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ZONING: PANDEF, OHANAEZE KICK, ACCUSE PDP OF TREACHERY

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Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has criticised decision of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to throw open contest for the party’s 2023 presidential ticket.

At statement by National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Mr. Ken Robinson, in Port Harcourt, yesterday, said the move shows PDP has dug its own grave.

PANDEF said: “Sadly, this is a party whose constitution unequivocally commits to the policy of rotation and zoning of party and public elective offices in pursuance of principles of equity, justice and fairness.

“The opinion that PDP is not obligated to zone its presidential ticket for the 2023 election is preposterous and illogical, likewise, the implied consideration that it’s only a northern candidate that can secure victory for the party in the 2023 presidential election.”

It added: “Do we need to remind PDP that former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan are not northerners, who both won presidential elections for the PDP in 1999, 2003, and 2011 respectively?

“It bears stating that the presidency is not the presidency of a party; it is the presidency of Nigeria. The fact that President Muhammadu Buhari is of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is extraneous.”

PANDEF, therefore, urged APC to take advantage of what it described as the awful indiscretion of PDP to consolidate itself as a truly nationalistic party.

ALSO, Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo described PDP’s action as the height of deception and treachery, after milking Igbo votes for 22 years.

It said PDP bluntly abolished zoning to prove Igbo are unqualified to fly its ticket in the presidential elections.

It said the consequence of the backstabbing would be a catastrophic failure of the party in elections in the zone.

Insisting Igbo will not accept vice presidency, the organisation said without Igbo aspirants as presidential flag bearers in APC and PDP, there would be total boycott of the elections.

Ohanaeze added: “With respect to the resolution by the PDP, the position of the Southern and Middle Belt Leadership Forum, the Southern Governors Forum and indeed all right thinking and patriotic Nigerians is very clear – a Northerner must not hand over to a Northerner.

“PDP has a choice to make; nominate a Northerner and fail woefully and be buried with an epitaph – ‘There once existed a treacherous political party which changed its goal post at the middle of the game’.”

HUMAN Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) also slammed PDP in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, describing the party as a “huge scam”.

It said: “Throwing the contest open has confirmed that PDP has scammed the South East, even after the zone has suffered marginalisation and exclusion from the regime of President Muhammadu Buhari.”

THIS was as Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) said Igbo should not be trusted with presidential power.”

CNG’s spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, disclosed this at a press briefing in Abuja, yesterday, saying the group would take every political and legal measure to frustrate and resist an Igbo presidency in 2023 or anytime in the future.

He also warned northern politicians against picking any Igbo man as running mate.

He said: “The Igbo, as a people, have by their serial atrocious actions inadvertently foreclosed every hope for the rest of us to continue coexisting with them as one nation.

“We are mobilising the North against supporting, participating, in or, in anyway romancing with any political party that fields a candidate from the South East or has any Igbo politician in position of prominence.”

MEANWHILE, former Abia State governor, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, yesterday, replied Chief Edwin Clark over the latter’s outburst where he described him as a traitor for chickening out of the presidential race and declaring support for Senate President Ahmad Lawan.

The elder statesman and former Federal Information Commissioner, Chief Edwin Clark, had taken Kalu to the cleaners, describing him as a “traitor”.

In a swift reaction, Kalu who is the Chief Whip of the Senate said it was the likes of Clark and others who betrayed the South East, adding that they are only being wiser now.

In a statement he personally signed, Kalu said: “I have great respect for Chief Edwin Clark. He is an elder statesman and a patriotic Nigerian. I want to sincerely commend him for openly supporting the South East geopolitical zone to produce the next president of Nigeria.

“It is imperative I remind him that I didn’t betray my people, rather I am doing my best to reintegrate them into mainstream politics.

“In the last two years, I have been at the forefront agitating for a Nigerian president of South East extraction, when most of them were all saying ‘Southern Presidency’. None of these actors openly said the South East geopolitical zone should have it.

“I was shocked that even the zone the entire South East supported in unity, including myself in 2011 and 2015, respectively, has the highest number of contestants, without thinking of their brothers, knowing fully well that the South East has remained the only zone in Southern Nigeria that has not produced the nation’s president since the rotation convention dispensation that began in 1999.”

