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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has decried the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement, expressing hope that he will change his mind before it is too late. Obasanjo poured out his mind on the AfCFTA during a presidential panel, titled: “When Leaders Make History at the Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan, Cote d’ Ivoire on Tuesday. He was joined by the President of Zimbabwe, Emerson Mnangagwa.

Obasanjo said, “That President Buhari didn’t sign the free trade agreement in Kigali is disappointing; I hope he signs it before it is too late. “Egypt started the discussion on the formation of the Organisation of African Unity but didn’t conclude it and Nigeria took over. Nigeria was also central to the discussion of the free trade agreement, but I am surprised that the country withdrew from signing.”

The AfCFTA treaty is one of the flagship projects of the African Union Agenda 2063, and is aimed at creating a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons, investments and a single currency. Also, the agreement commits countries to removing tariffs on 90 per cent of goods and to liberalise services, while items identified as sensitive, which make up the balance 10 per cent, will also be phased out later as tariff-free.

But the President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Dr. Frank Jacobs, said the government’s enforcement mechanism in the area of enforcement of rules of origin needed to be clearly defined before local producers could support the agreement. It is believed that the AfCFTA treaty would improve intra African trade and enhance economic growth and sustainable development.

The Federal Government had delayed the signing of the treaty to allow for more deliberations and input from stakeholders and had set up a committee on the issue before the President would sign the treaty. Speaking on the need for increased youth and women participation in politics in Africa, Obasanjo, who zeroed in on Nigeria, stated, “In our own part of the world, we have not done enough in this regard. Since independence, we have never had any woman as president and VP; no woman has contested governorship election and won.

“In the coming dispensation, all organs of political parties should have 30 per cent slots for women, 30 per cent for the youth, and 40 per cent for the others. ”He said it was disheartening that the number of the women in the National Assembly was still very insignificant.

BIG STORY

JUST IN: Ganduje Heads 49-Member APC National Campaign Council For Edo 2020 Elections

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The Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has appointed a 49-member high-level National Campaign Council for the September 19 Edo State Governorship Election.

The council chaired by Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has four state governors, the Deputy Senate President and two former National Chairmen of the party among others as members and Hon. Abbas Braimoh to serve as Secretary.

Party’s Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr Yekini Nabena in a statement in Abuja on Thursday said the appointment of the council followed the approval of the National Chairman of the party’s Caretaker Committee, Mai Mala Buni.

Details shortly…

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BIG STORY

Lagos East: Ambode, Ashafa, Gbadamosi, Jostle For Late Osinowo’s Senatorial Position

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No fewer than 13 members of the All Progressives Congress and Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos State have reportedly indicated interest in contesting for the by-election to fill the Lagos East Senatorial District at the Senate.

The former occupant of the position, Bayo Osinowo, died on June 15, 2020 after a brief illness said to be connected with COVID-19.

Our correspondent learnt that among leading candidates for the position in the APC are a former Lagos Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode; a former occupant of the position, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, a former House of Representatives member, Dayo Alebiosu-Bush, a former Lagos commissioner, Tola Kasali; and the Director General of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri.

For the PDP, the leading candidates include a former governorship candidate of the Action Democratic Party, Babatunde Gbadamosi; the last PDP flag bearer for the position, Princess Abiodun Oyefusi; and a public relations expert, Adedipe Shobajo.

The spokesperson for the Lagos PDP, Taofik Ganiu, said his party would ensure it fielded the best candidate.

He said, “What is operating in the PDP Lagos now is that we are set for any election. For the Lagos senatorial district by-election, we want to field our strongest candidate who will not be rejected by Lagosians. There are seven aspirants already.

“We are also happy to note that a lot of the APC chieftains are making plans to have us as a platform. We are aware that the APC national body is endorsing somebody and other aspirants are aggrieved. So, our doors are wide open for them to take advantage of it.”

Ganiu said the greatest asset of his party was its plan to end godfatherism in Lagos, adding that the coming by-election would be an opportunity for the PDP to showcase its best hands before claiming the state come the 2023 general elections.

However, the APC spokesperson, Seye Oladejo, said the ruling party was still mourning the death of Osinowo, aka Pepper.

He said, “At the level of the party, nothing is happening now. It’s barely two weeks that we lost Pepper. Humanity should come into play here irrespective of anybody’s ambition. So, nothing is happening.

“But I can tell you that it’s going to be in the public domain when the time is right; it will not be hidden.”

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BREAKING: Court Strikes Out Certificate Forgery Suit Against Obaseki

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The Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday struck out a suit seeking the disqualification of Governor Godwin Obaseki from contesting the forthcoming governorship election in the state for allegedly forging his university certificate.

The suit was filed on May 29, 2020, by Edobor Williams, Ugesia Godwin, and Amedu Anakhu, ahead of the governorship election scheduled to hold in Edo State on September 19.

Joined as respondents in the suit were the governors’ party, the All Progressives Congress, the Inspector-General of Police, and Obaseki himself.

But Justice Anwuli Chikere struck out the suit on Monday as neither the plaintiffs’ lawyers nor the defendants’ were present in court.

The plaintiffs alleged in the suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/553/2020, that the University of Ibadan certificate which he attached to his Form CF.001 which he submitted to INEC for his first term election in 2016 was forged.

They argued that the governor’s educational information contained in Part C of the Form CF 001 which he submitted to INEC on July 12, 2016, and the first-degree certificate of Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies, said to have been obtained from the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, was forged.

They contended that this was “contrary to the provisions of section 182(1)(i) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999”.

According to them, Obaseki was, therefore “not qualified to run or seek the office of Governor of Edo State under the platform of the 1st defendant (APC) in the governorship election scheduled to hold in the state in September 19, 2020”.

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