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PDP disqualifies two presidential aspirants, clears 15

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PDP National Chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu

•Appeal committee meets Monday, Udom, Wike, others disagree on zoning

The Peoples Democratic Party, on Friday in Abuja, disqualified two of its 17 presidential aspirants.

The Chairman of the Screening Committee, Senator David Mark, disclosed this to journalists shortly after the conclusion of the exercise at the Legacy House, Abuja, the presidential campaign headquarters of the main opposition.

The screening, which began around 11 am, lasted till 7 pm and involved all the aspirants.

Mark, however, declined to reveal the identities of the disqualified aspirants or the reasons for their disqualification.

He simply noted that the aspirants did not meet the requirements set by the panel.

While it was not clear what yardstick was used to weed out the two aspirants, it might not be far from the requirements of the Independent National Electoral Commission, which had the power to disqualify candidates on grounds of non-compliance with extant electoral laws.

Mark added that the report of Friday’s screening would be transmitted to the PDP National Working Committee for consideration on the same day.

He stated, “The exercise, as far as we’re concerned, went on very well. We’ve been here since morning, and I’m sure you people have been here since morning also.

“We’ve been very thorough this time. See how much time we’ve taken to screen each individual who has been here. We screened 17 aspirants, which is quite a number. We cleared 15 and two have not been cleared.

“Now, don’t ask me those who have been cleared and those who have not been cleared, because I won’t tell you. We haven’t released the result to them. So, if you ask a question in that direction, you’re wasting time.

“I think on the whole, that’s what we’ve done. And we’re quite satisfied with the standard of the aspirants by and large. And we think that any one of them, who gets the ticket, will win the election in 2023.”

Asked what the committee found wrong with the disqualified aspirants, Mark said, “They didn’t meet the requirements and I can’t be more specific about that.”

About the time of submission of the report to the NWC, he said, “This night (Friday). We’ll submit it and then those who were not cleared have a right to appeal. I’m sure they will go on appeal, because there is an appeal panel.”

Speaking on the 15 aspirants, who scaled the screening hurdle, the former Senate President noted that they were all qualified and would perform well if they emerged the flag bearer of the party in next year’s election.

Quizzed about a possible refund of the N40m each aspirant paid for the nomination and expression of interest forms, he quipped, “Why should they refund the money? What will be the reason now?”

The 17 aspirants screened on Friday included, Teriela Oliver, the only female aspirant in the race; governors Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto; Nyesom Wike of Rivers; Bala Mohammed of Bauchi; and Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom; as well as investment banker and economist, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen; former Anambra State governor Peter Obi; and former Senate President, Pius Anyim.

Others were former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar; former Senate President, Bukola Saraki; former Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose; ex-President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Sam Ohuabunwa; a United States-based medical doctor, Nwachukwu Anakwenze; Publisher, Ovation Magazine, Dele Momodu; former Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, Cosmos Ndukwe; Charles Ugwu; and Chikwendu Kalu.

Meanwhile, some of the presidential hopefuls had expressed divergent views on the zoning of the ticket.

Speaking to journalists after being screened, Emmanuel noted that despite the southern governors’ resolution that the presidential ticket be zoned to the South, the party’s decision would take precedence.

“The party is supreme. If the party has spoken, we will all abide by what the party has said,” the Akwa Ibom governor said.

On his likelihood of scaling through the process, the governor said, “I want to believe that all the people they’ve seen so far today are equal to the task to rescue and restore this country.

“But in the meantime, I want to believe that so many things are to my own advantage, because if you look at my antecedents, if you look at my training, if you look at the capacity and above all, I think age is also on my side.

“Nigeria today needs a very strong, agile young man. I think as so many factors are in my favour, and that will be decided by the electorate in the primary.”

Fayose voiced his support for zoning, saying it would reduce confusion.

He stated, “Well, I say it again very expressly that I am for zoning and I believe that the best thing this party can do for posterity so as not to cause confusion is for this party to zone this presidential ticket.

“If we fail to do it, even if we say anybody can contest, you must officially zone it to the South. In 1999, it was zoned to the South, which brought Obasanjo and Olu Falaye. But the party must remember that whatever we do today will stand against us tomorrow.”

On the screening, Fayose noted, “The panel said they’ve gone through my CV, they’re satisfied and they only want me to talk on the stomach infrastructure policy of my government when I was holding sway in Ekiti.

“So, I told them the importance of stomach infrastructure. And I equally made it very clear that if I become the President of Nigeria, I will be minister for stomach infrastructure and welfare of the people.”

