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Buhari’s Ministers Only Interested In Amassing Wealth, says Former SGF Babachir Lawal

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Engr. Babachir Lawal, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), on Sunday said majority of the ministers in President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet do not share his vision of taking Nigeria to the next level.

Speaking in an exclusive in­terview with Daily Independent, Babachir said while the president is a good leader, who means well for the country, many of his appointees, especially the ministers, are only inter­ested in amassing enough money so as to contest for governorship elections in their respective states.

He also accused many senators, who are supposed to be the representatives of their constituents in the National Assembly, of pursuing personal agenda, instead of collaborating with their state governors in bringing developments to their states and advanc­ing the cause of their con­stituents.

“I like the president, he means well for Nigeria but he has the challenge of sub­ordinates who have differ­ent agenda. The president has an agenda that is good for Nigerians, he means well but his subordinates don’t share his vision. They have a different agenda.

“Majority of the minis­ters are only interested in making enough money to go and contest for gover­norship positions in their states. Majority of the sen­ators are only interested in making money so that they can go and become gover­nors in their states.

“So, the synergy of a senator sitting down with a governor to discuss the issue of development in the North doesn’t exist because already, they are competitors. In the South, governors and legislators are on the same page. When they come to Abuja, they fight for policies and pro­grammes that will benefit their people. In the North, that doesn’t happen. They only wear babanriga and put one kilogramme of starch inside and claim big men. That is the truth”.

Babachir, who is from Adamawa State, also said the governor of the state, Ahmadu Fintiri is having a no love lost relationship with the three senators in the state, saying the same applies to all the states in the Northern region.

“My governor is not in talking terms with all the senators. Two of them are in his political party but they have not been talking. The other one is APC who is struggling for his seat. So, how can my state move forward? And that is what is happening in all the Northern states”, he said.

On the situation in Southern Kaduna, Baba­chir said the utterances of Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has further worsened the crisis in the area.

The former SGF, who condemned the margin­alisation of Christians in Kaduna and other parts of the North, gave credit to a former governor of the state, Ahmed Makarfi, who, according to him, handled the crisis well during his tenure because he saw the issue from an ethnic and not religious point of view.

“Initially, I think from 1980, most of the problems of Southern Kaduna are ethnic. When Ahmed Ma­karfi became governor, he understood that most of the issues were ethnic than religious and he was able to address it. Roads were being constructed equally in all parts of the state; tra­ditional institutions were strengthened in all parts of the state. Everybody was getting his fair share of the resources that the state has and the matter didn’t get out of hand.

“The problem I see in Ka­duna is that the state gov­ernment led by Governor Nasir El-Rufai is not sen­sitive to the issues. Their utterances simply indicate that they are not sympa­thetic to the issues. Like I saw a write-up by Shehu Sani today, he said when it happened in Zamfara, government calls it bandit­ry and they sympathised with the affected commu­nities but when it happens in Southern Kaduna, gov­ernment starts to explain what is happening, rather than calling a spade exactly what it is and sympathising with the people.

“So, it depends on how government handles the issue at all levels; from the federal to the state to local government and ward lev­els. I remember when ban­ditry started in Sokoto and they overran a village, the state governor with all his cabinets went there to sym­pathise with the victims. They went with blankets, food items and other basic things. In some states, they don’t do that; rather than do that, they will even insult the communities that are the victims.

“That is what is happen­ing. Incompetent governors and rulers in the North are responsible. The North is full of incompetent rulers. All they want is to ride in convoys and people are hailing and waving at them. When they come home, peo­ple sit on the mats while they are the only ones sit­ting on a chair because they are governors. They see themselves as Deputy Je­sus. They are not interest­ed in serving the people, all they care about is ruling”, he said.

Babachir who also fault­ed exclusion of Christians from key political positions in Kaduna State despite their population said the issue may boomerang as future generations may not accept it.

“Why should Kaduna end up with Muslim gov­ernor and Muslim deputy governor? The speaker is Muslim as well as the dep­uty speaker. Two cabinet ministers are also Muslims. There are about six or sev­en local governments in Kaduna that are predomi­nantly Christians.

“Nigeria must look at these issues because the day it will explode, it will surprise everybody. While elders like us are willing to tolerate these things be­cause of peace and harmo­ny, our children may not be able to do so because they can’t accept to be Northerners only during neglect when positions are shared. election periods and suffer

“My own motive is for a peaceful Nigeria in which we are our brother’s keep­er. That is my message to Nigerians because God has blessed me to a stage where I was part of those running the government. So, I have a highest stake in ensuring that Nigeria works than most people be­cause I have liability also. I am one of the people that God will hold accountable if Nigeria doesn’t work.

“Having been a former SGF, I should be worried about the future of the country and that is why I have been talking with passion. The little period I served as SGF will be count­ed among the periods that things were not moving.

“That was the period I couldn’t go to my village because insurgents have overran my local govern­ment area and I was in Abu­ja in convoy, with security agents clearing the road for me but I couldn’t go home to my village. That makes me an empty vessel. If Boko Haram can overrun my lo­cal government area and then I was part of the top people in government, that makes me an empty vessel. I sincerely hope things will improve”, he said

(Daily Independent)

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Umahi Declares for 2023 Presidential Race

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As has been widely expected, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State has thrown his hat into the ring for the 2023 Presidential race.

According to the Governor, he has informed President Muhammadu Buhari of his ambition to contest the presidency on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Party (APC).

Governor Umahi’s action came barely 24 hours after the National Leader of the Party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, took similar steps.

