Must-win Election: Jonathan Spends N107 Billion In Two days, Meets Jega In Private

By SaharaReporters, New York

With some 72 hours to Saturday’s crucial presidential elections in Nigeria, presidential Goodluck Jonathan is deploying state resources far and wide in an unprecedented effort to buy every inch of support. A Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) official told SaharaReporters today that in the extraordinary spending spree, the Goodluck Jonathan team had mopped up some N107 billion in funds from the Nigerian economy.

Much of the monies is going to the northern parts of Nigeria where the campaign has handed over N2 billion to each key state governors and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) officials to capture the north for Jonathan.

A CNN report today validates what SaharaReporters has repeatedly revealed about Jonathan’s lackluster campaigns in terms of the sparse audiences in his rallies despite millions of Naira consistently spent to bus supporters from state to state. Sometimes the same supporters are moved to other stops.
In “The Battle For Nigeria’s Presidency, CNN’s Christian Purefoy reported from Sokoto State, “widely regarded as the base of northern power and the region with the highest number of registered voters.”
Showing a scanty crowd during a widely advertised campaign visit of Goodluck the report focuses on Jonathan’s near-absent support. “Pressed up against the fence here, it looks like a lot of people have turned out for the President Goodluck’s visit, but if you come forward to the space where he will be speaking, it is pretty much empty. And if you just come to the back just across two or three people deep, the crowd thins out dramatically, and the seats at the back of the stadium, even here behind me, they are empty too.”
In contrast, the report shows the campaign visit of General Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Political Change (CPC) to the same Sokoto location one week after Jonathan’s visit, where he is welcomed by a vast and raucous crowd. “The crowd is much larger and much louder,” the reporter observes. “Buhari ran for the presidency in the last two elections but claims the voting was rigged. This time he hopes these people will help him also try something never before done in Nigeria: beat the incumbent President.”
Referring to the significance of the huge crowds at Buhari’s speaking stops, the spokesman to the CPC candidate, Yinka Odumakin, cautioned against anyone trying to subvert the will of the people in Saturday’s presidential election through rigging, warning that it would amount to “Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen combined.”

A source within the Jonathan campaign boasted that although Jonathan may be short on substance or ideas, it is blessed with mountains of cash looted by his cronies who are desperate for his victory in order for him to protect them. Last week, the Lagos-based 234NEXT newspaper exposed how the Minister of Petroleum Resources, and Jonathan’s long-time mistress, Dieziani Allison-Mudeuke, was engaged in skimming off kickbacks from importers of gasoline to support the campaign. To avoid a public uproar, Diezani quietly left Nigeria about a week ago on a celebrated medical surgery abroad. While her medical trip abroad was being announced as a critical matter, it turned out that she had only gone to have an appendix removed.

The Jonathan campaign has also raised tremendous money from issuing import waivers to importers. Since he came to power, Jonathan has issued over N100 billion worth of import duties to the notorious Vaswani Brothers. In one instance last year, the import waivers, which were first granted through one Chief Omokaro, was sold to the Stallion group for $19 million. Two days later, the money was paid to President Jonathan through Omokaro. The Vaswani Brothers have been expelled twice from Nigeria for engaging in import scams.

Our CBN source said that state governors are Jonathan’s best source of slush campaign cash. In return, they are granted excess crude cash allocations sometime several days in advance.

Jonathan, With An Eye on Saturday’s Crunch Vote, Meets Secretly with Jega
SaharaReporters sources said the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, has also met secretly with President Goodluck Jonathan at a private house in Abuja . The meeting was conducted under a heavy veil of secrecy and was known only to very few officials.
In the past few days, and bolstered by last Saturday’s largely successful legislative elections, President Jonathan has told top party officials and hawks in his government that Jega is “no longer a problem” and does not need to be removed from his post.

Partly because of the threat to his exalted job following the aborted election of April 2, analysts say Jega himself seems to be acting with greater deference to candidate Jonathan. That view of him may have been strengthened by the curious secret meeting with candidate Jonathan only days to the crunch political contest.

But a spokesperson to the INEC chairman, Mr. Kayode Idowu, denied the secret meeting was ever held. He told SaharaReporters that the only meetings Jega attended with Jonathan related to “election matters” at the National Security Council. He said Jega attended several of those meetings including one following the stormy outing where Jega’s job seemed to be threatened.