In his remarks on zoning, Ohuabunwa said no manipulation of man could truncate the country’s destiny.

He stated, “They are all being strategic. Since the PDP has not announced, they also don’t want to announce so that they can keep the options open.

“But whether they announce or they don’t announce, what will happen has been predetermined.

“I’m a child of grace. I’m in this race by a conviction that is beyond the ordinary and I know that God, who owns the country and owns the universe, has finished it. So, every manipulation of man that is not right before Him will fail. God is going to intervene in Nigerian politics and elections in 2023 and it doesn’t matter the gimmicks.”

 PUNCH

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2022: International Youth day:APC National Women Leader felicitates with Youths across the globe

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The National Women Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Dr Betta Edu celebrates with the youths across the globe on the occasion of the International youth day with a theme *Intergenerational solidarity: Creating a world for all ages*

Dr. Betta in a correspondence released by her Special Adviser on political matters, Seun Bosede Osamaye, noted the importance of Youth Day as an awareness day designated by the United Nations to draw attention to a given set of cultural and legal issues surrounding the Youths.

Speaking as a mother in her goodwill message, the ebullient National Women Leader of the All Progressives Congress Dr. Betta Edu appealed to the Nigerian Youths to continue to be law abiding, to shun social vices, and to embrace peace as they join their counterparts all over the world to observe the *2022 International Youth Day*.

Noting that the United Nations has made a day like this very important to provide an opportunity for youths to reflect on their voices, actions, and initiatives, Dr. Betta beckons on the Nigerian Government to make it a norm in celebrating this day for the youth by raising awareness and educating people about the importance of youth in the society because the *Youths* are the pillars and future of every country.

Speaking further, Dr. Betta stressed the utmost importance of promoting youth participation especially in politics so that they can help to create a better future. She wish all Youths across the globe a successful outing and a Happy International 2022 Youth Day!

#BettaforBetterNigeria
#APCNationalwomenwing

*Comr. Victoria Uko*
SA Media to NWL

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Tension mounts in PDP as crisis worsens; elders weigh options

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Amid tensions, some elders of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, intervened in the crisis rocking the party by giving approval for the constitution of the presidential campaign council.

Vanguard gathered that while some PDP leaders are pushing for the party to wield the big stick against those engaged in anti-party activities, other leaders are more favourably disposed to ongoing reconciliatory efforts.

It was learned in Abuja yesterday that the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and other organs of the party, including the National Working Committee, NWC, the Caucus and the Board of Trustees, BoT, have agreed to go ahead with the constitution of the party’s presidential campaign council.

This came on a day former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Olabode George, urged the PDP National Chair-man, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, to honourably resign.

George, however, urged Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State not to join the All Progressives Congress, APC, despite misgivings over the choice of running mate to the PDP presidential candidate.

Party elders wade in, mull options

A top ranking member of the party, who is familiar with the issue but elected to speak in confidence, said: “We held a major consultative meeting on Tuesday and I can assure you that the membership of the council will be announced in the next two weeks.

“Campaigns start next month; we want to be up and running before this happens. We have been reaching out to our members nationwide, including our respected leaders in Rivers State.

“Details of our next steps are being worked out. You know the PDP, being a very large family, has a lot of tendencies and individuals and groups have egos that require massaging. We are doing that.

“There are those pushing for us to wield the big stick but the majority are more favourably disposed to ongoing reconciliatory efforts because we are in opposition; we need everyone more than the ruling party.”

Another party leader, who spoke on grounds of anonymity, said: “The PDP has dealt with bigger challenges; this one too has come and it will go. Governor Wike, whose name is being mentioned anytime our current challenges are cited, is a party man, he has said it himself.

“He has other party leaders who respect him and look up to him to protect their political interests. Whatsoever those interests may be, he feels an obligation to protect those who stuck out their necks for him during his bid for the ticket.

“It is the pursuit of this that has delayed us till now but we must make progress; we have an election to win and there will be positions of responsibilities to be given out. It is the patience component that is the issue at the moment.”

Substantial progress is being made — Atiku’s camp

When contacted, Mazi Paul Ibe, Media Adviser to the PDP Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, said: “Substantial progress is being made with regards to resolving outstanding issues. My principal has assured the party and all members that everyone will be carried along. That commitment has not changed.”

We’ll resolve crisis soon—PDP leader

Also speaking, a top PDP leader told Vanguard that leaders are making moves to resolve the crisis.

The PDP leader, who spoke in confidence, said: “We are making efforts to resolve the crisis.

All I know is that Wike will not leave the party. As regards inviting APC leaders to commission projects in his state, he has said it before that he would invite leaders across party lines to commission projects in Rivers. I can assure you that the crisis within the party will be resolved soon.”

