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INSECURITY: APC Senators Tired Of Defending Buhari – Senator Orker Jev

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The lawmaker, representing the Benue North-West senatorial district, Senator Orker Jev, in this interview with John Charles of The Punch, speaks about the six-week ultimatum the opposition Senators gave the President Muhammadu Buhari, to tackle insecurity in the country and other issues.

In the build up to the 2023 general elections, you declined to seek re-election, which paved the way for Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, to emerge as senatorial candidate unopposed. Were you afraid of the governor?

In fairness, let me say I am one of the luckiest politicians around. I have won five elections in my life. The first was my election into the state Assembly during the late General Sanni Abacha’s transition; we were not inaugurated but I won the election. Then, I won election thrice to the House of Representatives and now the Senate, making it five times.

So I count myself very lucky because I know how some people struggled to win one election and never got to win it.

If you understand the political landscape of Benue State, we emphasised fairness.

In our local parlance, it is known as ‘eat and give your brother’.

So, in the Benue North West, known as Zone B, there are two geo-political zones; the Jemgba and Minda axis.

So, in my estimation and the way I do my own things, I think it is unfair to say I want to continue. Though some politicians may insist on continuing until they are eased out, I don’t want my own case to be like that.

So, the second month after our inauguration in 2019, I told the governor that I would not be seeking re-election to the Senate. The governor asked me why, but I told him it was for fairness and that by 2023 it would be his turn. The governor, however, declined, saying that God had not spoken to him about it. But I told him that if he eventually decided not to contest, I would still not change my position. So, I told him that I was doing it in the spirit of fairness.

And a lot of people around him never believed me. They said that I was only trying to trick the governor, so I would pounce on him at the appropriate time.

At one point, the major opposition party in the state reached out to me and said that I should contest on their platform, saying that they knew that I would not get the nomination in the Peoples Democratic Party because of the governor’s factor, but I declined.

Basically, to answer your question directly, I thought it was fair that after 16 years the Jemgba occupied the senatorial seat, it should go to the other side, Minda.

Like you rightly said, in the spirit of fairness, why can’t this spirit prevail and the governorship seat rotate to Benue South senatorial district, known as Zone C, the Idoma?

Why not? I would take it if it was left to me and I had the power, but this one was within my power to take the decision and I took it. That is to show that I value fairness. When it comes to that matter, it is beyond me.

You see, at the last PDP governorship primary at the Aper Aku stadium, you will discover that the people of Zone C did not vote for their candidate.

Sometimes, certain things are beyond you. It is not for me to go and insist that this should happen. But I think we will get to a stage one day when such a thing will happen.

But for now, the average politician has their own calculation of some of these things. I don’t want to hold a forte or condemn anybody. If it is within my capacity to make a decision, I will take it just like I took it in the aforementioned.

It will interest you to know that a lot of people from the Minda axis who are supposed to benefit from my decision reached out to me to hold on to the senatorial position until they are ready, but I declined. So that is how politics is done. People talk about their own interests, but as for me, I have no apology for the decision I took. Any decision I take on what I stand for, I have no regret.

In 2019, when you defeated Senator George Akume, you did not allow the victory to overwhelm you as you declared that you remain Akume’s boy, but today you are close to the State Governor, Samuel Ortom. How do you strike a balance between Akume and Ortom?

From the first day I joined politics, I resisted the issue of godfatherism. I have leaders and I give them all their dues, but the idea of a godfather I abhor because I have read so much about and I see it is not a positive phenomenon.

Even now, I am dissuading my people not to abuse anybody on social media, especially my leader, Senator Akume. I started politics with him (Akume) during the Abacha transition programme when I contested a House of Assembly seat and he wanted to be governor until we parted ways around 2017.

I did politics with him, we had our differences, and I left him and crossed over to the governor. The truth is that no relationship is perfect, even between husband and wife, but the good news is that whenever I have an issue with him (Ortom), he is very approachable, and I express my point of view, and we resolve the issue; unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the other.

Opposition Senators slammed six weeks’ warning on the President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle the security situation in the country or face impeachment. Was it an empty threat?

Well, that day, we went into executive session. I think only one person among all the senators present objected to the impeachment.

Almost everyone, regardless of party affiliation, was dissatisfied with the state of the country.

Everybody has agreed that insecurity is the number one problem we have in this country. At the point we were talking, it had come to the nation’s capital. There are some representatives who can no longer go to their places again because of insecurity in their areas. Now it has come to the nation’s capital, so where are you going to run to?

So, the whole thing was driving home to everyone, and we have some people who have been core supporters of the President for the past three years or so, not just the APC but hard core supporters, as I always cite Senator Bokachua, who is still a member of the APC as we speak. But the assault on the capital territory is a tipping point for everybody, including the hard-core supporters of Mr. President.

