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ABDULSALAMI C’TTEE MEETS CANDIDATES, SOWORE PROTESTS SITTING ARRANGEMENT

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Former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd.)

The National Peace Committee, headed by a former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd.), has advised Nigerians should take the forthcoming general elections seriously and contribute to its success and credibility without rancour and violence.

Abdulsalami, who stated this in Abuja during a one-day roundtable and closed-door meeting with the leadership of the 18 registered political parties and their presidential candidates on Friday, said the advice became necessary because the country had gone through many difficulties and survived all the challenges.

Journalists were asked to excuse themselves from the deliberations.

But just before the commencement of the meeting, a mild drama ensued when the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, Omoyele Sowore, protested against the sitting arrangements, which, he said, should have been alphabetical.

It took spirited efforts by the former Head of State to make Sowore sit down after he threatened to remain standing or leave the meeting if the NPC did not give the assurance that there would not be a repeat.

“The sitting arrangements should have been alphabetical, I note that this happened at the ICC during the signing of the peace accord and this is not fair”, the AAC presidential candidate said.

Abdulsalami, who assured that his position was noted, however, said that Sowore could leave if he was not still satisfied.

The former military leader also advised the candidates to avoid using bad language in the meeting.

He said, “I want to appeal to all Nigerians to appreciate the seriousness and significance of these elections. We have gone through many difficulties and survived them.

“The purpose of this initiative by the peace committee is to build up the confidence of our people in the electoral process and to ensure that we do all that is possible to ensure that these very crucial elections are successful.

“Our intention is to hear from the presidential aspirants themselves and see how we can rally all our people to ensure that all citizens are able to elect the leaders of their choice. It is impossible to have all contestants in one room and so, we hope that whatever we discuss here affects all contestants in these elections.”

He recalled that on September 29, 2022, the committee invited the presidential candidates for the signing of the Peace Accord at the International Conference Centre in Abuja.

Abdulsalami said, “You may also recall that we placed advertisements in all major newspapers and social media calling on all presidential candidates to be mindful of the concerns of Nigerians on such issues and the need to use temperate language, avoid raising the tone of violence and to conduct themselves in a manner that does not undermine the electoral process.”

He also said the meeting was not aimed at listening to accusations and counter-accusations, nor was it to trade blame but to raise issues and concerns so that the forum could explore the best means of resolving the concerns.

“I appeal to you all to be moderate in your language, show respect to the views and concerns of one another and listen to the concerns expressed.

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HOW POWERFUL FORCES TRIED TO STOP TINUBU CANDIDACY – APC VICE CHAIR

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APC Presidential Candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu

The National Vice Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (North-West), Mallam Salihu Lukman, on Tuesday, said some forces outside the APC made attempts to use former President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor of the Central Bank, Dr Godwin Emefiele, to prevent Bola Tinubu from being chosen as the APC presidential candidate.

According to Lukman, it took the combined efforts of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), the National Working Committee and the resilience of the APC governors to abort the move.

Lukman, who is a member of the APC National Working Committee, made the claim in a statement titled, “Electoral contests and public expectations: Matching hopes with realities.”

Tinubu polled 1,271 votes to defeat former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Vice President Yemi Osibanjo and 12 others to win the APC presidential primary last year June.

According to Lukman, when it became obvious that the kites of Jonathan and Emefiele would not fly, the masterminds of the plot, who were not card-carrying members of the APC, positioned the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, for Buhari to anoint as the party’s consensus candidate.

He said, “It may also be important to note that the emergence of Asiwaju Tinubu as APC presidential candidate was the product of strong internal contest. There may be temptation to narrow the contest to the dynamics around the question of whether there will be an anointed aspirant who would have been crowned as the consensus candidate, which wouldn’t have been Asiwaju Tinubu.

“Many had their preferred candidates for the position of national chairman. Some of the presidential aspirants were able to expand their lobbies to some of the influential people around the President and perhaps succeeded to convince President Buhari to nominate Senator Abdullahi Adamu for the position. And shortly after the election of Adamu as the National Chairman of the APC, negotiation for the emergence of a so-called consensus presidential candidate was activated.

“It may also be important to remind Nigerians that the scheming around emergence of a so-called consensus candidate was ridiculously stretched beyond the APC to include people like former President Goodluck Jonathan and Mr Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria. These were never members of the APC. But with the active collaboration of some influential people outside the APC, some sophisticated mobilisation of so-called ‘hundred eminent businessmen, political, media and civil society leaders, including 14 current governors, 13 former governors as well as three former senate presidents’ commenced around April 2022.

“Gradually, this scheming shifted and was entrenched within the APC. By May 2023, when the party began to sell its nomination forms to aspiring candidates, forms were purchased by some APC leaders for former President Goodluck Jonathan and Mr Godwin Emefiele.  Eventually, when these schemers couldn’t succeed in popularising both former Jonathan and Emefiele as possible contenders to emerge as consensus presidential candidates for the APC, the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan was recruited and promoted. It is on record that Adamu, on the eve of the convention that birthed Asiwaju Tinubu as the presidential flag bearer, announced to NWC members that Lawan was their consensus candidate of the party.”

