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PDP NWC MEMBERS WRITE AYU, REJECT HOUSING ALLOWANCE

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PDP National Chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu

The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party may have worsened with some members of the National Working Committee writing the national chairman of the party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, and informing him of their decision to return the housing allowance paid into their accounts from the party’s coffers.

The development came a few days after a media report claimed that members of the PDP NWC were miffed over alleged depletion of the N10bn the party made from the sale of nomination forms.

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, had also accused Ayu of collecting the sum of N1bn from an unnamed presidential candidate in Lagos.

The report had claimed that Ayu in a bid to pacify the NWC members paid the sum of N28m to each of the members.

The PUNCH, however, gathered that some NWC members had started remitting various amounts to the party.

A member of the NWC told The PUNCH how some of them got the funds.

“You know that because of criminal elements in the land, some of us did not activate our mobile phone bank alerts. When one unfortunately falls into the hands of these criminals, the first thing they do is to check your bank account. They will demand twice what they find there as a condition to release you.

“So, I encouraged my fellow NWC members to visit their various banks to activate the alert notification on their phones. That is how we discovered the monies in our accounts,” he claimed.

He also claimed that that the national chairman did not inform the NWC members about the funds paid into their accounts until it was reported in the media.

He gave a breakdown of how the money was paid into NWC members’ account.

“A Deputy National Chairman got N36m, another one got N36m too. Another top NWC member got N36m. The rest of us got N28m each. We are 19 in all.”

Our correspondent gathered that at least NWC members had returned the money.

In a letter titled, “Credit of twenty eight million, eight hundred thousand naira paid into my bank  account number, 3098567123 by the PDP,”  and addressed to the national chairman, one of the NWC members who returned his money wrote, “Please, be informed that the said payment has become a subject of media story carried with bad intention by them.

“I hereby inform you of the refund of the sum of N28,800,000 back to the PDP account number, 1000095003 at Globus Bank Plc. The receipt of the payment back to the account is attached.”

Another letter titled, “Return of N36 million Housing Allowance paid into my account,” read in part, “I observed a malicious story reported in the newspaper of 26th September, 2022 where it was alleged that members of the NWC were offered humungous amount of money to silent us on an allegation of financial misappropriation to the tune of N15bn.

“This led me to browse through my various alerts and I discovered a transfer into my account and for personal reasons, wish to return it accordingly.

“Kindly confirm the receipt of UBA electronic transfer of N36m attached herewith. The letter was copied the party’s National Secretary.”

Ayu reacts

Asked for his reaction, Special Assistant Communication and Strategy to the PDP National Chairman, Simon Imobo-Tswam, simply said, “We have not seen the letters. So, I can’t say anything for now.”

Similarly, National Publicity Secretary of the party, Debo Ologunagba said he was yet to see the letters as they were not addressed to him.

“I can’t react to what I have not seen. I have not seen the letters. They were not addressed to me. Again, even if I see them, I will need to study them before speaking for the party.

“Again, there may be need to find out if the said letters were truly written by these people you mentioned,” he said on behalf of the party.

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BABA-AHMED HAILS SHETTIMA’S ‘IMPROVED DRESS SENSE’

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LP Vice Presidential Candidate, Datti Baba-Ahmed and APC Vice Presidential Candidate of Senator Kashim Shettima

The vice presidential candidate of Labour Party, Datti Baba-Ahmed, has sarcastically applauded his counterpart in the ruling All Progressives Congress, Senator Kashim Shettima, over his “improved dress sense” to public functions.

The APC vice presidential candidate, who stood in for his principal, Bola Tinubu, was mocked on August 22 for dressing in an oversized suit-and-sneakers combo at the Nigeria Bar Association conference in Lagos.

The development led to a backlash, especially on Twitter where #ShettimaChallenge trended with tweeps making different posts mimicking the senator’s dress sense.

