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What I will Do With Bayelsa Money if Elected Governor-Agbedi

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Hon. Fred AGBEDI is a third time member in the House of Representatives. He was  former state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) in Bayelsa State. He also served as Special Adviser to Governor Dickson on Political Matters.

Agbeti who represents Sagbama/ Ekeremor Federal constituency in the House of Representatives is one of Governorship Aspirants  in the forth coming governorship election in Bayelsa state.

   In this interaction with the members of the Federated Correspondents the Aspirant bares his mind on the development of the state and his plans if elected.

Excerpt:

Can you speak briefly about yourself?

I am Fred Agbedi from Agoro community in Ekeremor Local Government Area  of Bayelsa State, I am the member of the House of Representatives, representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency, of course the third time member in the House of Representatives.

I was first in the House in third Republic which was 1992 under the National Republican Convention (NRC), today as a member of PDP, am serving my second term in the ninth Assembly at the House of Representatives. In Bayelsa state, I have held series of offices. I was the pioneer Secretary of NRC in Ekeremor LGA which office I contested and won to the House of Representatives. I have been chairman of PDP in Bayelsa state since 2005 to 2008. I have also  been  Special Adviser, Political Matters to Gov. Dickson and of course two times Director General  of Dickson Campaign Organisation, the Restoration Campaign 2011-12 and also 2015
to 2016, I have led three campaigns across the length and breath of
Bayelsa State and that makes me an household name and a committed loyal member  of the PDP.
I attended COE  where I read English and History, I attended
Uniport where I read English, I attended University of Abuja where I read Master in Public Administration am currently defending my seminar
on my thesis at Uniport. I pride myself as a professional politician, I have
been in politics for about four decades, I believe that am the only
professional politician that is running for the governorship position in Bayelsa state. I am also a professional in many respects, as teacher, character moulder, trainer, a Counsellor. As somebody who studied English, I can expressly express the desire of
my people and as graduate of Public Administration, am an
administration expert and for you to be a governor, you must have that
competence which I have as a development study student, a development expert of course

  Why do want to be Governor of Bayelsa State?

why I want to be a governor is to develop Bayelsa and I believe that if you want to be a governor, then you must understand the essence of a governor, the essence  number one is to realize that you are to be a servant and you must be able to render service, you should not see yourself as boss or rather you should see yourself as the servant of the people that is what I know very well and that is what I have come to do, to be the servant of the people. I also know that the position of a governor is a supervisor, yours is to supervise others, you understand the essence of supervision and you
too must have the capacity to supervise, because the governor does not do everything by himself, the governor identifies competent and capable hands who represent him in implementing policies and actions of Government and until you understand that a governor is a supervisor and that as a
supervisor, your first responsibility is to identify the right people
who have competency and capacity to implement policies of Government is what makes you stand out as a man who  knows your job from day one and so I realize that as a governor your duty is to supervise and understand how to check, monitor and applaud your lieutenants when they have done well, the ability to call your lieutenants to order when you believe that they are straying out of the radar and of course treat where it’s important and necessary to treat policies and their implementation and if you see that they are not achieving the desired goals and because I know and understand this, and I feel that the only way to express this is to serve at a greater height, which is the geographical expression that we refer to as Bayelsa.

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  Can you talk about your contributions to  develop your constituency?

I am  serving at my Federal constituency, I have rendered projects to my federal constituency as a member of House of Representatives. I have attracted empowerment to atleast 16 to 20 communities  in my constituency, I think that I have gone to the level that I have come to seek the same role at the center and that is why I have come and have been mandated to fly the flag of Peoples Democratic Party in the November 16, governorship election in the state.

 What is your plan to develop Byelsa?

One of my plans is to render services, to serve my people. I feel that Bayelsa should be empowered. First and most important is the empowerment of Bayelsans.
  Bayelsans don’t have financial
empowerment, if they don’t have skill empowerment, then of course
there is nothing you can bring to Bayelsans that will be worth more
than empowerment.

