By Ubong Ukpong, (Abuja) and Godwin Okey, Abakaliki
The chairman of the South-east Governors Forum and governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi yesterday expressed happiness and optimism that President Muhammadu Buhari will not assent to the new Electoral Amendment Bill.
Umahi made this known while addressing stakeholders, and delegation of the National Examinations Council, NECO, during a courtesy visit to him at the New Government House, Abakaliki, capital of the state.
Umahi noted that direct primaries which is part of the Bill will truncate democracy in the country, adding that Buh
ari as a hero will refuse assent to the bill.
“Let me congratulate Mr President for refusing to sign that electoral bill. You see, when we are making laws, we have to look at all the factors. This is a country, that when you are def
“Now, imagine the number of our local governments, 774. Imagine the number of wards, you will now go to conduct primaries in all these wards, maybe for the presidency and after that, the Senate and the rest of the positions. Even if you are doing all of them in one day, expect petitions by the number of political parties, times the number of wards.
“So, it will just truncate our democracy, there is no doubt about that. Nobody has considered the amount of confusion that will arise out of that because everybody that contests election will like to go to court.
“And, if I am contesting a particular office, I have to go to court if I am not happy over the election in the number of wards in my constituency. So when will the litigation end? It is another ploy to derail democracy.
“So, I want the National Assembly to look into this litigation aspect. When the cost of this direct primaries is taken into consideration, it is going to be too much because for every ward that the court rules out, there must be a repeat of the exercise.
“So, I think that we have not gotten to that level of maturity, level of having the spirit of sportsmanship, level of accepting defeat. When people know that they have been defeated, they want to see, if they can technically or fraudulently manipulate the system within the judiciary.
“So, I think that the issue of political primaries should be left to the political parties. This is not about APC or PDP, everybody is looking at the implication. So, let us take another look at it.
“Some people say, governors have hijacked the primaries, is it not the governors that are at home everytime, do they not have representation in every unit? So, they are at home with the people, if you are not at home with the people, how will the people know you?.
“Some of you want to be governors, very soon, we shall not be governors any more, but, we are looking at what will bring stability to our democracy and sustain it. So, the National Assembly should take a deeper look at the application, so that when it will start happening, they will say, we foresaw this and we advised against it” he stated.
Meanwhile the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) yesterday, denied pegging any cost for the direct primaries for political parties, ahead of the Electoral Act amendment Bill 2021 awaiting President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent.
There have been claims that the Commission would require as much as about N500 billion for the purpose.
The Commission’s Chairman, Professor Yakubu Mahmood, who was at the House of Representatives, to interface with the Committee on Appropriation, however declined to tell journalists the outcome of their closed door discussion on the much talked about cost implication of the direct primaries.
However, speaking to House of Representatives correspondents, the Chairman said, “INEC did not come up with any cost for the conduct of primaries per political parties by direct method.
“We have had very good discussions with the committee on Appropriation of the National Assembly pursuant to the resolution of the House and what we discussed you will not hear from me. May be, the chairman of the committee will tell you.”
On the cost of 2023 election, he said, “Once the budget is finalized you will hear.”
Speaking on the cost of direct and indirect primaries, the INEC boss said, “This one I discussed with the committee. The committee may wish to tell you.
Responding to question on the letter replying the president’s communication for advise on the matter, he said, “a letter was submitted to the president. I can’t divulge what I told the president.”
Mahmoud also claimed that he was unaware that the president had returned the Electoral Act Amendment Bill as claimed in some section of the Media saying, “Really? I am hearing it for the first time.”
Hon. Mukhtar Batera, Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations, speaking on the meeting said, “In our discussions with the INEC Chairman, we wanted to know his requirements for the 2023 elections as well as cost of direct or indirect Primaries.
“On the primaries, when we discussed with him, he specifically told us the role of INEC in direct or indirect primaries which he said is just minimal.
“He said the responsibility lies with all the political parties. He said party primaries is the role of political parties and not INEC.
“For direct primaries, what the INEC Chairman told us is that only the political parties have the responsibility on primaries and the funding of the primaries. We don’t know whether he rejected the bill or not.”
Fire Guts Minister’s Private Residence
By Laide Akinboade, Abuja
The private residence of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister of State, Dr Mariya Mahmoud was completely razed down by fire on Sunday afternoon.
Reports suggest that nothing was salvaged from 9 Justice Roseline Ukeji Close, Asokoro, Abuja as fighters were said to have arrived late.
Media Aide to the minister Mr.Austine Elemue said the cause of the fire was being investigated.
The Ag. Director, FCT Fire Service, Mr Amiola Adebayo confirmed the fire outbreak.
The Acting Director in a text message to our correspondent said the fire started around 10:40am on 7 Roseline Ukeji close, Mark Okoye Street, Asokoro, involving a 7-bedroom duplex.
He said household items on the upper floor including: beds, clothes, documents, credentials, jewelries and others like air-conditioners, roof were consumed.
The fire service boss suspected electrical fault in the children room as the cause of the fire.
The fire was brought under control around 2:51pm. No life was lost.
This is the major fire incident in Abuja this year.