Ribadu Press Statement

First, let us be clear and set the records straight: I am still running as Presidential candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, and my running mate is Fola Adeola. Please ignore any attempt to manipulate the outcome of this election by whatever means especially through viral text messaging disinformation campaign.

In the next 48 hours, the destiny of our country will change. We would be electing the next president of our beloved country, and with that act, we would be announcing our preparedness to march into a new future.

My message to all my fellow compatriots today is that we vote wisely, that we act smartly, in the effort to save our democracy and our country, and set the path to a new beginning of greatness, achievement, and prosperity.

We, as a nation, are today in the mid section of our country’s century, but fifty years of independence has not been the cheering news of achievement and fulfillment everyone here would have hoped for. In the midst of opulence and unspeakable wealth, our story and our journey of failure, of squalor and despair, remain one of the most ironic narratives in the history of nation building.

But this is not a session for nostalgia or for indulging on the pains of the past, but a moment for decision. A decision that will usher in a new Nigerian in which people want to live in peace, and harmony with one another with good healthcare, good education for our children, job opportunities, security of life and property, and above all a humble, responsive, and accountable government. It is that simple.

I want to start therefore with a deep statement of gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity of a lifetime to be the missioner of the message of change and hope that our people are so badly yearning for. A transparent and accountable government is critical to attaining these simple goals but fundamentally, a transparent electoral administration is the foundation for all of it.

The history of elections in Nigeria reveal that electoral malpractices are the most formidable huddle that always stood against electing a truly representative and responsible government. In last week’s National Assembly election, the same challenge started raring its ugly head again and the main perpetrators are the same gifted captains in the art of election rigging and manipulation. They are roaming the streets about now, getting set for action, and if they did it last week, we would all be naïve to imagine that they would yield on this criminal and unpatriotic acts and go on vacation this coming Saturday.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is for this reason that I want to sound a strong note of caution against tampering with the votes in the coming presidential election, as indeed of the remaining elections.

My message here and particularly to our young brothers and sisters is to vote wisely. Don’t sell your conscience, don’t sell your votes, and don’t sell your future. The future we are stepping into is longer that the past we are coming from, and I understand that not all the variables are in the hands of the electorates. I also want to take this opportunity to urge electoral officials and law enforcement agents to fear God, especially at this time, and put the interest of the nation above all considerations.

Fellow compatriots we have to use this opportunity to make the future address the past of our nation. Opposition politicians understood this challenge and tried hard to forge an alliance to address the problem. Sadly, however, the ego and self-centered world of politicians have made it impossible to forge that type of massive force against the administration of the ruling PDP.

Ladies and Gentlemen, despite the failures of the past, despite the pains that governance bears on us as a people, our true challenge as great Nigerians is hope. I speak strongly now to our young Nigerians and ask them not to give up in cynicism to the electoral fraud that has made governance fail. The fifty years of failed leadership and corruption in the country are the logical outgrowth of electoral fraud.

The broom revolution of the A.C.N seeks to redress this rot, and I urge you all to stand with me all you Nigerians who believe that a new Nigeria is possible. Vote wisely, vote for A.C.N. Thank you all, the story of our dear country can still be written in gold.

God Bless our country.

SSS Seal Press For Printing Specimen Ballot Papers In Akwa Ibom

THE WILL

 

UYO, April 13, (THEWILL) – Operatives of the State Security Services, (SSS) Akwa Ibom State command Tuesday sealed off a printing press where samples of ballot papers were allegedly being printed in the Eket council area of the state.

THEWILL checks revealed that a team of security operatives acting on a tip off had stormed the printing outfit located at 48 Afaha Uqua Road, Eket with a search warrant and removed printing plates and some printed ballot papers.

The ballot papers, as gathered were meant for voter education; ahead the State Assembly elections scheduled for Saturday, April 26, 2o11.

The armed SSS team numbering about 15 which raided the press in two vehicles with registration numbers AG 654 UYY, and AP 586 UYY arrested one personnel.

It was further revealed that the printing firm, Leats Concepts Ltd, is owned by one Chief Emmanuel Edoho, a PDP Chieftain who was actively involved in the party’s electioneering process and served as a party agent in Saturday’s National Assembly polls. He was also arrested alongside the manager of the printing outfit.

When THEWILL visited the printing press on Wednesday, we observed that the press was under locks, while members of staff who fled when the security men invaded the firm regrouped to discuss the incident.