Ques. What is empowerment?

What is empowerment, it is to make sure that  Bayelsans have access to funds, how do they get access to funds, we have Bayelsans that have core competencies in business that as a governor, you must identify the
core competencies of Bayelsans and patronize them, you don’t only
patronize them, you ensure that the service they rendere is paid for
that is the only way to grow your people, as a contractor, business
men, the state patronises you, we should be able to pay you so that
you can make profit, revenue with which you move forward. Once you
empower Bayelsans very well, they will turn the state’s economy around, they will make the economy robust and they will move to compete at the national level and our government will not only empower them and leave them to go and compete at the national level, we will also assist
them where the governor needs to intervene where they are in a
competition and how they are going to have such ventures.  Bayelsa government will
follow up and ensure that we support them to have  ventures at the end of the day. Not only that, we want to grow Bayelsa, not only
to the national level but also to the international level because if we want to be a
national and world player, we must have financial muscle. No matter how competent you are, no matter how effective you are in delivery of
projects, if you don’t have the financial muscle, you will not be able to compete at the national and global level and so that is what our
target is that at the end of the day, Bayelsans, whatever, it will cost
them  to be in competition at the national level and globally, we would ensure that they have that basis to be able to compete wherever they find themselves in Nigeria and across the globe.

  What  do intend to do about encouraging   investors?

If we are talking about investors, the people that can invest  locally are the Bayelsans and if Bayelsans have access to funds that enable then   build factories, industries, it’s the business men that are going to enter into partnership with other business men to  come and grow industries, to come and build factories and so we want to empower Bayelsans in such a situation whereby Bayelsan business men can pull N2 – N5bn  together to say this is the factory we want  to built and they will use the financial muscle and strength they have to
attract partnership to build that factory, to build that industry.

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  What does government need to do actualize this?

What Government needs to do is to create enabling environment, a conducive climate, build infrastructure, social amenities and security that will bring a driving economy base, that is what our Government is going to do. Anything about factory, industries and funding of public projects  that are industry oriented will be the responsibility
of businessmen to partner with other businessmen to bring them. Take for example, we are talking about Aggae Deep Sea Port, where the state government has done so much and has done a lot of works and are still looking for investors to come and invest, if we have Bayelsans who can
pull together 3 to 5 Billion Naira, am sure that we would have achieved
a lot or long mileage as it is today because government funds are not
sufficient to develop Bayelsa as it ought to be.  So, once Bayelsans
have good money, once they have financial muscle and financial
capabilities they can attract partners that can put-in so much
billions to bring such projects into fruition, you will see that
Bayelsan money will be domiciled in Bayelsa and they would be financially empowered to strength Bayelsa economy and to attract other investors to come and partner with our business men to invest in factories and industries and to grow Bayelsa, employment will come. Its by so doing we will have robust economy in Bayelsa,   and as a
government we will also attract revenue to boost our internally Generated Revenue.

 Do you have any  plan to establish a   refinery?

Yes, our government when we come onboard will  also bring to the table the issues of oil production. Bayelsa state has oil wells, we have the attala farm, the marginal oil field and what do we need, do we need to sell crude, which is between 40 to 60 dollars per barrel and failed like the way Nigeria fail in selling raw materials?  For me, the right way to go is to tell our partners with the Bayelsa oil company to build refinery. We don’t need to sell the raw crude, we need to refine. If people who don’t have access to crude oil want to built refinery, what about us that  already have access to crude oil. What we need is a refinery to process the crude and this will bring down the cost of this finished products.  Because in Nigeria, Bayelsa is paying more than any other state and other part of this country because Bayelsa has deep riverine areas and anything you are buying at deep riverine, you can never determine what the cost is, so for me, Bayelsa oil company will encourage our partners
to built refinery, process the crude to     what ever finished products that is going to  come out of the crude
oil.  If we have a refinery,
people will be employed, the petrol, diesel that we are going to
process in Bayelsa will reduce the cost of the finished products in
the state, it will create employment opportunities and of course the
government will also draw revenue from it. I am also saying that as a
chairman House Committee on oil and gas resources in the eight
Assembly in the House of representatives, I went into a number of discussions with the major players in the oil industry. You all
know that the Bonny NLNG is a success story and it’s one of the
highest finance contributors to the Federal Government   
and if the Bonny NLNG will bring two more NLNGs will certainly solve the financial  problems of the country,  whatever amount you want to fund your budget with three NLNGs in  Nigeria can solve that problem and they are desirous of getting it done. In the course of our discussion with SHELL, we have agreed that the bony NLNG should invest in Brass NLNG and shell has also volunteer to invest in that project and so, that dream is ongoing, as chairman of that resources in the House of
Representative, we have taken discussion largely to implementation level such that it’s only when some of us come on board, having realise it to this point,  as a governor I can drive it to completion. And what do you
expect, an NLNG in Brass will open up the brass axis, it will bring
employment opportunity for our teeming youths and will also promote businesses and then as a state we are going to drew revenue from it. That is the way to go.

