) on Wednesday described the positions of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on the controversial $418 million Paris Club contractors’ fee as “fraudulent and self-serving.”

The NGF Chairman and governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, disclosed the position of the forum in a communique issued at the end of its meeting, held at the Conference Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Fayemi, while reading the communique to journalists, said the governors had resolved to pursue the issue, which is before the law court, to a logical conclusion so as to know the next steps to take on the matter.

The governors, who insisted that the deductions for the payment of said consultancy were illegal, especially as the matter is before the courts, said Malami was not acting in public interest.

“The forum extensively reviewed the purported attempt by the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Finance to circumvent the law and a recent judgment of the Supreme Court, to secure the approval of the Federal Executive Council, to effect illegal payment of the sum of $418 million to contractors who allegedly executed consultancies in respect to the Paris Club Refunds to state and local governments.

“The forum set up a committee comprising the Chairman, the governor of Ekiti State, the Vice Chairman, the governor of Ondo State, the governor of Plateau State, the governor of Nasarawa State and the governor of Ebonyi State, to interface with the committee set up by Mr. President to review the matter.

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“But the position of the Governors’ Forum is clear and unequivocal. Although this matter is sub-judice and we are very reluctant to get in the way of a matter that is still being pursued in the courts, we are constrained by the manner in which the Honorable Attorney-General has been going around various media houses and purporting to create the impression that this is a liability to which governors have committed themselves to and agreed to, even though he is very much aware that that’s not the case.

“We reject all of the claims that he has made on these issues and we also insist that states will not give up on insisting that these purported claims are fraudulent and will not stand, as far as governors are concerned, and we will take every constitutional and legal means to ensure that these purported consultancies are fully litigated upon by the highest courts in the land.

“If the courts now find governors and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and states liable, then we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. As far as we are concerned, this is a matter that governors feel very strongly about and we do not believe that the Attorney-General of the Federation is acting in the public interest. We believe he’s acting in personal, selfish interest, that would ultimately become clear when this matter is fully addressed in the law courts,” he said.

The governors, who also deliberated on the prevailing economic and security situation in the country, agreed to intervene by engaging with the federal government and other stakeholders to deliberate, suggest immediate action plans on ameliorate the current situations.

“The Forum extensively discussed the state of the Nigerian economy and security, following a presentation by Mr. Bismarck Rewani, member of the President’s Economic Advisory Council, the Forum resolved to immediately engage with the federal government and other critical stakeholders; Labour, the presidential candidates of political parties, and corporate actors on finding resolutions and suggestions to implement a set of immediate actions to ameliorate the worsening economic conditions in the country”, he said.

On the industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the communique said “on the prolonged strike by Nigerian universities, the forum encourages the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities to find meaningful resolutions to the lingering impasse and as proposed to engage with both parties, just as we have done in the past, in a bid to ending the strike”.

The communique further revealed that the Forum discussed several other issues, ranging from resolve to increase funding for the health care sector to encouraging fiscal transparency in states.

Daily Trust
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Ex-IBB spokesman, Duro Onabule, dies at 83

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Duro Onabule, former Chief Press Secretary of former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, has died at the age of 83.

The veteran journalist reportedly died on Tuesday evening.

A close associate of Onabule’s family, Chief Eric Teniola, broke the news of the foremost journalist’s death, saying, “Chief Duro Onabule died this evening”.

He Onabule was presidential spokesman for the greater part of Babangida nine-year administration when the government shut down many newspapers and magazines and slammed their publishers with temporary proscription to make them comply with the code of conduct set up by the administration.

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He was born in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, on September 27, 1939 and graduated from CMS Grammar School and School of Journalism, London.

He started his first media work as a reporter at the Daily Express in 1961. Three years later, he joined the Daily Sketch and spent some time there before going back to his previous employer, Daily Express.

In 1969, he served as the London correspondent of the Express. In the mid-1970s, he worked for the Daily Times and later became a deputy editor of the Headlines magazine.

Onabule was appointed features editor when the late MKO Abiola started Concord Press and in 1984, he became the editor of Concord newspaper.

He was a columnist at the Sun newspapers until his death.

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Insecurity: Lagos considers total ban on okada

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The Lagos State Government says it is considering a total ban on commercial motorcycles in all local government areas of the state.

The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, said this at a stakeholders forum organised to review the ban on commercial motorcycles in parts of the state.

The forum, held in Lagos on Tuesday, had the theme: “Okada Ban, What Next: Review of Enforcement and Compliance, Two Months After.”

The Lagos State Governor, Bababjide Sanwo-Olu, on June 1 banned the operation of commercial motorcycles, popularly called okada, in six local government areas and nine LCDAs.

The six local governments are Ikeja, Surulere, Eti-Osa, Lagos Mainland, Lagos Island and Apapa.

Omotosho said after seeing the results of the ban in the six local government areas, the people of Lagos had been calling on the government to expand the ban.

“Some people have suggested that the ban should be statewide, considering the present anxiety over security,” he added.

According to him, the forum is to take stock of the government decision on the ban and agree on the next step to take.

He recalled the criticisms that initially trailed the ban, “based largely on sentiments of those who had not witnessed the havoc some of the Okada riders caused in the areas of health and security.

“Residents were being robbed of their belongings by robbers who used motorcycles to flee scenes of crimes.

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“Our public hospitals were being filled with victims of Okada accidents, doctors had their hands full at Emergency wards, and hoodlums who rode unregistered motorbikes posed great security risks.”

The commissioner said all stakeholders now have the opportunity to make suggestions on what steps the government should take on the matter.

In his remark, the Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Frederic Oladeinde said that the ban had recorded significant successes and compliance.

Oladeinde said in the affected areas within the period under review, available records’ showed that crime and accidents had reduced drastically.

“In the affected areas within the period under review, available records’ show that crime and accident rate reduced astronomically by 86 per cent and 63.7 per cent, respectively.

“While a total of 7,500 motorcycles were impounded and crushed accordingly,” he added.

He said that the rise in the level of insecurity nationwide has made it imperative to review the impact on the ban on motorcycles in parts of the state and further steps to protect the people.

“The Federal Government is presently considering the total ban of motorcycle operations across the federation as most of these underground activities are been enhanced with the use of motorcycles.

“Also, the attention of the state government has been drawn to the security threat parading the news across all socio-media platforms that some unscrupulous individuals are planning to attack the state.”

Oladeinde said the government was already working round the clock to secure the state.

The commissioner said the focus on Okada operation was due to their non-compliance to traffic rules and regulations, and its being used for robbery, kidnapping, arms supply and attack on citizens.

He said the forum was expected to re-ignite the state’s commitment to tackling traffic rules violations and criminals operating as commercial riders.

The Special Adviser to the governor on Transportation, Sola Giwa said the forum should come up with suggestions to guide the government on decisions to take on the operation of Okada riders.

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