Of course, several other issues were discovered, but that was the core issue. So the insecurity has reached the stage that the APC senators can no longer come out to defend the president.

For instance, when I appeared on Channels TV, the anchor of the programme told me that to balance it, he had invited an APC senator but none of them came to defend the president on the programme.

So also, I was invited to a programme at Radio Nigeria. As I prepared to honour the invitation, I saw a text message from the anchor that they were calling off the programme because there were efforts to get another senator from the other side but nobody was ready to come.

Nobody is happy with what is happening in the country and no one is ready to stake his neck to defend what is indefensible. Some of us, even as opposition people, don’t seriously expect that the President will be impeached, but like a Tiv proverb, which translates to ‘there is no decent way of crying.’ So it was our cry to the President to do something about insecurity.

So, let us hope that in those six weeks he will wake up because I heard what the spokesman for the president said which is very unfortunate. They think their job is to come and defend what is indefensible.

The other time, one of the spokesmen was on air calling senators anarchists for doing our constitutional duty instead of focusing on why we raised that issue, and what we said was that insecurity has gotten out of hand.

Have they forgotten that the man said he was coming to solve insecurity problems and was given the opportunity to address the bare minimum of what he promised, but he was unable to do so, and you are saying that no president can solve his country’s problems?

In other climes, Governor Samuel Ortom should have been applauded for sounding the alarm earlier than now that it would not be a surprise if one day these bandits entered the villa.

Rather, he (Ortom) was abused and called names by the Presidency, and this is the situation we are in today. These people are so daring and have threatened to kidnap the President. They once attacked the convoy of the President, the most protected man in the country today.

In the event that he (Mr. President) refuses to wake up, what is going to happen?

Let me tell you that impeachment is the only option we are seriously considering. I am talking from my vantage point, although some of us are expecting him to sit up. Whether it succeeds or not, this is a constitutional matter. Our constitution provides for impeachment.

Credit: The Punch

BIG STORY

NDLEA Nabs 60-Yr-Old Grandma, Pregnant Woman, Others Over Illegal Drug [PHOTOS]

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Two women, a 60-year-old grandmother, and a pregnant woman were among those arrested during interdiction operations by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) across five states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja in the past week, during which 5,527.15 kilograms of methamphetamine and cannabis sativa, as well as 132,090 tablets of tramadol and 2,000 bottles of codeine were recovered.

A statement on Sunday by the spokesman of the anti-narcotics agency, Femi Babafemi said the grandma, Mrs. Ibinosun Esther was arrested in Ibadan, Oyo state in a follow-up operation following the seizure of 5.5 kilograms Loud variant of cannabis imported into the country from South Africa.

According to Babafemi, the grandma claimed the consignment, was sent to her by her daughter and concealed in two giant Speakers as part of a consolidated cargo that arrived at the NAHCO import shed of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja Lagos on board an Air Peace Airline flight.

In a related development, NDLEA operatives also on Saturday 26th November intercepted 1.4 kilograms of methamphetamine concealed inside custard tins packed among cosmetics and foodstuffs going to Brazil via Doha on a Qatar Airways flight.

Babafemi said a cargo agent, Salako Omolara who brought the bag containing the illicit drug to the airport, and an intending passenger to Brazil, Anyanwu Christian who was to travel with the consignment were promptly arrested.

He said another attempt by a freight agent, Adebisi Aina to export 3,000 tablets of tramadol concealed in motor spare parts to Banjul, Gambia through the NAHCO export shed was equally thwarted by operatives who seized the consignment and arrested her on Monday 28th November, while a follow-up operation to Ebute-Meta area of Lagos the following day, Tuesday 29th November led to the arrest of the alleged actual owner, Afam Chibuke, who is a spare parts seller.

He noted that this was followed by the seizure of 100,000 tablets of Royal brand of Tramadol 200mg with a gross weight of 68.9 kilograms imported from Karachi, Pakistan on Ethiopian Airlines at the SAHCO import shed.

He disclosed that in Abuja, operatives stormed the warehouse of a notorious drug lord and an ex-convict, Ibrahim Momoh, alias ‘Ibrahim Bendel’ who escaped from prison custody to return to his criminal trade and recovered 81 jumbo bags of cannabis weighing 1,278 kilograms

He said though Though the fleeing drug dealer is still at large and is wanted by the agency, his warehouse keeper, 55-year-old Ghanaian, Richard Forson was arrested.

He noted that Ibrahim Momoh was first arrested on 27th November 2014 with the same substance weighing 385.1 kilograms He subsequently prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to seven and a half years in prison on 22nd April 2020 but escaped from jail after three months.

He also disclosed that no fewer than 2,000 bottles of codeine-based syrup were seized in a commercial bus by operatives on Friday 2nd December along Lokoja – Abuja expressway.