Although Shettima defended his position saying that he deliberately wore the sneakers to shame his critics, his excuse was not enough to dissuade social media critics from dragging him on the blue bird app.

But in a conference held in Abuja on Thursday, Baba-Ahmed, a running mate to the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, observed that Shettima had seemingly improved in his dressing lately.

While accusing him of having a penchant for belittling his political opponents urged the former governor to improve on his public composure and discipline.

He said, “We congratulate Mr. Shettima on having improved his dressing, but equally remind him that he needs to improve on his public composure and discipline in communication.

“Shettima is called upon to speak kindly and more responsibly about all personalities if only to uphold long-established standards. Little wonder he has consistently put to shame the noble heritage of the great Bornu Empire, in his unguarded and uncultured public pronouncements, which expose his intellectual laziness and discomfort with empirical facts and arguments.

“Regular insults which have now become his trademark, have not spared the current Vice President whom he directed to go and sell ice cream, nor the former vice president whom he described as a pure water seller, a noble venture which serves the populace better than a certain white substance.

“It is pertinent to recall how Mr. Shettima at a recent public event belittled Atiku Abubakar’s educational qualification as well as the modest lifestyle of Peter Obi. Clearly Mr. Shettima is out of touch with reality and cannot understand that people like Peter Obi who have reached the heights in business and material achievement have long transcended the need for ostentatious display of wealth.”

A livid Baba-Ahmed stated that the ruling party’s strategy against Obi now appeared clearly centered on promoting falsehood, in addition to derogatory personal attacks, because they can find no contentious points of negativity to push.

The LP vice presidential candidate did not also spare the presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, who he described as introducing unethical standard into his campaign.

He stated, “It is important to underline that oaths of office do not expire with tenure, and hence the comment that the Northern electorate do not need a Yoruba or Igbo leader is greatly at variance with the oaths of office taken in 1999 and 2003 respectively, and the Peace Accord of 2022.

“This is to call upon the owner of the statement to respectfully retract same in order to be readmitted to the honour list of esteemed presidential candidates. Truth of the matter is that every Nigerian from anywhere needs a credible and competent president.”

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‘APC PLANS TO DISUNITE NIGERIANS WITH MUSLIM/MUSLIM TICKET’

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Senator Walid Jibrin, a former Board of Trustees Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party

A former Board of Trustees Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Walid Jibrin, has accused the All Progressives Congress of planning to disunite Nigerians with its Muslim/Muslim Ticket ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Jibrin who is the Chairman of the PDP presidential and governorship campaign council in Nasarawa State made the accusation in the Awe Local Government Area of the state during his party’s zonal campaign rally on Thursday.

Our correspondent reports that the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, a Muslim, had picked the former governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, who is also a Muslim as his running mate ahead of the poll.

The development caused discontent along religious lines as many Christian faithful protested what they referred to as an attempt to “Islamise” the country.

The action of the APC also forced some stakeholders of the Christian faith out of the party.

Senator Jibrin said, “That singular unpatriotic gesture, coming at a time of rising security challenges confronting the nation is never a welcome development.

“The apparent late excuses by Tinubu to justify what is clearly an anomaly, that his wife is a Pentecostal pastor, are lame and insulting to the sensibility of Nigerians.

“And with what the APC and its presidential candidate have done, it is obvious that Nigeria cannot be safe in the hands of the former governor of Lagos State whose decisions and actions could plunge the country into chaos.”

Jibrin, however, said the country will be safer in the hands of the PDP, adding that the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and the Nasarawa state governorship candidate, David Ombugadu, are men of high intellect and composure who would ensure steady growth and development of the nation.

He appealed to residents of the state to vote for all PDP candidates in the 2023 elections, promising that the party would tackle the numerous challenges confronting the nation by providing the dividends of democracy to the people.

On the current disagreement between the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and the Governor of Rivers state, Nyesom Wike, the former Board of Trustees Chairman said leaders of the party were making frantic efforts to settle the disputes before the commencement of the 2023 elections.