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What will your administration do about  the brass fertilizer company?

The Brass fertilizer company that has been on the dream line, I have discussions to the extent that the former Managing Director of NNPC has said what will need to do to make it come on stream and by that discussion their expectation is not much 
beyond Bayelsa state government’s power and having understood that
this is what they want to have Brass fertilizer company to come on
stream because it will also generate employment again, which will generate business, which will generate income, I think that, that is
the way to go because if don’t address the issue that will create
employment, issues that will,   bring about robust business environment, issues that will create more
revenue base for the government, then of course, we will still be
relying on feeding bottle democracy.  

  How do you mean?

We say we are  a federal government, but we are practicing unitary system of government, at the end of the month, we all go to Abuja to collect whatever they appropriate to us, we do don’t know what they are given to us, they just say this is what belongs to you and you pick it and come back, which is not enough to sponsor our budgets and as for some of us, the first and most important thing to do is to look inward and generate an economy that will be self serving and we talk about this because if investors are coming to Nigeria and they land in Lagos, the moments they talk to Lagos audience and they know that it is  a business that is going to succeed, Lagosians will tell you am buying it half  a billion naira, or one billion or two billion and of course
they don’t have any reason to come to Bayelsa when there is already
money, when there is local content that is going  to boost their
investment of course they have to talk to that audience and then move
away from there, that is the sentiment we are coming to government to solve. Bayelsans will have the capacity to put money on the table in negotiating and creating business partnership that will develop our state.

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Reps Raise Team to Probe Buhari’s  Oil Subsidy Regime 

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*Say over $7bn, 120mn Barrels Diverted

*Accuse NNPC of Manipulating Consumption Figures

Company Cheats FG in Oil Revenue to Tune of $10bn

By Ubong Ukpong, Abuja

The House of Representatives yesterday, raised an adhoc committee to probe petroleum products subsidy regime in the last five years,  covering 2017 to 2021.

The committee was given eight weeks to carryout the probe and report back to the House for further legislative action.

The decision was sequel to a motion on the “Need to Investigate the Petroleum Products Subsidy Regime in Nigeria from 2017 to 2021”, brought before the House by Hon. Sergius Ose Ogun.

The lawmaker had said that the motion was informed by Section 88 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended) , which empowered the National Assembly to conduct investigations into the activities of any authority, executing  or administering laws made by the National Assembly.

He also noted that Section 32 of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021 saddled the Petroleum Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority with the task of regulating and monitoring technical and commercial midstream and downstream petroleum operations in Nigeria.

Ogun informed the House that as of 2002, the NNPC’s purchase of crude oil at international market prices stood at 445,000 barrels per day in order to enable it to provide petroleum products for local consumption.

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He was concerned that as at 2002, the installed capacity of Nigeria’s local refineries stood at 445,000 barrels per day, but that their capacity utilization began to nosedive and eventually fell completely to zero due to the ineffectiveness and alleged corruption by critical stakeholders in the value chain.

