General news

Jonathan urges Niger Delta youths to shun violence



Former President Goodluck Jonathan has urged Niger Delta youths to shun acts of violence and embrace peace to ease the execution of projects that would ensure the development of the region.

Jonathan gave the advice when officials of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Worldwide, and Niger Delta Youth Leaders, visited him to commiserate with him over the attack on his residence in Otuoke.

The Nigeria News Agency , reports that the former President’s residence in Otuoke, Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa, was attacked on Dec. 24, 2019 by gunmen.

Jonathan, while thanking his visitors for the concern, admonished them to shun any act of violence as no nation could develop in an atmosphere of criminality and violence.

The former president said that there was no reason for the attack, pointing out that he had done his own part for the development Nigeria as nation.

He called on security agencies to ensure that those who carried out the act were brought to book.

Earlier, President of IYC, Mr Pereotubo Oweilaemi, had called on security agencies to ensure the unmasking of the perpetrators of the attack.

“The attack on former President Jonathan’s home at Otuoke is really embarrassing. The perpetrators of that dastardly act should not go unpunished. Security agencies should ensure they fish out those hoodlums.

“We are calling on the neighbouring communities around Otuoke to cooperate with the security agencies in order to fish out those bandits,” he said.

Also speaking, Mr Kennedy West, a youth leader, said that it was saddening that people from the region could plan an attack on the former president.

He said that there was no reason to justify that attack.

Edited by: Joseph Edeh and Ephraims Sheyin


Former Adamawa Acting Governor returns to PDP



Former Adamawa Acting Governor, Mr James Barka, has left the All Progressives Congress (APC) for his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP).

Barka officially announced his return to the PDP on Thursday in Yola.

The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that Barka was the acting governor of Adamawa under the platform of PDP from February 2008 to April 2008.

He was a former Nigeria’s Ambassador to Tunisia, under President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, but dumped PDP for APC in 2014.

“I only veered off into the APC, leaving my teeming supporters behind; and as you can see, I’ve returned home,” he said.

Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri, who received the former acting governor, said that the doors of the PDP-led administration were wide open to well-meaning individuals.

“Our doors are open to well-meaning individuals and groups of peoples who would support the development of our dear party, state and country,” Fintiri said. ( NAN)

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Ejike Obeta
Source: NAN
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NEWS ANALYSIS: Towards a peaceful governorship election in Edo



Towards a peaceful governorship election in Edo

A News Analysis by Emmanuel Oloniruha, News Agency of Nigeria

Unarguably, peaceful and credible elections are essential tools for democracy to thrive.

Political analysts believe that peaceful and credible polls stimulate positively on the people, the economy, democracy and good governance.

They, however, identified the broad consequences of electoral violence to include diminished trust in democratic processes and institutions, undermined civil and political rights, ranging from disfranchisement through deprivation of citizens’ or groups’ rights to vote and be voted for.

While the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC ) has, at different occasions, expressed it preparedness and determination to ensure that the Saturday Edo governorship election is credible, the commission, like every other stakeholders, has also not held back it worries about issue of violence in the state election.

With the reports of violence and attacks that characterised campaigns of political parties as well as “unguarded utterances by some political actors involving in the Edo election, INEC had in August threatened to suspend the election process if the actions of political actors lead to a breakdown of law and order.

Mr Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, announcing the threat said that the commission had observed with deep concern, the escalating levels of violent actions and incendiary statements by political parties, candidates and their supporters, in the run up to the elections.

“These actions include destruction of opponents’ campaign materials such as billboards, violent campaigns and use of offensive language.

“It is important for political parties, candidates and their supporters to keep in mind that there are extant laws and regulations that must be adhered to, during campaigns.

“The commission will not shirk its responsibility to enforce the rules of the game.

“Consequently, parties and candidates must, on no account, underestimate the resolve of the commission to enforce the rules and regulations and apply appropriate sanctions against those who choose to break them.

Okoye said that political parties must realise that Edo and Ondo State governorship elections are taking place at a time of a global pandemic and the commission will work to observe and comply with all health and safety protocols issued by the commission and health authorities.

He said that with the pandemic taking its toll on the citizenry, the people of Edo and Ondo State must be saved from the burden of violent elections.

“Political parties must remember that Edo and Ondo State governorship elections have strict constitutional and statutory timelines and threats of violence or actual violence can disrupt those timelines and create a constitutional crisis,’’ Okoye said.

