As preparations for the 2023 general elections gradually begin, the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) has intensified efforts to cut the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to size with series of reconciliatory moves.
The major plan, LEADERSHIP gathered, is to ensure the return of its members who defected to the PDP, thereby weakening the opposition party.
Accordingly, the APC national caretaker/convention committee led by Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, which is spearheading the reconciliation agenda of the party, assured yesterday that all those who left the party will return, adding that the party has provided mechanism to resolve all the grievances.
Some prominent chieftains who left the APC in the buildup to the 2019 general elections include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Senate President Bukola Saraki, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and former Kano State governor, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, among others.
Barely two weeks after the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, returned to the APC, former national chairman of the PDP, Senator Barnabas Gemade, also returned to the party fold at the weekend.
Satisfied that its reconciliatory mission is yielding result with Gemade’s return to its fold, the Buni-led APC yesterday called out to others to follow suit, stressing that there was now conducive environment within the party to address all grievances.
A statement signed by the APC deputy national publicity secretary, Yekini Nabena, noted that the return of Senator Gemade was another signpost of the well-received and successful reconciliation efforts being made by the leadership of the party.
The statement reads in part: “We assure all true progressives who left the party over whatever grievance to return and join ongoing efforts to reposition the APC and further achieve our pro-people plans for the country.
“The APC caretaker Committee led by Governor Buni has created a conducive and sincere environment to address many of the grievances among our party ranks and return the party to its progressive and lofty heights.
“It heartwarming that party faithfuls led by President Muhammadu
Buhari as leader of the APC have recognised the reconciliation efforts of the Governor Buni-led APC Caretaker and continue to support the Committee.
“We call on our supporters, members and leaders to continue their support for the caretaker committee by coming forward with any issues, grievances, disputations, differences for amicable resolution. The task of keeping the party unified and strong is a collective one”.
My Alliance With Akume Instrumental To Electoral Victory – Gemade
The erstwhile national chairman of PDP, Senator Barnabas Gemade, has said that his alliance with the minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, since 1999 has always led to electoral victory in Benue State.
Gemade who returned to the APC at the weekend having first defected in the buildup to the 2015 polls, dumped the Social Democratic Party (SDP), which he joined ahead of 2019.
This is even as the state PDP described Gemade’s defection to the APC at the weekend as “mere habitual charade by political nomads.”
Our correspondent reports that over 35,000 party faithful at the weekend accompanied the erstwhile PDP national chairman to APC after he dumped the SDP at his Mbawar council ward, Konshisha local government area of Benue State.
Gemade, in an address to mark his official decamping to APC, expressed delight at his return to the ruling party and thanked everyone for their support, noting that he was pleased that all those present observed COVID-19 laid down protocols.
He said, “I want to make it clear that whenever I am in alliance with Senator Akume, we achieve greater success in the political sphere of the state but each time we are not together, I discover that achieving success becomes a big challenge that is why after due consultations and considerations, I went back to the APC.
“My Coming back to APC is home because between 2015 and 2019, I was at the Senate to represent the Benue North-east on the platform of APC”.
While expressing gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari, the acting national chairman of the party and the entire APC family, Gemade promised to work hard to reshape the party in the state to regain back its lost glory.
In a welcome address, state chairman of APC in Benue, Comrade Abba Yaro, expressed delight over Gemade’s defection which he likened to catching a big fish.
He said, “We were not happy when you left us, now that you are back we are happy and most grateful.
“Let me assure you that there is no new APC or old APC; everyone is treated the same in our party and we all have equal rights. We are all brothers and sisters. Therefore, let us support one another and work together as a team. If the state secretariat of the party has offended you in anyway, forgive us”.
However, the publicity secretary of PDP in the state, Bemgba Iortyom, described Gemade’s defection alongside director-general of the gubernatorial campaign organisation of Governor Samuel Ortom, Mr Terngu Shawon and other decampees to APC as amusing.
