The call for the removal of the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, by the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has divided the APC’s National Working Committee.
Tinubu had, in a statement on Sunday, accused the national chairman of allegedly working against the ideals of the APC in the handling of its governorship primary in Ondo State.
He had alleged that the National Working Committee of the APC had voted in favour of a fresh primary in Ondo State but Odigie-Oyegun overruled the NWC and submitted the name of Rotimi Akeredolu to the Independent National Electoral Commission as the governorship candidate of the APC.
The statement added, “If Tinubu is to choose between John (Odigie-) Oyegun and progress toward a better Nigeria, the choice has already been made. For those who care about Nigeria and its chance for a better tomorrow, now is the time to stand against this brewing evil before it grows to encompass all we have built and all we hold dear.”
It was gathered in Abuja that members of the NWC, especially those from the South-West, were backing Tinubu, whom they argued was at the verge of being disgraced.
Tinubu is also said to be receiving support from some party chiefs, who were said to have felt they had been sidelined in the party under Odigie-Oyegun’s leadership.
A member of the party’s leadership, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue, said, “I was one of those who cautioned our chairman about the handling of this Ondo palaver.
“He (Odigie-Oyegun) was the one who said we should put the recommendations of the panel to vote, which we did. He asked us to pray but used the opportunity to leave the hall.
“I personally think he is dancing to the tune of some individuals around Mr. President. He should simply step down.”
Asked to comment on the division within the party’s NWC, he said, “Our last meeting made that very clear.
“Six out of the 11 of us present at the meeting voted in favour of a re-run of the Ondo primary; five voted against. Yet, the choice of five was upheld. Is that democracy? You tell me.”
Another member of the NWC said Odigie-Oyegun should not be crucified because he made “an honest mistake here and there. I think this situation is not yet beyond redemption.”
In an interview, another NWC member said, “Let’s be honest, the APC does not belong to any individual. It is a give and take thing. Tinubu asked for and got the VP slot; he has members of his political family in the cabinet and even heads of government agencies. What else does he want?”
A top source in the APC stated that an emergency National Executive Committee meeting might be summoned after the Edo State governorship election to iron out some of the contending issues.
The Deputy National Chairman (South) of the party, Mr. Seguin Oni, in response to enquiries on the issue, said, “Yes, we have issues within the party but we are resolving them.
“You must give us some credit. We are a relatively young party with members drawn from diverse backgrounds. There are bound to be issues but we have the internal capacity to deal with our issues and we are doing it; be patient.”
The acting National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Timi Frank, backed Tinubu’s call for Odigie-Oyegun’s resignation.
He said he saw this coming long before now, stressing that many did not take him seriously.
He said, “I said there was crisis within the party. At that time, I was alone; nobody saw what I saw coming. The crisis of this party came up when the issue of the National Assembly came up; the position of the party leadership against its own party members, Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara, for the party to close its eyes to the travails of these two men.
“Today, God has vindicated me after the Ondo primary. A national leader of our party, a founding father of the party has agreed with my earlier call that Odigie-Oyegun should resign as National Chairman. I knew from day one that the person that we have as national chairman could not give what he does not have.
“It is now clear that (Odigie-) Oyegun cannot take this party to where it is going. Can we now deny that one of the founding fathers of this party has come out clear to say Oyegun should resign?’’
Meanwhile, Odigie-Oyegun has said he will not take issue with Tinubu.
Odigie-Oyegun, who spoke on Monday in Benin, said Tinubu, a former Lagos State governor, was a respected leader in the party, adding that he would have to consult with other party leaders before making a statement.
He, however, said “most” of the allegations in the media report were “not true,” noting that the party would focus on the September 28 governorship election in Edo State, which he said was his “priority”.
He said, “Asiwaju is a well respected leader of our party; so, I cannot be seen speaking evil against him. I have to consult properly with other leaders of the party before we make any definite statement. Again, you know we have a crucial election here in Edo, which is my priority right now.
“We do not want to lose focus and I know Asiwaju also wants us to win because we all have worked hard for this. So, maybe, after the election, if there is need, I will speak. If (there is) no need, I will relax. But all I can say now is that most of the things said in the papers about me are not true.”
Odigie-Oyegun stated that he had always believed in internal democracy and the credibility of primaries, which must be taken seriously.
The former Edo State governor added, “I believe that if primaries of parties are not credible, it may derail any democracy. So, I do not play with these things at all. Everybody knows me and I do not joke with my credibility and I have tried to maintain it.’’
“But maybe after Edo election, after we must have emerged victorious, we may speak on some of the issues raised. So, there is no problem at all.”
It was learnt that Odigie-Oyegun came under serious pressure on Monday not to respond to Tinubu’s call on him to resign as the APC national chairman.
