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Presidency, PDP Clash Over Economy, Security

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The Presidency on Wednesday clashed with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the latter’s claim that the country was collapsing under the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government.

It (the Presidency) referred the opposition to the President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s economic scorecard in the past four years to show how it has taken the economy out of the woods.

“Nigeria’s economy is not in trouble,” presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said in a statement last night. It was a reply to a claim by the PDP leadership that the government has scored below average in tackling insecurity, political uncertainties and poor economy.

PDP spokesman Kola Ologbodiyan said the opposition political party decided to raise the red flag because the country was collapsing under the APC.

But Shehu insisted that the economy had grown under President Buhari.

He said: “In keeping with historical trends, there is less economic activity during the electoral cycle. For instance, the economy grew by 2.35 per cent in Q2 of 2015 and 3.96 per cent in Q1 of 2015 as compared to 5.94 per cent in Q4 of 2014

“While foreign direct investment can help, it is not the only source of investment in the economy. There is also domestic investment, which is either undertaken by the government or by the private sector.

“It is also noteworthy that capital importation into Nigeria grew by 21.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 as compared to the last quarter of 2018. Indeed, foreign portfolio investment (which is still foreign investment) was $7.14 billion in the first quarter of the year.

“A look at business pages in newspapers shows that there is a lot of business activity going on in the country.

“Two stories in today’s paper point to increasing economic activity.

“First is that the profit of UACN grew in the first half of this year by 61 per cent (pg 12 The Nation).

“Second is that Business Day (pg1) states that cargo imports jumped by 21 per cent in the first half of 2019.”

Increasing imports, Shehu noted, is a pointer to greater economic activity and the availability of foreign exchange with which to conduct business in the country.

He went on: “A major constraint to business was the Apapa gridlock which a number of companies had listed as the major impediment to doing business. This situation has improved tremendously (see pg 23 of The Nation)”

He said that President Buhari improved relations with China, the United States (U.S.) and Europe and won their support for the administration’s development agenda in his first four years.

According to Shehu, President Buhari has channelled unprecedented sums of money into infrastructure development.

He said: “Capital spending has been kept at about 30 percent of annual budgets. Construction of roads, highways, public transport and airports has sharply increased. The government is spending heavily on power.

“This, combined with private sector investment, has grown power generation capacity.

“All said and done, President Buhari remains the best hope for the Nigerian economy. The country needs change and this remains the person with the will and determination to deliver.”

The PDP leadership had expressed a deep concern that the nation, which it said was hitherto a prosperity hub and a reference point for democracy, personal freedom and good governance, was becoming a failed state.

It lamented that the Buhari administration could not has been unable to guarantee any of its fundamental duties, thus making citizens “now desperate to take their destinies in their hands”.

According to Ologbodiyan, the PDP leadership took the decision to flash the red flag after a crucial meeting in Abuja yesterday.

The PDP statement reads: “The red flag has become urgent following the manifest total loss of faith by Nigerians across the board, in the ability of the Buhari Presidency to provide a democratic leadership that can engender a peaceful and secure nation.

“It is clear that the APC and the Buhari Presidency have held Nigerians hostage. Nigerians are now being treated like a conquered people. They can no longer freely exercise their constitutionally guaranteed rights; executive high-handedness has become a state policy just as the APC government, burdened by challenges of illegitimacy, has lost direction and only thriving in vindictiveness.”

The PDP alleged that the government opted to breathe down on perceived opponents following what it called the collapse of the APC’s defence at the tribunal.

It said: “Our party has also noticed that since the defence of the APC and President Buhari collapsed at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, the APC and its government have taken to harassment and repression of Nigerians by surreptitiously suspending constitutional provisions of freedom of speech and association in our country.

“Many compatriots are being taken in as political prisoners all in a bid to foist a siege mentality and suppress public opinion.

“Today, the Buhari Presidency cannot guarantee the security and safety of citizens. Bloodletting and violence have become the order of the day. Invaders, insurgents, kidnappers and killers have taken over major highways and communities; our nation’s security machinery have become overstretched; Nigerians now live in palpable fear; they cannot freely travel within their country and the government has no answers.

“On the economic front, President Buhari has ruined our economy and led our nation to become the world’s capital of poverty, while condoning the humongous corruption that has become the hallmark of his failed administration.

“Sadly, President Buhari’s anti-development policies, the corruption in his government as well as its failure to provide security have scared away foreign investors from our nation”.

PDP observed that only recently, the United Nations declared that “43 per cent of Nigeria’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has taken flight to other countries, adding that unemployment has gone out of proportion and there is no hope in sight.”

