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PDP flags off presidential campaign, as discontents, old ways dot return bid

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“The Members of Parliament have always been the springboard for their parties’ return to power each time they suffered defeat.”

Ismail Omipidan

Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, on Monday, December 3, in Sokoto State, North-West Nigeria, kicked off the party’s bid to return to power after what many regard as its disastrous outing in 2015.

READ ALSO: 2019: PDP declares war on Buhari

The choice of Sokoto State is understandable. It is the only state in the zone with a PDP governor. Although the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) declaration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the 2015 presidential election formally ended the PDP’s unbroken 16-year rule, many pundits believe that PDP’s epochal defeat was the cumulative result of a long journey into impunity and injustice that gradually, but steadily took the better part of the party starting from former President, Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime.

The party’s precepts and internal democracy were gradually thrown overboard, while many founders of the party including the late former Vice President, Chief Alex Ekwueme, late Chief Solomon Lar and late Chief Sunday Awoniyi were sidelined and ill-treated.

However, there are some who also believe that the divisive events around the nomination of PDP’s presidential candidate for the 2011 presidential election played a larger part in the eventual fracturing of the party ahead of 2015.

The Struggle for 2015

Following the death of President Umar Yar’Adua, the North believed it deserved another term based on the party’s zoning principle. They reasoned that Obasanjo, a Southerner, did two terms. The North, through the Adamu Ciroma-led panel, selected former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar to slug it out with the then President Goodluck Jonathan at the primary election. He was dubbed Northern consensus candidate. But Jonathan prevailed with 2,736 votes, while Atiku got 805 votes.

However, at the fence-mending meeting convened at the Aso Villa to assuage the feelings of the North, sources close to the meeting revealed that, the late Chief Samuel Ogbemudia, who spoke for the Niger Delta, pleaded that their son, Jonathan, be supported for a single term, while power returns to the North in 2015.

But in the build-up to the 2015 polls, signs began to emerge that Jonathan would want to seek a re-election. Signals that Jonathan wanted a second term predictably upset the North, with Atiku and six other PDP governors breaking away at the party’s special convention in 2013 to form the New-PDP (nPDP). Former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, was the only Southern governor among them. Five of the governors and Atiku later merged with the APC.

Whereas a few voices of reason warned of the wider implications of the implosion while the crisis lasted, sycophants around Jonathan at the time, urged him to call the bluffs of the aggrieved members.

Grandstanding at the PDP presidential primary, party chieftains assured Jonathan of a walkover re-election. Yet as Jonathan recalled in his recent book, “My Transition Hour”, many party chieftains, who promised millions of votes in the North could not circulate his posters in that region, let alone campaign for him. PDP eventually lost the presidential and majority in the National Assembly.

Massive Defections

Predictably, many party chieftains, who promised Jonathan landslide victory, could not even wait for Jonathan’s handover before dumping the PDP. On April 8, 2015 alone, Senators Bello Tukur, Ahmed Barata; former Deputy Senate Majority Leader, Jonathan

Zwingina; former Minister of External Affairs, Idi Hong; and Sadiq Haske, defected to APC in Adamawa State.

The imposition of the former Borno State governor, Ali Modu Sheriff, as the National Chairman by two governors elected on the party’s platform despite spirited resistance by people like Prof. Jerry Ghana and the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, the party’s highest political office holder at the time, Daily Sun further learnt, worsened PDP’s miseries. Sheriff’s stint proved disastrous as predicted, as they were in and out of court for almost one year before the party got respite from the apex court.

Rallying the opposition

It was in the state of disarray occasioned by 2015 defeat that the party’s loyalty of PDP’s National Assembly Caucus was most pronounced. In particular, many believe that PDP owes so much to Ekweremadu for its survival of the turbulent years.

The first smart move was the one-day retreat by the Forum of PDP National Assembly (NASS) members-elect at the Presidential Hotel, Port Harcourt on June 1, 2015.

Leveraging on Ekweremadu’s international exposure as the Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, PDP NASS members-elect brought parliamentary leaders, particularly from Ghana, with elaborate experience in relapses from ruling to opposition party and springing back to power, to share their experiences managing the change from ruling to opposition party.

And Ekweremadu, who spearheaded the initiative, espoused that much in his message to the gathering when he said “when the music changes, the dance steps also change, hence we thought we should come together to learn and properly rehearse the new dance steps of opposition before we enter the village square.

“From the United States of America to the United Kingdom, and Ghana, among so many others, the Members of Parliament have always been the springboard for their parties’ return to power each time they suffered defeat.”

