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Strong indications emerged weekend that the National Assembly members have started collating signatures on a possible override of the President’s veto, with 67 Senators already endorsing what may be described as a Pro-Senate register seeking the override of the veto.

It was gathered on Sunday that the register, which is kept by a North East Senator of the APC was said to have moved to 67 from the initial 63 as at last week, even as the source said that the number of Senators might rise far beyond 80 if the more than 20 others said to be sitting on the fence initially sign up this week.

It was also gathered that the Senate is now divided into two camps, with the Pro-Senate wing enjoying the majority so far as the Pro Buhari Senators are also said to be unrelenting in their push as sources said that they are struggling to up the number from the 15 loyalists so far.

According to the source: “The strategy is working well for the pro-Senate Group, which has also sent some members to infiltrate the ranks of the pro-Buhari group to give them a false sense of hope. That makes the Pro-Buhari group have a false sense of improvement but the Senators know where they really belong.”

Another source stated: “A meeting of the Pro-Senate group held in Lagos after the wedding party of the daughter of Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote in Lagos at the weekend. The meeting afforded the Pro-Senate Senators the opportunity to review the register and it was affirmed that 67 senators have so far signed.”

Meanwhile, a source said that the intervention of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) seeking to ensure a truce between the executive and the legislature in respect of the planned override of the President’s veto of Electoral Act Amendment bill 2018 appears to have collapsed.

Investigations at the weekend indicated that the Senators and members of the House of Representatives were yet to see concrete evidence of the party putting in place a peace option after the visit of the John Odigie-Oyegun-led NWC to the chambers.
The Odigie-Oyegun-led NWC met with the APC caucuses in the National Assembly last week in a bid to stall the planed override of the Presidential veto of the Electoral Act Amendment bill, 2018.

Meanwhile, following President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to assent to the new amendment to the Electoral Act, which seeks to re-order the sequence of the polls during general elections, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has ordered its members in the Senate to give a bloc vote to ensure that Senators override his veto.
Vanguard gathered that the PDP Senators are at the moment very sure of forty members that have already signed to vote for the process.

Though at the moment, the PDP has 44 members, but the support from four members is still very dicey against the backdrop that two of the PDP Senators who have gubernatorial ambition in their states and to contest under another party, outside the PDP, especially the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA are sitting on the fence.

According to the source, one of the Senators from Ebonyi, another one from Imo, one from Ogun State and one from Anambra states have not actually thrown their weights behind the project as the PDP Senators are still waiting for their signatures.

A source also told Vanguard that one of the Senators from Imo State, said he has refused to sign in line with the directives of the party, because he was still spying at the activities of other members in the APC.
It was also gathered that another PDP Senator before now, precisely last month, was sitting on the fence, but the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki was said to have intervened and the Senator had a change of mind.

It was gathered that at least three Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) joined the Senators at the Lagos meeting and that it was adopted that the interpretation of the law is that the two-thirds majority of those present in each chamber would be required and not two-thirds majority of all members of the Senate.

The source said: “The plan for the overriding votes may start this week as the Senate leadership are sure they now have “very sufficient” numbers to act and get the desired results.

“Those who think they control South-West Senators will have a shocker of their lives. At least 10 Senators from that zone will vote for the amendment; 15 from South-South; 13 from South-East, 13 from North-Central, 10 from North-East and seven from the North West. That is the zonal classification of those who have signed so far. We will get more from those who are still sitting on the fence. The recent position of Gen. TY Danjuma and the Coalition of Northern Groups are helping to win more sympathizers for the Pro-Senate group.”

POLITICS

Election Postponement: PDP Asks INEC Chairman To Resign, Accuses APC Of ‘Grand Conspiracy’

Peter Okunoren

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Uche Secondus, national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has asked Mahmood Yakubu to resign as the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Speaking through Ike Abonyi, his media aide, shortly after the elections were postponed by INEC, Secondus said his party was rejecting the new dates.

He said it was a “deliberate, pre-determined agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari to cling on to power even when it’s obvious to him that Nigerians want him out”.

Secondus said the postponement was part of a “grand design” by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to thwart the will of Nigerians “at all cost”.

He said the APC “in connivance with INEC have been trying all options including but not limited to burning down INEC offices in some states and destroying of electoral materials to create artificial problems upon which to stand for their dubious act”.

“With several of their rigging options failing, they have to force INEC to agree to a shift in the election or a staggered election with flimsy excuses pre-manufactured for the purpose,” he said in the statement sent to TheCable.

“For the avoidance of doubt the PDP sees this action as wicked and we are also aware of other dubious designs like the deployment of hooded security operatives who would be ruthless on the people ostensibly to scare them away.”

Secondus said the “wicked killing” of over 60 persons mostly women and children in southern Kaduna on the eve of election “is a copious ploy by the APC to frighten the people away from voting knowing too well that they were not going to record any vote from the area”.

“Recall that the Governor of Kaduna state, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai had earlier threatened international election observers of going to their country in body bags and with the fatal violence in the state on the eve of election, it’s clear what the motives are, to frighten the observers from the state so that he can carry out his nefarious acts,” he said.

The PDP chairman also drew the attention to the statement of President Muhammadu Buhari that nobody can unseat him from office as an indication of what he wanted to do.

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BREAKING: INEC Postpones Presidential Election, Announces New Dates

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has moved the presidential and national assembly elections till February 23.

The governorship and state assembly elections will now hold on March 9.

He said the decision was taken after a careful review of the plan for the exercise.

“Following a careful review of the implementation of its logistics and operational plan and the determination to conduct free, fair and credible elections, the commission came to the conclusion that proceeding with the elections as scheduled is no longer feasible,” he said.

“Consequently, the commission has decided to reschedule the Presidential and National Assembly Elections to Saturday, 23 February 2019.