On Nov. 7, 2023, a section of the Canadian High Commission caught fire.
The FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said a diesel tank explosion was responsible for the incident.
Two persons died in the incident while one other person was critically injured.
At the same time, one of the Samsung electronic retail stores in Abuja was gutted by fire.
The fire was said to have been caused by careless welding activities near a pile of empty combustible cartons.
Northern Senators Jubilant as ECOWAS Lifts Sanctions on Niger Republic
By Eze Okechukwu, Abuja
Northern Senators Forum has commended the leadership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for lifting sanctions imposed on Niger Republic as a result of military takeover on July 26th, 2023.
Recall that the regional block had a fortnight ago, lifted the sanctions it imposed on the trio of Niger Republic, Mali and Burkina Faso following military insurrections in their respective countries.
Reacting to the development, the northern senators forum yesterday in Abuja said that they were pleased to see that ECOWAS responded to the progressive requests “made by us individually and collectively on the subject matter and we commend their prudent and compassionate approach in addressing these critical issues”.
The spokesman of Northern Senators Forum, Senator Suleiman Kawu Sumaila (NNPP, Kano South) noted that the principled and empathetic decision made by ECOWAS to lift the sanctions on Niger Republic was a testament to the organization’s commitment to regional solidarity, cooperation, and respect for human rights, stressing that the action would go a long way in alleviating the suffering of the people of Niger Republic as well as ensuring the restoration of stability and economic prosperity in the region.
According to him, “We are particularly grateful that ECOWAS leaders have considered our pleas to restore electricity, open borders and lift the sanctions on Niger Republic.
“These measures will not only have crucial humanitarian implications but will also foster regional integration, trade, and cooperation.
“We firmly believe that this step taken by ECOWAS will positively impact the lives of the people of Niger Republic and Nigeria and facilitate the restoration of trust and harmony among all member states.
“As representatives of the people and advocates for justice and democracy, we commend ECOWAS for their responsiveness and understanding of the immense challenges faced by our fellow West African nation.
“The Northern Senators Forum stands in solidarity with ECOWAS in restoring democracy and rule of law in Niger Republic and other west African countries.
“And we are committed to working to promote stability, peace, and socio-economic development throughout the region.
“We urge the government of Niger Republic and its people to seize this opportunity to hasten the process of returning to democratic governance to build a stronger and more prosperous nation, harnessing their resilient spirit and unwavering determination.
“Furthermore, we urge all regional stakeholders to continue engaging in dialogue and pursuing peaceful solutions to address any remaining concern, fostering a harmonious environment for progress and development.
“Finally, we would like to reiterate our deep appreciation to ECOWAS leaders especially, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Nigeria for their proactive and benevolent intervention in lifting the sanctions imposed on Niger Republic.
“We are confident that this decision will leave an indelible mark on the collective consciousness of all West African nations and serve as a shining example for resolving differences through dialogue and diplomacy.”
Edo 2024: Ighodalo Wins PDP Guber Ticket with 577 votes
By Dasvid Torough, Abuja
All efforts to make the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primary election in Edo State came to naught as two aspirants lay claim to victory on Thursday.
Dr Asue Ighodalo was announced the governorship candidate of the PDP for the Sept.
The Chief Returning Officer and chairman of the Edo Governorship Primary election Committee, Gov.Dada Lawal of Zamfara State, declared Ighodalo as winner after he garnered 577 votes to defeat six other aspirants.
The primary was co-chaired by Gov.
The governorship primary was held at the Lawn Tennis Court of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin.
The Edo Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr Anugbum Onuoha, led officials of INEC to monitor the process.
Ighodalo scored 577 votes to defeat other aspirants, including Deputy Gov. Philip Shaibu, who scored one vote.
In his acceptance speech, Ighodalo who thanked the delegates for the confidence reposed in him, promised prosperity for all Edo people.
He added that he would make deliberate efforts to tackle poverty and deliver good governance to the people.
Two former House of Representatives members, Mr Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama and Omosede Igbinedion, stepped down minutes before the primary.
The other aspirants Anslem Ojezua, Felix Akhabue, Martin Uhomoibhi, Hafia Hadizat Umoru, Osaro Onaiwu and Arthur Esene, all scored zero vote.
Earlier, the State Chairman of PDP, Tony Aziegbemi who welcomed the Edo Governorship Primary Election Committee to the state, said the PDP was ready for the Sept. governorship election.
Aziegbemi said a total of 594 adhoc delegates were elected by party members.
Similarly, the Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu emerged factional candidate for the same election.
It was reported that Shaibu scored 3000 votes in a parallel primary election held at his residence on Commercial Avenue, Benin City.
The Returning Officer, Bartholomew Moses declared that Shaibu won with an overwhelming majority of votes.
It was said that some delegates who went to Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium were denied entry.
These delegates returned to the deputy governor’s lodge for the primary election.
Shaibu reportedly addressed the delegates and advised them to remain peaceful, promising to speak with the primary electoral committee chairman.
It was later resolved that a parallel exercise should hold and Shaibu emerged candidate of the election.
Delegates from 12 local government areas reportedly elected Shaibu as the candidate.
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