Parading one of those detained fallowing the raid before newsmen in Uyo Wednesday, SSS Director Mr. Toma Menti claimed that he was working on the theory that he may have had the intention to use the specimen ballot papers to rig his way back to the state House of Assembly in the April, 26 election.

But the House member, Mr. Bassey Willie, who recently defected to the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) from ruling PDP after he lost a second term nomination on the party’s platform, explained that the ballot papers were merely specimen which he intended to use for public enlightenment and voter education.

He further explained that his decision to print the specimen came on the heels that most of his supporters who identify him with PDP were confused about the CPC logo and its location on the ballot paper.

“My motive was not to use the ballot papers to rig elections as suspected,” he stressed.

Corroborating Willie’s explanation, the owner of the press, Chief Edoho admitted that the lawmaker had instructed them to print 12,000 samples of ballot papers with a stamp “SPECIMEN” embossed on each paper which he said would have been more visible if the final stage of the printing process has been completed before the SSS raid.

He also disclosed that Willie had paid N170, 000 for the printing.

Anambra Central: No winner yet-Jega

…Says presidential election on course

From: FRANCIS AWOWOLE-BROWNE, Abuja


Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, yesterday declared the Anambra Central Senatorial election as stalemated with no clear winner yet.
This is even as it had been confirmed that a returning officer in Edo State and five other assistant electoral officers, in Kebbi State were now cooling their HEELS at police custody for various electoral malpractices.

During the parliamentary election, the commission said 30 persons, comprising policemen and officials of Federal Road Safety Commission, were killed while 17 others were injured in pockets of violence across the country.
Warning that the commission would not cover up any of its officials found to have soiled his hand in the electoral process, the INEC boss disclosed that a returning officer was caught, falsifying results while the assistant electoral officers were caught in Kebbi State for arbitrarily changing presiding officers for some suspicious reasons.

Briefing newsmen on the preparation of the commission for the presidential election on Saturday, Jega disclosed that the commission had constituted an investigative panel and launched investigations into what transpired during Anambra Central senatorial election to get to the root of the matter because the Anambra situation was very confusing, which was why the panel had to be set up. Consequently, the Anambra State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Professor Chukwuemeka Onukaogu, returning officers, electoral officers and a host of others had been summoned to appear before the panel with relevant documents to assist it in its duties.

Jega described the situation in Anambra State as very challenging to the commission because of a lot of vested interests but that the commission had the capacity to rise to the occasion. He lamented that some of politicians deployed all manners of tactics to ensure they were returned as having been elected even when they knew they did not win so that their opponent would be forced to go to court, “but we also have the responsibility to do what is right because what is legal is what is right.”

The INEC Chairman identified Bayesla and Delta states as those having a similar case with Anambra Central Senatorial District and that what happened in those states were in connivance with INEC staff.
Said he: “Clearly, these things happened with the connivance of our officials. In Bayelsa, it was reported that electoral materials were diverted to the house of a serving senator and they did not surface till night. Police was invited, the Joint Task Force was invited but the situation on ground did not allow for the arrest of the culprit.”

The Commission, he stated, regretted some of these unwholesome developments, saying it was “why, in some areas, we have come out to declared that the results were improperly announced.”
Jega cited the case of Ika in Delta State where he said the returning officer disappeared and resurfaced later to announce the result and return a winner, only for him to say he made the announcement at gun point.
He pleaded with Nigerians to give the commission some time to come out with its finding and position on the confusions in some of the areas.

On Security, Jega said there was the need for more security coverage, saying in Delta State, there were lots of instances of insecurity, ballot box snatching and other electoral violence. “Obviously there is the need to beef up security arrangement in Delta State. We are working with security agencies so that it does not happen in the coming elections. “We have the capacity to effect arrests and we are happy our collaboration with the security agencies is yielding results, there is remarkable improvement in the security situation, I agree,” he said.

He explained that the commission noticed that it still had a challenge with crowd control in some of the large polling units, promising that such units would have more polling centres created out for it for a maximum of 300 voters so that polling units would not be rowdy. On the flurry of complaints to the commission, by aggrieved candidates, who lost out in the last election, Jega said the INEC had been receiving such complaints but that he had decided not to see any of the complainants.

