…My turn to be Senate President – Kalu
…Groups stage demands on Tinubu on zoning lines, contribution to election victory
…Election, politicking gone, its time for work – Tinubu
By Moses Adeniyi
The composition of power structure ahead for the Bola Tinubu led All Progressives Congress (APC) Government has been clustered with lobby for choice positions springing struggles and tough politicking.
Situation for the National Assembly (NASS) has become much more tight in contest as Information gathered showed the composition of the leadership of the parliament, particularly both for the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives have begun to tear lawmakers into blocs.
Also, it was gathered lawmakers have begun serious lobby for the leadership and membership composition of choice committees in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The struggle for the leadership of both the upper and lower chambers have been much stronger amongst returning lawmakers many of whom, it was gathered are now lobbying their colleagues and new comers to be integrated into the chambers having won their election.
It my turn to be Senate President — Kalu
On the struggle for the leadership of the chambers of the NASS, the Chief Whip of the Senate, Orji Kalu, threw his intention open on Tuesday, to contest for Senate presidency in the 10th NASS.
While briefing journalists at the NASS, Kalu, who won re-election to represent Abia North in the Red Chamber, claimed that it was his turn to become Senate President, being a ranking lawmaker and from the South East.
“It is my turn to become the Senate President. If I’m elected Senate President, I will be team Nigeria. I’m going to work in every corner of Nigeria.
“I schooled in Maiduguri, Borno State. I started my business in Lagos and spread it across all State capitals. My first name will be team Nigeria, my last name will be team Nigeria.
“Remember, I’m the only former governor who has never changed phone line for more than 20 years ago. I’m still willing to maintain that telephone number to answer all my calls. I’m not going to switch off my phones because I’m Senate President.
“I’m hoping that Nigerians will pray for me to become Senate President because it’s my turn,” he said.
It has also been said that other lawmakers eyeing the seat aside Kalu, include Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom); Sani Musa (Niger); Barau Jibrin (Kano); and Dave Umahi (Ebonyi).
It has been gathered that the final candidates for the position will largely be determined by zoning.
The APC on which platform Kalu hails has maintained a majority in the Senate, having secured 57 seats in the recently concluded election, have said it has not zoned the Senate presidency.
….Groups place demands on Tinubu on zoning lines, contribution to election victory
Meanwhile, socio-political and cultural groups from various backgrounds have continued to declare their interest on where the seat of the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives should be zoned to.
It was disclosed on Tuesday, a group under the aegis of the Niger Delta Progressive Youths Frontiers wrote to President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, requesting the zoning of the Senate Presidency to the North Central geo-political zone of the Country.
In an open letter to the President-elect, signed by its Secretary General, Oyinemi Nicholas Endeley, which was made available to journalists, the group of young Nigerians from the various oil producing communities in the Country, pleaded with Tinubu to consider a ranking Senator from the North Central as the President of the Senate.
According to the group, aspirants from other parts of Nigeria apart from the North Central, selfishly worked for themselves in the February 25 Presidential and NASS elections because the results showed that they polled higher votes for themselves compared to what the president got in their senatorial districts.
The statement read: “As laid out above, it is no gainsaying that one region exceptionally stood out and that is the North Central.
“A region that has been marginalised for decades and crying for a President of North Central extraction, yet standing very strong in solidarity with you when the need arose.
“The region who for long have been described in previous elections as the swing-region, swung to your direction and in your favour. They deserve the first right of refusal to any key office under your administration.
“That is why it is scandalously laughable to see groups come out to demand that the office of the Senate President be zoned to their region.
“This unholy demand, to say the least, smacks of greed and unnecessary sense of entitlement.
“It is even more ridiculous, shameful and myopic on the part of these political orphans who rather than making frantic efforts to literally be putting their home fronts in order are busy scheming for political offices when they made no significant contribution to the actualisation of your dream of the Presidency.
“The President-Elect sir, Four years is like four days, and the most expedient and reasonable thing to do is to consolidate on your victory, reward zones and people for their hard work and competence.
“The reason is not far-fetched, this is Nigeria, even if you turn some states and regions to El dorado, majority of them will never see you as their President, and that is the truth. So while you do your best in transforming Nigeria, it is very pertinent that you know your base and reward your base.
“Finally, the most delicate and sensitive position up for grabs now is that of the Senate President and the race has started for the exalted seat.
“We saw the most chaotic dispensation under a certain Bukola Saraki of the PDP, who came to the APC, dressed as a wolf in a sheep clothing.
“Not believing in the principles of the progressives, his true character showed for all to see.
“Mr President-Elect, this letter is to implore you to cover yourself in glory once again and recommend a man who is a true progressive, a thorough-bred progressive like yourself.
