Charles Soludo, the governor-elect of Anambra State has appointed Nigeria’s former Minister of Education, Obiageli Ezekwesili as the head of a transition team ahead of his takeover from incumbent governor, Willie Obiano.
Mr Soludo, an ex-CBN governor and candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) was declared winner of the November 6 2021 governorship election in Anambra, having defeated his closest rivals, PDP’s Valentine Ozigbo APC’s Andy Uba had 43,285 votes.
While the governor-elect is yet to make a formal announcement, official sources familiar with the development told Peoples Gazette that Mr Soludo who would be sworn in as the state governor in March has appointed transition members, with Mrs Ezekwesili being the head.
The transition team’s inauguration, according to the sources, will hold on January 20, at Agulu Lake (Golden Tulip) Hotel in Anambra.
Although members of the team are still unknown, as the team leader, the former minister will develop a transition plan, ensure its implementation to ensure a smooth and successful takeover of Mr Soludo’s administration.
Mrs Ezekwesili, a former presidential candidate in the 2019 general election earned a worldwide reputation as a social justice crusader after she led the campaign to #BringBackOurGirls. A campaign launched after 276 Christian female students were abducted on April 15, 2014, by Boko Haram terrorists in Chibok town Borno State.
In December 2021, she was given an international appointment as she became a member of the Board of Directors of Nexford University, Washington D.C., United States.
In the 1990s, she co-founded Transparency International, a civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption. In March 2007, Mrs Ezekwesili was appointed the vice president of the World Bank.
Electoral Bill: NASS Bows To Buhari, Approves Direct, Indirect Primaries For Parties
The Senate on Wednesday included the consensus mode of primary in the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill as suggested by the President Muhammadu Buhari.
Both chambers of the National Assembly, the Senate and the House of Representatives, however, deleted compulsory direct primaries from the bill.
While the House gave options of parties adopting direct or indirect primaries, the Senate included direct and indirect primaries as well as the consensus mode as suggested by the President during his interview with Channels Television a few weeks ago.
During the interview, Buhari said the lawmakers should include consensus, besides direct and indirect primaries.
He said, “All I said (is that) there should be options,” he said. “We must not insist that it has to be direct; it should be consensus and indirect.”
Buhari had last year vetoed the electoral bill and sent it back to the National Assembly over the restriction of political parties to direct primaries.
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives had suspended action on the bill till resumption on Tuesday, after the Christmas and New Year break.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives amended Clause Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 which is Clause 84 of the electoral bill, by inserting the indirect primary option.
The Senate, however, adopted Clause 84(2) as recommended by the Committee of the Whole and approved direct primary, indirect primary or consensus as procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for elections.
The disagreement between both houses is expected to delay the passage of the bill.
The Senate also approved the recommended Clause 84(3) which prescribes that, “A political party that adopts the direct primaries procedure shall ensure that all aspirants are given equal opportunity of being voted for by members of the party and shall adopt the procedure outlined below: (a) In the case of Presidential Primaries, all registered members of the party are to vote for aspirants of their choice at a designated centre at each ward of the federation.
It provides further that, “similar procedure as in (a) above, shall be adopted for governorship senatorial, federal and state constituencies.
The Majority Leader of the Senate, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC/Kebbi-North), had moved a motion for the recommital of the bill to the Committee of the Whole.
Abdullahi noted that the motion was against the backdrop of the “need to address the observation by Mr. President and make necessary amendment in accordance with Order 87(c) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2022 (as amended); and relying on order 1(b) and 52(6) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2022 ( as amended).”
The Senate’s move, it was learnt, was based on the request by the President
However, it was not a smooth ride for the bill at the House. There was tension in the House as members were divided on whether to amend the legislation or override the President’s vote.
At the opening of plenary on Wednesday, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, beckoned on some leaders of the House, who approached his seat.
Shortly after, other leaders and ranking members of the House joined the meeting.
Those who met with Gbajabiamila included the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase; Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu; Chairman, House Committee on Finance, James Faleke; Chairman, House Committee on Defence, Babajimi Benson, among others.