He stated that most of the complaints were supposed to be directed to court for resolution. Nevertheless, he promised that the commission would look into such complaints, investigate the claims and respond to all the complaints. “Yes, we have received complaints but I have decided not to see anyone. All of them wanted to see me but it can’t work like that. If I have to see everybody who comes to lodge complaint, I won’t have time for the work and I myself may be susceptible to suspicion. We will attend to their complaints, investigate them and reply them but obviously, most of their complaints are supposed to be directed to the courts.”

The INEC Chairman said the commission had observed that some of the presiding officers did not paste the results at the polling units as directed, noting that henceforth, there must be compliance. The directive to this effect, he stated, had been given to the RECs to ensure compliance because it was one of the rules to ensure transparency.

On the presidential election, Jega said the commission was ready and being guided by noticed lapses in the last election, promising that the commission was doubling its efforts to ensure the next election was better.
This, he argued became imperative because of the envisaged more turn out of voters for the presidential election.


They have damaged my candidacy, says Ribadu

By Olu Jacob

A dramatic 24 hours in the presidential race reached a climax yesterday after Nuhu Ribadu, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) flag bearer, expressed regret for agreeing to step down for his Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) counterpart, Muhammadu Buhari.

On a frenetic day of alliance talks, there were several twists and turns before the deal eventually collapsed. Mr. Ribadu had, during an intense moment in the discussions, agreed to dump his presidential ambition in order for the long mooted coalition to work.

The collapse of the alliance means that Mr. Ribadu is going into Saturday’s presidential election with what will seem like little conviction amongst his supporters. In a message sent to NEXT, Mr. Ribadu conceded that the reversal would have a lasting impact on his future prospects.

“This is the way this thing has been going all through,” he said. “I know the damage they have done to me personally, but I leave that to God.”

Sources at the three day meeting between the ACN and the CPC caucus said that on Tuesday, a decision had been made by Mr. Ribadu in which he accepted to step down for Mr. Buhari for the April 16 election.

“He was surprisingly cool about it all,” said an ACN delegate at the meeting.

“He said it has never been a do or die affair with him and he was willing to leave the race so that the alliance will work.”

Mr. Buhari and a former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu, led the discussions for their respective sides. Mr. Buhari had reportedly been eager for the meeting to succeed but was unwilling to back down on certain points, including the idea that Mr. Tinubu becomes his vice president.

Mr. Ribadu said he was willing to sacrifice his ambition but others at the meeting were not so selfless.

“We have done our part. I have agreed to step down. We have sacrificed for the country. And they won’t even sign a simple letter?” he lamented.

The letter that ended a hope

After three days of intense deliberations, the parties finally reached a consensus on all the outstanding points. They agreed to field a single candidate, CPC’s Muhammadu Buhari, in the election; that ACN’s Nuhu Ribadu will immediately announce he was no longer running; that the ACN will campaign vigorously for Mr. Buhari’s candidacy, especially in the south west where it has such a great influence; that although it is too late to field another running mate for Mr. Buhari, Tunde Bakare, the CPC vice presidential candidate, will step down immediately after the election; that Mr Tinubu will not be allowed to replace him but may nominate those who would; that Mr Buhari reserved the final right to choose from among the list of three candidates that Mr. Tinubu submits.

Mr Tinubu, whose vice presidential ambition had also been blamed for the collapse of previous talks, immediately named three people for the job. They are Yemi Osinbajo a former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Mr Tinubu’s administration, Yemi Cardoso, who was Mr Tinubu’s budget commissioner and a former Lagos State finance commissioner, Wale Edun.

Although Mr. Bakare had agreed to these terms, he balked when the ACN delegates insisted he signed a post dated resignation letter to seal the deal. He vehemently refused to append his signature to such a document. According to a source, it was at this point that the overnight meeting, which went on till 2am, reached an impasse.

The ACN refused to take Mr Bakare’s word that he will abide by the meeting’s decision. “How else could they make sure that he would not back out later?” said a former governor who was also a facilitator at the meeting.

No alliance anymore

The ACN delegates, who at this point were visibly aggrieved by the CPC, quickly started some damage control. The party’s national chairman, Bisi Akande issued a statement assuring its supporters that the party has not entered into any alliance with the CPC.

“We as party that believes in democratic values have therefore decided that in the overall interest of the parties involved, our democracy as well as our country, it is better for each of the parties to go into the presidential election on its own platform,” he said.