The lawmaker said he was aware that due to the decline in the production capacity of the refineries, NNPC found it more convenient to export domestic crude in exchange for petroleum products on trade by barter basis described as Direct Sales Direct Purchase (DSDP) arrangement.

He said he was further aware that component costs in the petroleum products subsidy value chain claimed by the NNPC was highly over-bloated while the transfer pump price per litre used by the NNPC in relation to PPMC was underquoted as N123-N128 instead of N162-N165 and this fraudulent under-reporting of N37-N39 per litre translates into over N70 billion a month or N840 billion a year.

The legislator expressed worry that the consumption rate of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) was 40million to 45million litres per day, however, the NNPC used 65 million to 100 million litres per day to determine subsidy as discoverable from NNPC’s monthly reports to the Federal Allocation Committee (FAAC).

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He also noted that the subsidy regime has been unscrupulously used by the NNPC and other critical stakeholders to subvert the nation’s crude oil revenue to the tune of over $10 billion with records showing that as at 2021, over 7 billion US dollars in over 120 million barrels have been so diverted.

According to the lawmaker. “There exists evidence that subsidy amounts are being duplicated, thus subsidy is charged against petroleum products sales in the books of NNPC as well as against crude oil revenue in the books of NAPIMS to the tune of over N2 trillion.”

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INEC Creates Additional 14 CVR Centres in FCT

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has created 14 additional Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) centres in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to address upsurge in registrants turnout.

INEC said this in a statement by the FCT INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Mr Yahaya Bello on Tuesday in Abuja.

Bello said that the commission has also deployed 50 additional INEC Voter Enrolment Device (IVED) machines to the new registration centres in the territory.

He said that the creation of the centres was to accommodate the upsurge of intending registrants in the FCT.

“Due to the upsurge of Voter turnout in the ongoing CVR in FCT, the INEC Chairman , Prof. Mahmud Yakubu has graciously approved deployment to the following centers for ease of registration.

“The centres are:1 ,City Centre -Diplomatic Park, Area 1 , 2.

Gwarinpa G.S.S Life Camp ,3 . Wuse G.S.S Zone 3 ,4. Kabusa Primary School and Lugbe Primary School.

“ Others are : 5. Giwa – Gwagwa Primary School ,6. GUI – Gosa Primary School ,7 Karshi- Karshi Development Center ,8. Orozo – Orozo Primary School .

“The rest are : 9. Nyanya – G.S.S Nyanya ,10. Kubwa- L.E.A Primary School Kubwa, 11. Dutse-Aljaji – L.E.A Primary School Dutse, L.E.A Primary School, Dawaki L.E.A and Primary School, Mpape,” he said

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Bello said that the commission had deployed 50 IVED machines to the new centers.

He urged voters to take advantage of the new additional centers and encouraged prospective registrants to be civil as they participate in the registration. (NAN)

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Senate to Probe Tanko Mohammad’s Tenure Despite Resignation 

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By Jude Opara and Mathew Dadiya, Abuja

Despite his voluntary  resignation from his office as the Chief Justice of Nigerian (CJN) on Monday, the Senate on Tuesday said that it would still probe the Justice Tanko Muhammad.

This followed a motion on “Matter of Urgent Public Importance” moved by Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC-Ekiti).

The motion was tagged: “State of Affairs in the Supreme Court of Nigeria and Demand by Justices of the Court.

It could be recalled that the Senate had on June 22, mandated the  Committee to as a matter of urgency, wade into the crisis rocking the judiciary.

Following prayers from the motion, the Senate resolved to mandate the committee to go ahead with its assignment in the bid to finding a lasting solution to the matter by interacting with relevant stakeholders.

This was aimed at addressing the complaints raised in the petition by the justices of the Supreme Court recently against Justice Mohammad as CJN .

The Senate further mandated the Committee to interface with the relevant stakeholders in the three arms of government as well as at the Bar and the Bench.

Bamidele while moving the motion in line with the Rules 41 and 51 of the Senate Standing Orders, noted that poor welfare of judicial officers would affect outcomes from the judiciary.  

