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Tinubu, Wike meet in UK, PDP talks wobble

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There are strong indications that the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, is intensifying efforts to get the support of the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike for the 2023 presidential poll.

Contrary to some online reports that the duo met in France on Tuesday, multiple sources confirmed to The PUNCH on Tuesday that Tinubu and Wike met in London, the United Kingdom, on Monday as part of moves to work together ahead of the election.

It was gathered that some APC and Peoples Democratic Party governors also attended the crucial meeting.

Prior to the Monday meeting, the ruling party had attempted to cash in on the crisis in the PDP over the presidential primary won by former vice-president Atiku Abubakar, which left Wike aggrieved.

On July 8, three APC governors, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State visited Wike at his Rumueprikon country home in Port Harcourt, as part of moves to woo him.

Also present at the meeting was a former Ekiti governor and PDP member, Ayodele Fayose.

The PDP set up a reconciliation panel to resolve the crisis between Atiku and Wike. The crisis began after the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, emerged as Atiku’s running mate.

After several postponements, the panel met Wike in Port Harcourt last Friday but the meeting ended in a stalemate following the insistence of the Rivers State governor on the removal of the National Chairman of the PDP, Iyorchia Ayu, over the role he played in the emergence of the former vice-president as the party standard -bearer.

Sources at the meeting disclosed that Wike’s representatives at the meeting said Ayu could not be an impartial chairman because he took sides during the special convention.

It was gathered that the failure of the reconciliation panel to assuage Wike’s anger had put Atiku’s peace moves on a shaky ground, leaving room for Tinubu to court the governor.

Confirming the meeting between Wike and the APC presidential candidate, a source in Tinubu’s camp said the parley was held in London.

He stated, “Governors Sanwo-Olu and Fayemi were equally part of the delegation. Contrary to what some online media are speculating, the meeting was held in London yesterday (Monday).’’

Asked if an agreement was struck, the source said he could not confirm because the full details had not been disclosed to him.

The source added, “Don’t forget that Sanwo-Olu and Fayemi earlier went with Fayose and Akeredolu to see Wike in Port Harcourt on behalf of our principal. Definitely, something is going on between them. However, I may not be in a position to tell whether there was a sort of MoU or agreement between them.’’

‘Amaechi lukewarm’
On whether the romance between Tinubu’s men and Wike was a possible factor fuelling the gale of defections in Rivers APC, he noted, “We are not concerned about (ex-minister Rotimi) Amaechi at the moment. He has been lukewarm to Tinubu’s ticket and we know Wike’s action is giving his camp sleepless nights. In truth, what does Amaechi brings to the table?’’

Speaking further, the party stalwart stated, ‘’In the last elections, how many votes did Amaechi garner from Rivers for the APC? In the 2015 election, he raked in over 60,000 votes. In 2019, he brought 130,000 votes. What is all that? We didn’t even win 10 per cent.

“Politics is a game of numbers. You need to have people who will back your ticket, not people without electoral value. Wike has done far more than he did. I don’t know how Wike did it but he seems to have warmed his way into the hearts of his people and they seem to support him more. The way we see it, Rivers State is very important to anybody who wants to win the presidency.’’

It was also gathered that governors Samuel Ortom of Benue State; Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State and Seyi Makinde, were part of the meeting. However, The PUNCH could not independently confirm this.

But a government official in Makurdi who did not want to be identified told one of our correspondents in Benue that Ortom jetted out of the country on Sunday and would return on Thursday.

Though the source could not identify other governors on the trip, he said, “The governor left Nigeria on Sunday and is expected back on Thursday.”

This is happening barely six days after Ortom and his counterparts in Rivers and Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde returned to Nigeria from a trip abroad.

The Chief Press Secretary to the Oyo State governor, Mr Taiwo Adisa, on his part, said, “The governor is on leave and he properly handed over to the deputy governor, who is now the acting governor.”