However, observers have commended various interventions and moves put in place to engender peace before, during and after the state elections.

Few of these interventions include stakeholders meetings organised by the INEC, Civil Society Organisations and, most important, the peace meeting organised among political parties and their candidates by the Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, as well as the signing of peace pact organised by the National Peace Committee (NPC).

The meeting of oba with candidates and leaders of political parties in his palace in Benin on Sept. 2, sued for peace and urged them to emulate the action of former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 when he lost to President Muhammadu Buhari.

The monarch, noting that elections are not a do-or-die affair, said politicians must note that they have only Edo to call their own and, thus, must do everything to protect it from disintegration.

“Edo politics have been in the news for quite some time now for all the wrong reasons. We have sleepless nights for quite sometimes now because these are all our people; these are people of the same stock, from the same body. There is nobody that is a stranger to each other,’’ Oba Ewuare said.

In another move to ensure that the Saturday election is peaceful, the NPC led by it Chariman and former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar on Tuesday, made the candidates for the election to sign a peace accord with pledge to abide by the rules and regulations as stipulated in the electoral law.

Abubakar, who said “Edo deserved peace’’ noted the NPC was in Edo to support this process, and not just signing the peace accord by all candidates but to encourage all to accept the result no matter the outcome.

“As you are aware, since 1999, every election in Nigeria has been conducted with various degree of violence.

“The tension and anxiety associated with election necessitated the setting up of the NPC who is to support peaceful election process and enthrone culture of peace.

“The gubernatorial election in Edo is only a few days away and we want peace during and after the election.

“We want to see Nigeria as a place where people come out peacefully during election and cast their votes without deprivation, intimidation and coercion.”

Abubakar said that by signing the peace accord, the candidates were committing themselves to ensure that peace reign in Nigeria and Edo before, during and after the election, reminding them that violators of the accord would put their integrity on line.

He said while INEC had assured Nigerians of its readiness for credible election in Edo, it behoved on the people to do the right thing by desisting from selling their votes, vote buying, selling their rights, conscience and freedom.

Abubakar called on all stakeholders to use the Edo election as a test for future elections in the country.

Most Rev. Matthew Kukah, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto and the co-convener of NPC, urged the candidates not to see the signing of the accord as a mere ceremony, but to ensure peace.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, commending the efforts of the NPC, reiterated the commission’s commitment to conduct credible election in Edo.

Yakubu said that the ultimate objective of INEC was to ensure that the choice of who becomes the next governor of Edo would be in the hands of the voters.

“The commission shall not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate.

“Our focus is on our processes and procedures. Nothing more,’’ he said

Yakubu said that the commission was also aware of the concern expressed in some quarters about the neutrality of INEC staff, in particular the ad hoc staff engaged for election duty.

“We have heard allegations that some ad hoc staff were recruited in such a manner as to compromise the election.

“In response, the commission deployed two national commissioners who reviewed the process for strict compliance with the guidelines for such recruitment.

“I want to assure you that all categories of ad hoc staff have been vetted.

“The integrity of the process will not be compromised and there will be no partisan infiltration.

Yakubu appealed to all political parties, candidates and their supporters for peaceful conduct, assuring them that their votes would count.’’

He said that INEC was determined that no one would benefit from impunity or rewarded for bad behaviour such as vote-buying, ballot box snatching and stuffing, multiple voting, hijacking and diversion of election materials, disruption of collation, falsification of results, attack on INEC officials or compelling them to declare unofficial results.

The Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu , who had deployed 30,000 police personnel for the election, said that Edo would experience the best-conducted exercise in the country.

Adamu, represented by Adeleye Oyebade, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of Research and Planning, advised the candidates to go back to speak with all their supporters about the accord that they had signed.

Adamu assured the public that police would remain professional in ensuring that the election was peaceful.

On his part, the incumbent Gov. Godwin Obaseki, who is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, assured the electorate that he was fully committed to the contents of the accord as well ensuring that the election was violence-free.

The governor urged the peace committee to ensure that the political actors would not only sign the accord, but to persuade them to see the need to ensure peace in the state.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Mr Osagie Ize-iyamu, promised to talk to his supporters to conduct themselves in a manner to achieve peaceful poll.

“We will do our best to ensure that the election is peaceful.

“We support free, fair and credible elections. We believe that is the only way that we can sustain our democracy.