THE GUARDIAN

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[BREAKING] ENUGU 2023: EKWEREMADU’S CAMP LOSES IN COURT

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Senator Ike Ekweremadu in a pensive mood

The last hope for Ekweremadu’s camp to usurp the outcome of last Ad-Hoc election to elect the 3-man delegates in Enugu has hit the rock as an Abuja Federal High Court has dismissed their applications.


Loyalists of Ike Ekweremadu, the former Deputy Senate President had approached the court to nullify the process leading to the election of the delegates.

However, a source at the court where the judgement is been delivered at the time of this report told WORDS AND SHOTS that the matter has gone against the plaintiffs

 The details of the judgment coming shortly.

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2023 PRESIDENCY: APC TO SCREEN, PRUNE NUMBER OF ASPIRANTS

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APC

• Fayemi: Only five aspirants are serious • Nwajiuba backs party on controversial letter of withdrawal • Ohanaeze Ndigbo upbeat about Igbo producing next president

Barring last minute changes, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will today screen its presidential aspirants for the 2023 general elections after earlier postponements.

This was announced, yesterday, by the National Organising Secretary of the party, Suleiman Argungu, in Abuja. He said the party will screen 28 presidential aspirants, though 25 submitted the nomination forms, today and tomorrow at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja, four days to its convention where the party’s flag bearer would emerge.

Earlier on Sunday, the party had postponed the exercise for the second time after it failed to hold last weekend. But no reason was given for the change in plan. The party had previously fixed May 14 and 15 for the screening but it postponed the exercise and gave a new date of May 23 after aspirants for Senatorial and House of Representatives seats were screened.

Key aspirants that have submitted their forms include Vice President Yemi Osibanjo; APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu; ex-Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; former Minister of Niger Delta Development, Senator Godswill Akpabio and Senate President Ahmad Lawan.

Others are: Cross River State governor, Prof. Ben Ayade; his Ebonyi State counterpart, Dave Umahi; Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; ex-Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba; former Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani; Senator Ajayi Borofice and Pastor Tunde Bakare.

Similarly, Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello; his Jigawa State counterpart, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar; ex-Zamfara State governor, Sen. Ahmed Yerima; former Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu; former Imo State governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha; former Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole are also not left out.

As at 6:30p.m. yesterday, members of the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led National Working Committee (NWC) were still locked in a closed-door meeting in an apparent bid to ensure a smooth conduct of the exercise.

A source, who confided in The Guardian, hinted that members of the NWC already conferred with the powers of the National Executive Committee (NEC), explored the possibility of screening out some aspirants even before the start of the exercise.

“Be sure that we are not going to have more than 15 aspirants that would be screened. Some of them would be disqualified based on the timing they turned in their resignation letters to President Muhammadu Buhari,” the source noted.

Another source within the Presidency confided in The Guardian that geopolitical zones of the party had been asked to meet and work towards consensus in a bid to reduce the number of aspirants to the barest minimum.

“It is not a question of indecision; a lot of considerations are being taken into the choice of date, as well as the shape of the screening. A number of criteria have already been worked out. Security of the country is at stake. Of course, you cannot rule out the issue of corruption and other baggage.

“The screening would be carried out in such a manner that those that would be disqualified would have no cause to complain. I won’t tell you the crucial criteria that would lead to the disqualification, but some of those aspirants would be disqualified unless they voluntarily withdraw from the race,” he stated.

It would be recalled that in the build up to the APC national convention that produced Senator Adamu, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Public Affairs, Femi Adesina, disclosed that Buhari would not support any aspirant tainted with corruption.

In an interview with The Guardian, the Deputy Majority Leader, Prof. Ajayi Borofice, remarked that he is for consensus, noting that although many persons afforded the N100 million cost of nomination forms, the choice of Nigeria’s next president is beyond money and moneybags.

While ruling out a possible implosion after the presidential primary, the three-term Senator noted that since the party was able to hold a rancour-free national convention, the primary will also come and go since only one person is expected to emerge.