“The sacred image of the judiciary, which is the epicentre of the temple of justice should be preserved by the Senate through appropriate legislative measures in order to safeguard this highly revered institution and prevent it from being ridiculed,” he said.

The lawmaker who expressed reservations over the former CJN’s resignation said the development will not prevent the committee from going ahead with its assignment in the quest to find a lasting solution to the issue concerning the judiciary.

“Even though Muhammad has stepped down as CJN, most of the issues raised by the justices of the Supreme Court and other stakeholders within the judiciary still remain and need to be addressed urgently to prevent an eventual shutdown of the Judiciary,” he said. 

Supporting the motion, Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, said that “this motion will show clearly that the Senate is not unaware of the role it is supposed to play.

“Of course, in playing that role, we also respect separation of powers. Our concern is that the judiciary as an arm of government deserves all the support it needs been the last hope as far as the rule of law is concerned.”

Similarly, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege said, “I am very embarrassed as a lawyer and also someone from the judicial family, seeing that petition on the social media and eventually on the mainstream media. I was taken aback because it has never happened, it is unprecedented. There is no reason why the judiciary should lack anything financially.”

In his remarks President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said, “I can see most of the emphasis is on funding. When we look into the issues, they go beyond funding. We should look at other areas whether there is need to improve on the structures or having issues that may not be about funding but funding is of course a major issue.” Lawan said.

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Fourteen  justices of the Supreme Court had leveled allegations of corruption against the former CJN, Muhammad.

NASS Moves to Amend Electoral Act, Hails Supreme Court Judgement

In reaction to what it believes are flaws of the Electoral Act 2022, the National Assembly is making arrangements to amend some sections of the legislation to strengthen its perceived  areas of weaknesses.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan revealed this on Tuesday at plenary, following a “Matter of Urgent National Importance,” brought before it by Senator Yahaya Abdullahi (PDP-Kebbi).

Lawan described the judgment by the Supreme Court on Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act as a landmark that has vindicated the National Assembly.

The Senate President added that further amendment of the Act would strengthen it ahead of the 2023 general elections.

“Let me say that this is one major landmark judgment by the Supreme Court, that the National Assembly had done its job and the court upheld it. The idea of what method of primaries should be adopted at the moment is entirely left for the political parties to decide.

“But as we implement the Electoral Act 2022, we are supposed to be very observant of the strengths and weaknesses of the law. This law is supposed to improve on the electoral processes and procedures in our country.

“So, it is for us to ensure that where there are weaknesses, we try to come up with measures, amendments to deal with the issues of weaknesses in the law. And, I’m sure it will come full circle when the 2023 elections are held. 

“I have no doubt in my mind that all of us in the National Assembly, not only in the Senate, but in the House as well, feel that we must do everything and everything possible to make this Electoral Act serve the purpose for which it was passed and assented to. Therefore, I believe that we should work tirelessly to take note of those areas that we feel are not strong enough – that are weak points in the law – with a view to strengthening them before we finally take our exit in 2023,” Lawan said.

In his submission, Abdulahi who recently dumped the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the PDP in relying on Order 42 of the Senate Standing Orders, lauded the 9th Assembly for resisting the pressure from the Executive to amend Section 84(12) of Electoral Act 2022.

He also praised the Supreme Court for being clear, decisive and unambiguous in upholding the  principles of separations of powers as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.

“In my view, the Supreme Court verdict should be celebrated for the following reasons. It restored and anchors the power of making laws to the National Assembly, and establishes a principle that once the President accents to a Bill he/she can’t approbate and reprobate, i.e. he/she cannot go to the courts to amend/reject the Bill in part or in whole”, he said.

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Abdullahi emphasized the need to amend the Electoral Act to revert to the direct mode of primaries to be adopted by the political parties.