“We want to assure all our dignitaries that, by the grace of God, the election is going to be very peaceful. We thank you and we are grateful,” Ize-Iyamu said.

A member of YIAGA Africa’s board, Ezenwa Nwagu, described the accord as necessary, following the previous narrative that suggested the drums of war in the election.

Nwagu expressed optimism that next Edo governor would through credible and peaceful election.

While elections are seen as the largest administrative undertakings in democratic societies with a major financial burden on all stockholders, political actors should know that the consequences of electoral violence are enormous on the government, the society and the people, some analysts note.

All are, therefore, expected to promote peace in Edo as election-related violence will not only squander available resources but cause destruction of communities and infrastructure with negative economic and development impacts on the nation.(NANFeatures)

**If used, please credit the writer as well as News Agency of Nigeria

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General news

Bayelsa Mechanic Village Fire: Non Indigenes Group, monarchs visit site as victims count losses Fire



The Unified Non-Indigenes Association in Bayelsa has appealed to the state government to urgently assist its members whose goods and other property were destroyed by fire on Sunday night in Yenagoa.

The president of the association, Chief Chinedu Arthur-Ugwa, made the appeal during a visit to the scene of the fire at the Bayelsa Mechanic Village, Yenagoa.

He was with traditional rulers of various ethnic groups in the state.

Arthur-Ugwa, who conducted newsmen around the ruins left by the inferno, said that the assistance would enable the victims to return to business fast.

He noted that goods worth over N400 million, vehicles and several shops were destroyed by the fire which occurred at night.

The traditional rulers took turns to console the victims, while appealing to Bayelsa Government to assist them.

According to traders, artisans and technicians doing business in the village, the fire occurred at 3.00a.m. when they had closed work.

They suspect electrical fault as the cause of the fire.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the state Deputy Gov. Lawrence Ewhrujakpo had visited the scene and pledged government’s assistance to victims.

He also gave assurance that the government would set up a committee to probe the cause of the inferno.

A spare parts dealer, Mr Stanley Ejike, whose shop and goods worth over N10 million were burnt, told NAN that although the fire affected his business, he was grateful it did not claim any life.

He said about 13 vehicles parked for repairs at the workshop area of the village were burnt, adding that the incident had caused hardship to business owners in the village.

He noted that it took the intervention of the state fire service to prevent the fire from burning nearby buildings.

The Chairman of Automobile Technician Association in Bayelsa,

Mr Paniebi Abalaba, said the village built during the administration of Gov. Goodluck Jonathan years ago, had become congested.

He appealed to the state government for its expansion.

Mr Mike Eze, also motor spare parts dealer, said that he lost goods worth N50 million to the fire.

He said: “I don’t know where to start now, I imported goods last week and now fire has destroyed them all. It is a very difficult time for me.

“Some owners of shops close to me are still in shock; some who fainted after the incident are in the hospital now, but we are sure God will help us out.”

Edited By: Emmanuel Nwoye/Ijeoma Popoola
Source: NAN
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General news

Buhari urges ECOWAS leaders to resist temptation of tenure elongation



President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to ECOWAS leaders not to elongate their tenure in office beyond constitutional limits.

Malam Garba Shehu, the president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, in a statement in Abuja said Buhari made the appeal while presenting Nigeria’s General Statement at the 57th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Niamey, Niger Republic on Monday.

The Nigerian leader urged his colleagues to respect constitutional provisions and ensure free and fair elections.

He said: “It is important that as leaders of our individual Member-States of ECOWAS, we need to adhere to the constitutional provisions of our countries, particularly on term limits.

“This is one area that generates crisis and political tension in our sub-region.

“As it is, the challenges facing the sub-region are enormous; from socio-economic matters to security issues, the ECOWAS sub-region cannot therefore afford another political crisis, in the guise of tenure elongation.

“I urge us all to resist the temptation of seeking to perpetuate ourselves in power beyond the constitutional provisions.

“I commend those in our midst that have resisted such temptations, for they will be deemed exceptional role models in their respective countries and the sub-region as a whole.

“Related to this call for restraint is the need to guarantee free, fair and credible elections. This must be the bedrock for democracy to be sustained in our sub-region, just as the need for adherence to the rule of law.”

On the political situation in Mali, Buhari described it as serious concern to ECOWAS.

