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Lawan gets Goje boost

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Senator Ahmed Lawan is inching closer in his bid to become the Senate President.  One of the main contenders, Senator Danjuma Goje, bowed out of the race after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

 

Goje explained to State House Correspondents that he was standing down out of respect for the president and the party that had proclaimed Lawan as its candidate for the top job of the National Assembly. But it’s not all clear for Lawan, as the other contender, Senator Ali Ndume, quickly reacted to the development yesterday and said in a statement that he remained in the race and was confident of breasting the tape.

Goje had gone to the villa in company with Lawan, who was the majority leader of the eight Senate that was dissolved yesterday, and the Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nazir el-Rufai.

According to sources close to the discussions, the meeting was in fulfillment of Goje’s condition that before he could withdraw from the race, he must hear directly from Buhari.

With the condition met yesterday he had no more straw to cling to and had to stand down.

Consequently, Goje, who represents Gombe Central Senatorial District, threw his weight behind Lawan of Yobe North Senatorial District.

Speaking with State House correspondents after the meeting, El-Rufai said the former governor had agreed to fully quit the race for the number one seat in the National Assembly and support Lawan, thanking him for the sacrifice he had opted to make.

El-Rufai also said Goje’s decision to withdraw his ambition and support Lawan was meant to strengthen the unity of the party.

He said: “Gentlemen of the press, I am very pleased to report to you that we just came out of a meeting with our leader and mentor, the president, with distinguished Senator Danjuma Goje, and Ahmad Lawan from Yobe to discuss steps to unify our leadership in the National Assembly, starting with the Senate.

“I am very pleased to announce that distinguished Senator Goje has agreed to fully endorse and support the choice of the party and that of Mr. President to lead the Senate. I am very grateful to Senator Goje for his sacrifice. This discussion has been going on for a very long time and am honoured to be part of the discussions.”

Confirming his withdrawal, Goje thanked his supporters whom he said had been persuading him to throw his hat in the ring, saying he was left with no option than to withdraw from the race in deference to pleas from party leaders and in expression of his loyalty to the party.

He also said he opted to withdraw from the race in the overall quest for the unity of the party as well as the necessity to assist the president in his policies for the development of the country.

Goje said: “Before I proceed, I want to use this opportunity to thank my teeming associates, supporters, and admirers across the country. Some have been calling me to declare for the Senate presidency.

“The calls have come from across the country. I listened to them. I appreciate them and thank them so much, but I want to say that as an elderly man that has been in this game for a long time and my age, I should be able to appreciate leadership coming from our elders.

“So, in spite of all these calls and my support base, I have decided in deference to loyalty to our party and in the interest of the unity of our party, the APC, and the development of our country and in order to assist President Muhammadu Buhari in his policies, I have decided by not declaring for Senate presidency. Instead, I am supporting the position of the party, thereby endorsing the candidature of Ahmad Lawan.”

Asked if succumbing to pressure from party leaders to withdraw his ambition does not amount to compromising the independence of the legislature to choose its own leaders, Goje said he was not intimidated out of the race.

He also said he was not forced out of the race, neither did his withdrawal for Lawan amount to the latter’s imposition on the Senate, explaining rather that his decision was taken from the depth of his own conviction in the interest of the country and his support for Buhari.

According to him, “I don’t think there is an imposition. I am not compelled to step down but as a reasonable person and at my age, I think I have the capacity to think well and to respect my elders and my party.

“I have been in party politics since the Second Republic and I have been independent. I have been winning my elections several times, from local government to house of assembly, to National Assembly, to governorship and also a minister, to say that I would be frightened to support somebody, it’s impossible.

“I am supporting him based on my own conviction that I am doing the right thing for our country and our president.”

Lawan expressed gratitude to Buhari and El-Rufai whom he described as the architects of the move, describing it as another step aimed at boosting the unity of the party.

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Politics

INEC continues to deny existence of server

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday insisted that the results of the 2019 general election were not transmitted electronically to its server, stressing that the commission only experimented with the technology during some staggered elections held in 2018.


The commission said that the clarification was necessary because of rising controversy on the transmission of 2019 presidential election results from states to the INEC server.

Speaking during the post-election retreat organized by the commission for its staff and ad hoc staff engaged for the last general elections in Osun State, INEC National Commissioner, Mr. Solomon Soyebi, explained that many factors forced the commission to drop the idea of electronic transmission of the results to a central server.

Soyebi added that INEC experimented with electronic transmission of results during Anambra, Sokoto and Osun States’ elections held before 2019 elections but the commission did not sustain the use of the technology during the 2019 general election.

He maintained that the late release of INEC’s budget for the 2019 elections and controversy over the Electoral Act, among other reasons, forced the commission to jettison the idea of using the technology to transmit results to the central server.

He explained: “We piloted the use of transmission of election results electronically in Sokoto, in Anambra, even in Osun. What happened was that we were trying to pilot to see the desirability of such technology in our electoral process.

“First, our budget came out very late; there was also issue (with) the Electoral Act. For these and some other reasons, the commission did not adopt that option. 2019 elections were conducted according to law.

“We used the Constitution of the Federal Republic; we used the Electoral Act and our guidelines for 2019 elections. If you look at the three instruments carefully, the issue of the server was not highlighted.

“Once in a while, you will see an experiment going on but we have to pilot it before we will deploy wholesale for election.

