There were indications yesterday that pressure is being mounted on Gombe State governor and a presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, to drop his ambition ahead of the party’s presidential primary election.
LEADERSHIP gathered that Dankwambo who declared his presidential ambition barely two weeks ago is now under pressure from some political leaders and traditional rulers in the Northern part of the country to step down for Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal.
Recall that Tambuwal, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, is one of the political heavyweights who recently defected from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the PDP.
The choice of Tambuwal, according to our findings, is borne out of the belief that he has a larger clout to pull through the race than Dankwambo.
Sources closed to the governor told our correspondents that based on the pressure mounted on him and the support now given to Tambuwal, the Talban Gombe is now considering running for the senatorial seat of Gombe North.
“This is why there is no serious aspirant in the senatorial race for the zone. The seat is reserve for him”, a close associate of the governor who did not want his name in print said.
Besides, Tambuwal’s visit to Gombe where he commissioned a street named after him last weekend has added fillers that it may also be a sign that Dankwambo would align himself with the Sokoto State governor.
LEADERSHIP reliably gathered that Hon Yusuf Manu Swa, a close political associate of Dankwambo and a member of his cabinet presently serving as commissioner of cooperative, has been appointed to coordinate Tambuwal’s presidential campaign in the state.
One of our sources said many of those calling on Dankwambo to step down believe that Tambuwal’s candidacy will be a boost to efforts being made by the PDP to defeat the APC in the fortycoming general election.
According to him, the thinking is that a strong candidate from the same Northwest zone where President Mohammadu Buhari comes from stands a better chance of defeating APC.
“Tambuwal is unarguably the most experienced politician in the zone at the moment whose sagacity in political scheming, intrigues and tactics have garnered for him respect and admiration in the domains of Nigeria politics”, he said.
It was also gathered that Dankwambo expressed some doubts a few days ago about the possibility of him emerging victorious should he continue with his presidential aspiration.
Efforts by our correspondent to speak with some of Dankwambo’s close political allies, including Manu Swa, since he has no spokesman in his team proved abortive.
But Governor Dankwambo yesterday evening denied that he was under pressure to step down for Governor Tambuwal.
Speaking through the Gombe State commissioner for Information, Alhaji Umaru Nafada, the governor said there is no iota of truth in the story, stating that he is not going to abandon his presidential ambition by stepping down for any other aspirant.
Nafada said, “Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo has declared to contest the presidential election and as far as he and a lot of Nigerians are concerned, he is the most suitable aspirant for that position from PDP. So, he has no intension of withdrawing or stepping aside for anybody, not even Tambuwal”.
The commissioner assured that Dankwambo’s quest to clinch the presidential ticket of the PDP was on course, stressing that he has no reason to quit at this point.
He said the governor has demonstrated his seriousness about the presidential race by making wide consultations across the country and reaching out to people.
Nafada noted that if Dankwambo were not interested in pursuing his presidential ambition, he wouldn’t waste time, energy and money moving around.
He added that Dankwambo has the acceptability and clout to win as well as the knack to organise the party and make it a formidable force against the APC.
On Tambuwal’s visit to the state, Nafada said it was like the visit of any other PDP leader to the state to commission a project.
PDP Alleges Fresh Plot To Arrest Saraki, Ekweremadu
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) alleged yesterday that the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a cabal in the presidency are plotting to use security agencies and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to invite, arrest and detain Senate President Bukola Saraki and Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu.
The party also alleged that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) submitted its 2019 budget to the executive since February, adding that the pressure by Presidency for the reconvening of the Senate is “out of a sinister motive” and not for any emergency in the approval of the budget.
A statement by PDP’s national spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, alleged that the fresh plot to detain the two presiding officers was part of renewed design to keep them out of circulation ahead of Senate resumption so “as to enable the induced APC senators, who are now in the minority, to throw up two of their members as Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively on the excuse that Saraki and Ekweremadu failed to show up for proceedings in the Senate.”
The PDP further alleged that the new plot to cage Saraki and Ekweremadu was a rehash of the Tuesday July 24, 2018 invasion of their official residences by security agencies and a follow-up of the August 7, 2018 failed attempt to use security forces to take control of the Senate.
“Apart from plots to arrest and detain Saraki and Ekweremadu, the PDP has also been made aware of plans to use the EFCC and security forces to clamp down on their family members, including their wives and siblings as well as close associates, all in the effort to weaken their resolve.
“Moreover, investigations by the PDP further confirm that the insistence of the APC-led federal government on the emergency reconvening of the National Assembly, ostensibly to consider INEC’s budget for the 2019 election, is part of APC’s thicker plot to execute their premeditated ‘coup’ on the leadership of the Senate.