But the Chief Press Secretary to the Lagos State Governor, Mr Gboyega Akosile, told The PUNCH that Sanwo-Olu did not travel out of the country.

He said, “No, he didn’t travel out. That is a mere rumour. Just two days ago we had an event, and calling him today, he is in town. If you call his number now it would ring.”

However, a reliable government source told The PUNCH that the governor travelled out but had returned to the state.

“He travelled out two days ago but returned today (Tuesday); he is in Lagos now,” he said.

Although it could not be confirmed when Fayemi travelled out of the country, our correspondent last saw him on Sunday at the 2022 Udiroko Festival of Ado Ekiti community.

Fayemi left the event at about 3.55pm immediately after delivering his address leaving his wife, Bisi; the Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Oba Adeyemo Adejugbe; the Ekiti State Deputy Governor, Bisi Egbeyemi; former Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu; and other dignitaries and guests behind as he left the Ewi Palace Pavilion, venue of the celebration.

It, however, cannot be ascertained whether he left the venue for Akure Airport en-route Abuja for the London trip.

Also, a top aide of Ikpeazu, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the governor had travelled out of the country. “The governor is not in the country. The report is everywhere.”

A PDP chieftain in Rivers state confirmed that Wike travelled out of the country on Monday morning, adding that his destination was unknown.

He said, “Definitely the governor is not in the country. Certainly, he is in Europe but where exactly, I do not know. What I can tell you is that I know the governor usually visits Spain because of the ties the Rivers State Government under his leadership has with the Real Madrid Football Club.

“I mean you know too well that we have a Real Madrid Football Academy here in Port Harcourt. So that explains it.

‘No defection decision’
“I know there are speculations here and there that he is in France or Britain and all that, but I don’t know where the media vet all those.

“Whether he is meeting with Bola Tinubu or not, Governor Wike has not told us he is leaving the PDP. But for sure I know he is not in the country. Maybe when he returns, we will know where he travelled to,” he stated.”

The Special Assistant on Media to the Rivers State Governor, Mr Kelvin Ebiri, could not be reached for comment as he didn’t respond to calls and a text message on Tuesday.

When contacted for comment on Tinubu’s attempt to woo Wike, the PDP spokesman, Debo Ologunagba, declined comment, saying he was not aware of the meeting.

Asked about the attempt to resolve the crisis between Wike and Atiku, Ologunagba said, ‘’The reconciliation process is ongoing and we are making good progress. It is a marathon and not a sprint and we are confident that at the end of the day, everything would be fine.’’

Speaking on Tinubu’s moves to woo the Rivers state governor, a source noted that there was a reason some people were worried about Tinubu’s moves to woo Wike.

The source stated, “I’m certain people are worried that Asiwaju is romancing Wike. There is a reason for it. All I know is that there is a southern connection to ensure the presidency does not slip out of our hands after eight years of Northern rule.

“That’s why even Governor Seyi Makinde turned down the offer to become Atiku’s campaign Director-General. This is because for Makinde, accepting to lead such a campaign for a Northern candidate has an implication for him. He knows that himself hence the need to be very careful. ’The presidential election is still five months away. The political manoeuvring must begin now.’’

Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports said the PDP presidential candidate had also travelled to London.

It could not be confirmed if Atiku planned to meet with Wike in order to resolve the crisis tearing the opposition party apart.

But Atiku’s Media Adviser, Paul Ibe, confirmed that his principal travelled to Europe “for a business meeting,’’ after attending the 62nd Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association in Lagos, on Monday.

In a related development, the Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, Senator Walid Jibrin has again reiterated his earlier stand that the party’s leadership structure is pro-north.

Jibrin had on Sunday while featuring on a Channels television Programme ‘Sunday Politics’ said it was not right for the party’s presidential candidate, the national chairman and the BoT chairman, to hail from the same region.