Ayu should resign honourably —Bode George

Commenting on the crisis rocking the party, George, who addressed newsmen in Lagos, insisted that Ayu should honour his words by stepping down as national chairman of the party.

He, however, urged Governor Wike not to join APC, despite misgivings over the choice of Atiku’s running mate, saying “you don’t win all the time.”

Heis words: “In democracy, we must talk and exchange ideas. We must agree and disagree without actually being disagreeable. Any organisation with human beings will always have issues but the ability to manage that crisis will be the determining factor.

“I want to appeal to all sides to sheathe their swords. Nigerians are waiting for us and we must convince them that we can manage the resources of the country in an equitable manner.

“They should all cease fire. Statements of arrogance and innuendos that can destroy the party should stop forthwith.

“Zoning has sustained our democracy for this long because it’s the concept that established our party.

“My plea is that all should cool temper because if we don’t get it right this time around, this nation will never forgive us. Nigerians are waiting for the PDP.”

On 2023 general election, George said it was not yet uhuru.

While expressing worry over the security situation in the country, he said: “My fear is that if the insecurity continues, who will be bold enough to campaign or cast votes during election?

“These are serious issues we must consider. Are we thinking about it? It’s scary. How will people go out to vote on the day of election?”

Wike, one man balancing force —Mimiko

Meanwhile, former Ondo State governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, yesterday, commended Governor Wike’s boldness to lawfully speak truth to power, saying he has averted bids by desperate politicians to force Nigeria into a one-party state.

Mimiko said this while performing the flag-off of Rivers State project for dualisation of Azikiwe-Iloabuchi Road in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Noting that through bold legal challenges, Wike has deepened national consciousness by combating the defective federal system towards actualising true federalism.

Mimiko said: “Beyond the self-evident physical transformation, you (Wike) have stood as a bulwark against those sworn to emasculating the main opposition party, all in their bid to force a one-party state down the throats of Nigerians.

“You were at one point virtually a one man countervailing force, defending and protecting our dear PDP. You have also, through bold legal challenges, deepened the national consciousness on the defects in the running of our defective federal system.”

Hoping Wike remains committed to the struggle to entrench true federalism for just development across ethnic divides and religious persuasions in Nigeria, the former governor said: “Our party, the PDP, a party for which you have laboured so much, seems saddled with the historical duty of forging this unity, a unity premised on truth, equity and justice, a unity upon which rescuing Nigeria from unsatisfactory performance of the past seven years will be built.

“It is a mission that must be accomplished, a mission for which you are specially positioned and favoured to play a major role, a mission that must be subscribed to by all lovers of our country.”

Speaking on the project, Wike said: “As a man who respects leaders, I have to honour them by making sure this road is awarded and completed within six months.

“This is the last project here in Port Harcourt I’m going to embark upon before I leave office. All promises I have made in Port Harcourt, I have fulfilled. Let somebody come and tell me which one I have not fulfilled. “Because you voted for us, we too will work for you by providing basic infrastructure. That is what politics is all about. It is about talking and doing, not giving of excuses.

“No right-thinking person in this state would want to mingle or identify with such people that would make promises without fulfilling them.

“Our campaign has always been operation show your report card. We are showing our report card. Tell anybody who comes to you to show his report card.”

VANGUARD

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Wike’s romance with Tinubu’s men rattles Amaechi’s base

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There are strong indications that the Rivers State All Progressives Congress led by immediate past Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, is angry about the romance between the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu’s men; and the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.

Wike has in recent times been meeting with some APC chieftains, including Tinubu’s allies. On Monday, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was invited by Wike to inaugurate a road project.

The Rivers governor also invited former Governor Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto State and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila to inaugurate some projects in his state.

Earlier, some APC governors led by the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Kayode Fayemi, had also met Wike in his state amid his feud with the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar.

However, sources close to Amaechi, told The PUNCH that the romance between Wike and Tinubu was disrespectful especially since it was public knowledge that Wike and Amaechi were political foes.

They also accused Tinubu of supporting Senator Magnus Abe who recently dumped the APC to run for governor on the platform of the Social Democratic Party.

An associate of Amaechi who wished to remain anonymous because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said, “The APC leaders have been coming to Rivers State to lobby Wike and make all manner of promises to him. These people never came to Rivers even when the party was having a crisis.

“They should not forget that Amaechi came second in that presidential primary and is still the leader of the APC in Rivers State. Rather than rally around him, they have been romancing Wike. Tinubu is among the sponsors of Magnus Abe who has defected to the SDP.