Also smarting from the breakdown in discussions, Bunmi Aborishade, the coordinator, Team Ribadu USA Convener, Ribadu for Nigeria Coalition said, “Please note that the alliance talk between the ACN and the CPC to field a single candidate finally broke down yesterday because Buhari/CPC reneged on the earlier agreement that the party with the highest number of seats in the National Assembly elections would produce the presidential candidate for the two parties.”

A small window

However, Rotimi Fashakin, the CPC spokesman, said talks were ongoing. “I really don’t know when you get that information. Talks are ongoing and 10 minutes in politics can make a lot of difference so, don’t rely on the information you got 45 minutes ago. I believe that all the impediments have been removed.”

When asked if the two parties have finally agreed to go into the election together and settled all differences, he said: “I believe so.”

Mr. Akande similarly left open a small window of opportunity.

“If at the end of the election on Saturday there is no clear winner we will make a decision on which way to go, in the overriding interest of all Nigerians,” he said.

Additional reporting by Festus Owete

Buhari Weeps! Says He Is Not In Presidential Race To Protect Any Race Or Group-NPOnline

By Daniel Fayemi

Presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari today said that the time has come for Nigerians to stand up and support his bid to uproot the ruling Peoples Democratic Party which he described as a ‘republic of thieves’ from power.

Buhari who was addressing a world press conference to mark the grand finale of his Presidential campaign broke into tears as he lamented the ‘havoc which the government had done to Nigerians and their reputation’.

He said, “Ladies and gentlemen, in the life of any nation there comes a time when some people have to stand up and point out when things are moving off track, explain why they are going wrongly, demonstrate how they can be set aright, and work towards making a difference.

“For Nigeria, that time has come and it is now; and the people to stand up are you and me! Second, let me state categorically that I am not in this race to advance or protect any vested interest or group.

“We are seeking to replace a government that has done so much havoc to its people and their reputation; and we are determined, with your help, to uproot them completely. By the grace of God, Nigeria is going through its last few weeks of arbitrary non-accountable, corrupt governance—the type that has turned it into a republic of thieves.”

Buhari said that in all the time he had the privilege of managing national resources in various capacities in the country, he ‘never touched a kobo of public funds’.

“I have fought drift and purposelessness in this nation. I have fought corruption and indiscipline. I have fought indolence and the betrayal of trusts. I have fought the Nigerian civil war and struggled for the unity of this country in many other ways.

“I have had the fortune and privilege of managing national resources in various capacities—as a military commander, as a state governor, as a minister, as head of the Petroleum Trust Fund, and as the head of state of this great country. And in all that I have been and done, I have never touched a kobo of public funds.

“I say this without pride and with all sense of responsibility and humility; but I challenge anyone in the race for the leadership of this country then or now to dare make the same claim.

“As I said, I joined the race out of personal conviction and love for my country and concern for the welfare of its people. I therefore ask for the support of everybody and every interest group interested in advancing the cause of the nation.” He said.

However , he called on the Government, INEC and security agencies to remain fair to all Parties to ensure the survival of the country’s democracy.

“I call upon the governments in power at all levels, the Independent National Electoral Commission, and the security agencies at all levels to be fair and just to all parties and candidates in all elections for all offices.

“This is the only way to ensure that our democracy survives and partisan politics retains the confidence and support of our people into the future.” Buhari said.
SOURCE: http://www.nigeriapoliticsonline.com/

ACN denies pact with CPC

Our Reporter

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has denied having a pact with the Congress of Progressive Change (CPC) ahead of Saturday’s presidential election.

The denial came in the wake of a newspaper report today that the two leading opposition parties have agreed to team up to fight the election.

A statement in Abuja today by ACN National Chairman Chief Bisi Akande said: ” The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) wishes to inform all its teeming supporters as well as all Nigerians that there is no alliance between the party and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) ahead of Saturday’s presidential election. While it is true that representatives of both parties have engaged in talks aimed at forging an alliance that could dislodge the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the clueless party that has frittered away the huge opportunities that could have transformed our great country in the past 12 years, we regret to announce that such talks have not led to any alliance.

We as a party that believes in democratic values have therefore decided that in the overall interest of the parties involved, our democracy as well as our country, it is better for each of the parties to go into the presidential election on its own platform.

If at the end of the election on Saturday there is no clear winner we will make a decision on which way to go, in the overriding interest of all Nigerians”.

