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Covid-19 palliatives: Group wants Ebonyi govt Probed by anti-corruption agencies

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A diaspora group, Association of Ebonyi State Indigenes in Diaspora (AESID) has called for caution in the spending of resources by the Ebonyi state government, even as it called on anti-graft agencies to monitor closely the sharing of another Covid-19 palliative in the state.

The group specifically called on the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other relevant agencies to come to the rescue of the state.

In a statement signed Tuesday by its President (Worldwide) Ambassador Paschal Oluchukwu, the association expressed disappointment on the way the current administration in Ebonyi continued to manage what it described as scarce resources in the state.

The group claimed it has information that the state government is about to spend another N4 billion as ‘Second phase palliative’ to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“AESID therefore call on the relevant anti-graft agencies whose mandates include monitoring and forestalling of financial crimes to beam its light very brightly on the Ebonyi state government to uncover, expose this obvious plot to swindle the poor State of its scarce resources in the guise of palliatives. The Ebonyi State government should be brought to book to also account for the various sums ordinarily meant for the development of the State which has officially been reported to the anti-graft agencies as having been diverted.

“We at AESID are quite disturbed about the way and manner the Ebonyi state government has continued to mismanage the scare resources of our poor state without any scintilla of accountability. We hold this view because the Umahi-led administration to the best of our knowledge is yet to give any account of an earlier approval of N4bn it made in July this year which it had christened ‘palliatives for Ebonyians.’

“Of course, we still recall the hues and cries of the Ebonyi poor masses over the extremely bizarre food items which included few sachets of noodles shared to just a hand-few of particularly party loyalists in the guise of palliatives after a very protracted period by the government. As a non-interest group whose mandate remains to continue to hold state actors accountable, AESID is calling on the Ebonyi state government to halt the proposed plan to lavish another whooping N4bn under the façade of COVID-19 palliatives.

“Rather, the government should first of all account for its management of the earlier sum approved and released as palliatives. It should show accountability by detailing the masses with how same was expended. We say so because of our vehement suspicion that the COVID-19 has since its outbreak in the country become for Governor Umahi and indeed some other Nigerian leaders a huge business and the most unsuspecting means to loot and divert lean resources accruing to the States they govern.

“Otherwise, how can Ebonyi state that never recorded more COVID-19 cases than states like Lagos claim to have now proposed to spend over N8bn? What kind of palliatives would take away over N4bn from the coffers of a government with lean allocation like that of our dear Ebonyi state? There is actually nothing less to suspect except to conclude that this is not just another hoax but another masterfully-designed plot by the Governor Umahi administration to siphon Ebonyi’s poor treasury!

Again we may wish to ask: Why is Umahi focusing only on projects and contracts that would enrich only him and his family without paying attention to genuine human empowerment programmes for our state which is rated as the poverty capital of Southern Nigeria?

“Why has he allowed rural roads that are completely impassable for local farmers to concentrate on mere cosmetics and artificial monuments that add no reasonable value to the lives and economic well-being of the average Ebonyian?

“What achievements can the Umahi administration truly boast of in the critical Education and Health sectors in Ebonyi state? What about attracting firms interested in operating in the State that can offer the teeming unemployed population job opportunities? This platform therefore urge the Ebonyi State government to reverse itself and not tow this path of ignominy by wasting resources in the guise of palliatives.”

The group, however assured the people of Ebonyi “that we shall continue to do all within the ambits of the law, the principles of fairness, equity and natural justice to protect and defend their interests at all times even as they pass through this difficult era of deceptions, lies and vicious propaganda.”

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Politics

2023: ‘Buhari’s successor can come from any part of Nigeria’ – Sheriff

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Sheriff

… says APC must work harder than ever before to gain the confidence of Nigerians in order to retain power beyond 2023.

Ahead of the 2023 general elections, a former governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff, has asked Nigerians to choose a leader with capacity irrespective of where he or she comes from.

The leader, he said, can hail from any part of Nigeria as long as he can bring succour to Nigerians.

He made the statement in Abuja while receiving members of an All Progressives Congress (APC) pressure group, Frontier for Equality Leadership and Good Governance, on Thursday in Abuja.

The group had visited the former governor to ask that he contests for the position of APC National Chairman.

While he asked Nigerians to discard ethnicity and religion when choosing the next president, he said competence should be the main focus of Nigerians in making a choice.

“Unless we believe in ourselves as a nation, and believe all of us are equal and believe that a good leader will emerge from any part of the country, regardless of religion, tribe or where he comes from, we will not succeed in getting the country we dearly love.

“We must put our differences aside and look for leaders from anywhere.

“If the man that will bring succour to Nigeria is coming from a mountain in Ogoja (Cross River), we should go and look for him. If it is in the extreme end of Adamawa, we should go and look for him. If he is coming from the end of Anambra, we should go and look for him. We must do soul-searching and look for a leader,” Mr Sheriff said.

Leadership cross

The former governor also warned Nigerians against criticising their leaders and asked that prayers be made for them.

“When I see people criticise leaders on what they know nothing about, I pray for them because you will only know the challenges of this country when you are saddled with responsibility. When we have leaders we should pray for them that God will intervene, we should not curse our leaders.