FAYEMI, yesterday, said there are more pretenders in the race for the APC presidential ticket than contenders. He said out of the 23 persons currently in the race, only about five of them are serious in the quest to clinch the ticket of the ruling party. He did not, however, name the five aspirants.

Fayemi said this while soliciting the support of delegates from Niger State during a visit to the state. In a statement by spokesperson of the Fayemi Presidential Campaign Organisation, Femi Ige, the Ekiti governor said the level of seriousness is determined by the ability of the aspirants to move across the country.

“This is a season of visits and states keep receiving us. The list of presidential aspirants says there are 23 but only five of us are going around the country. With this, you can separate the pretenders from the contenders,” he said.

Some of the aspirants who have visited states include Tinubu, Osinbajo, Amaechi, Lawan and Fayemi. The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva and President of the Africa Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, have opted out of the race.

FORMER Minister of State for Education, Nwajiuba, yesterday, said he supports the decision by the party to attach the controversial letter of withdrawal to the Expression of Interest and Nomination forms sold to aspirants.

The withdrawal letter addressed to the National Chairman of the party, Adamu, must be signed before a Commissioner of Oath/Public Notary before submission.

Nwajiuba, in an interactive session with reporters in Abuja, enjoined delegates at the national convention of the party to set aside pecuniary interest and elect a flag bearer with the wherewithal to address the multifaceted challenges besetting the country.

Nwajiuba said the letter would come in handy if the party decides to adopt a consensus arrangement to select the flag bearer. He promised to accede to the party’s demand for a consensus arrangement if the need arises.

According to him: “It’s not possible to win an election without the consent of everybody. So why would you be saying I can only win if I am the most powerful. You can only win by consensus arrangement. So, whatever consensus my party agrees to, I will agree. If they choose me, it’s good for them and for Nigeria. If they don’t choose me, whoever they choose is what they plan to offer Nigerians and we will stand by the party.”

MEANWHILE, despite hurdles that have been placed in their quest for presidency come 2023, especially by the ‘open contest’ declared by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has insisted that Ndigbo would not lose out of the contest.

The Guardian gathered yesterday that the Ohanaeze leadership had since May 7, embarked on countrywide consultations with different ethnic groups on the need to support Igbo presidential aspiration.

Speaking yesterday on their visits, spokesman of the organisation, Dr. Alex Ogbonnia, said the delegation held “fruitful discussions”, adding that there is no doubt that Nigerians have fully bought into the demand by the Southeast and would do the needful at the appropriate time.

Ogbonnia restated that Ohanaeze Ndigbo was not worried about ongoing scheming in the two leading political parties, stressing that “we have enough competent Igbo politicians in them to match whoever that may come up.”

THE GUARDIAN

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BANKY W WINS PDP HOUSE OF REPS TICKET IN LAGOS

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Mr Olubankole Wellington aka Banky W

A Nigerian celebrity, Mr Olubankole Wellington, popularly known as Banky W, was declared the winner of the PDP primary for the Eti-Osa constituency House of Representatives ticket in the 2023 general election.

Banky W had a landslide victory, polling 28 out of 31 votes cast by delegates at the primary.

He contested against a legal practitioner, Mr Sam Aiboni, who polled three votes.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the delegates consisted of 31 ad hoc members of the PDP and one national delegate.

The Returning Officer, Mr Ayodele Kazeem, who declared the results, described the process as peaceful and transparent.

Banky W told NAN that the election was a free and fair one, he stated that he had won the election by the grace of God and the will of the people.

He expressed gratitude to the party for the opportunity to represent it and said that he was very thankful to the people as well.

“I am overwhelmed by the support of my constituency, the people, the ward chairmen, the leaders and the chieftains of the party.

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“I feel the support even from the grassroots, honestly, I can’t be happier than I am now,” he said.

Banky added that he had a message, a vision and a mandate to do things better in the constituency and that he would achieve them through transparency, accountability and service.

“The real work begins now, the primaries are just the start and thankfully, we have the grace of God with us; we move,” he added.

NAN reports that if Rep. Babajide Obanikoro, son of former minister of state for defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro picks the APC return ticket in its upcoming primaries, he will be slugging it out with Banky W for the seat. (NAN)

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