Culled from The Nation

ACN to INEC: you’ve not delivered yet

Sunday Omoniyi

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) yesterday cautioned Nigerians not to be carried away by what it called the modest success recorded in the last Saturday’s National Assembly Elections.

It said as refreshing as the success may be, it should not be a reason for “the kind of self-praise and congratulatory hoopla that have rented the air since the conduct of the polls.

In a statement in Abuja yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said much remains to be done before the drums can be rolled out in celebration, especially as the big elections, the presidential and governorship, have yet to be held.

It said while no one could begrudge President Goodluck Jonathan for feeling good over last Saturday’s elections, he should not tell Nigerians that he has delivered on his promise to give a free, fair and credible elections until after April 26, when the entire general elections would have been concluded.

‘’Much as Saturday’s poll went fairly well, we – as well as local and international observers – observed a number of serious shortcomings that called the outcome of the poll to question in many states. This was corroborated even by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chair Attahiru Jega himself, during his post-election news conference, where he mentioned ballot snatching, sporadic violence and outright stealing of election materials as happened in Zaria, where a house was burnt down after ballot thieves were traced there.

‘’To these, we add the intimidation of opposition supporters, non-accreditation of voters, missing names on the voters’ register that disenfranchised thousands and cooked results that overturned impending defeat for some high-profile politicians. In Anambra, for example, ACN agents were chased away from certain areas, while in Kwara, military personnel deployed to ensure security were used to intimidate opposition supporters.

‘’But by far the most egregious problem with last Saturday’s elections is the issue of the sub-units which INEC said should be created in polling units with more than 300 people, as a way of speeding up the process. We note that no one knows in which polling stations these sub-units were created, except some unscrupulous INEC officials and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stalwarts, who saw such units as sources of illegal bonus ballots. It is, therefore, important that these anomalies be rectified before the remaining polls before the celebration can start,’’ ACN said.

 

Akunyili, APGA reject Ngige’s declaration

Kamarudeen Ogundele

Senatorial candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) for Anambra Central Professor Dora Akunyili, yesterday accused her main opponent Dr. Chris Ngige of desperation to win.

Ngige, who contested on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (AC N) had been declared winner of the election on Monday night

Akunyili, who addressed a joint news conference with the National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh, said Ngige, whom she described as her brother, went into the election as if his life depended on its outcome.

She alleged that Anene demanded “settlement” from her though a proxy whom she claimed telephoned her.

She said Anambra State Governor Peter Obi could not have offered Anene N10 million, a building and jeep, saying the claim was made to tarnish the image of the governor.

“Nothing can be further from the truth. Everybody knows that Mr. Peter Obi, I am sorry to say this publicly, has no house of his own in Anambra. He lives in his mother’s house and when people tell him that his room is too small, he says he is satisfied with that. How can such a man offer another person a building? Can one offer what one does not have?

“We all know that Governor Obi is a man of honour and integrity as far as money is concerned. He is not one to be frugal with public funds. He has demonstrated this on a number of occasions when he was put to the test. It is well-known that he is not one to be carefree with public funds. So, how can Dr. Anene make such allegation against someone who is known to be very prudent with money?

Umeh said though the INEC relatively improved on its conduct of elections, the attitude of some of its Returning Officers and Electoral Officers fell below expectations.

He urged the police to interrogate Anene to establish the truth or otherwise in his allegations of intimidation, and bribery made before, during and after the National Assembly election.

Insisting on the re-run election, Umeh said with the cancellation of polls in four wards in the district, efforts should be made to properly secure the election from degenerating into another crisis.

“We shall also await INEC to officially react to the phantom declaration by Dr. Alex Anene that Dr. Chris Ngige won the election at a news conference at Tourist Garden Hotel, Awka by 10 p.m. without the presence of INEC officials, party agents and security personnel,” Umeh said.

But Ngige’s spokesman Arinze Igbueli said last night that the ex-governor won and was not desperate as being claimed by his opponent.

He accused Akunyili and the Anambra State government of rigging in Agulu, which is the local government where the candidate and Governor Obi hail from.

He said they inflated the voting figures from there after sacking the ACN agents. He said the result from the local government cane in on Sunday morning whereas it ought to have been brought in earlier.

 

REC nullifies declaration of Ngige as Anambra poll winner

Nwanosike Onu, Awka

The mystery deepened yesterday over Monday night’s declaration of ex-Anambra State Governor Chris Ngige as the senator-elect of Anambra Central.

