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Rise Above Petty Politics, Sign Electoral Bill Now —- Saraki Tells Buhari

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The Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to heed the advice of the anti-democratic elements who have now populated the political space and putting pressure on him not to give assent to the 2018 Electoral Bill.

Saraki in a statement in Ilorin on Wednesday, signed by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuph Olaniyonu, urged the President to rise above petty politics and act without further delay in the best interest of the country and its democracy by signing the Electoral Bill into law.

Saraki noted that he had been inundated with telephone calls and discussions by members of the National Assembly who expressed concern about the delay in the signing into law of the Electoral Bill as the one month period provided by the law for the President to sign a bill presented to him by the National Assembly is about to expire in the next few days.

He added that many of the legislators who contacted him were particularly disturbed that certain individuals who are said to be chairmen of political parties had approached the Federal High Court to stop the President from assenting to the bill.

He noted that the jaded tactic employed in the 90s to scuttle the return to democracy when groups like the Association for Better Nigeria went to court to frustrate the announcement of the results of the June 12, 1993 elections is now being adopted by some masked groups and individuals to stop the signing into law of the Electoral Bill.

He urged President Buhari to dissociate himself from these ugly antics and sign the bill, which he said has comprehensively addressed issues that usually clog the process of free, fair, credible and peaceful elections.

Saraki said: “It is the prerogative of the President to either sign a Bill into law or refuse it assent. He is free to exercise this prerogative the way he likes in this case. What I found surprising is a situation where some people now want to adopt a wrong tactic of abusing the court process to stall the matter. That will be unacceptable and I am sure our judiciary will rely on the lessons from the past and not allow itself to be used.

“We do not want the President to allow the setting of a bad precedent in which somebody will go to court in future to stop the passage of an Appropriation Bill or any essential law which will be important to the development of the country.

“My position remains that the President, his aides, the entire country and the international community are aware that all the concerns raised by the President on the past three occasions he withheld assent to the bill have been addressed by the legislature. We bent backward on each occasion to accommodate the wishes of the President. We started work on this law since 2016 to prevent a situation where it would become part of the election controversies.

“Every sincere commentator, observer, and analyst know that what we have done with that bill is to raise the level of transparency, credibility, and acceptability of our electoral process. We made sure that the law if assented to and honestly applied by INEC and all those concerned, will give us an election that will be better than what we had in 2015.

“The President should know that the survival of democracy, its development and the future of Nigeria are far more important than the ambition of any individual or party. I am using this opportunity to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to put a stop to this uncertainty in the political process by signing without delay the 2018 Electoral Bill so as to allow INEC and the concerned parties know how to prepare for a credible process.”

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APC Adopts Gbajabiamila As Speaker, Zones Deputy To North Central

Peter Okunoren

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The leadership of All Progressives Congress has adopted Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as the Speaker of the House of Representatives for the Ninth Assembly.

The agreement was reached after extensive deliberation at a dinner held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday night.

The position of the Deputy Speaker was zoned to the North Central.

A statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, confirmed the development.

Issa-Onilu said the agreement was reached at the dinner between President Muhammadu Buhari and the House members-elect.

The statement said: “The APC has adopted Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as its candidate for the position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 9th Assembly.

“This position was reached after an intensive deliberation with the APC’s House of Representatives members-elect at a dinner with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Banquet Hall of Aso Villa.

“The Deputy Speaker position has been zoned to the North Central.”

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Ex-Governors Mount Pressure On Danjuma Goje To Accept Buhari’s Candidate, Lawan, For Senate President

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Some former governors are mounting pressure on their former colleague, Senator Danjuma Goje, to accept President Muhammadu Buhari’s choice of Ahmad Lawan for Senate president, The Nation reports.

The President is believed to have met Goje on the matter.

According to reports, Lawan, who is the Senate Leader, is forging ahead. He met yesterday with some senators-elect and pleaded with them to give him a chance.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) former governors, including some of them who are senators, have opted to back Buhari’s decision on Lawan.

Some of the former governors include Ahmed Sani Yerima, Adamu Aliero, Abdullahi Adamu, Aliyu Wammako, George Akume, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Kabiru Gaya and Godswill Akpabio.

It was gathered that the ex-governors appreciated the “cautious approach adopted by Goje to his aspiration without ruffling feathers but they felt he should defer to the President”.

The ex-governors have sent a delegation to Goje to reconsider his position.

Although two of them were with Goje on Saturday for what was termed “ a social gathering”, it was unclear whether they were the ones who spoke on behalf of their colleagues.

A former governor, who pleaded not to be named, said: “It is true we are trying to avoid cracks in APC over the Ninth Senate President and some of us have met on the President’s choice and how to prevail on Goje to sacrifice his aspiration.

“I can tell you that some of us have opened talks with him. We are talking to him; we are mounting pressure. We also decided to send a delegation to him.

“As a matter of right, Goje is qualified to lead the Senate but we do not really want him to disagree with the President. And he is not a leader who believes in confrontation.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “Our intervention is just a follow-up to the audience between the President and Goje.”

“The former governor of Gombe State is yet to make any categorical statement on his ambition.”

Goje, it was learnt, told Buhari, who persuaded him to support Lawan, that he would “get back to him”.

“Goje has not returned to the President on what he intends to do,” a source in the Presidency said.

The Lawan Group is, however, waiting for Goje’s response before arranging a meeting between the two leaders.

Another source said: “Since a presidential intervention is already involved, we have deliberately asked Lawan to leave the initiative to President Buhari. The truth is that the President’s meeting with Goje underscored the enormous respect he has for the ex-governor.

“Lawan is ready to meet with Goje but after the elders and the ex-governors have brokered a deal.”

Lawan and members of his campaign team last night met with some senators-elect in Abuja on his aspiration.

The senators-elect are in the second batch of those to benefit from the induction course which was packaged by the National Assembly management.

A source at the session quoted Lawan as saying: “Give me a chance, I will provide quality leadership, I will carry every Senator along in whatever I do.”

A Senator-elect said: “The campaign team of the Senate Leader reached out to some of us across party lines. I am new, but I am impressed by his experience on legislative business. Let us see how it goes.”

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Ifeanyi Ubah Dumps YPP For APC

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Ifeanyi Ubah, Anambra South Senator-elect, of the Young Peoples Party (YPP) has dumped the party for the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Ubah’s defection was made known by the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole on Monday.

Oshiohmole informed the APC National Working Committee members, returning/newly-elected senators at the Presidential Villa, on Monday, that Ubah was now with the ruling party, NAN reports.

Describing Ubah as a ‘smart politician Oshiomhole in his opening remark, said the “YPP Senator-elect from Anambra South has decided to pitch tent with the ruling party because he felt more comfortable with the winning team.”

He, however, added that other issues related to Ubah’s defection would be perfected on a later date.

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