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2019: APC should forget Akwa Ibom – Essien, ex-minister

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2019: APC should forget Akwa Ibom - Essien, ex-minister

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“With the confusion that has set into the APC, my advice to them would be that they should forget about Akwa Ibom and prepare for… elections after 2019.”

Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja

Nduese Essien is a former Minister of Housing and Urban Development. He served in the administration of former President, Goodluck Jonathan. He is also the leader of PDP Elders Forum in Eket Senatorial District of Akwa Ibom. He speaks on the chances of Governor Udom Emmanuel and why he will secure a second term in 2019.

READ ALSO: Gov. Emmanuel proposes N671b 2019 budget for A’ Ibom
It is only a few months away from 2019 election and there are fears that in Akwa Ibom State, APC has made inroads. What do you think?

I think whoever is thinking that APC can take over Akwa Ibom State is day dreaming because Akwa Ibom State has been a PDP state from the beginning and the people have benefited from the PDP government. First, during the period of Victor Attah as governor, he laid the foundation for the state and Attah being an architect is very familiar with laying of foundation. So, he took up the struggle to ensure that the state derived adequate revenue from its production of oil. It was from that revenue that Godswill Akpabio used to do a lot of what is now called ’uncommon transformation.’ So Akwa Ibom State came into limelight during his tenure and before he left, he tried to ensure that he brought a successor that would try to keep the pace and he succeeded.

So I think people are misconstruing the strength of APC based on Akpabio’s defection from the PDP to the APC. Let me say categorically that the defection of Akpabio from the PDP to the APC turned out to be a blessing to the state.

Why do you say so?

Firstly, with his defection, the bond that existed between him and his successor was broken and his successor since then has become freer to take decisions without looking back, decisions without being hindered by his benefactor. So in fact people have now come to realise that since August when he (Akpabio) defected, the governor has performed even at a faster pace. He is taking quick decisions nowadays and a lot more is being done in the state.

Akpabio’s exit from the PDP has equally created problems within the APC in the state. The APC in the state was operating on a fragile platform because of the dissensions within its ranks; so his going into the APC has even made it worse for the party. Akpabio said that PDP has not done anything for Akwa Ibom state for the past 16 years. For the past 16 years who was PDP? It was Godswill Akpabio that was PDP. It means that he didn’t do anything in the state and that would be a serious contradiction to the propaganda he used to build up a very high reputation throughout the country.

He has been making so many careless statements like that to the extent of even saying that the Federal Government has done the road from Calabar to Ikot Ekpene when the contractor for that project has not mobilised to site up till now. So that is why I am categorical in saying the PDP in Akwa Ibom has even become stronger since the exit of Godswill Akpabio to the APC.

Is it stronger? But some people also believed that the governor has actually not lived up to expectations.

Well, that is a result of the propaganda which the APC has embarked upon. They said the governor has not lived up to expectations, look at the background of his emergence. When he came into office, he had the initial difficulties of sorting himself out with his opponents during the election. There was a long protracted court tussle that delayed him from taking off smoothly. Again the debts from the previous administrations; those days of uncommon transformation resulted in incurring of debts and he had to see how he can handle these debts. Then, there was also recession and the fall of the naira to the dollar at the beginning of 2015. There was the dwindling oil revenue at the beginning of the administration. So he also had to contend the raising expectations of the people spearheaded in the days of uncommon transformation with bloated oil revenue. The people of Akwa Ibom were meant to believe that money was not a problem, so that expectation was still there.

Finally, he had to manage all the above situations without exposing, ridiculing or hurting his benefactor. So, this was not an easy task but despite all these he was able to get through. It was because of his financial training and the expertise and the fact that he comes from a strict and puritanical Christian background, so all these were the situations that enabled him to get things clean.

They said he has not done anything, but Akwa Ibom is one the states that has paid salaries regularly from the beginning of his tenure. He has also been able to pay pension and gratuity from a backlog of 2012 till December 2015. When they said that pensions and gratuity, it is the ones from 2016 that he has not been able to pay because he had to clear the backlog first.

There has also been massive infrastructure development particularly in areas of road constructions, in the health sector and educational facilities; then industrial development which is the key note of his administration. As soon as he came in, because of his international connections, he was able to attract a lot of investors to Akwa Ibom. There was a company that came in to do assembling of vehicles, heavy trucks and several other companies came in too. But as soon as they came in and started doing ground breaking, that was when recession set in. The drop of the value of the naira and all those obstacles came. So many of those investors left, but a few still stayed back and those are the ones who have done the metering factory which of course is the first in the country and metres are now being produced.

Is it electricity metres?

Yes, it is now being produced in Akwa Ibom State. There is also the syringe factory. You have also heard about the flour mill which they said is going to be the largest in the country better than the existing ones and there are several other industries which he has been able to bring in, like cottage industries, coconut refinery, the pencil, toothpick and all those things are there. So he has been able to do a lot more than the propagandists would accept. The propagandists are the ones trying to run him down but are unsuccessful.

The man who is challenging him happens to be a person from his own constituency, the same senatorial district. How are your people taking this kind of challenge? Is it not going to split your people so much?

The challenger of the governor comes from the same senatorial district with the incumbent governor. It was not easy for us to get our turn to produce the governor in 2015 because even Akpabio himself wasn’t thinking of giving it to Eket senatorial district even though it was its due. So it was a number of us that set up Eket senatorial district assembly and advocated stringently before Akpabio accepted and that was how we got our turn to produce the governor.