“If you must blame any leader you must look at the followers, what have we done? To help our leaders to be strong – and we have to do soul searching.

“Everyday we wake up with a different challenge and these challenges are not only for our leaders, we must understand that, it is for all of us,” he said.

APC’s burden

Mr Sheriff who was once the National Chairman of Nigeria’s main opposition party, PDP, stated that the APC might have lost the trust of Nigerians.

READ ALSO:  Anambra 2021: Stella Oduah dumps PDP for APC

The party, he said, “must work harder than ever before to gain the confidence of Nigerians in order to retain power beyond 2023”.

He noted that by the end of the tenure of the President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023, “the APC would have to work extra-hard to gain a fraction of the 12 million votes which the Buhari administration carried over the years”.

In response to the group’s for him to contest for the national chairmanship of the APC, he said he would only contest “if the position is zoned to the North-east”.

Mr Sheriff’s comments comes amidst uncertainty as to where the presidential ticket for the APC will be zoned to.

Although he is yet to officially declare his intention to run for the position of chairmanship, PREMIUM TIMES had reported him saying his decision to contest is largely dependent on how the position is zoned by the party.

“…Whether I will run for the office or not will be determined by what the caretaker committee takes as a decision on where the leadership of the party will go. Whether it will go to another place or it will remain in our zone.

“If it goes to another zone, I will not contest. But if it stays in our zone, I will contest,” he had said.

He is among other key political players jostling for the position.

Others are former governor of Nasarawa State and serving senator, Tanko Al-Makura; his counterparts from Borno and Gombe, Kashim Shettima and Danjuma Goje, who are also serving senators; former governor of Zamfara, Abdulaziz Yari; a former member of the House of Representatives from Bauchi, Ibrahim Baba; and a former chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria in Abuja, Sunny Moniedafe from Adamawa State.

The party is expected to hold its national elective convention before the end of the year.

It is, however, not clear when Mr Sheriff and other aspirants will publicly declare their intent to contest.

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International

Zambia’s Hakainde Hichilema sworn in as President in rare victory for an African opposition leader

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Zambia’s newly-elected president, Hakainde Hichilema, has been sworn into office after pulling off a stunning rare victory for an African opposition leader.

Hichilema was inaugurated Tuesday morning at a ceremony attended by leaders such as Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan and Malawi leader Lazarus Chakwera.

Zambia’s second female Vice President Mutale Nalumango was also sworn in during the ceremony.

Hichilema defeated outgoing President Edgar Lungu in a landslide by almost one million votes in his sixth attempt at becoming ruler of Zambia.

It was a stunning turnaround for the politician known as HH — Hichilema spent several months in prison in 2017 for what were widely seen as politically motivated treason charges. The charges were dropped under intense international pressure.

After initially indicating he may challenge the result, Lungu addressed the nation following the elections, saying: “Based on the revelations issued at final results, I will comply with the constitutional provisions for a peaceful transition of power.

Despite conceding defeat early, Lungu was booed by some of the crowd as he made his way to the stage at the packed Heroes stadium in the capital Lusaka to hand over power.

Hichilema called Tuesday “a new dawn in Zambia,” in a tweet ahead of the ceremony. “As I sit here in our vehicle being driven to Heroes Stadium, I see the love, the joy and the jubilation as people line the streets on our way. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. I love you all so much,” he added.

An example for Africa

Opposition leaders from other African countries were also invited to the event.

Nelson Chamisa, opposition leader in Zimbabwe, told CNN: “This is a significant and fantastic for what is possible for the future of Africa. Zambia is an inspiration to stubborn laggards in democracy. Strong institutions are key for effective power transfer and smooth transitions,” he said in a statement when asked about the significance of today’s inauguration.

Chamisa added that Zambia is an excellent example to be emulated on the continent.

“Africa in general and Zimbabwe in particular needs leaders not rulers, strong institutions – not strong men. Leaders must lead and leave, serve and go. Zimbabwe must be free and Democratic. Freedom can be delayed but never denied,” he said when asked what the message for Zimbabwe is.

It is the third time that power has shifted peacefully from a ruling party to the opposition since the southern African country’s independence from Britain in 1964.

There was a huge turnout of mostly young people, some who came dressed in their academic robes to protest lack of employment post graduation.

Joseph Kalimbwe, a youth representative of Hichilema’s UPND party told CNN

Young people gave us the vote. Four million young people between the ages of 18 to 24 registered to vote. It was a huge turnout and it was very personal to them. They want to ensure the mistakes of their parents were corrected. They have voted for our leader on basis he has better policies and ideas and can strengthen our state institutions.”

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Politics

Uche Secondus Suspended As PDP National Chairman

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Court suspends Uche Secondus as PDP National Chairman

 

Uche Secondus
Uche Secondus

The leadership crisis currently rocking the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, worsened on Monday as a High Court in Rivers State has restrained Uche Secondus from parading himself as the National Chairman of the party.

The order was given by Justice O. Gbasam at the State High Court sitting in Degema local government area of the State on Monday.

The judge who gave the order, also approved the suspension of Secondus as a member of the party pending the hearing and determination of motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.

The order followed a complaint brought before the court by some aggrieved members of the party.

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