The party called on Nigerians of good faith as well as the international community to speak out against the prevailing situation before it is too late.

It urged Nigerians not to despair, assuring them that the PDP candidate in the February 23 presidential election would get judicial victory at the Presidential Election Petitions’ Court (PEPC).

When contacted for reaction, the APC said it would not glorify the PDP with a response.

Its spokesman Lanre Issa-Onilu told The Nation last night: “My response is that when the PDP starts making sense, we’ll respond to them. We have issues of governance to deal with an attempt to respond to their senseless talk will be a distraction.”

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BREAKING: Trouble Looms for Ordinary Ahmed Isah as Stakeholders Condemn Unguided Utterances Against Nigerian Army, Draw NBC’s Attention

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Stakeholders made up of Civil Society Organisations, Journalists and Security experts have expressed their displeasure over what they termed inciting utterances by radio broadcaster and Chairman of Human Right Radio, Ahmed Isah, popularly called Ordinary Ahmed Isah against the Nigerian Army’s discipline on Lance Corporal Martins Idakpini who was allegedly detained by the Nigerian Army for making a viral video criticising the Nigerian Army and President Muhammadu Buhari in the fight against insecurity in Nigeria. They said the “Ordinary President” as he is fondly called should have known better, that as a broadcaster who is billed to explore the “freedom of information act” should have have been professional and avoid setting the tone for loss of confidence on the Nigerian Army, who on their part are sacrificing all to ensure peace, stability and security in the country.

The Executive Director, Coalition of Civil Society Group for Good Governance (CSGG), Comrade Dominic Ogakwu made this known in a telephone interview with journalists in Abuja on Saturday.

In trying to make case for Lance Corporal Martins, the Ordinary Ahmed alleged that some persons in the Nigerian Army are making a fortune out of the the current insecurity situation of Nigeria.

“….Ahmed Isah is well respected by Nigerians and I will expect that given the fact that he knows a lot on the value of security, and what the Nigerian Army represent, he should rather make an attempt to reach necessary authorities to gain more knowledge to avoid making unguided statement that can trigger issues of insecurity the more…yes we agree that there are issues but the Army are doing very well to solve them and I think that the Onus is on Ahmed Isah as a lover of Nigeria and as a populist, to ensure that his utterances did not instigate some miscreants against the most revered and respected and sustaining institution like the Nigerian Army….” Ogakwu said.

“….So I will advice that he should as a matter of urgency readdress that matter by getting the necessary clarifications and verifying all the necessary facts to avoid making statements in error…yes a lot of rumours are being peddled against the Nigerian army, but it behoves on the media especially the one that is very close to the people to ensure that it did not rise on the waves of the moment on emotions, they should not “emotionalise” reportage….” He added.

He said “…reports must be balanced in perspectives and they must see to all sides, before actually drawing to conclusions, so as a matter of urgency I think the most respected Ahmed Isah should have known better that Nigerians are listening to him and as a man who is patriotic, who loves this country he should not be too emotional when it come to issues of security because he understands that in his programs, he explores all sort of emotions and that to me even though the people love it but then issues of national security, sensitive issues, issues that can set this country ablaze should be very guided….”

Undisclosed sources from the Nigerian Army who also frowned at the inciting utterances by Ahmed Isah threatened that the country’s Army will be forced to take legal action against the broadcaster if he continues in that unpatriotic line.

“….the drive by the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) to obliterate hate speech should be exercised on this issue, this is outright incitement, Ahmed Isah must put himself together and desist from sabotaging the Army’s efforts…” the source said.

For investigative journalist and “Accountapreneur”, Emmanuel Bagudu, “…the Nigerian Army is a family and any attempt to come in between a family amounts to incursion….” “….The “Ordinary President” is duty bound to be diplomatic. He must know that as a relevant stakeholder in this country that patriotism is key in his business. He must join in the quest for boosting the morale of the troops as well as advocating for trust and support for the Nigerian Military as a whole….” Bagudu said.

Youth Ambassador for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Austin Peacemaker shares the same thought “…. Ahmed Isah should not forget that the Nigerian Army is playing a very significant role in sustaining our beautiful democracy and strengthening our national security, even at the ECOWAS regional level, as such deserves our honour, respect and fairness, especially when reporting issues around National security. They deserve balanced reportage from Journalists including Ordinary Ahmed Isah, who is well respected by many of his listeners….” Peacemaker said.