While Ngige received congratulatory messages from far and wide, including from Senate President David Mark and Action Congress of Nigeria (AC N) national leader Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuemeka Onukaogu, described as illegal, Ngige’s declaration as winner of the election.

Onukaogu, who spoke on the telephone with our correspondent yesterday said, Returning officer Dr. Alex Anene, who announced Ngige’s victory should be arrested because he was no longer in charge as at the time he made the announcement.

He said a new returning officer, Prof. Charles Asimonye, had already been appointed and that the position of the newly appointed returning officer that elections in cancelled wards should be rerun, should stand.

Anene went underground after announcing that he was under pressure from certain quarters to declare Ngige’s main opponent Prof. Dora Akunyili of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), winner of the election.

He said his life was under threat after rejecting an offer of N10million, a car and a house from APGA.

He reappeared on Monday night to announce Ngige as winner.

But Akunyili and her party yesterday denied this claim. They accused Ngige of desperation to win.

Anambra residents were singing and dancing in celebration yesterday in response to the declaration of Ngige as winner of the controversial election.

Ngige was welcomed by a tumultuous crowd who lined the streets in the route from his hometown, Alor, where supporters besieged him. He was unable to disembark from his car for two hours. He travelled through Abatete, Abagana, Amawbia and Awka, where he addressed his supporters.

Ngige unfolded plans to set up a transition committee to put together details of implementation of his programmes for them in the senate.

He received a plethora of high-profile congratulatory messages

In an early morning telephone congratulation, Senate President Mark said: ‘There is no doubt that you are a material for the senate and I do not need too many words to say that Nigeria has gained by your election.’

Former Senate President Ken Nnamani said: “Anambra could not have made a better choice, given the number of key issues awaiting attention in their collective survival”

Tinubu challenged Ngige to represent the senatorial constituency in a manner reminiscent of his stewardship as governor of Anambra state, “which is the basis for the love that the people have for you and the source of this victory.”

Former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Chukwuma Soludo said: “This is what Anambra state needs now. They do not as a people need anyone to appoint or impose a senator on them, neither do they need a governor who will lord it over others in a free Anambra.”

Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola wished Dr Ngige well and prayed God to give him good health to contribute well to the deliberations in the senate using the ACN manifesto as a platform. Fashola urged Ngige not to despair about the rough road to his victory because it takes a while for the truth to triumph.

 

What Bankole did next

By Olu Jacob

Nothing he did as Speaker of the House of Representatives equaled the nobility he demonstrated on the day he lost his re-election bid.

Oladimeji Sabur Bankole, who for nearly four years ruled the lower chamber with less than spectacular success, finally displayed the sensitivity, humility and patriotism that Nigerians had waited to see for so long.

Shortly after the announcement of the results for the parliamentary election at the Centenary Centre, Ake, Abeokuta, Mr Bankole congratulated his Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) rival, Segun williams, who polled 28,490 votes to his 23,103.

“For me, the race was not a life and death duel,” he said. “Of more importance is building, maintaining and developing our democratic institutions and processes towards true national development and greatness.” Nigerians wished he had shown such magnanimity a little sooner. After the debacle that was Patricia Etteh’s stint in the Speaker’s chair, Mr Bankole, a member of the so-called Integrity Group which traduced her, beat George Jolaoye to emerge speaker on November 1st 2007. It was a non-contest; Mr Jolaoye managed 20 votes to Mr Bankole’s 204.

The new speaker was 37, and a bachelor. It was the promise of spring for the House of Representatives: A graduate of Reading and Harvard universities was taking over from a woman who studied as a hairdresser.

A dream deferred

Mr Bankole’s first statement as Speaker was replete with military idioms. “I am taking over the mantle of leadership at a very difficult time. But these are hard times, we need to build confidence again and assure the populace that we are still their representatives. I want an independent House that Nigerians will be proud of; this is my first task,” he said.

Many will say he failed at his first task. He had not been Speaker for one week when the attacks began. He was accused of failing to serve in the National Youth Service Corps scheme; he had to provide pictures and publish his NYSC certificate in newspapers to prove he served. Then stories emerged that he was a serial philanderer and his non-marital status became such an issue that it probably hastened his marriage.

A public punch-up

More serious allegations were soon to follow. His predecessor had been removed for allegedly inflating the contract for the renovation of the Speaker’s quarters at the sum of N628 million, yet Mr Bankole had insisted on repairing the residence for a similar amount. Then came the controversial contract for the purchase of Peugeot 407 cars for N2.3 billion for which Dino Melaye and his crew of 10 became infamous.