Having done so, the people of the senatorial district realised that governors usually perform better in their second tenure, in fact not only governors; any office holder does better during his second tenure. The first term is used in trying to learn the intricacies of the system get familiar and then by second tenure attain whatever you have done in your first tenure. I have an experience of this when I was in the House of Representatives. Most of the projects which I pursued didn’t materialise at the end of my first tenure. It was in my second tenure that I got them. So, since the people have realised this, they do not want to miss the advantage of having the same person to do a second tenure and bring relevant benefits to them and that is why people of the senatorial districts are not looking at any alternatives to the present governor in 2019 because the other senatorial district produced the same person for governor for eight years. How can it be that during our turn it will change?

What is happening is that some people are even trying to prevent our senatorial district from having these benefits of a second term governor and we are not going for that. The challenger to Governor Udom had been a deputy governor in the state. He is a nice man but we believe that if he stays back at the NDDC and completes his tenure, it would have been a better compliment for the state.

Are you saying the PDP will not lose to the APC in 2019?

Akwa Ibom is one state that PDP can never lose. In fact, from the situation on ground and with the confusion that has set into the APC, my advice to them would be that they should forget about Akwa Ibom and prepare for subsequent elections after 2019.

Were you people, the elder of PDP in Akwa Ibom surprised at Akpabio’s exit from the party?

Yes, it came as a surprise to many of us. We never expected that Akpabio would think of defecting to the APC. We were very proud of him, we were encouraging him, but when he defected, we were surprised because it is very rare to find a party leader defecting from his party to another party. He was the party leader as the Senate Minority Leader, but you know they call it uncommon defection because his things are always uncommon. That he emerged as Senate Minority Leader in his first tenure was uncommon and that he defected was also uncommon and even what is happening now in the APC is also uncommon in the interest of the PDP.

But the argument some people are pushing is that virtually all the people who are big in politics from that state are in APC and they are moving there…

(Cuts in) Some of the prominent people in Akwa Ibom who are now in APC ran away from the PDP because of the uncommon defector and now the uncommon defector has gone to join them and has created an uncommon problem in the APC. The truth is that the APC in the state was already in a serious crisis situation because of the disagreement amongst those leaders. He was not part of them then but with his entry and his own problems too, it has virtually silenced the other people. They are trying to look for a way of getting out of that situation.

Are you saying that even some people in the APC are working for the PDP now?

A lot of them are angling to come back, to leave what they ran away from. What they ran away from and has gone to meet them again. They are trying to get out of it.

READ ALSO: APC, PDP causing problem in Nigeria – APGA nat’l chair

The post 2019: APC should forget Akwa Ibom – Essien, ex-minister appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.

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CATHOLIC WORLD

Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes

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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump - CAN fumes

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.

President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.

Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.

He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.

He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.

“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’

“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.

“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.

“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.

“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.

“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”

However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.

He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.

“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”

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NATIONAL NEWS

CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers

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CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers

The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah, has blamed Christians in the National Assembly (NASS), for the passage of the 2020 Companies and Allied Matters Bill (CAMA), signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.

Bishop Onah, said in a remark during the Sunday Mass that if Christians in NASS had opposed the bill, it would not have been passed into law.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Aug. 7, signed the CAMA bill into law, giving provision for religious bodies and charity organizations to be regulated by the registrar of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and a supervising minister.

“The question many Christians have been asking is, where were Christian legislators during the debate of this bill and its passage in the National Assembly?

“Because, if they had opposed this bill on the floor of the house, it would not have been passed and sent to the president for assent.

“I blame Christian legislators for doing nothing and allowing the passage of the 2020 CAMA Act,” he said.

“When I say that Christians are too divided and too selfish, don’t forget that the second in command in this country is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a professor of Law and a pastor.”

Onah, however, wondered what the Federal Government wanted to achieve in monitoring how the finances of churches in the country are managed when it contributed no dime to the church, NAN reports.

“Government should focus and monitor its ministries, agencies and other government institutions where it budgets billions of Naira annually and not church offerings.

“Had it been that the government gave allocations to churches and decided to monitor its usage, nobody will question the government,” he said.

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NATIONAL NEWS

Nigerians spit fire over fuel, electricity prices hike

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Increasing Fuel and Electricity Prices

Anger and condemnations, across the country, have continued to trail last week’s take off, of new increases in pump price of petroleum products and electricity tariffs, as directed by Federal Government.

Recall that the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) official, D.O. Abalaka announced on Wednesday September 3, on behalf of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that the new price of petroleum is now N151.56k per litre instead of N149 – N150 per litre which it was previously.

The new electricity tariff which the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) tagged “Service Reflective Tariff” has also come into effect. It requires consumers to pay N53.87 – N66.422 per kwh of electricity.

Outraged consumers of fuel and electricity have therefore warned government to get ready for collision with the masses if it fails to rescind these new prices.

Those who have expressed outrage over the new prices regimes include, the Organized Labour, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Nigerian main opposition political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).

Others are: Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce (NACCIMA).

The NLC said, “The frequent fuel price increase will no longer be accepted. We will not allow Nigerians fall victim of government ineptitude and negligence to make the country self-sufficient in terms of refining petroleum products at home.”

On its part, the PDP has described the price hike as “callous, cruel and punishing” and demanded an immediate reversal to avert a national crisis.

The All Industrial Global sees the incessant increase as a confirmation that deregulation means just price increase.

“This is unacceptable! Under a pandemic, we should put money in the pockets of citizens to revive collapsed livelihoods and preserve lives.” In its reaction, NECA said it has always urged Federal Government to adopt deregulation policy in the oil and gas downstream sector.

The MOMAN in its statement insists that monthly price variation of fuel was no longer sustainable. It urged PPRA to adopt quarterly price mechanism which would save the market the hassles of price volatility. The statements by IPMAN and NACCIMA also followed along the same line that the hike “…serves only to increase the severity and duration of the looming economic recession.”

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