“…He shouldn’t lose that respect by misleading or misinforming his listeners and Nigerians, in a bid to make his programme entertaining and exciting. Lance Corporal Martins Idakpini broke the very code and ethics of a regimented institution he swore and took oath to abide by, and also defend. There are measures to channel your grievances in any organisation, and not by doing a video and uploading on social media. That is the highest form of indiscipline for any soldier. No father, CEO, Boss or Employer will condone that in any revered establishment.”

“…Let’s be fair in our judgment. No matter what he has to say for me he has discredited himself first by insulting all his superiors, even down to the President. My investigation reveals that Lance Corporal Martins is a ceremonious soldier in the music band of the Army who has never been to any battlefront, so doing a video to discourage and dampening the morale of his brave colleagues in the battlefront equals treachery, sabotage, and lack of patriotism for his country. We should not forget that Nigerian Security Forces are respected across Africa and the world at large, if we downplay their efforts, successes and sacrifice to our motherland then we are unknowingly running down ourselves and Nigeria as a country….” Amb. Austin Peacemaker said.

Recall that Lance Corporal Martins Idakpini was reportedly arrested in June 2020 shortly after he made a viral video where he allegedly said that the Nigerian Army and other security services are not doing enough to end the Boko Haram war. He also insulted the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari.

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Edo Poll: We Must Be Neutral At All Times, INEC Tells Electoral Officials

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Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has rallied officials of the commission to remain steadfast to its ideals in conducting the Edo governorship election.

“Nigerians and the international community expect so much from us. They are watching. It is important that we all remain above board in the performance of our respective duties,” Professor Yakubu said in a message to the staff of the commission on the eve of the election.

“We must ensure that no political party or candidate is accorded any advantage over the other. We must be neutral at all times and stick strictly to our Code of Conduct and Oath of Neutrality to which we have all subscribed.”

By playing their parts and delivering a free, fair, and credible election, the INEC boss believes the commission would have helped to better the country.

“For, at the end of the day, we would have all contributed to the sustenance of democracy and a strong electoral process that all Nigerians can trust,” he said.

Professor Yakubu, who said all is set for the much-anticipated poll, promised his colleagues and other officials of the commission that their welfare and condition of service will be given priority during the election.

He is also confident that they will rise to the occasion.

“I have no doubt that our staff members will rise to the occasion. We have done it several times before and we can do it again,” he said.

“The Commission deeply appreciates the never-ending sacrifices made by our staff at all times, often beyond the call of duty, to ensure that we carry out our mandate. The management will continue to improve the welfare and conditions of service of staff within the available resources.”

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The INEC National Commissioner for Voter Education and Publicity, Mr Festus Okoye, has said that as long as a registered voter comes to the Polling Unit before 2:30 pm they will be allowed to vote regardless of how long the process takes.

Okoye said this statement on Friday while explaining what steps the umpire has put in place to ensure a smooth run for the Edo governorship election which is set to hold Saturday.

“No registered voter who comes to the Polling Unit Tomorrow will be disenfranchised,” the INEC boss said.

This is the first major election organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission in the COVID-19 era and it is also the first time that a peace accord is being signed ahead of a governorship election.

“We are looking forward to tomorrow with cautious optimism,” Okoye said, adding: “we are confident that our message relating to voting in safety has permeated the nooks and crannies of Edo State.

According to him, the umpire has created sufficient awareness for the COVID-19 guidelines in the weeks leading up the election and anyone who does otherwise, will not be allowed to participate.

“We are confident that so many of the voters are already aware of the fact that if they come to the Polling Unit without a face mask or covering, they will not be allowed to vote.

“We have emphasized this over and over. “The first thing our voters are going to do is to apply the infrared thermometers that have been supplied to every Polling Unit on election day. Every voter will undergo that particular procedure of the use of infrared thermometers to check people’s temperature,” he said.

The exercise is expected to start for 8:30 am and according to Okoye, enough time will be given to allow everyone who arrives at the Polling Unit before 2:30 pm to vote.
“Polling will start at 8:30 in the morning. Why we have said this, is to enable our officials prepare well.

“Prior to this particular period, we didn’t have to pack hand sanitizers, methylated spirits and we didn’t have to pack facemasks for our officials but now we are going to be doing this and giving them some level of refresher course.

“Any voter who is on the outer queue by 2:30 pm will be allowed to vote even if the voting takes up to 5:00 pm but any voter who comes to the polling unit after 2:30 pm will not be allowed into the queue but those who are already there will be allowed to vote even if the voting takes up to 6:00 pm,”.

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