“Furthermore, the Governorship, State House of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Elections is rescheduled to Saturday 9th March 2019. This will afford the Commission the opportunity to address identified challenges in order to maintain the quality of our elections.

“This was a difficult decision for the Commission to take, but necessary for the successful delivery of the elections and the consolidation of our democracy.”

He announced that the commission will meet key stakeholders to update them on the development at 2pm on Saturday.

INEC had summoned stakeholders to an emergency meeting on Friday night following logistics problem in some states.

In Ekiti state, electoral materials had not arrived some areas as of 9pm. There were also issues in Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Taraba and Rivers.

In 2011, the national assembly elections were postponed because of insufficient materials shortly after voting had commenced nationwide.

Four years later, elections were moved by six weeks to allow the military tackle the Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east, although many thought it was because the incumbent government was afraid of losing.

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POLITICS

2019 Elections: Atiku Is My Good Friend But We Will Send Him Into Retirement On Saturday —- Tinubu

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A national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, said on Thursday in Lagos that the party would send the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, into retirement on Saturday for the good of Nigeria.

Tinubu said this in a statement made available by his Media Officer, Tunde Rahman.
He said: “This election is more than a contest between two men, President Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, for that one exalted chair.

“Look, I have made no attempts to hide my friendship with Atiku. We are friends before this election and hopefully we will be friends after Feb. 16 when he goes into retirement.

“For the good of Nigeria and even the good of Atiku himself, we will do well to send him into retirement on Saturday.

“Perhaps, we should also send Obi into retirement along with his boss come Feb. 16. Perhaps together they might manage to discover the place where they might learn compassion for the common man.”

Tinubu said there was not much good that could be found in the policies and programmes announced by the PDP.

He said: “Atiku’s answers to our economic challenges are to shrink and restrain government from being the active catalyst toward a diversified economy that assured broadly-shared prosperity through the just allocation of wealth and reward according to sweat and toil put forth by the Nigerian people.

“They seek an unfair, unjust and unequal Nigeria. Their definition of Nigeria is a nation run by the greedy, for the profit of the rich, at the command of the mighty.”

Tinubu said the objective of the APC was to remake Nigeria into a great nation.

He said: “Our vision is the opposite of theirs, Unlike the PDP, we, the APC, are anchored to the proposition that every Nigerian is entitled to equal access and sufficient economic opportunity so that he may use his talents, skills and committed exertion to carve for himself and his loved ones the decent and good life every human being seeks.

“The ordinary person is not to be shortchanged of the fair dividends of his honest sweat and diligent labour simply because he may be poor or because the powerful and wealthy want more.

“Because of the APC’s concerns for the struggles of the average person, we launched beneficial social welfare programmes such as the school feeding programme, Trader-Moni and N-Power.

“As such, we have made progress caring for our most needy and vulnerable through these and other innovative and unprecedented policies. These programmes are of the type all great nations do for their citizens.”

Tinubu said the APC was not satisfied by what had been accomplished, saying what had been done was but the opening phase of a more ambitious undertaking.

He said: “We have just begun to fight poverty and reform this economy on the scale required. Though we have helped millions, several millions more are needed to end poverty’s stranglehold on their lives.

“We must expand the scope and reach of our social welfare programmes to encompass those other people who have been denied access to the productive economy through no fault of their own.

“Additionally, we must put idle hands to work to build a modern infrastructure that will energise agricultural output in rural areas and foster labour-intensive industrialisation in our growing cities.”

The former governor of Lagos State said the second term of President Buhari would be dedicated to changing the structure of the economy for the better.

He said: “We must amend our national economic architecture to unlock the full potentials of our people and our land. To me, this is the core mandate of government for and of the people.

“Throughout the campaign, we have talked about taking Nigeria to the Next Level. To me, this Next Level is informed by forging a new partnership between government and the governed to create a more just and prosperous economy for all.

“The beginning of this new partnership is already taking shape. As stated before, we have initiated a first phase of social welfare programmes.”

Tinubu urged the people of South West to join APC in implementing the Next Level agenda.

He said: “The South West has always been at the vanguard of progressive governance in Nigeria. Today should be no exception to this historic role we have played.

“I ask the people of the South West to join the APC so that we attain the Next Level by implementing this bold and good new partnership built on the following pillars: power, infrastructure, housing, industrialisation, agriculture and social security.”

Tinubu said that the coming elections were a choice between progress and retreat.

He said: “The future is uncertain until we enter it. February 16 is Election Day and on that day Nigeria shall step into its future.

“How you vote on that day will determine whether we walk into the future in a manner that guides our subsequent steps toward the national greatness that calls to us or will we walk into it backwards as if feebly trying to reinvent the past.

“One road leads to a certain replay of the economic injustices of the past. It is a road well-worn with familiar pitfalls and setbacks built into the very nature of it.

“The other road provides the truest, brightest chance for us to enter into our hopeful future but only if we are brave enough to believe in our capacity to improve our nation.”

Tinubu urged Nigerians to vote for President Buhari for a secured future.

He said: “This is the future we must enter. This is the future the APC champions. This is future you must choose on Election Day. Vote for yourselves by voting for President Buhari.”

Tinubu urged Nigerians to conduct themselves peacefully before, during and after the elections to ensure a violence-free exercise.

He said: “In the exercise of our civic duty at this historic and important moment, I ask that you conduct yourselves with utmost tolerance and in equal peace towards both political ally and political opponent.

“Let us show the world that we know the true meaning of democracy. On Election Day let not an angry hand be raised against any Nigerian.

“No matter our political differences, let us remember we are of one land and of the same national family.

“This election shall be free and fair and conducted without the arm of violence. For this is as Nigeria and our democratic exercise must be to achieve the excellent destination intended for us.”

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