“PDP was further informed that contrary to claims by the APC and the Presidency, INEC actually submitted the budget to the presidency since February 2018, only for the Presidency to submit it to the National Assembly in July when the legislature was already going on recess, with a view to enmeshing it in a needless controversy.”
The PDP accused Acting President Yemi Osinbajo of being part and parcel of the sordid developments playing out in the National Assembly.
Consequently, the opposition party called on Nigerians and the international community to take note of the activities of the APC and the Buhari presidency, which have continued to undermine the stability of the nation, adding that Nigerians will continue to resist their sinister plots against the country’s democracy.
The PDP further cautioned the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, to stop his obsession to change the leadership of the Senate.
The PDP while reacting to Oshiomhole’s repeated calls for the Senate President, Sen Bukola Saraki, to vacate his seat upon his defection from the ruling APC to the opposition party, reminded the APC chairman that the position Saraki is occupying was not a party post, but a national one.
The national publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement, said that the positions of the Senate President and that of Deputy Senate President do not belong to political parties but to Nigerians who elect persons into the seats through their elected representatives in the Senate.
The statement said the APC national chairman was exposing his ignorance in thinking that the Senate leadership coulds be changed by his “inconsequential orders” as chairman of a political party, “when the law is settled that such power is vested only on the two-third votes, representing 73 of the 109 senators.”
“We know that Oshiomhole is under intense pressure from the Presidency to overheat the polity, distract the National Assembly members and make as much effort to cause a constitutional crisis in the country, having realised that they cannot win the 2019 general elections.
“However, the PDP strongly cautions these desperate power grabbers to note that their actions have unlimited capacity to destroy our democracy.”
The statement further remarked that since Oshiomhole emerged as party chairman, the APC-led federal government has become more despotic in its actions.
“Since Oshiomhole assumed office, the nation has witnessed various unimaginable constitutional infractions, including the invasion of Benue State House of Assembly and the Ekiti State Government House by APC-controlled federal security agencies, the escalated harassment of federal legislators and persons perceived to be averse to APCs’ re-election bid; the siege at the residences of Senate President Bukola Saraki and Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu by security agencies as well as the recent invasion of the National Assembly by security operatives,” it said.
Also, PDP stakeholders and concerned elders in Kogi State have called for the cancellation of the by-election held in the state on Saturday.
The party chieftains who briefed the press on the outcome of the election in Abuja, said the poll were marred by violence, snatching of ballot boxes, vote buying, intimidation and harassment of the electorates by armed thugs, and security operatives.
The aggrieved party leaders who said the poll has set the country 20 years back, however disclosed that they have already petitioned the Kogi State Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the polls.
Speaking on behalf of the group, the Kogi State PDP chairman, Engr Samuel Ohuotu, said, “The government officials seen at various polling units on the election date, buying votes, unleashing violence and harassing electorates at different wards on the date of the Election, should be prosecuted for electoral offences.”
He alleged that the violence, brazen impunity, coercion, intimidation and vote buying that characterized the so called election in Lokoja and Kotonkarfe on 11th of August, 2018 have sent Kogi State and the Federal Republic of Nigeria backward by nothing less than 20 years.
Explaining the irregularities noted during the election, Uhuotu alleged that “appointees and key officials of the Kogi State government who were not indigenes or voters in the Federal Constituency were seen intimidating and harassing the electorates with armed thugs and officers of SARS and the Nigerian Police”.
He continued: “Accredited Voters were not allowed to vote, as armed thugs shot sporadically into the air after accreditation, forcing the electorates to flee for their lives. For instance, this was widespread in Osuku in Kotonkarfe Area of the Federal Constituency.
“During the build up to the Bye-Elections, there were credible and reliable reports of importation of thugs and hoodlums into the two Local Governments (Lokoja and Kotonkafe) from other local governments within the State and from other adjoining states into the Federal Constituency. These thugs were lodged at various times in hotels and at the Presidential Lodge behind the Kogi State Government House, Lokoja.”
The state chairman further alleged that armed thugs were mobilised to polling units under police supervision to unleash violence, snatch ballot boxes, drive away voters and opposition party agents in a desperate bid to swing the House of Representatives Bye Election in the favour of the Ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
“Whilst in some Polling Units, elections were going on in a seemingly peaceful manner, albeit with vote merchandise by the APC in collaboration with INEC and the Security operatives, these Thugs invaded the said polling units and threatened the PDP and other opposition party faithful, unleashed violence on them and snatched away ballot materials to the Government House,” he alleged”.
rAPC Urges Saraki To Declare Akpabio’s Seat Vacant
Meanwhile, the Reformed All Progressives Congress (rAPC) yesterday implored Senate President Bukola Saraki to declare the seat of former minority leader of the Red Chamber, Godswill Akpabio, vacant.
