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PDP Crisis: BoT Convenes Emergency Meeting In Effort To Rescue Atiku’s Campaign

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The Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will this week meet to deliberate on the crisis rocking the party.

The meeting is part of a larger plan to rescue the campaign of the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, following the boycott of its campaign by some aggrieved governors of the party.

According to The Punch, the advisory body is worried by the growing feud between the party and loyalists of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, and may ask the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu to resign.

Although details of the meeting and date were sketchy as of the time of filing this report, the immediate past BoT chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin, disclosed to Punch on Monday that members of the board were truly disturbed as the crisis showed no sign of abating.

He said, “There is a (BoT) meeting this week but I don’t know the date yet. What we are interested in is that we must speak with one voice and stay with the party’s plans and objectives to enable us to win the elections in 2023. We must encourage our members to rally other Nigerians to come out and vote for Atiku Abubakar and Ifeanyi Okowa.”

Against the backdrop of calls for Ayu to resign, the BoT is expected to take a categorical stand on the matter, including possible demand for Ayu’s removal in the interest of the party.

Jibrin enjoined party organs to remain united even as he took a swipe at the National Working Committee over what he called the “division” in its fold.

“We must not allow division like we are now witnessing in the NWC. All other organs must understand that the party constitution is supreme,” he said, warning that “Once the NWC members accommodate loopholes in the administration of the party, the PDP is finished.”

Jibrin’s diplomatic stance, however, contrasts with his fellow BoT member and former Minister in the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

The ex-minister who does not want his name in print so “as not to preempt the outcome of the meeting” said, “We will look at the bigger picture and that picture is what is good for the party. We can’t be going into a major election with our house in disarray. Whatever sacrifice is needed for us to move forward, we will do it but I can’t be categorical so as not to preempt the outcome of the meeting.

“We must not be afraid to speak the truth. We must speak truth to power, though not everybody will like it. Whatever will affect our chances of winning the elections must give way.”

Speaking in the same vein, a former principal officer in the National Assembly wants the BoT to be guided in its deliberations by “those things that matter including justice, fair play and equity.”

Pleading for his name not to be mentioned, he stressed, “Treat the South as equal partners in this project. Interpret or process this and draw your conclusion on whether I want Ayu to go or remain in office.

“I have just an issue to emphasise here. If the chairman is quoted as making a promise that if a northerner emerged as the party’s presidential candidate that he will quit, what are we still talking about here?”

Although Ayu enjoys the support of over two-thirds of the members of the NWC as of now, there are chances things may change in the weeks ahead as five of the governors elected on its platform have vowed not to have anything to do with the Presidential Campaign Council unless Ayu is removed from office.

The governors; Nyesom Wike, Okezie Ikpeazu, Seyi Makinde, Samuel Ortom and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Rivers, Abia, Oyo, Benue and Enugu states have since turned their backs on Atiku, insisting on the resignation of Ayu and his replacement with a southerner.

BoT meets Atiku

In a related development, the Wabara-led BoT committee on Sunday met the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar over the crisis rocking the party and the way forward for the party.

The BoT committee, it was learnt, met Atiku in Abuja where discussions were held on how the crisis of confidence threatening to bring down the party was discussed.

The BoT, which is due to meet the Rivers State governor on Tuesday, emphasised the need to resolve the crisis facing the party ahead of the poll. They also discussed the various options the party could explore to resolve the crisis and placate the Wike-led aggrieved governors as soon as possible and begin campaigns for the 2023 poll.

A top PDP chieftain privy to discussions at the meeting said, “The BoT members met Atiku in Abuja on Sunday. Remember they had met the vice presidential candidate, Ifeanyi Okowa on Saturday. The meeting with Atiku was important because they needed to know the presidential candidate’s mind ahead of the meeting with Wike in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.“During the meeting, they discussed how the crisis could be resolved and how the party can placate the aggrieved governors before the campaign begins in earnest. But as usual, the presidential candidate said he was ready to work with the aggrieved governors. Remember he also had met with Wike on Thursday. So, he explained the challenges the party is having about asking Ayu to go, especially the constitutional crisis it may create. However, they also held some private discussions on what to do to placate the Wike faction.”

Also, it was learnt that the Special Reconciliatory Committee of the PDP would meet with Wike on Tuesday, (today).

The Chairman of the PDP BoT and former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara, made the disclosure in an interview with The Punch on Monday night.

He also dismissed speculations that the five PDP governors who met in Enugu on Sunday were plotting to quit the party and work against its interest in the 2023 election, saying “nobody is leaving the umbrella.”

When asked to give details of his meeting with the presidential candidate of PDP, Atiku, he said, “We should exercise some patience because the Special Reconciliation Committee is completing its assignment now. That is why we visited our principal (Atiku) on Sunday; He is our President in waiting and that is the major reason why we have these problems going on in the party.

He added, ‘’But as I will always say, we will get to resolve all these problems. The PDP is a party and we have problems here and there and no family would want to disintegrate. We are on course.”

Asked when the report of the reconciliation meeting would be ready for submission, he said, “The fact that I am the party chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP does not make me a dictator. I am only first among equals.

“There will always be a chairman and in this case, I am only acting. I do not think I have any authority to state the decision of the BoT. I belong to a larger camp. It is really going to be a win-win situation; we want to win the 2023 election. Nigerians want us in the Aso Villa.”

The BoT chair also gave the assurance that the aggrieved governors would not defect from the party.

Wabara said, “The election is about four months away and we should exercise some patience. It is not yet Uhuru, but we will get there. The five governors are meeting to find solutions to the PDP problem.

“Nobody is leaving the umbrella. The governors have said repeatedly that they will remain in the party. That already is a victory for the party. But for them to remain, there could be some constitutionality, frayed nerves will be pacified, which is what they are doing now.

“As I said, the BoT will make its report known. the Special Reconciliation Committee led by me would be meeting with Governor Wike on Tuesday (today) and we pray and hope that the meeting will be successful and further guide the BoT on what decisions to take.”

Meanwhile, Wike has insisted there will be no peace deal until Ayu resigns his position.

The party has been plunged into crisis since its presidential primary in May. Wike, who lost to Atiku, had expressed dissatisfaction with the exercise, stating that he was unfairly treated by the PDP and was not carried along.

Reports said he was further dissatisfied with the emergence of Governor Okowa of Delta State as Atiku’s running mate.

Wike had insisted that Ayu must resign if his camp must reach a truce with the candidate but Atiku had said he had no powers to remove the chairman.

Atiku also said if the chairman must be removed, due process must be followed by the party’s constitution.

After a series of meetings between them and their representatives failed to address the crisis, Wike and some of his colleagues and allies boycotted the inauguration of the party’s presidential campaign council on September 28.

Others who also boycotted the event were Prof Jerry Gana; and former governors Ayo Fayose, Jonah Jang, Donald Duke and Olusegun Mimiko. A former deputy national chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George, was also absent.

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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BIG STORY

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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