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Governors, legislators and political leaders cutting across the two major political parties – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – met Tuesday night at an undisclosed location to continue discussions on the formation of a new major political party expected to wrest power from APC in 2019.

The nocturnal meeting came hours after former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s bombshell in the form of an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, advising him not to re-contest the 2019 presidential election.

A report this morning by THISDAY quoted undisclosed sources as saying that last night’s meeting was a follow-up to previous meetings held by the amorphous group of political leaders in Dubai, Saudi Arabia and London, with the objective of forming a “third force” that can meet the aspirations of its members.

The paper quoted one source “who provided clarity on the coalescing of politicians that can trounce the APC and PDP in the next general election” as explaining that the concept of a third force in the political firmament has two strands.

His words: “One is the Nigeria Intervention Movement (NIM) that is not a political party but is trying to galvanise professionals, civil society groups and activists to support credible candidates in different parties.

“The second is an amorphous group of political leaders, serving and former governors and National Assembly members of both parties, as well as retired military leaders who have been meeting in places like Dubai, Saudi Arabia and London to fashion out a modus vivendi for the new party that will challenge both the APC and PDP.”

The source, according to the report, however, explained that even though the political leaders had bought into the formation of a third major party and were waiting in the wings to step out once it is formed, they are conscious of the fact that there may be insufficient time to get it registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the elections.

“Since time is of the essence and most of the politicians who want to dump the APC and PDP for this new party know that there might not be enough time to get it registered, they are also on the hunt for one of the already registered political parties that they can use as a platform to actualise their goals,” he said.

Providing more insight into what may have galvanised some politicians from the two main parties to push for the formation of another party, the source, according to THISDAY, said those from the APC are unhappy with the trajectory of the ruling party and the fact that it has lost legitimacy, especially in the Middle Belt region of the country.

He was quoted as saying: “As you know the clashes between herdsmen and farmers, especially in Benue and Taraba States, and its mismanagement by the Buhari administration, has caused outrage and left many people in both states and the rest of the region bewildered.

“Key supporters of Buhari in Benue, Taraba and other Middle Belt states like General T.Y. Danjuma are bewildered over the way these conflicts have been handled. They believe the president could have intervened promptly, but he has failed to do so and has allowed the problem and killings to get out of control.”

Another source reportedly explained that Benue is the archetypical swing state in the North-central zone that has always voted with the winning party.

“In 1979 to 1983, Benue people backed the then ruling party, National Party of Nigeria (NPN), and it formed the government; in the current Republic, the state also backed the PDP and it formed the government; it also voted for APC and it has formed the government.

“But the killings in Benue State have caused its political leadership to reassess their support for the APC, because Buhari has been slow to act and has allowed the problem to fester,” he said.

The report said that source disclosed that several APC leaders desirous of a new platform are also unhappy with the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who have been accused of taking over the Buhari political machinery, and have used divide and rule tactics to sideline many members of the ruling party.

He added that several APC politicians have read the writing on the wall and know that the party has eroded the goodwill on which it rode to win the 2015 elections.

“As such, they are seeking a new platform which is not the PDP, because both the APC and PDP are not popular with the Nigerian people,” the source said.

He said the reason PDP was not considered as an option stemmed from the fact that the opposition party had become too “toxic” and has been hijacked by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, and his Ekiti State counterpart, Ayodele Fayose.

“Even Obasanjo alluded to their procurement of the Supreme Court judgment and how one of them is now dictating the tune in the PDP to do his bidding.

“Also many familiar with the move to form the new party know that the South-west is a no-go area for the PDP because of the way it treated its South-west leaders at the last national convention of the party.

“The PDP is a tainted brand and is deemed by millions of Nigerians as a corrupt party, so there is no way it can be factored as an alternative platform for aggrieved APC members,” the source added.

BIG STORY

BREAKING: Buhari Fails To Renew Fowler’s Tenure, Names Muhammad Nami As New FIRS Boss

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President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Muhammad Nami to replace Babatunde Fowler as chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

Fowler’s tenure expired on Monday.

More to follow…

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BIG STORY

Orji Kalu Will Receive Full Salaries, Allowances In Prison — Senate

Peter Okunoren

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The convicted Chief Whip of the Senate, Orji Kalu, will continue to receive his salaries and all other entitlements while in prison, the Senate has said.

This is despite that he will not be performing any legislative function from prison.

The spokesperson of the Senate, Godiya Akwashiki, disclosed this to PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday.

He said despite the conviction, Mr Kalu remains a sitting senator and will be paid all of his entitlements in full.

He said until the case gets to Supreme Court and a final judgement is given, Mr Kalu remains a serving lawmaker.

“He is still a senator. This is the first court. The matter is going to Supreme Court so, he still has the opportunity to appeal up to the Supreme Court level.

“Of course they will pay him. Because he is a sitting senator just like I said…if you file for an appeal, you are still serving and so they will pay you.

“All his entitlements will be paid. There is no cause for alarm. In fact, even if the Court of Appeal says they have upheld the judgement of the lower court, he still has the right to go to Supreme Court. So once the Supreme Court says, yes, the judgement is okay, then that’s the final,” he explained.

Earlier, Mr Akwashiki said Mr Kalu’s seat will not be declared vacant.

He explained that no provision in the constitution that says the seat of any senator facing prosecution or convicted at a lower court should be declared vacant.

Mr Kalu’s seat will not be declared vacant except he (Mr Kalu) has explored all the legal options available to him without success, he said.

“Even the tenure of a former governor Joshua Dariye, who has been in prison for some time now, ran its course until the end of the 8th National Assembly. Nobody declared his seat vacant.”

The Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday sentenced Mr Kalu to 12 years in prison after convicting him of N7.65 billion fraud.

Mr Kalu, a former governor of Abia State, was pronounced guilty of the charge in a trial that lasted for 12 years.

The conviction comes 12 years after the ex-governor was first arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2007 and was tried alongside his company, Slok Nigeria Limited, and Udeh Udeogu, who was Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House during Mr Kalu’s tenure as governor.

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BIG STORY

BREAKING: Assassins Attacks MD Of Maersk Line, Wife Forced To Drink Acid

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Palpable tension has enveloped Maersk, one of the biggest organizations in the Nigerian maritime industry.

According to reports, the Managing Director of Maersk Line, Gildas Tohouo Tohouo, and his family were said to have been attacked at their Lugard Road, Ikoyi home last night.

The attacked happened while he, his three children and his wife were at home.

While reports are saying that the man himself was severely stabbed and battling for his life, the wife is said to have given up the ghost as she was forced to drink acid by their assailants.

Several angles are being linked to the unfortunate incident. While some are saying the attack must have been as a result of a generator contract gone wrong between Maersk and some other unnamed companies, some are saying the attack was as a result of domestic electrician that was sacked.

Those in the know are claiming that Maersk as an organization is not new to attacks as such that results in the loss of lives. A source who craved anonymity claims that the company once sent two Dutch auditors to look into its books and both men were shot dead by assassins in a full office.

The attack on the managing director and his family is being suspected to be an insider job by some other people because the security around where he lives is premium and he lives close to former interim head of state, Chief Ernest Shonekan, whose place also enjoys excellent security because of his status as a former head of state.

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