In another development, the APC carpeted the PDP Governors’ Forum over their recent call for a free, fair and credible election in Edo State governorship election.
The governing party further described the call as dubious and a smokescreen.
The PDP Governors’ Forum had, in communiqué after its virtual meeting at the weekend, enjoined President Buhari, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies to “play an impartial role” in the forthcoming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States.
But reacting to the communiqué yesterday, Nabena, said votes will count and the will of the Edo electorate will prevail on the Election Day.
APC said, “For a party whose stock-in-trade remains cloning of
Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs), stealing card readers, voter intimidation, thuggery and vote buying as witnessed during the 2019 General Elections, the PDP’s call is dubious and a smokescreen for their real and sinister intentions.
“The real issue is how the Edo State treasury has been criminally converted to a political slush fund as exposed by the widely reported faceoff between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shuaibu over release of funds for the PDP governorship campaign.
“Again, as chairman of the Edo State PDP governorship campaign council, the violence being threatened by the Governor of Rivers.
State, Nyesom Wike ahead of the September 19 Edo governorship election are the real issues. Wike has promised to “make sure that everything needed is done” to foist the PDP governorship candidate on the good people of Edo State.
“There are already credible reports of Wike’s plan to import thugs from neighbouring states to achieve their rigging plot. We reiterate that he will not succeed. We stand with the good people of Edo State in calling on our security services not to allow the PDP and Wike turn Edo state into a killing field.
“Our security services must do everything to stop the PDP’s plan to unleash violence, intimidate voters and buy votes during the election,” he said.
Babangide Aliyu Backs Mamman Daura, Says 20 Years Of Zoning Has Failed
Meanwhile, former governor of Niger State, Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu, has thrown his weight behind the position of President Muhammadu Buhari’s nephew, Mallam Mamman Daura, that “turn-by-turn” presidency is not working in the country.
Agreeing that zoning of the presidency should be discarded, Aliyu noted that after close to 20 years of experimenting with the arrangement, there was need to allow the people make their choice freely.
Aliyu, a former chairman of Northern Governors Forum, who spoke in Minna at the weekend said, “It is obvious that after over 20 years of experiment, the zoning arrangements has failed to produce the desired result.
“I think what he (Mamman Daura) is saying is that after over 20 years, has the zoning really produced the best for the country; in the process are we not just producing a northern president, a southern president or a possible south-east president.”
The former governor added that whatever political system a country adopts, it must be able to achieve its objective, noting that after over 20 years of zoning arrangements, the country needs to ask whether or not it has produced its best.
He continued: “We had zoning from 1999 to date because we wanted unity and we wanted every part of the country to have sense of belonging. We want Nigeria as one, so the zoning makes it obvious that everybody will be able to participate but has it given us what we wanted.
“For me, I think Mamman Daura is simply saying you have had zoning three times, why don’t we look at something else, shouldn’t we move to another stage and see what happens because if you said it is my turn, it doesn’t really make you look for that thing”.
Consequently he said the stand of Mamman Daura should not generate tension because “whether you zone it or not, election is about the number of votes you are able to gather, so let the people determine what happens in 2023.
“To me, I think the society should determine what they want and how to get it. In the United States today, two contagious states have produced both the president and the vice president because they have reached that level to say we don’t need that zoning, let the best come from anywhere”.
He added that what should be paramount is the competence of a leader, and as such every process should be left for the people to decide who they want to be their leader.
Stop Zoning After Southern President Emerges In 2023 – Arewa Youths
But in a counter argument, a group of Northern youths under the aegis of Arewa Youths for Peace and Security (AYPS) advocated that the Southern part of Nigeria should produce the next president in 2023 before the idea of rotational presidency is jettisoned.
AYPS in a statement maintained that a 2023 southern presidency is needed for the sake of justice, equity and fair play in the country since the north has had its turn.