They called themselves “Progressive minded legislators” and called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate Mr Bankole’ s handling of the contract. Mr Bankole fought back, removing them from committees, suspending them from the House, and changing the locks to their offices. Calls for the impeachment of the Speaker intensified.

The fight took a bizarre turn when members of the group were beaten up and thrown out of the chamber. Footage of the incident, including torn dresses, missed blows and the manhandling of a female parliamentarian, became a staple of television houses and YouTube enthusiasts. At one point Mr Bankole, a former artillery officer, took on a member of the group, Independence Ogunewe in a free-for-all, on the grounds of the National Assembly. Mr Ogunewe had been rude when the Speaker tried to make peace. “I went to your house to see you but I met your wife,” Mr Bankole had offered. “Maybe you went to see my wife, you idiot!” Mr Ogunewe had retorted.

Such was the House that Mr Bankole ruled over as Nigerians wallowed in poverty, disease and collapsed infrastructure. The members kept raising their salaries and allowances until the Assembly’s overheads totaled 25 percent of the nation’s entire budget for overheads. They kept inflating the budget until it got so bloated that the minister of finance himself stepped in to say it was no longer a practical document. They got embroiled in bribe scandals, approved billions for SIM card registration when the service providers had begun doing that at no cost to the country. In 2009, it emerged that Mr Bankole’s House spent N52 billion on overseas and domestic travels the previous year.

By the time he lost his re-election bid last Saturday, Mr Bankole had all but eroded whatever hopes Nigerians had left in the National Assembly. Rather than stop the extravagance and waste that has made the institution such a drain on the public purse, Mr Bankole sat over a House that became notorious for profligacy.

If tomorrow comes

As the youngest speaker in Nigeria’s history, apart from the Salisu Buhari interregnum, Mr Bankole has his whole life ahead of him.

Musa Ebomhiana, the media aide to the Speaker, refused to speculate on what this future may look like. He chose to speak of the man’s past. “The Speaker left a great legacy in terms of lawmaking, in terms of stability of the House and in terms of probity,” he said.

“For instance, he saw to the passage of the Electoral Act. And during his tenure, for the first time, unspent billions which used to be spent by civil servants after a budget year were returned to government coffers.” There has always been talk that Mr Bankole had his eyes on the Ogun State Government House. Sources say that is the reason behind his quarrel with Gbenga Daniel with whom he had previously had a good rapport. Mr Daniel allegedly preferred that Mr Bankole not succeed him. But as Mr Bankole’s Special Adviser on Communications, Kayode Oshinowo told NEXT yesterday, “This matter that the Speaker wants to be governor has been addressed before. It is a rumour that started long ago. He has never said he wanted to be governor of Ogun State. People just keep carrying the rumour.” The rumour has refused to die though. When Mr Daniel was named the southwest coordinator of the Jonathan-Sambo campaign organisation, sources said the Speaker toyed with the idea of decamping to the ACN.

As late as December 2010, there were speculations that Mr Bankole would dump the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the ACN in order to realise his ambition of ruling Ogun State. Mr Oshinowo insists none of this is really true. “Tomorrow, things may change. I cannot say,” he said. “But up to this moment, he has not talked of ruling the state.” Now that both Mr Bankole and Mr Daniel, together with their perennial antagonist Mr Obasanjo, have lost out following the overwhelming defeat of the PDP by the ACN in the state, the field is open for Mr Bankole to choose either to remain in the party or move on to the winning side.

Mr Oshinowo said his boss has done enough to be remembered by history. “Even in terms of membership bills, he did more than his predecessors. Aminu Masari oversaw the passage of 101 bills, and Ghali Na’abba even less. But during Dimeji Bankole’s tenure, the House passed 135 bills.” Perhaps the tragedy is that most Nigerians will remember him for less savoury reasons. When asked what the Speaker’s next plans are, Mr Oshinowo said: “I cannot say. But I think it is only right that he should be given time to think of his future.” There is no doubt that, at 41, Mr Bankole has plenty of time to learn the lessons of his defeat. As Mr Williams who defeated him said, “It has been proven that power belongs to the people. The people give power and take power through the ballot. Opportunities in life should be used for the benefit of the electorate.”

From 234Next News