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PDP Asks INEC To Declare Tambuwal Sokoto Gov-Elect

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Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, urged Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to save its time and resources by declaring Aminu Tambuwal winner of the election held on March 9.

The party, which stated this while reacting to claim by the umpire that it was under pressure to declare the governor winner of the polls, said given the margin of victory recorded on the first ballot, there was no reason not to declare Tambuwal duly elected.

Spokesman of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “Our position has not changed and we insist that His Excellency, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal should be declared winner of the governorship election in Sokoto State.

“If we go by the figure of votes collated so far, the governor has satisfied the provisions of the law because he won clearly in almost all the local governments of the states.

“What are they waiting for to declare him duly elected? We are a party that has respect for the laws of the land. So, we advise our members and supporters to remain calm because at the end of the day, victory is ours.”

Meanwhile, barely a week to the March 23 date for the supplementary governorship election in some states, pressure continues to mount on INEC to declare Governor Aminu Tambuwal the winner of the March 9 guber poll in Sokoto State.

There were indications over the weekend that the tension in the seat of the Caliphate may worsen if the incumbent governor who was enjoying a clear lead in the poll is denied victory.

A top politician from Sokoto who spoke on condition of anonymity, said tension was building up in the state over fears of plans to undemocratically stop Tambuwal for another term in office.

Our source alleged that though the governor appears to be the popular choice of his people as shown in the collated result of the guber poll, the power brokers of All Progressives Congress, APC, were bent on taking the state which they consider strategic to the party’s future political plans.

The source said: “The powers that be should declare Tambuwal as the authentic winner of the March 9 governorship election in Sokoto State. The collated result showed that he won the election by the simple majority, which is what the constitution provides. They should not set the seat of the Caliphate on fire.

“Remember that even President Muhammadu Buhari won his election by the same simple majority. He was declared winner, even when elections were yet to be conducted in areas where the exercise could not hold because of one reason or the other.

“A common man on the street of Sokoto knows that Tambuwal won the election. There were so many hurdles the APC which controls the centre put before him ahead of the election but he surmounted them all.

So, what they could not get democratically, they want by all means through the back door in collaboration with INEC.”

Over the weekend, this newspaper gathered that there were fears in the PDP, of a plan by the ruling party and INEC to repeat what happened in the Osun governorship election where the PDP lost to the APC under controversial circumstances.

A video recording between the INEC Admin Secretary in Sokoto and a collation officer which trended over the weekend further escalated fears of interference in the coming supplementary election.

BIG STORY

2023 Presidency: I Won’t Reject Calls To Contest —– Tinubu

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The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, says he will not reject calls to contest for the Presidency in 2023.

The former Lagos State governor stated this after a closed-door meeting with leaders of the Northern Alliance Committee in Abuja.

While refusing to officially declare his ambition, the 69-year-old politician said political consultations were ongoing.

“I am not going to turn them down but I will still effectively and widely consult, particularly brainstorm with my friends and find a date to come out openly and tell Nigerians.

“But the President is still in office. I don’t want to distract him from all the challenges he might face today. So, don’t muddle the political waters. Consult, make our program known to the people later. And the intention is clear. So you can keep guessing,” Tinubu added.

Endorsing Tinubu for 2023, the leader of the Northern Alliance Committee, Lawal Munir, said the meeting resolved to work for the actualization of the ambition of the APC National Leader to the next level.

Munir, who said they had a fruitful meeting with Tinubu, disclosed that the committee resolved to support him come 2023 due to his superlative qualities.

He added, “The meeting ended very well. We are working for him. We are working for him because we know he will win the election when the time comes.”

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BIG STORY

Pressure On Buhari To Reject Electoral Amendment Bill

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President Muhammadu Buhari is under pressure to withhold assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, it was learnt yesterday.

Governors are urging the President to decline assent until the conflict over the direct primary is resolved.

However, leaders of civil society groups, who organized a protest in Abuja, advised the president not to pander to the wishes of governors who opposed the primary model from the onset.

The National Assembly had transmitted the Bill to the president on November 19, following its passage.

The President has until December 19 to either sign or decline assent.

According to a source, there is suspense as “the president has expanded his scope of consultations with stakeholders” before taking a final decision.

The source said senators and House of Representatives members are under pressure from governors to review the Electoral Act and retain the indirect primary.