“What is happening now in the PDP is a family matter. Alhaji Atiku and Governor Wike are brothers. As leaders, we are making efforts to address the issues, and we are hopeful that they will be resolved before the February 2023 elections.

“I stepped down from my position as BoT chairman to allow peace to reign in the party and pave way for other party stakeholders who had never occupied my former position to do so.

“I am confident that the PDP will retake the presidency and win many states during the forthcoming elections, so I am urging our party members and supporters to remain resolute in the struggle,” Walid Jibrin added.

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NO GOV HAS POWER TO STOP OPPONENTS FROM CAMPAIGNING –IGP

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Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba

•Uzodimma, Anyim, others outline impediments to free, fair election

The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba, has directed police commissioners in the 36 states to dismantle campaign bottlenecks put in place by governors to frustrate their opponents.

This is even as the IGP and the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, vowed to arrest and prosecute touts obstructing campaigns by opposition political parties and politicians indulging in vote-buying during the 2023 poll.

The IGP specifically noted that all commissioners of police must provide security for political parties embarking on electioneering in all the nook and cranny of any state.

Speaking at the 2022 political parties’ summit organised by the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), yesterday in Abuja, he said any commissioner who fails to carry out his responsibility within the ambit of the law and decide to dance to the tunes of governors would be removed.

Represented by the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Operations, Dandaura Mustapha, he said: “We have been receiving a lot of complains from political parties. It is unfortunate of what is happening this period. All the political parties are complaining. It is not only APC or PDP or Labour Party or APGA. Unfortunately, some of our governors as stated by the IG during a meeting with the political parties that they are not helping matters.

“They have not laid a solid foundation, give other political parties access to campaign programmes. Some try to manipulate the campaign.

“Some even sponsor touts to pursue the opposition, remove their billboards and posters and destroy their offices.

“Based on this, the Inspector General of Police, has categorically directed all the commissioners of police that on no account should any serving or sitting governor stop other political parties from conducting their campaigns in all the nook and cranny of the state.

“This instruction was very clear both in writing and verbal. We have told all the commissioners of police. When it happens, the commissioners of police have been directed to arrest all the hoodlums no matter where they belong and whoever is sponsoring them we will arrest them and charge them to court.

“So, please, be rest assured that all political parties are free to go about your lawful businesses. You are free to go to any village conduct your campaign freely and we are going to give you enough security. We are encouraging all the aspirants that once you are threatened and you have no access to go round meet the commissioner of police in charge of that state.  They have been directed and warned to provide security for all the aspirants. No matter where they are going, they will attach security.”

EFCC chairman, who was represented by the Chief Superintendent in the Commission, Adukwu Michael, noted that the anti-graft agency had embarked on voters’ education and was working to ensure politicians do not spend beyond the stipulated amount.

“The Commission focus in election management is discouraging the use of money to influence the outcome of election.

“Electoral spending by politicians often lead to voter inducement and vote buying. Parties often induce vote with money because they lack proper and realistic policies to convince the electorate to vote them into power. Whenever one is induced to sell his vote, he automatic loses moral ground to challenge corrupt tendencies of those elected…

“We are working with INEC to determine and to enforce provisions of the Electoral Act as it relates to limit of campaign spending by different categories of office seekers. This is an intelligent driven exercise.”

Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, said political parties and their candidates must adhere to democratic norms and “collectively intervene to achieve the kind of credible elections that will further deepen democracy.”

The keynote speaker, Senator Pius Anyim, argued that political parties must adhere to the principles of social justice as a means of preventing crisis.

“The rumblings in the PDP and the APC are surely due to perceived social injustice in the management of the affairs of the parties,” he argued.

According to him, the pain of the G-5 governors in the PDP is simply the sidelining of a section of the country in the sharing of party structures.

He, however, called on IPAC to step forward in playing a role to stabilise the democratic environment by ensuring that parties take their rightful position as the bedrock of democracy in Nigeria.

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