The national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party has appointed a six-member committee to woo governors and lawmakers from the All Progressives Congress into its fold, Sunday PUNCH is reporting.
It was gathered that the PDP, in reaction to the defection of Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State to the APC, set up the National Reconciliation Committee, which was saddled with the responsibility of persuading members of the APC to join the opposition.
The committee, which is headed by a former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, also includes former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim; former Governors Liyel Imoke (Cross River), Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe); and former Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, Mulikat Akande.
National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbodiyan, had in a tweet via the official Twitter account of the PDP, on Monday evening, announced the composition of the Saraki-led committee.
However, sources within the party informed our correspondent that the national leadership of the party had directed Saraki and members of his committee to scout for members within the ruling party.
One of the sources, who is a member of the National Working Committee of the party, told Sunday PUNCH that the PDP was planning to “harvest some governors” and lawmakers from the APC, adding that there were members of the ruling party who had contacted the PDP for possible defection. He stated that the APC was aware of the plan but that it had quickly asked Umahi to defect from the PDP to send a signal that the former ruling party was no longer attractive.
The source said, “We knew their game. They knew that their members, including governors, members of the National Assembly, and lawmakers at the state level, were contemplating joining us. That’s why they rushed to Umahi, asking him to defect quickly.
“They promised him that they would hand over the state (APC) chapter. That was why the party quickly dissolved the Ebonyi State chapter and picked a serving commissioner as acting chairman.”
The PDP NWC, at its meeting on Monday evening, was said to have also deliberated on the strategy aimed at repositioning the party ahead of the 2023 elections.
It was gathered that the six-party members saddled with the responsibility of poaching from the APC were also asked to approach “those who had stopped participating in political party affairs in the country or their respective states but are still respected for their views.”
When contacted, the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, described the assignments handed over to the Saraki-led committee as “multi-dimensional.”
He said, “The committee is free to add any other job to its assignment. We want it to reconcile people at all levels. They are also free to talk to those who want to either return to the PDP or even defect to our party.
“I want to tell you that we have large numbers of lawmakers, both at the national and state levels, who are willing to join us. Also, there are some governors who are already talking to us. We just don’t like making noise about what we are doing. I wonder how this information also got to you. But in any case, we are not sleeping.
“If we had won elections in states such as Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Edo, Oyo, Sokoto, and Zamfara from the opposition without making a noise, I can assure you that we are going to do more positive things that will surprise many.”
In a related development, a former presidential aide, Dr Umar Ardo, called on the incumbent Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, to declare the seat of Senator Elisha Abbo vacant, following the senator’s defection from the PDP to the APC.
Abbo, who claimed that he left the PDP for the APC because of his 2023 governorship ambition in Adamawa State, had also accused the state governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, of not running the party well.
But Ardo, in a message titled ‘Don’t imperil our democracy’ and sent to one of our correspondents, said Lawan owed Nigerians the right to declare the seat of the senator vacant.
He said, “Given the expressed provision of Section 68(1)(g)of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), and the clear interpretation of this provision by the Supreme Court, the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, owes the Nigerian state the inalienable duty to declare Senator Elisa Abbos’s seat vacant, in deference to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as a consequence of the latter’s defection from the PDP to the APC.
Meanwhile, the PDP has paid Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State a visit at the Government House, Enugu to probably stop him from an alleged plan to defect to the APC.
It was gathered that the Friday visit, led by the Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, and ex-Governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha, was to reassure Ugwuanyi that the party remained committed to being fair to all sections of the country and individual members in their determination to seek political positions through its platform.
Nigeria Lacks Space To Store Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine —- NIMR
The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research says there is not enough space at the moment to store the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccines which are expected to arrive next week.
The Director-General of NIMR, Prof. Babatunde Salako, said this during an interview with The PUNCH on Saturday.
Salako revealed that Nigeria had freezers in different parts of the country to store the Pfizer vaccines at -70 degrees centigrade.