Jibrin in a statement on Tuesday, said, ‘’Based on my earlier statement that the PDP cannot produce a northern president, national chairman, BoT chairman all from the north for the 2023 presidential elections. I still maintain my stand on that statement.

“The PDP is a party that caters for all Nigerians, it’s not sectional but loved by all Nigerians. As the PDP BoT chairman, I must say the truth and nothing but the truth no matter anyone’s criticism. I do not fear anyone but God and the true agenda of our party.

BoT awaits report
“I will add that I stand strongly on my toes; I have been a true member of PDP since its inception in 1998. Today, I’m one of the trustees’ members of the party who remained in the party since 1998 that never changed to any party passing all positions in the PDP.’’

According to him, the BoT is eagerly waiting for the report of the Reconciliation Committee headed by the Governor Umaru Fintiri of Adamawa State and Prof Jerry Gana.

He further pledged that the BoT would continue discussing with all other aggrieved members of the party including those in states, zones and nationally.

Reacting to Jibrin’s statement, a former member of the House of Representatives, Ogbonna Nwuke, hailed the BoT chair, saying he deserved appreciation from Nigerians for standing by the truth.

Nwuke, who represented Etche-Omuma federal constituency in the National Assembly, said, “I think the chairman of the BoT deserves the appreciation of all Nigerians, particularly those of us who are in the PDP.

“He has stuck by the truth since this crisis started. Truly, he has turned out to be the conscience of our great party. His admission that it is wrong for the North to have everything from BoT chairmanship to the presidential ticket shows that he is a patriot. Those who are fighting for justice, fairness and equity will not forget him.”

Nwuke, a former Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, however, said the party constitution recognises the fact that the party chairmanship and the presidential ticket cannot be domiciled in one geographical zone.

He added, “Article 7, subsection 3(c) clearly expresses this fine point that has made power sharing in the PDP the rallying point of our common unity.

“Recall that prior to the National Convention, when the zoning of national offices took place, all the positions in the South went to the North while those held in the North moved to the South.

“What did not move to the South after the National convention was the presidency. Given the way the PDP has done things over the years, the presidency should be in the South at this time.’’

PUNCH

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SANWO-OLU PRESENTS SCORECARD AT RE-ELECTION RALLY

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…APC Flags Off Governorship Campaign In Lagos

A mammoth crowd of Lagos State residents, on Saturday, converged on Onikan – a cultured neighbourhood in the heart of Lagos Island – for an All Progressives Congress (APC) rally.

Clad in branded yellow shirts and Ankara brocade, the crowd dominated the city centre with pockets of political carnival. Thousands of ordinary citizens and party stalwarts trooped to Mobolaji Johnson Pavilion, the venue of the inaugural rally flagging off the party’s governorship campaign in Lagos.

The 10,000-capacity stadium brimmed with APC supporters. They carried banners and chanted slogans to receive the party chieftains and members of the Governorship Campaign Council.

APC standard bearer, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, made a grand entry into the venue, animating the crowd, which chorused: “Greater Lagos Rising” – the Governor’s re-election campaign slogan.

Reacting to the massive turnout, Sanwo-Olu said the vast attendance further confirmed the strength of APC as the only party of choice in Lagos.

The Governor mounted the rostrum to seek the mandate of Lagosians for another term in office, saying the “Greater Lagos” he promised at the inception of his government could now be visualised, given the achievements recorded during his first term.

Sanwo-Olu said the last three and half years had been challenging for his administration, pointing out that his Government traversed difficult terrains to deliver on its development objectives.

He said: “It has been an interesting and challenging journey for us in the last three and half years. Our administration has traversed difficult terrains and witnessed major disruption occasioned by global pandemic. Lagos had its fair share in the attendant socio-economic meltdown, but we provided strong leadership that protected the people and made the State come out better and stronger.

