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The national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was on Sunday accused of colluding with the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Tinubu is accused of colluding with the PDP in order to scuttle the re-election bid of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The accusation was made by a group within the APC under the aegis of the APC National Vanguard in a communique issued after its emergency meeting held in Abuja. The communique was signed by its zonal coordinators – Abdulrazaq Tewogbade (South West); Clarence Temple (South South); Frederick Nwabueze (South East); Stephen Onche (North Central); Mustapha Ngotho (North West); and Mohammed Dambazzau (North East). It reads: “Tinubu is acting out a pre-planned agenda to sack Chief Oyegun as APC National Chairman before the forthcoming national convention of the party scheduled for June 2018.”“With the successful removal of the party Chairman, President Buhari’s re-election bid may be put to jeopardy. Reliable sources in Tinubu’s political camp have confirmed to us that there is a plot by a faction of the PDP and Asiwaju to create chaos and discord within the APC.

“Politics should be played without bitterness, envy and acrimony, recent events in our party, APC have proved the contrary. It is surprising that our great party is being thrown into further crisis by those who should protect our interest and ensure unity because a house divided against itself cannot stand.“Otherwise, why would somebody entrusted with the mission of reconciling aggrieved parties to pave way for APC national convention be throwing stones in a glass house? Our independent investigations have revealed that Tinubu is working for the opposition parties and PDP to cause crisis that would lead to the sudden death of APC.

“We have it on good authority that some PDP members have scheduled a meeting with Tinubu next week in the United Kingdom. We commend the maturity of Odigie-Oyegun and his response. “After President Buhari entrusted with the assignment of reconciling members of APC, we would have expected that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu would go about the task with tact and humility. “But to the contrary, the first thing he did was to create more discord within the party by going after constituted authority of the APC. “The question to ask is: from where does Asiwaju derive his authority? In whose interest is he creating crisis? Does the task of reconciling aggrieved party members convey any authority on him to attempt to discredit the party chairman in public domain? We believe the evil people among us won’t go unpunished.”

BIG STORY

Wike, Fubara Feud Splits PDP As 60 Reps Demand Party Chairman’s Resignation

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A group of sixty House of Representatives members, who were elected on the Peoples Democratic Party platform, on Monday called for the resignation of Umar Damagum, the party’s acting national chairman.

The event represented a new turn in the political battle between Nyesom Wike, the minister of the Federal Capital Territory, and Siminalayi Fubara, the governor of Rivers State.

The 60 lawmakers’ demand for Damagum’s resignation was predicated on his alleged silence during the Rivers State political impasse involving Wike and Fubara.

Fubara and Wike’s loyalists have been at loggerheads in a political crisis in Rivers State.

Recaal that Fubara fiercely opposed and survived a move to impeach him made by 27 Wike-supporting lawmakers in October of last year.

An intervention by President Bola Tinubu last year helped to douse the tension for a while, however, the political gladiators seem to be back in the trenches lately, signaling the breakdown of the agreement reached at the meeting presided over by Tinubu.

Last week, the 27 pro-Wike lawmakers threatened to reactivate the impeachment move against Fubara, a situation that has seen the governor’s supporters pushing back and questioning the legitimacy of the 27 lawmakers on the grounds that they had defected from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress in the heat of the crisis last year.

On Monday, 60 lawmakers led by the PDP member representing Ideato North/Ideato South Federal Constituency, Imo State, Ikenga Ugochinyere, demanded the resignation of Damagum, accusing him of, among others, siding with Wike and working for the ruling APC, a party that gave Wike the FCT ministerial appointment.

The 60 lawmakers alleged that the 27 pro-Wike lawmakers seeking to impeach Fubara had Damagum’s backing.

Speaking on their behalf, Ugochinyere said, “Have Nigerians wondered why Damagun kept quiet while 27 members of Rivers State House of Assembly elected on the platform of PDP left the party? He kept quiet while they were threatening to impeach a governor in his party. Nigerians will be shocked to hear that Damagun was consulted and is fully aware of the entire details of the plots to impeach the Rivers State Governor and he gave his approval to the plot, yet he refers to himself as a chairman of a party. The shamelessness in this entire episode is limitless.

“If Rabiu Kwankwaso could leave the PDP and build a party and win Kano State with several federal and state lawmakers and Peter Obi also left the PDP to grow the Labour Party to win Abia State as well as several federal and state lawmakers, then Damagun and his allies could as well leave the PDP and go ahead to support the APC since their spirit is already out of the PDP.”