He, however, said most of these freezers were occupied and were storing medical supplies which also need to be stored at a low temperature.
Responding to a question, Salako said, “Our facilities can hold Pfizer vaccines at -70 degrees but we don’t have enough of such freezers, and the ones we have are even full at the moment. We even just got one that we have yet to install but how many samples can it even hold?
“Even if we rearrange things, I doubt if we can store more than a few hundred or thousands.”
When asked if other facilities besides NIMR could hold such vaccines, he said, “There are many -80 freezers around in the research institutes and universities but the point is that many of them have samples inside them. So, even if we evacuate, I don’t think we will all be able to do more than a few thousands.”
Salako said storage was the minor problem, adding that the major challenge would be how to transport the vaccines at the temperature of -70 to rural areas.
The NIMR boss argued that in the future, Nigeria may need to buy other brands that do not require such low temperatures like Pfizer.
Salako noted that other brands like Oxford/AstraZeneca could be stored at normal freezer temperature while the Russian vaccine could also be stored at a temperature not as low as Pfizer.
He said, “The problem is not just about storing vaccines but moving it to the rural areas and maintaining that same temperature. For example, if you land in Lagos and you store it at -70 and it has to be transported over the creek somewhere, how do you move them? There are other ways but they will be very costly. They can store them with liquid nitrogen or even dry ice but it will cost a lot of money.
“AstraZeneca would have been better because it would stay at normal freeze temperature and I think even Russian vaccines can be stored at the same temperature but I think the government is going with Pfizer because the World Health Organisation has given it an emergency approval.
“But I think all the vaccines are now being deployed in many countries. So, we can do all of them rather than do just one considering the storage capacity for Pfizer. Even the government knows that we don’t have enough space but we can be taken in batches.”
Only God Can Give Victory Over Insecurity —– Femi Adesina
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, says Nigerians who fail to commit the security situation into the hands of God could be guilty of indirectly prolonging the war against insurgency.
Adesina said this in an article on Thursday titled, ‘The Decent for the Indecent, the Just for the Unjust’.
The President’s aide noted that a short viral video showed a soldier and four others singing that victory is from God alone.
Adesina, however, said many Nigerians had failed to understand that only God gives victory.
He wrote, “But victory is from God alone. That is what we must realize as Nigerians. Do we ever pray for our troops in the frontlines? Do we remember those youths, our pride, and strength, faced by death daily, as we sleep in the comfort of our homes, ensconced in the tender bosom of our wives?
“As we pray; God give me money. Give me a car. Give me a promotion. Kill my enemies. Do it now. Do we ever remember our soldiers? Ere you left your room this morning, did you think to pray…did you pray for our soldiers? Victory comes from God alone. If you don’t pray, you may be guilty of prolonging the war in North-East, North-west, North-central, and all over Nigeria.”
The President’s spokesman said rather than understand the fact that only God can give victory, some Nigerians had become wailers.
“Yes, victory is from God alone. But do some people know? Does it ever enter into their consciousness? They only wail: ‘this insurgency war has lasted too long. The banditry has demystified our military. They are cowards. The top guns don’t even want the battle to end.
“They are making money in billions.’ Okay. Making money in billions and wasting our soldiers, our youths, our future, and hope, in their hundreds and thousands because of blood money. That is all some people see; permanent cynics and sceptics, who know nothing of altruism, and whose God is their belly. They think only of pecuniary gain, nothing else,” Adesina said.
He said as the nation marks this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day, Nigerians should seize the opportunity to pray for the military and encourage them and not run them down.
JUST IN: Lagos Okays School Reopening January 18
The Lagos State Government has affirmed its earlier pronouncement that all public and private schools in Lagos State below tertiary level should resume on Monday, January 18, 2021, for the second term 2020/2021 academic session.
This affirmation was made today by the Honourable Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folasade Adefisayo while noting that this is in line with the Federal Government’s resolution after reaching a consensus with relevant stakeholders.