“One issue still remains outstanding, and that is amending the Act (after the 2023 elections) to revert to our earlier stance on direct primaries. Our recent nasty experience of the misuse of consensus and delegate system has vindicated our earlier position on the merit of direct primaries provided that a verifiable membership register of political parties kept simultaneously at the Ward level and with INEC with all the necessary safeguards against corruption and data manipulation, is put in place.

“As the political process towards 2023 unfolds, the National Assembly needs to be observant of the loopholes and weaknesses of the 2022 Electoral Act. So that a comprehensive assessment is undertaken to provide adequate grounds for making amendments to the Act before the end of the term of office of the ninth Assembly in May 2023”, he added.

Kalu Leads 22 Non-returning APC Senators in Protest to Buhari 

President Muhammadu Buhari has forestalled the impending exodus of senators of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) following their inability to get the party’s ticket to return to the National Assembly in 2023. 

Twenty-two of the aggrieved senators, who included Senator Smart Adeyemi were led by the Chief Whip of the Senate, Orji Uzor Kalu to the Aso Rock office of the President 

Buhari noted their concerns about the future of the ruling party but praised their effort to find a solution. 

The President assured them that as the leader of the party, one of his roles was to create the environment for members to ventilate their grievances. 

He assured them that he had noted their concerns over the outcomes of the party primaries, the threat to the party’s majority  in the National Assembly and  consequences losing the majority hold will have  on the party. 

While pointing out that there must be a winner and loser in every contest, Buhari revealed that he had been inaudated with complaints over the primaries, assuring that he would continue to address the challenges through the party machinery. 

He urged party members to exercise restrain,  promising that justice would be done. 

“I thank you for the decision to approach me with your concerns over the future of the party and for pursuing solutions approach to the challenges thrown up by the recent election-related activities particularly the primaries. 

“As the leader of the party one of my primary roles is to ensure that the our culture of internal democracy and dispute resolution is strengthened by creating the opportunity for members to ventilate their opinions, views and grievances at different levels. 

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“Notwithstanding the fact that we have accomplished 23 years of an uninterrupted democratic governance, our journey is still in a nascent stage and we continue to learn from our challenges and mistakes. 

“Similarly our party is still evolving in it’s culture and practice and it is my expectations and hope that we should attain a mature level in our internal conduct. 

“I have noted your grievances particularly as it concerns the just concluded processes. The cost to the nation, the threat to the majority of position held by our party in the legislative chambers and likely consequent causes to the electoral fortune’s of the party as we approach the General Elections. We must not allow these dire threat to come to pass. 

“I must acknowledge that in every contest there must be a level playing ground, just as there would be grievances at the end. That is the test of our democratic credentials, systems and practices. 

“I have since the conclusion of the process been inundated with various reports and complaints. In keeping with our ethos therefore, I shall continue to address the ensuing challenges and grievances through the party machinery while paying keen attention to the outcomes. 

“I must also remind you of the  primacy of justice in all our actions, if justice is denied its outcome is usually unpleasant, this is because you the members keep the party running. I should add that as part of the policy of using the party machinery for effective resolutions of conflict, the chairman and some members of the national working committee visited the National Assembly recently to dialogue with our legislators. 

“The leadership of the party is currently addressing the outcomes as part of the way forward. I am encouraging all the party functionaries to adhere to the truth and to be fair to all parties in any dispute. This is important because our strength and victory in the election lie in the unity of the party, in our ability to prevent or heal any injustice perceived. 

“I urge you and all party members to exercise restraint and continue to demonstrate commitment to the ideals while we continue to build and develop the party and the country. 

“Finally, Let me assure you that justice shall prevail, aggrieved members shall be assuaged in the interest of the party and the nation shall be protected,” the President said.

In his remarks, the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Kalu, said at least 22 senators and members of the party were unhappy with the outcome of the primaries in their states, noting that they felt disenfranchised by the process. 

He said the legislators had made sacrifices for the growth of the party and democracy in the country and asked for the President’s kind intervention. 

“Mr President, in the Senate we have worked hard and consistently sold your programmes beyond party lines. Be assured always of our support,’’ he added. 

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