In a statement issued by its spokesman, Kassim Afegbua, the group noted that Akpabio’s seat has become vacant in line with section 68 of the constitution because there is no division in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The group said, “We are calling on the senate president to invoke the provisions of section 68 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) in declaring the seat of senator Godswill Akpabio vacant”.
“It is not on record that there is division in the opposition PDP, hence this declaration will be a step in the right direction.”
Afegbua said the APC Senators are “hell bent” on removing Saraki on Tuesday when the national assembly resumes to consider the supplementary budget for the 2019 elections.
He continued: “By this statement, the national working committee of the R-APC wishes to alert the public that the factional leadership of the All Progressives Congress Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has perfected plans to make the Tuesday, August 14th resumption date another kettle of fish for the illegal impeachment of the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki.
“This time, they are hell bent on giving nebulous interpretation to the provision of the 1999 constitution (as amended) by using the numbers of senators present to provoke an impeachment. To this end, they have called on all APC senators to make it a point of duty to participate at the plenary on Tuesday to pass a vote of ‘no confidence’ on the senate president.
“This will be followed by orchestrated rancourous plenary session from where impeachment motion would be raised and their illegality perpetrated.
“There have been two meetings of the leaders and the senators in the last 48 hours to perfect this approach. The security agencies have also been briefed according to information reaching us. The APC factional chairman has been boasting and insisting that the senate president would be impeached by whatever means because he no longer deserves to wear the crown.”
The rAPC also called on Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to sack Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris.
Afegbua wondered why the Police would exonerate themselves from the blockade of the national assembly last week.
“We are also calling on the acting president to sack the current Inspector-general of police who has shown a manifest incompetence in the discharge of his responsibilities,” he said.
“For example, how can an interim report of the police on the Lawan Daura saga litter the pages of social media platforms when the investigation remains yet inconclusive? How can the Police exonerate itself from the act when it was reported that a Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG Habila was seen in a meeting with Senators at the Aso Drive private office of the factional chairman of APC Comrade Adams Oshiomhole? What was he doing there as early as 10am on that fateful morning of Tuesday, 7th August, 2018?” He queried.
INEC To Spend N40bn On 2.7m Ad-hoc Staff
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is to spend N40.8 billion on 2,763,990 adhoc staff nationwide in the 2019 general election, LEADERSHIP has gathered.
It was learnt that the adhoc staff would join INEC staff in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, for the conduct of the general elections next year.
Even though 700,000 personnel nationwide is required for the 2019 national elections, the commission is preparing honoraria for various categories of 2,763,990 adhoc staff for two sets of elections in the advent of a possible presidential runoff and three governorship runoffs.
INEC will conduct elections into 1,558 constituencies made up of one presidential constituency, 29 governorship constituencies out of 36, 109 senatorial districts, 360 federal constituencies, 991 state assembly constituencies, 6 Area Council chairmanship positions as well as 62 councillorship positions for the FCT.
The 2,763,990 adhoc staff, some of whom would be drawn from the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), would be selected after a rigorous training.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the sourcing for the adhoc staff has commenced and will go through the process of advertisement for the vacant positions needing to be filled, shortlisting the names of the qualified personnel, screening and vetting of profiles.
It was gathered that the names of the selected adhoc staff and data would be published on the INEC’s recruitment portal for the 2019 general election.
A breakdown of the N40.8 billion to be spent on the adhoc staff indicates that N28,549,865,450.00 (N28.4bn) is to be spent on honoraria for various categories of the 2,763,990 people that INEC would engage; N7,995,429,000.00 (N7.9bn) would be spent as allowances for 2,665,143 poll officials to report for election duty; N1,697,500,000.00 (N1.6bn) is also to be spent on transportation, accommodation and internal movement of about 33,950 returning officers and other poll officials in the general election and possible run off elections.
A total of about N79,480,000.00 (N79.4mn) would be given as support to NYSC State directors who are to received N50,000.00.
The LGA inspectors and other unspecified categories would received N25,000.00, while about N2 billion is also budgeted as allowances for INEC staff owing to escalated levels of special duties by the commission’s staff at general elections and all election situation room special duty allowances, which put the total amount to be spent on adhoc staff at about N40.8 billion.
Speaking on expenses for the general election, the executive director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Mr Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, called on the Nigerian government to adopt technology in other to cut down cost.
Musa said with the addition of technology in the conduct of elections, it will reduce the huge spending.
“We have always maintain that the failure of the previous governments and the existing one not using the equipment and the personnel on ground,” is increasing cost of conducting elections”, he said.
“There should be a system of utilising existing equipment in the conduct of elections,” Musa said, referring to the huge number of adhoc staff to be use in the 2019 general elections by INEC.
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