Other lawmakers watched as they engaged themselves in arguments for over 15 minutes.
Our correspondent observed that Elumelu was particularly in disagreement with what was being said by others at the meeting.
Gbajabiamila consequently called for an executive (closed-door) session, which lasted about 30 minutes.
As the chamber was opened, there was noise in the chamber, which showed that there was a disagreement among the lawmakers.
Elumelu and the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, led other opposition members to a corner of the chamber where they met for about five minutes, agreed on what to do and dispersed to their respective seats.
As the Speaker called the chamber to order, he asked that all items on the day’s order paper be stepped down except the recommital of the electoral bill – Item 6, being first motion of the day; and Item 9, being the first report for consideration.
Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business, Abubakar Fulata, moved the motion for the recommital to the Committee of the Whole.
Elumelu seconded the motion.
Ado-Doguwa moved the motion that the House dissolve into Committee of the Whole to consider the bill, while Leke Abejide seconded the motion.
At the Committee of the Whole, consideration of the bill did not start until 18 minutes, during which the lawmakers conferred with themselves in groups and copies of the legislation were distributed to them.
The Speaker recalled how Buhari withheld assent to the bill, read out Paragraph 5 of the President’s letter to the National Assembly. Gbajabiamila also cited Order 12 Rule 20 of the Standing Orders of the House which prescribed how the lawmakers should go about rejected bills.
Considering the report by the Committee of the Whole, Gbajabiamila put the amended Clause 84(2) to voice vote and it was unanimously adopted.
The clause now reads, ‘The procedure for nomination of candidates by political parties for various elective positions shall be by direct primaries or indirect primaries.’
As the House was to revert to plenary, an opposition member, Dagomie Abiante (PDP/Rivers) raised a point of order to say that “there are other errors,” which Gbajabiamila said were “being looked into.”
The Speaker, however, ruled him out of order, stating that the rules of the House, which he had read out, were specific about the process and the lawmakers were bound by the limitations. “We are confined to the observations made by Mr President. We have a near-perfect document; it may not be perfect but we have a near-perfect document,” he stated.
After Gbajabiamila overruled Abiante, several lawmakers approached the Speaker where they were seen pointing out things in the bill to him.
We amended only Clause 84(2), states Gbajabiamila
After the meeting that lasted about 10 minutes, the House adopted the report from the Committee of the Whole.
The Speaker explained what had been done to the bill, saying, “For emphasis’ sake, I need to state categorically that what was considered and adopted by the House was only a clause and that was Clause 84(2). “
Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, who addressed journalists after the session, stated that Buhari was specific about the amendments he sought from the National Assembly, which was having the direct and indirect options.
Consensus will subvert popular will, antithetical to democratic principles – CSOs
Meanwhile, a coalition of civil society organisations working towards the perfection of the electoral process in Nigeria on Wednesday rejected the introduction of consensus by the Senate as a mode of nomination of candidates in the Electoral. Act Bill 2021.
The activists, however, commended the swift action taken by the National Assembly upon resumption to review its position on direct primaries as the sole mode for nomination of candidates in the Electoral Bill 2021.
While expressing fears that the new consensus mode “is antithetical to democratic principles and will result in the subversion of popular will”, the CSOs called for “the immediate withdrawal of this new introduction which is alien to the original Electoral Bill 2021 to speed up the work of the harmonization committee and conclusion of the amendment process on or before the 21 January 2022 deadline.”
The membership of the CSOs comprised Yiaga Africa, International Press Centre, Centre for Citizens with Disability, The Albino Foundation, CLEEN Foundation, Institute for Media and Society and Nigerian Women Trust Fund.
Others were Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, Partners for Electoral Reform, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, Nigeria Network of Non-Governmental Organizations and Inclusive Friends Association.
The groups in a joint statement signed on their behalf by the Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, rejected the action taken by the Senate.