The 60 PDP Reps accused Damagum of plotting to use the Federal High Court to legalise the extension of the tenure of Rivers State Local Government Areas Chairmen believed to have the ears of Wike.

“We have now received credible intelligence of a plot to use the Federal High Court to secure a secret ex parte order that will attempt to legalise the illegal extension of the about-to-expire tenure of LGA chairmen in Rivers State, which was carried out by the former members of the state Assembly who lost legitimacy as lawmakers, the very moment they decamped to the APC knowing full well that there was no crisis in the PDP, hence, their seats as lawmakers became vacant immediately the remaining legitimate members declared the seats vacant.

“We are raising this alarm in view of the legitimacy of the desperate move which if not halted can lead to anarchy and collapse of constitutional governance. We want to call on the Chief Judge of Federal High Court, Justice Omotosho and other eminent judges to be aware of these plots that those behind it are already celebrating that the ex parte order is in their pocket awaiting release to the media even when the case has not been heard.

“To our respected Chief Judge, we are compelled to publicly bring this shocking development to your attention for the interest of justice and preservation of the image of our nation’s judiciary,” the group further said.

But the Minority Leader of the House, Mr Kingsley Chinda, who is a known political associate of the FCT Minister, was conspicuously absent at Monday’s briefing, fuelling insinuations that the war between Wike and Fubara had extended beyond the shores of Rivers State.

The lawmakers demanded that Damagum should immediately leave to pave the way for the emergence of a new PDP Chairman from the North Central zone of the country.

Damagum became the PDP acting National Chairman after Wike orchestrated the removal of the party’s acting Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, who is from Benue State in the North Central geopolitical zone.

Ahead of the PDP’s  98th National Executive Committee holding on April 18, The PUNCH learnt that governors elected on the party platform are divided over who will replace and complete Ayu’s tenure.

Speaking further, Ugochinyere said, “We demand the immediate resignation of Damagun as acting National Chairman of the PDP for anti-party activities.  The North Central zone should be allowed to produce the acting Chairman as clearly stated in the PDP Constitution. Watch us reconsider our membership of the party in the months ahead if the right thing is not done.

“We also call for the removal of Damagun by the National Executive Committee of the party with further sanctions against him for his anti-party activities.

“It is our call on Damagum to immediately resign so that the party can ‘midwive’ a process and hand over to someone from the North Central in line with the provisions of our great party.

“It is also our call to the leaders of our party from the North Central, Governor Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau, Senators David Mark, Bukola Saraki, Abba Moro, Gabriel Suswam and Babangida Aliyu, to rise up now and save the soul of the part.”

  • More allegations

The 60 Reps further accused Damagum of “doctoring of caretaker committee members lists in Rivers state and at least 10 other states.”

Ugochinyere said, “This story is quite unfortunate and I can confirm to you all that it is not a rumour but fact.

“We have obtained very credible intelligence on the ongoings in our party’s Wadata House National Secretariat and it does not sound right at all. We currently have in the PDP a national leadership that is in bed with the APC and is working extremely hard to hand over the party to the APC.

“Following the removal of Iyorchia Ayu as National Chairman of our party and assumption of office by Damagun, who was elected as Deputy National Chairman to act in his stead, the party has only known misfortune and has abdicated its responsibility as the leading opposition party in the country. That role, which Nigerians would have loved the PDP to play as an institution it truly is, has been abdicated for a plate of porridge.”

Describing Damagum as unfit to lead the party to battle, the lawmakers said the Yobe politician “was only constitutionally allowed to step in, hold the forte and ‘midwive’ the process through which the North Central zone, where the chairmanship of the party was originally zoned, should present another person who would complete the slot of the North Central.

“Not only did Damagun hold tight unto the seat for well over a year now, he has abdicated every responsibility of the office of the chairman of PDP and is very comfortable serving APC interests.

“There had been an agreement of a broad spectrum of the party leadership when it became clear that Damagum was not interested in conducting elections but to appoint caretaker committees in at least 19 states where the tenures of the state and local government leaders were expiring to extend the tenures of these officials by three months.

“This decision, which was made to cover every state, was the wisdom that restrained Damagum from announcing a wholesale list of a majority of caretaker committees populated by APC agents masquerading as PDP members.

“However, despite that decision to retain everybody, Mr Damagun went ahead and received a list of APC agents and announced them as members and leaders of the PDP local government caretaker committees wholesomely in Rivers State and partially in at least 10 other states. This is a direct attempt to kill the PDP and ensure it goes into extinction.”