“If no one will tell you, let me tell you of an honourable character, a man who hails from the region most deserving of the exalted seat. A man who in secret and in public stood behind you and is a major factor in your victory today.
“A man who hails from the state where you were first introduced to the northerners as the Jagaban Borgu, a title that now has international recognition.
“A man who under his Senatorial District where he holds sway, delivered more votes than the entire South East and four states in the South-South.”
On its part, a civil society group under the aegis of the Young People for Social Justice (YPSJ) called on the APC and the President-elect Tinubu to zone the seat of the Speaker of the House of Representatives to the North West Geo Political zone.
Their demand was expressed during a press conference in Abuja by the group’s spokesperson, Solomon Kazure.
According to YPSJ, in line with the principle of Federal Character enshrined in the constitution, after the Presidency in the South West, Vice President in North East and the Senate Presidency expected to be zoned to the South East or the South South for religious balance, the next zone to be settled is the North West, the zone with the largest voting number and contributed to Asiwaju’s victory more than any other zone with 32% of the total votes.
Kuzare highlighted the importance of competence and experience for the position of Speaker, but said one thing that must also be higly considered is the spread of top positions across the Country and the North West can be proud of presenting ranking members of the House of Reps with good experience.
He suggested ranking members like Hon. Tajudeen Abass, Ado Doguwa and Hon. Sada Soli.
Earlier, speaking South-East interest, a number on groups comprising the Orlu Political Consultative Assembly, alongside the South-East Liberation Front, South-East Political Agenda, Organisation of Equity for South-East, and South-East Professionals in Politics, had demanded the leadership of the APC to zone the position of the Senate President of the 10th National Assembly to the South-East.
At a joint press conference last Thursday, the groups said zoning the position of the next Senate President to the region would address the issue of exclusion of the Igbo people in the central government.
The National President, Orlu Political Consultative Assembly, Rex Anunobi, said the APC had to look for somebody who had no case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission from the South-East zone to be the next Senate President.
Anunobi said the APC should strongly consider Senator-elect Osita Izunaso from Imo West for the position of Senate President.
Meanwhile, former Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bwari, on his part stressed the need for the APC to zone the position of the Senate President in the 10th NASS to the North Central geopolitical zone.
He said doing so would help the region address the issues of insecurity, poor infrastructure and other forms of economic sabotage in the region.
Bwari, who was also the Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, while speaking with journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, argued that: “Following the conclusion of the Presidential and National Assembly elections, two very important positions have gone to the South-West and North-East geopolitical zones.
“The president and vice president-elect have been elected from those zones.
“Other zones are now clamouring for the third most important position in the country, that is the Senate Presidency.
“If we look at performance, the North Central did very well for the All Progressives Congress in the last election. We produced very significant votes for the President-elect and the Vice President-elect.
“If you consider our strategic location and performance, if we didn’t get number one or number two positions, we should be given number three.”
Recall for Tinubu, the larger chunk of votes during the Feb. 25 elections, came from the North East, a factor some believe would trigger the President-elect to throw his weight of support behind a lawmaker from that end for the leadership position of the chambers.
Recall however, that Tinubu had declared competence would be the rule of selection of appointees to form his government, ruling out sentiments of politicking and religious/ethnic leanings.
The President-elect made the statement in response to preponderance of calls on him to run an inclusive government for national unity.
Tinubu had said against the demands for a government of national unity, his goal is a government of national competence.
In a statement issued last Thursday in Abuja, Tinubu had said he would not be weighed down to sacrifice ability and performance for extraneous considerations, saying “the day for political gamesmanship is long gone.”
“I shall assemble competent men and women and young people from across Nigeria to build a safer, more prosperous and just Nigeria,” he said, declaring that young people and women would have good representation in his government.
He assured his choice of appointments would not be determined by religious considerations, which he said would not be a yardstick for position for any one in his government, but rather, character and competence will be the guiding principle for appointments.
…Election, politicking gone, it’s time for work, healing process — Tinubu
Meanwhile, amidst the politicking of lobbying for seats, President-elect, Tinubu has said the time for the Feb. 25th Presidential/NASS and the March 18th Governorship/State Assembly elections are over, stating that it was time for work and healing process to begin earnestly.
His appeal was contained in a statement released on the official website of Tinubu/Shettima campaign.
The statement read: “With the conclusion of the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections, I congratulate all the elected governors and assembly members for earning the mandate of the people. The March 18 governorship election held across 28 states and the state legislative poll across the 36 states of the federation have brought the 2023 election cycle to a fitting close.
“I must praise President Muhammadu Buhari, the Independent National Electoral Commission, security agencies, Observer Groups, Civil Society Organisations, development partners and the electorate for the success of the elections. The election is pivotal to the growth and sustenance of democracy and democratic governance at the state level.