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More foreign observers knock 2019 general elections

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Two United States’ institutes that monitored the 2019 general elections said yesterday that the election did not meet previous standards and the expectations of Nigerians. In their Joint report, presented in Abuja, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) said that 2019 elections were marred by irregularities, such as intimidation of voters/electoral officials, vote buying and election-related violence.

They also condemned the suspension of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, saying the judiciary plays a crucial role in post-election matters.

“Although many new political parties nominated candidates for the 2019 elections, the polls were largely a contest between the incumbent All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); the APC hoped to renew the mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari and consolidate its majority in the National Assembly and of governorship. However, the party faced internal wrangling and defections of some key figures in the months to the polls.

“The PDP fielded former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as its standard bearer and, entering the process for the first time as an opposition party, challenged the APC: record, claiming the ruling party not kept its campaign promises to fight corruption, improve security and boost the economy’’, the report said.
The IRI/NDI observation mission said that the 2019 elections did not meet the expectations of many Nigerians.

On security and elections related-violence, the report said, “Ahead of the 2019 polls, the poor security situation in Nigeria, mainly attributed to Boko Haram’s resurgence in the North-east, inter-communal violence in the Middle Belt and widespread crime and banditry, raised concerns about the safety of voters and candidates.

“Increased politically-motivated violence and conflict in the pre-election period was also a concern, especially around political party primaries in some areas.’’

The report further stated that for many Nigerians, the 2019 elections-the sixth since the country’s 1999 transition back to civilian democratic rule, were an opportunity to consolidate democratic gains and build on sound electoral practices.

‘’Significant improvements in the administration of the 2011 and 2015 elections boosted expectations in the 2019 electoral process. Moreover, Nigeria’s first peaceful transfer of power between political parties following the 2015 elections underscored for Nigerians that credible elections matter,” the report said.

The joint report further said that the last-minute postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections on February 16 showed that INEC had underestimated challenges associated with the administration of the elections.

According to the report, “the commission did not communicate sufficiently with political parties and the public about election preparations. Such a late postponement likely depressed voter turnout and created confusion about the duration of candidate and party.

‘’Most significantly, the delay also undermined public confidence in INEC. After the one-week postponement, it increased its public outreach and communications through regular press briefings. Since the polls, however INEC has been slow to release information, including detailed results.’’

The report said that the last-minute postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections on the morning of February 16, and delays in opening some polling units and other administrative challenges on February 23 undermined public confidence in INEC.

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Ex-minister’s son abducted at gunpoint

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Some unknown gunmen on Tuesday evening abducted Dayo Adewole, who is the son of the immediate past Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole. The military, the police, security agents and local hunters were already on the trail of the kidnappers as at press time.

Prof. Isaac Adewole

The ex-minister has, however, been forced to cut short his trip abroad.

The abductors were yet to contact the family on their motive and the condition of their victim.
According to a source, Dayo was ambushed at gunpoint on his farm in Iroko, near Fiditi in Afijio Local Government Area of Oyo State at about 6 pm.

Although there were some employees with Dayo, the abductors went for him as a prime target.

It was gathered that the kidnappers later took Dayo away to an unknown destination.

A source said: “The villagers were alerted by the staff who survived the ordeal. Local hunters were mobilized by the Oniroko of Iroko.

“The hunters were said to have located the car of the abductors along the road to Iware village near Iroko
“But they are yet to locate Dayo’s whereabouts. It was suspected that the kidnappers might have changed their vehicle following persistent announcement on the radio after Oniroko had raised the alarm on air.”

Findings confirmed that the military, the police, and security agencies have joined forces with the villagers to search for Dayo.

A top official of the Federal Ministry of Health said: “We are in sad mood over the abduction. Dayo was a graduate of agriculture and he opted for farming.

“He has been managing his farm peacefully in Iroko until he was abducted by some gunmen on Tuesday.”

Responding to a question, the official said: “The ex-minister left for abroad last Thursday for recess but he is on his way back. He has cut short his trip.

“The military, the police, and other security agencies are on top of the situation.”

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Imo Governor suspends LG chairmen

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Imo State Governor Emeka Ihedioha has suspended chairmen, vice chairmen, councilors and political appointees of the local governments for six months. The suspension is contained in the instrument signed by the Governor, pursuant to the recommendation made to him by the Imo State House of Assembly.

This is in pursuant also, to the provisions of Sections 4, 5, and 6 of the Local Government Administration (Amendment) law, 2019 and S.73(3) of Imo State Local Government Administration Law No 15 of 2000 (as amended) and all other laws enabling him.

He set up Interim Management Committees to manage the affairs of each Local Government.
Consequently, the Directors of Administration and General Services(DAGS) of each Local Government have been directed to take over management, pending the confirmation of Interim Management Committees by the State Assembly.

He also removed the chairman and members of the Imo State Independent Electoral Commission (ISIEC).

This is following a resolution supported by a two-thirds majority of the State Assembly rendered on 6th June 2019 seeking their removal from office.
The action is also in accordance with the provisions of S.7(1) of the Imo State Independent Electoral Commission Law and all other extant laws of the State.

The Commission will be reconstituted in due course to put in place the machinery for conducting a credible election into the local governments.

The Governor further directed that these officers handover to the most senior civil servant in the Commission.

The governor also dissolved all statutory boards, corporations, agencies, and parastatals. This is in line with relevant enabling laws of the state.

A statement by his Chief Press Secretary Chibuike Onyeukwu directed the chairmen and sacked to handover to the most senior civil servant in their various establishments.

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