The lawmakers also accused Damagum of failing to retain most of the states in the South-East, noting that currently, the party is only in charge in Enugu State, “which it literally snatched from the jaw of a lion.”

The aggrieved lawmakers added that the party “lost Benue, Abia and Sokoto states. The PDP leadership kept mute while PDP state and federal lawmakers lost their seats at the tribunal and Court of Appeal on grounds that were obviously untenable, which have since been upturned by the Supreme Court.

“If the party had spoken up and raised the necessary alarm, all our colleagues in Imo and Plateau states, particularly, would have been with us in the Assembly today.”

Addressing the National Chairman frontally, Ugochinyere said, “You have a chance to resign immediately, leave or be embarrassed out of the party. At least 60 of us in the PDP in the National Assembly will sever all relations with the Damagun leadership until he leaves office. At the scheduled National Executive Committee meeting, if Damagun, by any maneuvering, however, conjectured, remains in office with the help of his APC friends at the end of the day, the party is now heading to the final slaughter shed.”

At the briefing were lawmakers representing Okehi/Adavi Federal Constituency, Kogi State, Abdulmaleek Danga; member representing Askira-Uba/Hawul Federal Constituency, Borno State, Midala Balami and and member, representing Ikara/Kubau, Kaduna State, Aliyu Abdullahi.

Attempts to reach Damagum were unsuccessful as he neither answered calls placed to his mobile line nor responded to a text message.

  • Governors split over Damagum

The question of whether Damagum should go or leave will take centre stage at the PDP  98th NEC meeting slated for April 18.

It was gathered that the governors elected on the party platform are divided over who will replace and complete the tenure of the suspended National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu.

Recall that the executive members of Igyorov ward, Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State, expressed a vote of no confidence in Ayu due to purported anti-party activities in March 2023.

Following this and Terhide Utaan’s ex parte motion, the court stopped Ayu from parading himself as the national chairman of the party. Subsequently, the party appointed Damagum as acting National Chairman.

Ahead of the NEC meeting, an investigation by The PUNCH indicates that negotiations have commenced among various party organs, including the PDP Governors Forum, regarding the replacement of Ayu.

It was gathered that the 12 governors elected on the platform of the PDP are split in their opinions: some advocate for Damagum’s confirmation to finish Ayu’s term, while others prefer the North Central region to nominate a replacement, who will complete Ayu’s tenure in accordance with the party’s constitution.

A prominent member of the PDP, who preferred not to be named in print, hinted that the involvement of Wike, along with the 2023 PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and the interests of the governors for 2027, have deepened the division within the forum ahead of NEC.

The decision by Atiku not to select Wike as his vice presidential candidate following his victory over him in the presidential primary led to a rift in their relationship and, consequently, within the PDP.

Subsequently, Wike actively campaigned against Atiku’s presidential bid, throwing his support behind the Bola Tinubu of the APC.

A highly placed and authoritative party chieftain told one of our correspondents that: “The governors play a crucial role in the party’s decision-making process, but currently, there is division among the PDP governors. Some are advocating for and safeguarding Wike’s interests, while others are doing the same for Atiku’s interests in party matters.

“As the upcoming NEC approaches, some governors are pushing for Damagum to be replaced, suggesting that the North Central region nominate a replacement to complete Ayu’s term as per the party’s constitution. Conversely, others prefer Damagum’s confirmation to finish Ayu’s term, aiming for the party to elect a new NWC in 2025.

“This division reflects the politics of 2027, as Ayu’s replacement will set the stage for the 2025 PDP National Elective Convention and the NWC that will be elected in 2025 will determine the party’s 2027 presidential candidate. Atiku and Wike are involved due to this.

“In Wike’s camp, governors such as Bala Mohammed of Bauchi, Kefas Agbu Taraba, Amadu Fintri of Adamawa, Peter Mbah of Enugu, and Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau State are protecting his interests, while Atiku’s camp, including governors from Rivers, Osun, Edo, Delta, and Zamfara States are working to counter Wike’s plans. Currently, there is no clear direction, but eventually, the group and governors with the most control and influence within the party will prevail. But all this is politics and democracy.”

  • Fubara sponsored Reps – Chieftain

Meanwhile, another high-ranking chieftain of the party said the Reps were mobilised by Fubara, saying there were only six of them and not 60.

The party chieftain said, “There are only six of them, not 60. Tomorrow, the House Minority Leadership and other members will hold a press conference to refute their claims. These members were mobilised by the Rivers State Governor. Four House of Representatives members from Rivers State are backing Fubara, along with one from Kaduna, totalling six. Ikenga was hired by Fubara as his consultant.