Continuing, the Kaduna-based politician explained that aggrieved members of the NWC along with some progressive governors rose against the move.

Lukman disclosed that part of the plan promoted within the APC to attempt to popularise the choice of Lawan, as a consensus candidate, became the focal point after the opposition Peoples Democratic Party elected Atiku Abubakar, a fellow northerner as presidential candidate.

“This is completely inconsiderate of the popular agitation for power shift in the country. It is also insensitive of the potential instability that the choice of another northerner emerging as President of the country could cause. Ahead of the APC National Convention, APC governors from the North had already declared their opposition against a northerner emerging as APC presidential candidate.

“Combinations of all of these in so many ways contributed towards tilting support of many APC leaders towards Asiwaju Tinubu. Certainly, Asiwaju Tinubu’s personal quality, given his track records both as a businessman, politician, and elected Governor of Lagos State between 1999 and 2007 were also there. He has over the years proven himself as a fighter for democracy. This is one characteristic that has defined him and perhaps strengthened him to survive many personal attacks on his person and his integrity. The administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo investigated him on many of the issues that are being used to smear his name such drugs. Renown radical lawyer and human rights activists, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, challenged his academic credentials unsuccessfully in courts. Many journalists and activists questioned his integrity but were not able to establish any proof.

“Again, thanks to President Buhari, the contest for the presidential candidate of APC was thrown open and Asiwaju won with a wide merging,” he stated.

When asked to react to the revelation, the Publicity Director of the APC, Bala Ibrahim, told our correspondent that the party had moved on and wouldn’t like to delve into an issue that could reopen old wounds.

“Whatever happened before the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as the candidate of the APC is something that should left in book of history. Now, he is the candidate of the party and it is the collective will of the same party. Everybody is putting his hands in the deck to see to it that Tinubu is successful,” he said.

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ONLY MENTALLY-CHALLENGED PEOPLE WILL VOTE APC – AYU

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PDP National Chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu

The Peoples Democratic Party National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, on Monday, urged Nigerians not to waste their votes by voting for the ruling All Progressives Congress.

Speaking on Monday during the PDP presidential campaign rally in Benue State, the main opposition party chairman claimed that only people with mental problems will vote for the APC.

Ayu said, “All of you know that you have suffered in this country in the last eight years APC, only somebody who has a mental problem will vote for APC. Do not waste your vote.”

Speaking on the PDP internal crisis, Ayu said reconciliation moves were ongoing and that the PDP leadership was in talks with aggrieved party members.

“The party is not divided. There are a few members who have grievances. We are talking to them. We want to make sure they come back and work with us fully. One week is enough to change everything. This thing has been going on and I want to assure you that we’ll receive everybody back,” he said.

He also appealed to Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, to join the PDP campaign train and participate in activities that would guarantee PDP’s victory during the presidential election.

“I am appealing to my younger brother, Gov. Ortom to come back and join us so that we will fight to rescue Nigeria. Gov. Ortom has nowhere to go, his only house is the PDP and anytime that he comes, we shall be more than happy to receive him land all the PDP governors.

“We want all our candidates, all our governors to be with us because if you allow APC to win this election, you will regret it.”

Ortom and other four aggrieved PDP governors have been calling for the resignation of Ayu after the party’s presidential primary last year.

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ORTOM SHUNS ATIKU CAMPAIGN, AYU SLAMS GOV

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Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, his deputy, Benson Abounu, commissioners, aides and the 22 local government chairmen of the state were absent at the campaign rally of the presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Benue is being controlled by PDP with the national chairman of the party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, hailing from the state.

Leading the campaign rally for Atiku in the state are former governor of the state, Senator Gabriel Suswam, former president of the Senate, David Mark, and the three senators representing Zone A, B and C; Suswam, Orker Jev and Abba Moro, were in attendance.

Also, the party governorship candidate and his deputy, Titus Uba and John Ngbede, respectively, and some state working committee members attended the rally.

Speaking at the rally, Ayu appealed to Ortom, who had not shown support for Atiku, to join hands with the party to be able to rescue the country.

Ayu said that he met with one of the G-5 governors, the Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, two days ago and also urged him to work with them.

According to the PDP chairman, there is no division in the party.

Ayu said, “What we have is some of our members who are aggrieved but we are appealing to Governor Ortom to come back and join us to rescue the country. Governor Ortom has nowhere to go. We have already resolved our issue with Governor of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu. I was with him two days ago and he has agreed to work for the success of our party.”

Atiku, while speaking with the mammoth crowd at the rally, promised to ensure that the crisis between the people of the state and Fulani herders would be resolved if voted into office.

He said, “I am the umbrella of Tiv people worldwide. If you vote for me, I will make sure peace return to Benue State. I will come to the state and make sure Fulani signs a peace pact with the people of the state.”

Atiku also promised that the $10m promised in his blueprint would be injected into the economy to create jobs for the youth.

He further assured the people of Benue State that he would fix the federal roads that pass through the state, just as he promised to reopen the railway line that passed through the state and ensure that the Academic Staff Union of Universities no longer embarks on strike.

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