He commended President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic and out-going Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government and the Leadership of the ECOWAS Commission, as well as the Chief Mediator, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, “for effectively demonstrating commitment in handling the political situation in that country.”

“Nigeria remains resolutely committed to ECOWAS decision for a civilian-led Transition Government not exceeding 12 months.

“This is important because of the circumstances surrounding Mali where violent non-state actors and other negative tendencies reside and who can take advantage of the unstable political situation to overrun the country, thereby plunging it into greater danger that will affect the political stability of the whole sub-region.

“While Nigeria understands the current political realities in Mali, the sub-region’s commitment to the Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, must never be compromised.

“An early return to democratic governance which is transparent and civilian-led, will commend itself for Nigeria’s support for progressive relaxation of sanctions against Mali,” he said.

On security, the Nigerian leader noted that terrorism had continued to be the greatest security threat in the sub-region, complicating other national security challenges.

Buhari, therefore, stressed the need for the sub-region to collaborate more by working hand in hand with each other, to combat the root causes of the different security-related manifestations in their respective countries.

“Nigeria is concerned with the rapidity at which terrorist groups in the Sahel and West Africa are working together against all of us.

“We must urgently review these ugly developments to guarantee the safety and survival of our sub-region.

“Our national security apparatus and the relevant Units of ECOWAS must urgently be seized with these unfolding events across our sub-region and act decisively on the emergence of early warning signs,” he said.

While dwelling on the long-standing single currency issue for the sub-region, the president said: “Nigeria remains committed to the implementation of the action plan towards the actualization of the monetary union and single currency programme of ECOWAS.’’

He called on member states to show support to the resolution of the Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS on this matter.

The president said the member states must remain collectively focused and resolute in working to achieve the objectives of the ECOWAS monetary union as a project for the sub-region.

“Cognisant of the likelihood that many ECOWAS member states may not meet the convergence criteria over the next few years due to the impact of COVID-19 on our economies and which as a consequence, will affect the take-off date of the single currency.

“Notwithstanding this envisaged delay, we must remain collectively focused and resolute in working to achieve the objectives of the ECOWAS monetary union as a project for the sub-region,” he added.  

While insisting that the premature adoption of the “ECO” has unnecessarily heightened disaffection and mistrust among members of the emerging monetary union, Buhari encouraged “UEMOA (French acronym for the West African Economic and Monetary Union) to return to the roadmap on the common currency in the sub-region.”

He also urged all stakeholders to “bear in mind that those economic convergence criteria must be based on sound and sustainable macroeconomic fundamentals.”

He noted that some key unresolved issues still remained such as delinking the CFA franc of the UEMOA from the Euro; whether the UEMOA countries join as a bloc or individual countries; design of the exchange rate mechanism; Stabilization Fund; policy harmonization and exit strategy and reserve pooling among others,

The Nigerian leader called on his colleagues to provide “African solutions to African problems.”

Buhari  maintained that foreign interference and so-called advice may not be in the best sub-regional interest.

He stressed the need for “UEMOA to return to the agreed roadmap of the ECOWAS Single Currency by complying with the established framework under the roadmap and cooperate with other member countries in achieving the objectives of the programme.”

The president observed that the Summit was holding “under a very complex health pandemic, whose impact on the global health and economy has so far been devastating.”

He said, “like the rest of the world, our sub-region is witnessing economic downturn with negative growth that is headed towards deep recession and the outlook continues to be uncertain.”

Buhari, therefore, charged his colleagues on the need to continue to work in concert with each other on several fronts to ease the negative effects of the pandemic.

“We need to demonstrate our collective resolve to harness the opportunities that come with COVID-19, despite its overwhelming negative impact on lives and livelihoods.”

The Nigerian President, who is the ECOWAS Champion charged with mobilising and coordinating the efforts against the pandemic, admitted that the “outlook for our sub-region with COVID-19 hovering over us is gloomy indeed.”

He, however, expressed confidence that “where there are challenges, opportunities are also available to be seized upon through greater collaboration with each other.”

“We must pool our resources together in unity to save our generation and generations to come from multiple challenges, including COVID-19 and related health issues.

“We need to redouble our efforts in preparing our national economies to withstand impending shocks against prospective multi-sector challenges that await us in the sub-region,” he declared.

While acknowledging that it is no easy task, Buhari appealed to fellow leaders to “embrace our collective vision for the future with greater determination and innovative thinking and creativity.”

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
Source: NAN
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