The statement read in part, “We reject the decision of the Senate to introduce a completely new mode of ‘consensus’ as a procedure for candidates’ nomination. The consensus mode is antithetical to democratic principles and will result in the subversion of popular will. Furthermore, it violates the rights of aspirants to equal participation in party primaries and limits the choice of voters to candidates who did not emerge from democratic primary elections.
“Judging from experience, consensus has occasioned a litany of litigation in Nigeria’s electoral process. We call on the Senate to, in line with the popular will of Nigerians, adopt the position of the House of Representatives which now recognizes direct and indirect primaries as procedure for nomination of candidates.”
The groups said the divergent positions of both chambers could delay the speedy conclusion of the process.
“We therefore call for the immediate withdrawal of this new introduction which is alien to the original Electoral Bill 2021 to speed up the work of the harmonization committee and conclusion of the amendment process on or before the 21 January 2022 deadline,” the CSOs said.
Osun 2022: Family At War As Governorship Ambition Tears Senator Ademola and Dele Adeleke Apart
The ambition to run for the Osun governorship election has torn Osun’s Adeleke family apart.
The members of the family — Senator Ademola Adeleke and Dele Adeleke — have been screened and cleared as aspirants for the Osun governorship election under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), DAILY POST reports.
The two family members were part of six governorship aspirants for the July 16 governorship election in Osun State cleared by Mohammed Adoke, the chairman of the party’s screening committee.
However, there has been continuous hot disagreement within the family over the ambition of Dele, who served as Ademola’s agent at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters in Osun during the 2018 poll.
Dele’s ambition was a rumour until he obtained expression and nomination form amounting to N21 million in December to officially join the Osun governorship race.
There has been open confrontations and verbal war between a member of the family, David Adeleke (Davido) and his cousin, Dele earlier this week.
Music superstar, Davido took to his verified Twitter handle on Tuesday to warn the people of Osun to be wary of Dele, saying, “Intellectual that has not succeeded in building one single thing in his life on his own. This life ehn!! Osun beware of FAKES! Dele.”
His uncle — Ademola responded saying: “Don’t worry nephew God got us #IMOLEDE #OSUN2022.”
Again on Wednesday, Davido accused his cousin of sponsoring an article about him and mentioned the death of his mother which the singer sees as offensive and further threatened to expose his co-family member, Dele, to the Osun people.
In his response, Dele said Osun deserves the best. He divulged that he has been receiving death threats from Davido’s fans since the open confrontation on Tuesday.
In his tweets on Wednesday, Dele said, “You are the king of social media & you know people take it upon themselves to write whatever they believe will give them clout. So many of your fans came to my SM handles to threaten me and some even asked me to go and die. Did you send them to threaten my life?.
“I seriously doubt it and I do not believe you will do such a thing. So, irrespective of politics, please note that I am not that kind of person; I have maintained decorum in the face of provocation and I will continue to do so.
“I respect your decision and choice to support Uncle Demola and that is the beauty of democracy. It is possible we can all make our individual choices without rancour and bitterness. We can all follow different paths and still live as one big, happy family.”
The crisis has continued to generate reactions on social media.
Meanwhile, the PDP has scheduled the governorship primary election for March 7.
2023: We’ll Withhold Timetable Till Electoral Bill Is Signed Into Law – INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has said it will not release the 2023 general election timetable until the Electoral Act Amendment Bill is signed into law.
This was disclosed on Tuesday by the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, at the first quarterly meeting with political parties for 2022 in Abuja.
He said; “On the Electoral Amendment Bill currently before the National Assembly, the Commission is encouraged by the Senate President’s assurance to give priority attention to the Bill when the National Assembly reconvenes from its recess today, and the commitment by the President to assent to the Bill as soon as the issue of mode of primaries by political parties is resolved. We look forward to a speedy passage of the Bill, which is crucial to our preparations for future elections.
“As soon as it is signed into law, the Commission will quickly release the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election based on the new law”.
Noting that 2022 is going to be a very busy year for the Commission and the political parties, Yakubu reminded them that the 2023 General Election was just 396 days away.
He said all the critical preparations must be concluded this year, explaining that the Continuous Voter Registration CVR which commenced in June last year has entered the third quarter.