“Now, we can say ‘Greater Lagos Rising’ because our State is rising on all of our modest achievements through the THEMES agenda. In Transportation and Traffic Management, Lagosians are now living with the reality of the delivery of two intracity Rail Mass Transit projects that are on the verge of completion. These projects will be handed over in the coming weeks.

“We have also scaled up infrastructure in public transportation services by improving BRT services, injecting new taxi scheme and energizing traffic management agency for efficiency. People have seen the construction and commission of Lekki Deep Seaport, and massive road construction projects in the Eti Osa and Epe corridors. We have delivered and are still constructing more new roads in Ikorodu, Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Alimosho, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Somolu and other areas.”

Sanwo-Olu said activities of his administration, since inception, had been about purposeful governance. He added that his Government had delivered new hospitals in Badagry, Epe, and Eti-Osa, pointing out that construction of new hospitals were currently being undertaken in Ikorodu, Ojo and Lagos Island.

In the environment, the Governor said the State was currently constructing 210 new drainage channels to address the issue of flooding in vulnerable communities. He said his Government had also raised the level of infrastructure in emergency response agencies, mentioning the recently completed four fire stations, recruitment of new fire fighters and provision of fire fighting equipment.

The Governor said: “Lagosians can testify to our feats in education. Over 1,000 new classrooms have been added to public schools and we completed over 1,097 projects in schools. We trained our teachers in modern teaching techniques through Eko EXCEL and handed over tablets to them for teaching. Overall performance of Lagos students in WAEC has improved from 42 per cent to over 83 per cent.”

Sanwo-Olu said there had been laudable progress recorded across his Government’s development blueprint, noting that the State had become a model for good governance and development.

The Governor thanked residents for standing by his administration, pledging that he would not take their support for granted.

He urged party members to take back the Government’s achievements back to their communities and engage in door-to-door campaign to ensure APC candidates are elected in the general elections.

Director General of Lagos APC Campaign Council, Sen. Ganiyu Solomon, said the party would have no problem taking its campaign to the electorate, given the “exceptional” performance of the party’s governorship candidate.

Solomon said the second coming of Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat would bring the State to new heights of development and prosperity.

Leader of the Governance Advisory Council (GAC), Prince Tajudeen Olusi, said: “The combination of Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat are the best a democratic society can get in delivering results of good governance. Anyone who wants the development of Lagos to continue, Sanwo-Olu must be allowed to continue the good work he started.”

Sanwo-Olu, assisted by APC chairman, Hon. Cornelius Ojelabi, presented flags to party candidates running for legislative seats in the House of Assembly and National Assembly.

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Osun Tribunal Admits Adeleke’s Certificates as Exhibits

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Ademola Adeleke

— As Oyetola, APC Close Case

The Osun State Election Petition Tribunal on Saturday admitted in evidence the file with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) containing the secondary school certificate and testimonial of Governor Ademola Adeleke of the State.

This is just as the Petitioners, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola and the All Progressives Congress (APC), closed the prosecution of the matter, leaving respondents to state their defence.

The admission of the documents followed the appearance of INEC representative, Mrs. Joan Arabs, who brought Adeleke’s original files containing the certificate he submitted to the Commission in 2018.

It will be recalled that during the last sitting of the panel, the Commission had submitted blank document as the secondary school certificate of the governor, a situation that compelled the panel to order that the original file be brought, and to threaten to invoke Coercive Power if it fails to do so.

At the resumed hearing of the petition on Saturday, Counsel for Oyetola, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), said the hearing for the day was basically meant for the appearance of INEC representative to produce the Adeleke’s file in line with the court order.

Counsel for INEC, in his response, said that INEC representative was already in court with the files containing a clearer and legible certificate and testimonial in question, saying he would be willing to apply for the return of the documents to INEC, when the tribunal is done looking at it.

After the production of the documents, the tribunal, while discharging the INEC official, said, “You can now go if you wish to. No policeman will accost you again.”