“Magnus Abe is Tinubu’s boy. He is always with Tinubu. Even after joining the SDP, he is still with Tinubu and has promised to work for Tinubu’s campaign. Yet they cannot caution him.”

The source stated that Atiku might begin to woo Amaechi soon if quick action was not taken.

Speaking with The PUNCH, an APC chieftain, Chukwuemeka Eze, said he was not aware if Atiku had begun reaching out to Amaechi.

Eze, however, said if Amaechi decides to join the PDP, then Tinubu should be blamed.

He added, “If Amaechi decides to rejoin PDP, it may not be of his own making but due to the acts and attitude of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and managers of his campaign team coupled with the new style of leadership of those currently running APC.

Amaechi’s neglect

“Let me state unequivocally that the manner and ways Amaechi and his political Team are being neglected both in the formation of the APC Presidential Campaign Council and most of the activities of the party since after the APC Presidential Convention is not the best way to treat a leader with the stature or status of Amaechi. You don’t do that.

“To worsen the situation, the manner in which Tinubu and his associates continued to associate with Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State without any consultation with Amaechi or any member of his political family is not only sad but very unfortunate.”

Eze said Amaechi remained an institution in Rivers State politics and that anybody or political leader who feels he can undermine him is doing that at his or her own peril.

He recalled that Amaechi as the Director-General of the Presidential campaign that orchestrated President Goodluck Jonathan’s defeat in 2015

“Based on his rating, I will not be shocked if Atiku Abubakar is wooing him based on the fact that the two leaders are not only very close associates politically and but have remain great partners in the progress of this country so I have nothing against such a union,” he said.

When contacted, the Rivers State APC Publicity Secretary, Chris Finebone, told The PUNCH that Wike was desperate for an alliance with Tinubu and the APC to remain relevant after 2023.

Commenting on the romance between Tinubu’s men and Wike, he stated, “In politics, the concentric circles of conspiracy are numerous. Sometimes they overlap and other times they are incongruent. But very often, the end result is one – how to appropriate political power at the expense of others or competitors. Therefore, in the instant case, whether it is Asuwaju that is going after Governor Wike or the latter that is courting Asuwaju, the end result is how to survive 2023 general elections and remain politically relevant thereafter.

We know that the desperate party or side in the entire calculation is Wike. Reason is that head or tail with Atiku, he’ll lose. Assuming without conceding that Atiku wins, he’ll surely put away Wike in a cold manner. Wike understands this. In a scenario where Asuwaju/APC wins, Wike deserves the grace of God to walk free. He needs the protection post 2023 so badly. Therefore, it is clear that Wike is the one chasing after Asiwaju/APC and not the opposite.

Whether asked if the romance was a slap on Amaechi, he stated, “I have a biblical verse as an answer. ‘Thou sayest!’

Also in a chat with The PUNCH, the Deputy spokesman of the APC in the Rivers State, Darlington Uwauju, said Amaechi was one of the few political leaders that could be trusted and that he would not leave the APC for the PDP.

The Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the APC, Cornelius Ojelabi, said anyone was free to visit Wike as he was not Tinubu’s enemy.

On Tinubu’s alleged link to Magnus Abe’s defection, he said, “I don’t know anything about that. All I know is that politics is a game of numbers. When you are in a contest, you just have to approach all that is approachable and solicit support.”

On whether he sees the possibility of Wike forming an alliance or crossing over to the APC, Ojelabi responded, “It is all about passion and you know Wike has a passion for politics. Wike was part of the southern governors who came to Lagos State before now and said that the Southern governors won’t support any presidential candidate from the North.”

‘Wike a tactician’

Also speaking with The PUNCH, a former Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, who is also a Tinubu campaigner, said there was nothing wrong with the new romance with Wike.

Shittu said Amaechi should be happy that someone like Wike was being linked to the APC.

“Nobody will stop Wike if he wants to come to APC. Again, you know Wike is a tactician. If I were in Amaechi’s shoes, I would see Wike’s coming as an opportunity to settle reconcile with him. What he should be thinking of at that point is that with Wike coming into the party, will there be an in-fighting anymore?,” he asked.

Shittu also rubbished reports that Tinubu had a hand in Abe’s defection, adding that Tinubu could not be blamed for longstanding crisis in the party in Rivers State.

“Is it not a stupid idea for anybody to suggest that Abe is not intelligent enough to take a decision on his own? There are certain things that sound silly to one’s hearing, except that it is always news to the media.