Ekweremadu, Saraki as APC nemesis

A major outcome of that Port Harcourt retreat, Daily sun gathered, was the decision to go into the election of the leadership of the 8th National Assembly with one voice. This paid off as they exploited APC’s vicious con- tests to elect Senator Bukola Saraki as Senate president, Ekweremadu as his Deputy, and Yakubu Dogara as Speaker of House of Representatives. Indeed, many attributed APC’s eventual fracture to this masterstroke.

Saraki and Ekweremadu’s emergence, APC’s failure to manage its 2015 electoral successes is considered by many as APC’s major nemesis. In particular, the implications of Ekweremadu’s re-emergence were not lost on the ruling party.

In 2011, the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) had also formed an alliance with some PDP ‘rebels’ to elect Aminu Tambuwal as Speaker in 2011, defeating PDP’s anointed candidate, Adeola Akande. Tambuwal remained a pain in the neck of Jonathan and PDP until he formally defected to the then opposition, APC, in October 2014.

Ironically, APC’s spokesman at the time, Lai Mohammed, who once lauded Tambuwal’s headship of a chamber of the parliament, where his party was not in the majority, describing it as a sign that Nigeria’s democracy was growing, turned round in 2015 to insist that Ekweremadu’s election as Deputy Senate President was an “aberration and dangerous.”

On his part, Senator Chris Ngige reasoned that “the PDP in the South-East will have oxygen to breath from since they now have the highest ranking person in Nigeria coming from the South-East, that disadvantages us and puts us in a difficult position”, adding, however, that “there are many ways to kill a rat”.

From then on, Ekweremadu faced what many regard as perceived political persecutions, including arraignment over alleged forgery of Standing Rule, raid on his official guest house, siege to his official quarters, investigation by the EFCC, and orchestrated media trials. Many believe all these were meant to force him to abandon the PDP and betray Saraki. But the Enugu-born politician would, however, not budge.

Pundits reason that, had Ekweremadu defected to the APC, PDP would have collapsed like a pack of cards, lacking in a rallying figure and symbol of hope.

The PDP Post-election review panel

Also, not a few have cited the PDP Post-Election Review Panel, otherwise known as the Ekweremadu Panel, as a key factor in the party’s revival. The committee’s wisdom in zoning the presidential ticket to the North to “assuage any ill feelings in the zone over any perceived breach of the party’s zoning principle”, was to play a vital role in retaining northern PDP chieftains and luring back the defectors, especially those of them, who nursed presidential ambitions.

Against this backdrop, therefore, many party faithful and political analysts have been rankled by the alleged alienation and mistreatment of Ekweremadu and other party bigwigs in the key decisions in the party since after the Port Harcourt convention, which produced Atiku as the presidential candidate. PDP governors and leaders have lamented their exclusion in the nomination of Atiku’s running mate, while sources close to Ekweremadu confirmed that he only read about the constitution of the Presidential Campaign Council on the pages of newspapers. He was neither consulted nor assigned any role.

Again, only recently, former Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido, speaking through his aide, threatened to withdraw support for Atiku’s presidential bid. He alleged sidelining from the 2019 preparation, observing that those of them who remained in the party to weather the storm have been left in the cold.

Meanwhile, many are already worried by the optics of the absence of all South-East PDP governors, Senator Ekweremadu, and PDP leaders in the zone during Atiku’s recent visit to Enugu. But impeccable sources said these party leaders were only informed less than 24 hours to the event as a mere fulfilment of all righteousness.

Consequently, Daily Sun gathered, Ekweremadu and PDP governors not only visited Buhari to discuss South-East development, they were also visibly absent at the recent formal turbanning of Atiku in Yola as Waziri Adamawa, an event that also coincided with his 72nd birthday anniversary.

Expectedly, there are insinuations that these recent moves must have panicked Atiku and the PDP, and may have informed the fence-mending shuttles by Atiku, Saraki, and the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, and Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and ex-Governor Sule Lamido, among others after needless and prolonged grandstanding.

Last line

Regardless, it appears there is more work to be done. But one thing is clear, how sincere these PDP leaders perceive Atiku’s sudden rapprochement and how he is able to win back their confidence and get all hands on deck would make or break PDP’s hope of returning to power in 2019.

READ ALSO: 2019 polls: Beyond calls for INEC boss to resign

The post PDP flags off presidential campaign, as discontents, old ways dot return bid 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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