Subsequently, Oyetola’s counsel sought to tender the documents which contain form CFO01 and its attachments, including Adeleke’s credentials, saying the original file brought to court is a primary evidence and he was comfortable with it.

Counsel for INEC, Chief Henry Agunedo (SAN), said he would be objecting to the admissibility of the documents on the ground that the basis for the production of the whole file was because only two pages of the earlier-produced Certified True Copies were in contention, saying tendering the whole documents was out of place.

Counsel for Adeleke and PDP, Niyi Owolade and Alex Izinyon (SAN) respectively, said they have objection to the tendering of the said documents, but they would reserve their objections till final address stage.

Izinyon also observed that the only documents in contention were only two pages which are Adeleke’s certificate and testimonial, saying the CTC earlier produced has not been tendered before the court.

Responding, Fagbemi said the practice everywhere is that INEC can only apply and get back the files after the dispensation of the cases, saying, “We asked for CTC and now that they brought this. We are fine, we will take it”.

Ruling on the documents tendered, the tribunal led by Tertsea Kume admitted the credentials and the Adeleke’s nomination form as exhibit ‘FILE D’ and taken as read.

It was after the tribunal admitted the documents that Fagbemi informed the panel that he had decided to close his case, saying, “My Lord, we rest our case”.

When the tribunal asked INEC to open his defence, Chief Agunedo said, it would be difficult for him to open his case on Monday, saying non-availability of his witnesses would make it practically impossible.

The panel then asked the counsel to meet and agree on adjournment date after which Counsel for INEC briefed the panel the outcome of the meeting.

Subsequently, the tribunal adjourned the case till December 20 for the respondents to open their defence, saying the adjournment was based on another engagement by the tribunal somewhere else between 12th and 19th December 2022.

Earlier, Oyetola’s counsel had informed the panel that the Court of Appeal in Abuja had reverted the judgement of a Federal High Court which disqualified Oyetola from contesting the election.

Meanwhile, the outcome of the sitting excited the members of the APC who witnessed the hearing, as jubilations erupted after the sitting of the panel. They chanted songs to eulogise Oyetola and the APC.

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TINUBU WON’T SUCCUMB TO ARISE NEWS BLACKMAIL

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We find it shocking and downright anomalous that Arise News continues to broadcast the participation of All Progressives Congress Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in its Presidential Town Hall meeting scheduled to hold on 4 December, 2022 despite our earlier statement that our candidate will not be available.

We noticed that Arise News has also been running a campaign on the so-called constitutional duty of the presidential candidates to participate in its debate by dubiously citing section 22 of the Constitution of Nigeria on the obligation of the Mass Media.

While it is trite that the media has clear constitutional duty to hold public office holders accountable to the citizens and its role as the watchdog of the society, there is no part of the Constitution and the section 22 that says a presidential candidate of any political party and least of all, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu must participate in Arise News Town Hall event or any media organised event at all.

The same Constitution grants all citizens of Nigeria including, Asiwaju Tinubu the right and freedom of choice and association. The APC Presidential candidate has a right to decide where he goes and events to participate in as he seeks the mandate of Nigerians to be elected as the next President of our country.

We want to make it abundantly clear again that Asiwaju Tinubu will not participate and will not attend the Arise News Town Hall meeting slated for Sunday, 4 December, 2022 and any other ones it may plan before the February 2023 presidential election.

The APC Presidential candidate has his own schedule of campaign activities and other engagements within and outside Nigeria. One of such events is his scheduled event for Monday , December 5, 2022 at Chatham House in London where he will speak on Security, Economy and Foreign Policy.

Asiwaju Tinubu travelled to United Kingdom early today (Saturday) for this earlier scheduled engagement. We want to reiterate for the umpteenth time that no amount of blackmail, intimidation and media bully and innuendos by the owner and management of Arise News will change the position our campaign has taken on this matter.

Bayo Onanuga
Director, Media & Publicity
APC Presidential Campaign Council
December 3, 2022

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