President of youth group, Alhaji Salisu Magaji, said the return of power to the South in 2023 will further solidify Nigeria’s stability and cohesion as a democratic nation-state.
The Arewa youths stressed that while it is time for the nation to stop zoning of the presidency and embrace competence in choosing the next president, “in the interest of equity, fairness and justice, the South should first produce a President again for the country before zoning is jettisoned.”
The statement noted: “Our view is that we support and encourage the zoning of the 2023 presidency to the South. They have a chance to bring a credible and competent candidate to run for the 2023 presidency. Our position is that the North should support the South for the peace, stability and tranquillity of the nation.”
“Indeed the nation desires a leader that can provide capacity; credible and with foresight and men and women with these credentials abound in the South. So we should allow them to lead us in 2023.
“It is our belief now that if we say the North should continue after President Buhari ends his second tenure, it will affect the cohesion as a nation and destroy its fabric.
“So, our candid advice is that the North should step aside to allow a Southerner to succeed Buhari. It is a sacrifice we must encourage. It is a sacrifice we must partake in.
“Thereafter, by 2031 after the South has taken another shot, we can now be talking strictly about embracing credibility and competence irrespective of the geographical zones to determine who occupies the presidential seat.
“At that point, it is strictly who has the quality and capacity to provide and sustain the growth and development of our nation and not where you come from.”
The Arewa, therefore, advised proponents of the discontinuation of the rotational presidency to tarry awhile to give the South one more chance to rule the country before the idea is jettison.
Obaseki Prescribes Stiff Penalties For Perpetrators Of Violence In Edo Gov’ship Poll
Meanwhile, Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, has reassured that his administration remains committed to the protection of lives and property of citizens across all communities of the state.
He stated this while reading the riot act to perpetrators of violence ahead of the September 19, 2020 gubernatorial election in the state.
Obaseki, who spoke to journalists in Benin City, warned those intent on disrupting public peace that he was determined in his resolve to carry out his primary responsibility of maintaining order and protecting lives and property as the chief security officer of the state.
He said the state government will not spare any individual or group of persons caught sponsoring or perpetrating violence with intent on creating a sense of tension and crisis in and around the state.
The governor noted: “With heightened political activities, we are witnessing a very disturbing increase in the incidence of violence, vandalism and thuggery in the state.
“I condemn in very strong terms the display by thugs at the gate of the Palace of the Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, the Oba of Benin on the 25th of July, 2020. It was reprehensible and an embarrassment to the state.
“Our revered monarchy represents our essence as a people for which we are very proud. We must all respect this institution and insulate it from partisan politics because it precedes us and will succeed us.
“Government will not stand idle and watch thugs overrun the state, cause chaos, and go scot free, without consequences. In the same vein, the destruction of billboards and vehicles with insignia of certain political parties will not be taken lightly, as the democratic process would not be undermined with intimidation and violence to cow voters.
“I want to assure the citizens of Edo State, that the State Government has the capacity to enforce its laws, to maintain order and secure lives and property”.
Ex-Minister Emerges Imo PDP Chairman
Meanwhile, former minister of Commerce and Industry, Chief Charles Ugwu has emerged victorious in the keenly contested Imo State chairmanship position of the PDP at the party’s Congress election held in Owerri, the capital of Imo State.
The former State acting chairman of the Party, Chief Martins Ejiogu and Chief Ray Emeana were also returned as deputy chairman and secretary respectively.
According to the electoral committee chairman, Chief Uzor Azubuike, the total number of votes cast during the election were 2621 and 39 offices were contested for, including the office of organizing secretary, where Chief Law Biaduo emerged victorious.
In his acceptance speech, chief Ugwu commended the delegates for the confidence reposed on him and promised to use his wealth of exposure, competence, acumen and dexterity to propel the party to an enviable position.
In his remarks, the deputy chairman of the congress planning committee, Hon Chuma Nnaji, commended members of the party for a peaceful congress and urged other political parties to emulate the PDP.