“As of Monday 17th January 2022, a total of 8,260,076 eligible Nigerians commenced the online pre-registration, completed the registration physically or applied for transfer to new voting locations, replacement of their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) or updated their voter information records as required by law.
“At the moment, the Commission is undertaking the most comprehensive clean up of the data to ensure that only eligible citizens are added to the voters’ register for the 2023 General Election and will share our findings with Nigerians and the actual dates for the collection of the PVCs nationwide will be announced very soon”, Yakubu stated.
According to him, the Commission has also decided that the suspended Ekiti East I State Constituency bye-election will be combined with the State Governorship election holding on 18th June 2022.
He said the date for the Shinkafi State Constituency bye-election in Zamfara State will be announced after a thorough review of the security situation in the area, while the Commission awaits the declaration of vacancy by the Kaduna State House of Assembly in respect of Giwa West State Constituency.
“Turning to the major end-of-tenure and off-cycle elections, party primaries for the Ekiti State Governorship election are scheduled for 4th – 29th January 2022. For the Osun State Governorship election, primaries will hold from 16th February to 12th March 2022.
“In the case of Ekiti State, all the 18 political parties have served the mandatory notices for the primaries. Let me seize this opportunity to draw the attention of parties to the necessity for transparent and rancour-free primaries. Parties should also respect their chosen dates for the primaries based on the Commission’s Timetable and Schedule of Activities.
“Already, many parties have rescheduled their primaries several times. While the Commission has earmarked a period of three weeks and 4 days (i.e. 25 days) for the conduct of the Ekiti State Governorship primaries, virtually all political parties have decided to hold their primaries in the last 4 days i.e. 26th – 29th January 2022. In fact, seven political parties have chosen the last day for their primaries.
“Similarly, no party has so far submitted its list of aspirants, the composition of its electoral panel, or the register of members or list of delegates depending on the chosen mode for electing its candidates.
“As of yesterday, only one party has indicated the venue for its primaries. I urge you all to do so immediately to enable us to work out the detailed plans for monitoring the primaries. All primaries for electing candidates must take place in the constituency where election will hold as required by law. In the cases of Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections, any primaries conducted outside the two States will not be monitored by the Commission and their outcomes will not be accepted. This also applies to primaries for bye-elections conducted outside the constituencies”, he added.
On the Federal Capital Territory FCT Area Council election, Yakubu gave insights into the distribution of voters to Polling Units in the territory, particularly the fact that 593 out of 2,822 or 21% of the total, do not have voters.
“This is because voters failed to take advantage of the expansion of access to transfer to these new Polling Units. The detailed distribution of voters to Polling Units in the FCT is among the documents in your folders for this meeting”, he stated.
Responding on behalf of the political parties, Chairman of the Inter Party Advisory Committee IPAC, Engr. Yabagi Sani said the parties are anticipating more superlative performance by INEC in the remaining off-season elections, beginning with the Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory and later on, the gubernatorial elections in Osun and Ekiti states.
He said the most serious and potent impediment to the successful conduct of the 2023 general elections, is the lingering debacle between the Executive and the Legislature on the fate of the 2021 Electoral (Amendment) Bill.
“While time is dangerously running out for the resolution of the disputes between the two arms, the IPAC is of the position that the controversy may have been contrived in the first instance, purely and clearly in the pursuits of narrow and self-centered political ambitions of some of the gladiators.
“We are therefore, using this occasion to once again make our strident call for the immediate resolution of the unnecessary impasse over the Electoral Amendment Bill in the superior and overriding national interest. The IPAC has persistently suggested at various forums that, the first rational step in the circumstance, is for the two apex legislative houses to immediately expunge from the Bill, the provisions that make it mandatory for political parties to use Direct Primary elections in the selection of their flag bearers in general elections.
“Going forward, we have also called on the President to thereafter, assent to the Bill without delay. Our concern in the IPAC, is that failure to reach a compromise in the short run may invariably translate into the death of the other very crucial provisions, such as the provisions on the Electronic Transmission of election results”, he stated.
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