Umahi disclosed his latest move to State House Correspondents after a closed-door meeting with Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

  1. On what his chances chances are against the background that other big political figures had indicated their intentions to run for the same office, including Asiwaju Tinubu, the Governor said God would be the decider of the outcome of the race.

Umahi, who left the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the APC, said he stands a chance if the APC throws the ticket open.

He said if he gets the opportunity, his presidency will replicate his efforts in Ebonyi, saying that he has a lot to show in running governance as a business.

The Governor also said he spoke with the President about resolving the security crisis bugging the Southeast region through political solutions.

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We Haven’t Zoned the Presidential Slot to Any Part of the Country, says PDP

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As permutations continue ahead of the 2023 general elections, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has denied zoning the presidential slot, saying a decision is yet to be taken on where its presidential ticket would be zoned to.

It also dismissed reports indicating that PDP had resolved to zone the presidential ticket to a particular region of the country.

Recall that former Niger State governor, Babangida Aliyu, had, last week, told a group drumming support for the presidential ambition of ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar that the party had resolved to field a northerner as its presidential candidate.

But reacting to the reports, spokesman for the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, said: “This is completely misleading as it does not in any way represent the position of our party. For the avoidance of doubt, the PDP emphatically and unequivocally states that it has not zoned its presidential ticket to any part of the country.

“The PDP is a political party founded on democratic principles and every action of the party, including zoning, is based on extensive consultations, discussions and consideration of all the issues as well as the various tendencies and interests across the nation, with the main objective of ensuring that the unity, peaceful co-existence and development of our nation are reinforced and promoted.

“The PDP, therefore, urges Nigerians, our teeming members and supporters to completely disregard the unfounded zoning claims as being peddled. Our party also cautions those behind the claims to desist forthwith.

“The PDP thanks Nigerians for the overwhelming interest they have in our party as their sure platform to rescue and rebuild our nation from misrule and urges them to remain united and focused as we join forces for the task ahead.”

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Andy Uba Wasn’t a Candidate in Anambra Governorship Election, Court Rules

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All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in Anambra, Andy Uba, who has vowed to upturn the election of Professor Chukwuma Soludo, was handed an unexpected knock out on Monday.

A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, nullified his participation in the 6 November election, declaring his candidacy illegal.

The ruling effectively denied Uba a locus standi to challenge Soludo.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment, held that the June 26 primary of the party which produced Uba as its standard-bearer was not validly conducted.

The ruling ended what would have been some legal distraction for Soludo, a former Central bank governor, hoping to make a difference in governance in the state.

Chief George Moghalu, an aspirant in the APC primary election had challenged the process and the outcome of the primary election that produced Uba as the party’s candidate.

Moghalu, who was the plaintiff, had sued the party, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Uba as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively.

Delivering the judgment, Justice Ekwo aligned with the plaintiff’s arguments that the June 26 primary election breached the provisions of the Electoral Act and the APC guidelines for the conduct of the exercise.

Chief George Moghalu

He held that the plaintiff had successfully demonstrated that the primary election was not conducted in accordance with the law and the party’s guidelines.

“Therefore, the case of the plaintiff succeeds on its merit,” he said.

Ekwo held that since the election was conducted illegally, the APC (1st defendant) cannot be a beneficiary of the Nov. 6 election which produced the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate, Prof. Charles Soludo, as the winner of the poll outcome.

The judge, therefore, declared that the APC had no candidate in the Anambra governorship election by non-inclusion of the name of Moghalu in the primary election, and the conduct of the poll in contravention of the Electoral Act and the party’s guidelines.

“The 2nd defendant (INEC) is compelled to delist the name of the 1st defendant and 3rd defendant from the Nov. 6, Anambra governorship election,” he ordered.

Prof. Charles Soludo
Anambra Governor-Elect

According to the judge, any election conducted contrary to the 1st defendant guideline is in nullity.

“The real issue was not whether accredited members of 1st defendant voted on that day but whether the election was conducted in accordance with the election guidelines of 1st defendant,” he held.

He also said that the evidence of the police report confirmed that the election was conducted outside the time frame.

Ekwo, who described the conduct of the primary by APC as “crude and primitive,” ordered that the N22.5 million paid by Moghalu as expression of interest and nomination forms be refunded since the party failed to complied with the provisions of the law and its guidelines.

Moghalu had, in July, filed the suit at the court, seeking an order removing Uba and the APC from the list of gubernatorial candidates and political parties partaking in the Anambra governorship election on the grounds that the party failed to conduct a valid primary election.

He also demanded N122.5 million as damages, which include a refund for the fee paid for expression of interest and nomination forms and N100 million “for the breach of contract to commence and conclude primary election”.

INEC had picked Uba, winner of the APC primary election, as the party’s candidate.

In the affidavit in support of the suit, the plaintiff said the APC failed to conclude the selection and nomination process for its candidate for the Nov. 6 governorship poll.

He said the APC had chosen to adopt direct primary, which is why the party published the list of designated venues for the exercise.

Moghalu said the party received N22.5 million for the expression of interest form and nomination form, including from him, “to allow him to participate in the primary election exercise”.
He further said he was informed a day before the primaries that the APC electoral committee would address all aspirants and stakeholders in Akwa.
“Shockingly, on June 26, 2021, the said election committee was not seen anywhere in Anambra; no accreditation of voters took place; no voting and collation of votes occurred in all the 326 wards of Anambra state,” he said.

He said the committee “announced election results it did not conduct, and which fakery was credited to the 3rd defendant as the winner of the primary election scheduled for emergence as APC’s candidate in the November 6 governorship election in Anambra”.

Moghalu also argued that the party did not invite the INEC in line with the law requiring the commission to monitor the exercise.

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