“Consolidating democratic governance at the sub-national level will bring more development and improved quality of life to the masses. The more we entrench and consolidate the gains of our democratic venture across the length and breadth of our country, the more our people benefit in terms of dividends of democracy and good governance.
“However, I’m saddened by the reported isolated infractions during the elections and its aftermath in some states. I strongly condemn it. Also, the report of arson after the announcement of governorship results in one state did not represent who we truly are: peace-loving people.
“The physical and verbal assaults committed are unacceptable and antithetical to democratic ethos.
“Elections should be a celebration of our maturing democracy and freedom of choice and ought not to be moments of grief. I am particularly pained by cases of ethnic slurs, which are capable of creating needless mis-characterisation reported in some locations.
“My appeal is for us to rise above our differences, which, in reality, are fewer than the valued strings that bind us together as a people irrespective of the circumstances of our births.
“As your President-elect, it is that spirit of inclusiveness we engendered in Lagos that I intend to bring into national governance so that together we can attain our full potentials.
“I will give priority to expanding the civic space and safeguarding citizens’ freedom to exercise their rights within the bounds of the law.
“Indeed, the elections are over. The people have voted to elect their governors and state legislators that will serve them for the next four years. The time for leadership and governance is now upon us.
“In a democracy, majority would have their way but that majority must not suppress the minority from having their say. As democrats, we have to safeguard free expression. Winners must be magnanimous and those who did not win should have a large heart for tolerance and respect for the greater interest of the nation.
“As the elected, the only way to justify the trust and confidence of the people and the mandate entrusted in us is to commit ourselves to the service of the people. We must all work diligently and sincerely to make life better for the masses. As elected officers, we have no other assignment than to be burden-bearers for the masses and ensure they have better life that we promised during the campaigns.
“We must take urgent steps to unite the people; those who voted for us and those who did not. We must champion the healing process by embracing the opponents and their supporters. As I have stated previously, the time for politicking is gone. This is time for nation building, a task beyond one individual or a section of the society. We need every hand from wherever it may come to be on deck.
“I am ready to work with you all as your President. I will be a worthy partner you can trust and rely on as we all bond together, in unity of purpose and renewed hope for, the betterment of our blessed country and beloved people.”
Recall INEC had Tuesday, March 7, 2023, issued Certificates of Return to the Senators-elect.
According to results announced so far for the Senate, by the INEC for the Feb. 25 elections, the APC won 57 seats, while the major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) garnered 29 seats.
The contest for the compostion of the leadership of the NASS has always been tough. For the 9th Assembly, the contest was much orderly in process, compared to the 8th Assembly where the process that produced the Senate President was believed to be a skewed political game.
Although, having won the majority of the seats, according to Parliamentary tradition, the APC is expected to form the majority caucus and produce the presiding officers of the chamber, yet the possibility of unexpected outcomes may shoot off from political gamesmanship.
Meanwhile, on the executive part, the lobby for key positions is clogging up with struggles as there are indications that the president-elect, Tinubu, who has said he would commence work from his very first day in office, may form his cabinet within 30 days after his inauguration in May.
NewsDirect at 13: Our commitment to press freedom, accurate news relentless — ED
The Executive Director and Manager for Business Development and Strategic Partnerships for Nigerian NewsDirect, Mr Mathew Ibiyemi has reiterated the commitment of the media house to advocating for increased press freedom and promotion of accurate news.
In a press statement issued on behalf of the company on the occasion of its 13th Anniversary, Mr Mathew acknowledged that the newspaper industry in Nigeria and globally is going through very challenging times.
He noted that the challenges may be enormous but they are not insurmountable.
The NewsDirect ED explained that the challenges will not make the company compromise on the truth but will instead further its resolve to continuously provide accurate and insightful news from source.
Mr Mathew also seized the occasion to thank readers and partners of the brand who have ceaselessly contributed to the newspaper’s continuous publication on news-stand.
Nigerian NewsDirect is slated to host an anniversary dinner in Lagos today to celebrate the milestone age and also interact with its partners.
Tinubu seeks N’Assembly approval for fresh $8.7bn, 100m loans
…To defend 2024 budget, borrowing plan at joint plenary session
Nigeria’s President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has again sought the approval of the National Assembly for fresh loans to the tune of $8.7billion and €100 million.
In a letter to the House of Representatives, the President said the loans were intended to fund projects which cut across sectors, particularly infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, water supply, roads, security, and employment generation as well as financial management. among others.
The letter read, “I write with reference to above subject matter and to submit the attached Federal Government 2022-2024 external borrowing rolling plan for consideration and approval of the National Assembly to ensure optimum implementation of the budget.