“In any case, nobody can threaten the party. If they want to leave, they are free to do so. We will see if they can survive elsewhere. Damagum is the acting Chairman, not because he sought the position. Ayu’s suspension created a vacancy, making Damagum the acting Chairman. There is no specified end date for the acting position in the party’s constitution.”

The party chieftain told The PUNCH that the Monday development was based on the fact that Wike had the support of the PDP National Working Committee to gain full control of the party’s structure.

He noted that this was due to Fubara’s absence from PDP activities since taking office more than 10 months ago.

“What happened in Rivers State has nothing to do with Damagum; it was the entire NWC that made the decision that the party’s structure should not be handed over to the governor because he never respected the party.

“Since he came on board in the last 10 months, Fubara has never been involved with the party because he is not a politician. Upon realising that the tenure of the State Executive has expired, he is seeking the NWC’s support, but it doesn’t work that way. Even in the PDP Governors Forum, he often doesn’t attend and he is frequently seen with APC members.

“Therefore, the entire structure of our party in Rivers State remains with Wike. The entire structure was only put under caretaker administration. Fubara wanted the NWC to replace them with his own people, which is why he is fighting Damagum and the NWC. We did the same thing in other states, and nobody complained. Why is it only Fubara who is complaining?

  • Suswam moves to replace Ayu

Meanwhile, it was also gathered that a former Benue State governor, Gabriel Suswam, has escalated his endeavors to succeed Ayu as the substantive Chairman of the PDP.

The reliable party source disclosed that Suswam was actively pursuing the position, but ex-Kwara State governor, Bukola Saraki’s prospects were uncertain due to his shared origin with the current National Legal Adviser from Kwara State.

The party chieftain stated, “Due to our ongoing legal battle in court over the office of the National Chairman, we are limited in our actions. It would have been more advantageous for us if Ayu were to resign or withdraw the case from the Court of Appeal.

“Saraki has never formally declared his intention to run; his name is just being mentioned. Only Suswam is actively contesting.

“There is an NWC member from Kwara State, Saraki’s home state. The National Legal Adviser of the party is also from Kwara unless he is removed or resigns before Saraki can contest. According to party rules, one state cannot produce two members of the PDP NWC.”

In his response, PDP National Working Committee, Debo Ologunagba, described the situation as developing, adding that the party would react comprehensively later.

“All these developing issues, I will look at the details. When I am settled I will revert when have detailed information about what happened,” he said.

 

Credit: The Punch

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BIG STORY

Obaseki Nominates Omobayo Godwins As New Edo Deputy Governor

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The executive governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, has nominated 37-year-old Omobayo Godwins as his deputy, hours after the impeachment of Philip Shaibu.

The inauguration of Omobayo is scheduled to occur on Monday at Benin City’s Edo State Government House.

Friends and supporters have already gathered for the swearing-in ceremony at the inauguration venue.

It was gathered that Omobayo replaced Philip Shaibu, who was earlier impeached by the State House of Assembly on Monday morning.

The House of Assembly impeached Shaibu following the adoption of the report from the impeachment panel headed by Justice S. A. Omonua (rtd).

The panel was set up by the Chief Judge of Edo State to investigate allegations of misconduct and perjury against Shaibu.

Eighteen out of the 20 lawmakers that attended the plenary on Monday, April 8, 2024 voted in favour of the impeachment while one voted against.

In the report, the seven-man panel found the former deputy governor guilty of leaking government official secrets. But he was not found guilty of the allegation of perjury.

Following the impeachment, Obaseki immediately swore-in Omobayo to replace Shaibu.

Omobayo hails from Akoko-Edo Local Government Area in the same Edo North Senatorial District, where the impeached deputy governor came from.

Born July 19, 1986, Omobayo is said to be a “seasoned engineer with a proven track record of progressive professional experience in the oil and gas sector”.

His profile showed that he has a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering and Msc in Public Administration from the University of Benin, UNIBEN.

He is a registered member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, NSE, and the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, COREN.

He serves as a Senior Maintenance Engineer in Dresser Wayne West Africa Limited, cutting his professional teeth in the operations in the South South area.

The new deputy governor is said to be active in politics in his local government area.

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BIG STORY

BREAKING: Edo House Of Assembly Impeaches Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu

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Philip Shaibu, the deputy governor of the state, has been impeached by the Edo State House of Assembly.

In Benin City, the capital of Edo State, during the house’s plenary session on Monday, he was impeached.

The political standoff between the deputy governor and his principal, Godwin Obaseki, culminated in this action.

 

More to come…

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