“Abe has been running a battle politically with Amaechi. Even at the last governorship primary, he didn’t win the ticket to fulfil his ambition. Tell me, does he need anybody to tell him the next step to take if he fails to clinch the APC ticket,” he asked.

Shittu added that Tinubu was not fighting with Amaechi whom he described as a brother and friend. He noted that when Amaechi accused APC delegates of selling their votes, Tinubu refused to respond.

“Is he fighting Amaechi? Even when he alleged that some delegates were given bribes for vote-buying, did Tinubu say anything? That’s because he doesn’t want to join the fray. If you study Tinubu well enough, you will know that he doesn’t take issue with people. That’s why you see people who fight him coming back to him at the end of the day,” he said

When contacted, Atiku’s Media Adviser, Paul Ibe said reconciliation and discussions with Wike was still ongoing and declined further comment.

An analyst, Sunny Anyanwu, argued that it was almost impossible for Wike to defect to the APC, adding that he may have been hurt, but he would not dump the PDP.

‘’It will amount to a dog eating its vomit if Wike defects to APC. Yes I agree Wike has been hurt. The committee set up by the PDP to select a vice- presidential candidate recommended him but Atiku on his own picked Okowa. Now, it was like injustice was done to him. I don’t think Wike will finally settle for APC. I don’t think so. But if he does it, he has brought his personality to the mud, and he will have no political relevance again,’’ the lawyer submitted.

Amaechi could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. Calls placed to the ex-minister’smedia aide,Paul Iyiofor, rang out and he had yet to reply to a text message seeking his comment on Wike’s alleged romance with Tinubu’s allies and other APC chieftains.

Meanwhile, the crisis in the PDP worsened on Tuesday with tWike, attacking a former senator, Lee Maeba, an ally of the PDP presidential candidate.

Wike and Maeba traded words over the governor’s statement on the control of the votes in the state and the benefits which accrued to Rivers when Atiku was the vice-president between 1999 and 2007.

Speaking on Tuesday at the inauguration of the dualised Ogbunuabali -Eastern Bypass Road which was performed by the former governor of Sokoto State, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, the governor said Maeba was wrong when he quoted him (Wike) to have said he was in charge of Rivers State’s votes..

This was contained in a statement issued by Kelvin Ebiri, media aide to the governor and made available to newsmen..

He said, “Because some people went to school late, they don’t understand when somebody says I am in charge of this state. I never said I am in charge of votes in this state. But I know I can talk to my people and my people will listen to me. Some people say, I have only one vote, I agree. I can’t vote two times. I will only vote once. But because of the services I have rendered to the people of this state, the state will listen to me.”

The governor stated that he had remained a consistent politician, not playing double games and urged Rivers people to be happy that they have a governor who would always defend the state.

The statement said, “Leadership is not about party, leadership is about individual. Party is only a vehicle to actualize your ambition, to be able to tell your people I have this capacity, I have this quality to render services to you.

“If you take me away today from the PDP to another party, I will still perform. So, it is not because I’m in the PDP that I’m performing. It is because I have that passion for my people. It is because I have the commitment to serve my people. Take me to the YPP, allow me to become whatever I will become there, I will perform. Take me to any party, I will perform. So, it is not the party that makes you perform.”

He stated that the state did not benefit from some politicians’ closeness to Presidents and Vice-Presidents.

Maeba replies Wike

But reacting to Wike’s comment, Maeba told The PUNCH that Rivers State benefited from Atiku on account of his and a former House of Representatives deputy speaker, Austin Opara’s closeness to the former vice-president.

The former federal lawmaker explained that his relationship with Atiku brought Intels, a logistics company owned by the PDP presidential candidate, to the state.

He said, “It (Relationship with Atiku) brought Intels. Atiku established Intels which employed many people. It was because of us that he (Atiku) invested more in Intels Rivers.

“Must friendship bring something? What has his (Wike’s) friendship brought to me? His friendship to me has only brought me pains; his friendship to me has brought me more pains.”

Also speaking in an interview with an online television station monitored by our correspondent, Maeba disclosed how Wike threatened to collapse the party if he failed to secure the party’s ticket to contest the 2023 presidential election.

He said, “Wike told me during one of our campaigns that if he failed the primary that he will collapse the whole system if they do to him what they did to (Ex-Rivers state governor, Peter) Odili. He said he will collapse the system and everybody will go home. That is the fear here.”

He wondered why the governor had refused to move on like Odili did when he failed in his bid to become the president in 2007.

When contacted, Atiku’s Media Adviser, Paul Ibe said reconciliation and discussions with Wike was still ongoing and declined further comment.

PUNCH

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