In Rivers state, operatives on Saturday arrested a 29-year-old pregnant woman, Kate Ibinabo with 34.4 kilograms  cannabis sativa in Okrika area of the state.

He said the Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (Retd), has however directed that she be granted administrative bail pending when she’s delivered of her baby and thereafter return for her prosecution because at the time of her arrest, she’s in her ninth month of pregnancy.

In Ondo state, 241 bags of the psychoactive substance with a gross weight of 3,133 kilogrammes were recovered from a building at Ilale Cashew, Ehinogbe, Owo, last Tuesday; and at least, 507.9 kilogrammes of cannabis were also seized during a raid at the hideout of a fleeing drug dealer in Mushin area of Lagos last Thursday.

In Cross River, 53 jumbo bags of cannabis sativa weighing 567.05 kilogrammes were seized from three suspects: Bassey Boniface, 38; Effiong Akiba, 30 and Ngbong Raymond, 45 at Mpara junction, Odukpani local government area last Thursday while conveying the consignment in a bus marked CKK 74 AA.

Babafemi said operatives equally arrested another suspect, Ali Mohammed along Potiskum- Damaturu road after they found 29,090 tablets of tramadol in his personal Honda car marked ABC 914 RW coming from Gombe to Damaturu, Yobe state.

Meanwhile, while commending the officers and men of the MMIA, Rivers, Ondo, Lagos, Cross River and Yobe commands of the agency for the arrests and seizures, Marwa charged them and their counterparts across other formations to continue to step up their offensives against drug cartels.

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13% Derivation: I Owe No One Apology For Commending Buhari — Wike

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The executive governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, says he does not owe anyone an apology for commending President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the payment of funds owed to states in the Niger Delta since 1999.

Wike spoke on Saturday during the 2022 Rivers state honours and awards ceremony, in Port Harcourt, the state capital.

On November 18, the Rivers governor had announced that the Buhari-led government paid his state and other Niger Delta states funds owed from the 13 percent derivation fund.

Wike said the funds paid by the federal government have significantly aided his infrastructural strides in the state.

Wike’s comments elicited varied reactions as Nigerians called on other state governors who had received the fund to account for it.

On Friday, the presidency also said nine oil-producing states received a total of N625.43 billion as 13 percent oil derivation, subsidy and SURE-P refunds from the federation account between 2021 and 2022.

The states that benefitted from the derivation refunds include Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers.

Wike said he is currently battling “problem” because he appreciated Buhari for approving the refund to the nine oil-producing states.

“Instead of human beings to say they appreciate you, they become envious that why were you appreciated. Because I said Buhari thank you, I’m having problem today,” he said.

“I’m not a fan of Buhari. I told the honourable attorney-general but when a man has done well say he has done well in that area. On the other area, he has not done well, you equally say so.

“I have no apology to anybody. Today, Wike did this and that projects. Look if Buhari did not release the money, from 1999, which my party did not even release, I won’t have done what I did.

“I don’t give a damn to anybody. I don’t care. I got the money. I’m not a fan of Buhari. He has not done well in so many areas but with this payment of money, he did well.

“My friends and party members may not be happy. Make una no vex oo. This one, Buhari did well. He gave me money and I used it to do something for people in Rivers state. The other ones will talk about their own later.”

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BIG STORY

2023: Peter Obi Finally Releases Manifesto, Promises To Move Nigeria From “Consuming To Producing”, Others

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Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), has unveiled his manifesto.

Obi unveiled the 72-page manifesto via his Twitter handle on Sunday.

The manifesto is titled “It’s POssible: Our Pact with Nigerians”.

In the manifesto, the former Anambra governor listed seven priorities his administration would concentrate on if elected president in 2023.

Over the past few days, Obi had come under criticism in some quarters, especially among members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), for not having a manifesto.

In October, the LP presidential distanced himself from a manifesto attributed to him.

Obi had said he would personally release the LP manifesto to the public when it is ready.

In the manifesto released on Sunday, the former Anambra governor promised to move Nigeria from a consumption economy to a production-centred economy.

The LP presidential candidate said he would end banditry and insurgency if elected president.

“Restructure the polity through effective legal and institutional reforms to entrench the rule of law, aggressively fight corruption, reduce cost of governance, and establish an honest and efficient civil service,” the manifesto reads.

“Leapfrog Nigeria into the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) through the application of scientific and technological innovations to create a digital economy.

“Build expansive and world-class infrastructure for efficient powers supply, rail, road and air transportation, and pipeline network, through integrated public-private partnerships, and entrepreneurial public sector governance.

“Enhance the human capital of Nigerian youths for productivity and global competitiveness through investment in world-class scholarship and research, quality healthcare, and entrepreneurship education.

“Conduct an afro-centric diplomacy that protects the rights of Nigerian citizens abroad and advances the economic interests of Nigerians and Nigerian businesses in a changing world.”

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