“The Honourable members may wish to know that the past administration approved the 2022-2024 borrowing plan at the Federal Executive Council held on 15 May, 2023.
“Following the removal of the fuel subsidy and its attendant impact on our economy, African Development Bank and the World bank group have indicated interest in assisting the country to mitigate the impact with the sum of one billion USD and 1.5 billion USD respectively; in addition to the FEC approved 2022-2024 external abridged borrowing plan.
“Consequently, the required approval is in the sum of 8,699,168,559 USD, and 100 million Euros.
“I would like to underscore the fact that the projects and programmes in the borrowing plan were selected based on positive technical economic evaluation as well as the expected contribution to the socio-economic development of the country including employment generation, skills acquisition, support towards the emergence of young entrepreneurs, poverty reduction and food security to improve the livelihood in all 36 states and the FCT.
“Considering the huge infrastructure deficit in the country and the enormous financial resources required to bridge the gap in funding infrastructure in the face of dwindling financial resources, it has become imperative that we resort to prudent external borrowing to bridge the financial gap which will be largely be applied to key infrastructure projects including power, railway, health among others.
“Given the nature of these facilities and the need to return the country to normalcy, it has become necessary to request the House of Representatives to consider and approve the 2022-2024 external abridged borrowing plan to enable the government deliver its responsibilities to Nigerians through expedient disbursement and efficient project implementation.
“I hereby forward the proposed 2022-2024 external borrowing plan and trust that it would receive judicious consideration and passage of the House of Representatives,” the letter read.
The President also wrote to the Senate. The letter by the President was read by the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, at the plenary on Tuesday.
The letter read, “I write in respect of the above subject and to submit the attached Federal Government 2022-2024 external borrowing plan for consideration and early approval of the National Assembly to ensure prompt implementation of the projects.
“The Senate may wish to note that the past administration approved a 2022-2024 borrowing plan by the Federal Executive Council held on May 15, 2023.
“The project cuts across all sectors, with specific emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, health, water supply, roads, security, and employment generation as well as financial management reforms.”
It added, “Consequently, the required approval is in the sum of $8,699,168,559 and €100 million.I would like to underscore the fact that the projects and programmes in the borrowing plan were selected based on economic evaluations as well as the expected contribution to the social economic development of the country, including employment generation, and skills acquisition.
“Given the nature of these facilities, and the need to return the country to normalcy it has become necessary for the senate to consider and approve the 2022-2024 external abridged borrowing plan to enable the government deliver its responsibility to Nigerians.”
The President is expected to defend the borrowing plan and the 2024 budget in a joint plenary session today which the National Assembly granted.
Rivers Guber poll: Fubara emerges victorious at Appeal court
Governor of Rivers State, Siminalayi Fubara has emerged victorious in an appeal challenging his electoral victory in the 2023 General elections.
Fubara’s victory was further ascertained by a judgement of the Appeal court sitting in Lagos yesterday.
The Court, in a unanimous decision, affirmed the judgment of the election tribunal, dismissing four separate appeals filed by Tonye Cole of All Progressives Congress (APC), Beatrice Itubo of the Labour Party (LP), Innocent Ekwu of the Allied People’s Movement (APM), and Lulu Briggs Dumo of the Accord Party.
The court held that all the appellants failed to prove the allegation of non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
Recall that the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal had in October dismissed the petition of the APC Candidate challenging the election of Fubara as the governor of the state.
The APC candidate, who was present in the courtroom on Tuesday urged the court to direct the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare him the winner of the March governorship election in Rivers.
The election tribunal in Rivers state had dismissed the petition saying that the APC that sponsored Cole had withdrawn the petition against Fubara’s victory.
Not satisfied with the Tribunal’s victory, the APC candidate approached the appellate court. However, the court on Tuesday affirmed the Tribunal ruling which earlier upheld Fubara’s electoral victory in October.
Justice Ridwan Maiwada Abdullahi (absent), Justice Olabode Adegbehingbe and Justice Bature Isa Gafa, held that the fact that APC ceased to be a party to the case did not make Cole’s petition invalid. The judges concluded that the Tribunal was in error to have struck out that item of the petition.
“A political party cannot compel a candidate to withdraw a petition neither can a candidate compel the party to withdraw,” Justice Adegbehingbe ruled.
However, on the other grounds, the court held that the appellants’ evidence were inadequate in proving the allegations of over-voting, disenfranchisement and other alleged irregularities.
The grounds bordering on fraud and whether Fubara was qualified to have contested the election were struck out based on unconvincing evidence. Cole cited allegations of irregularities and Fubara’s continued signing of documents as the State’s Accountant-General after his PDP nomination.
In his immediate reaction, Cole said the appellate court’s judgment has given him and his legal team a greenlight, and that will determine their next line of action.
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