It was also learnt that the Presidency may seek a review of the Act, if the pressure persists.

However, the pressure forced senators to split into different caucuses on the demand of governors and some forces in the presidency have created division among senators.

In one of the caucus meetings, some ranking senators said they can back down on direct primary, if a proviso is added or agreed upon to give the Right of First Refusal to serving senators or members of the House of Representatives.

But members of the House of Representatives were adamant yesterday.

They invited the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to explain the likely cost implication of direct primary.

An unconfirmed report said N500 billion additional cost may be incurred by the commission if the direct primary is adopted.

Although the president had requested for comments from INEC on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, the agency has not acted on the president’s request.

Also, it was learnt that some forces in the presidency had been uncomfortable with the cost and security implications of direct primary.

The forces were said to be pushing for a review of the Act by the President.

A principal officer in the Senate, who spoke in confidence, said: “We are under intense pressure from governors and some stakeholders to review the Electoral Act and drop direct primary.

“It has got to a ridiculous extent that each of the 36 governors is now engaging National Assembly Caucus in every state.

“While President Muhammadu Buhari was still consulting, we were surprised that some forces in the Presidency have joined the fray to prevail on National Assembly to retain indirect primary.”

A ranking member of the Red Chamber said the pressure has forced senators to meet at different caucus levels.

The senator said: “On Thursday (yesterday) alone, I attended three different meetings bordering on demand from the National Assembly to jettison direct primary.

“We know the governors are jittery. We also deliberately included direct primary in the Electoral Act to checkmate the excesses of these governors and godfathers imposing candidates on the parties.

“In one of our meetings, some senators tabled another request as a condition for any review. The affected senators said they can back down on direct primary if a proviso is added or agreed upon to give the right of First Refusal to a serving Senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

“We may, however, be heading for a stalemate because members of the House of Representatives appeared unwilling on Thursday to review the Act.”

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BIG STORY

2023 Presidency: Nigerians Should Wait For Tinubu To Speak In January —- Fashola

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Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has urged Nigerians to wait till January 2022 for the National Leader of All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, to declare whether he will be running for president in 2023 or not.

He stated this on Channels Television’s ‘Hard Copy’ programme aired on Friday night.

Of recent, posters and billboards advertising the rumoured presidential bid of Tinubu who was Lagos governor from May 1999 to May 2007 have been seen in major cities including Lagos and Abuja.

Though Tinubu has yet to declare his intention to contest any office in 2023, there have been reports and veiled indications that he might be interested in the exalted seat.

It was earlier reported that the SouthWest Agenda 2023, a political movement mobilising support for Tinubu to contest the 2023 presidential election, was inaugurated in Lagos in October by Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and other party chieftains.

Tinubu, who celebrated his 69th birthday in March 2021 and command an arguably large following of political loyalists, has been reported to nurse presidential ambition in 2023, even as political debates get intense for a Southern President after the eight-year regime of the incumbent, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), who is from Katsina State, North-West Nigeria.

Some groups and persons have also said aside from Tinubu, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi; and Fashola are equally capable to be Nigeria’s President.

When asked whether he is interested in becoming the President of Nigeria, Fashola said, “It is a very tough responsibility, a very tough job; I don’t envy those who have held that office and I don’t envy those who aspire to take it as well.”

Asked whether he is speaking for any aspirant come 2023, the minister said, “As far as I am aware, nobody has said, ‘I want to be Nigeria’s President’. There are people speaking for people. Nobody has come out, we are not at that stage yet.

“I can’t venture out and say that I will speak for X or Y. Let the person come out and say, ‘I want to serve Nigeria’.

“It pains me sometimes when we see that very important job and responsibility to, ‘My people said’. I think the whole sense of it should be that, ‘I am able, I have looked at myself, give me your problem, you go to sleep’.”

On whether he will support Tinubu’s rumoured 2023 presidential bid, the two-term ex-governor of Lagos said, “I saw him (Tinubu) last week, he didn’t tell me he is running for office and to the best of my knowledge, the last statement he made on it is that people will know in January.”

Fashola also said he has not asked Tinubu whether he is interested in the 2023 Presidency or not. “No, I didn’t ask him, I just went to ask how was doing. He has issued a statement that, ‘I will speak in January, so let us wait till January,” he said.

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