The outburst of Tinubu was said to have confirmed the internal wrangling in the ruling party.
However, Odigie-Oyegun, who was said to have been seriously jolted by Tinubu’s accusation, was said to have been prevailed on by some ministers and governors from the APC not to respond to Tinubu’s attack.
A minister, who spoke on condition of anonymity said he, along with some of his colleagues, had called the party chairman not to speak.
He said while it was true that the former governor of Lagos State had every reason to be embittered, allowing the party chairman to respond would further portray the ruling party as uncoordinated.
The top party chief stated, “Though it is painful when you are accused of something and you feel you needed to reply, but we have told him to keep quiet because we don’t want the opposition and the media to feast on it.
“The matter is being looked into and I think the leaders of the party, especially President Muhammadu Buhari, must act fast, otherwise, the party will die under his Presidency.”
Reacting to the crisis in the APC, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, elder statesman and former aide to ex-President Shehu Shagari, called on Tinubu to condemn what he described as the current injustice in the party before it degenerated.
Claiming that he “foresaw” the current crisis, Yakasai also urged Tinubu to tackle Buhari, alleging that Tinubu’s political travails were well-thought-out and plotted in the Presidency.
Yakassai said, “From all indications, every right thinking person will figure out a sinister plot to bundle out Tinubu from the hierarchy of the APC; and I want to believe this is coming from the Presidency.
“The situation at the moment is that apart from the CPC (Congress for Progressive Change) members, everybody in the government is a mere onlooker.’’
Also, one of the Ondo State governorship aspirants of the APC, Dr. Tunji Abayomi, has asked Tinubu, to accept the result of the APC governorship primary in the state “instead of chasing a lost cause.”
Abayomi said on Monday while reacting to Tinubu’s statement, demanding the resignation of Odigie-Oyegun.
Abayomi urged Tinubu to behave like a true democrat and accept Akeredolu.
He said, “Asiwaju Tinubu is a respected leader of the party and is also a champion of democracy. “He needs to understand that in life, you cannot win every battle. You win some and you lose some. Now that he has lost, he should accept the outcome and act like a true leader by accepting the outcome of the primary.”
Envoy Considers Establishment Of Chinese Banks In Nigeria To Boost Economy
Mr Cui Jianchun, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, says he is in talks with Chinese owned Banks to establish operations in Nigeria.
This, the envoy said, is to boost Nigeria’s economy and expand trade relations between the two nations.
Cui made this known on Tuesday in Abuja while addressing Journalists during the commemoration of the 2021 Chinese Moon Festival and China-Nigeria Cultural week.
According to Cui, the establishment of Chinese Banks in Nigeria will also be one of the key areas of discussion during the China-Nigeria Binational Committee meeting, which he is also pushing for the establishment.
He said that an efficient financial institution was a key driver to achieving a strong economy, one Nigeria can learn from China’s experience.
“Before my departure from Beijing to Abuja, I talked to several banks in China. When you list the World’s 10 big banks, six are in China.
“The Banking sector is very important, because, without money, we cannot build our industries.
“What I am thinking here is best to talk to the governor of Central Bank and how we can allow the Chinese Banks to run office here and now, they are doing the feasibility studies on that.
“I am working hard that in the Bi-national meeting, I hope we can make a big decision and give a big push to let the banking industry and insurance industry because financial integration and institutions are key.
“If you go to China, you will find our banking industry is very powerful, not only for business but the change in the way of life.
“Because of the COVID-19, the Banking Industry is a little hesitant, but I told them Nigeria has a lot of human resources and as long as we work together, we can do big things.
“And that is why it is important to invest in the banking industry, to solve this problem,” Cui said.
Extolling the extant China-Nigeria trade relations, Cui noted that the volume of trade between China and Nigeria is nearly 20 billion US Dollars, with an increase from 2020’s 19.2 billion dollars.
Cui said the Chinese economy is restoring to the normal post-COVID-19 pandemic and both governments are working hard on how to expand imports and exports.
Speaking on the event, Cui said the China’s moon festival is a very important and significant one for China as it symbolises family reunion, national peace and social harmony.
The envoy said the 2021 celebration is also a special one as it coincides with the 50th Anniversary of China-Nigeria’s bilateral relations.
He said that both countries also share Oct. 1 as their National Days.
He said it is also on that note that the Chinese Embassy is honouring 50 Nigerian employees of Chinese Companies in Nigeria for their outstanding performance and contribution to strengthening diplomatic ties.
Dr Ifeoma Anyanwutaku, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, also lauded the Nigeria-China relations.
She said the relations had recorded great successes over the past five decades.
“The five decades of co-operation had since witnessed several cultural activities and exchanges in the spheres of arts, music, dance, exhibition, cultural administration, training and capacity building of cultural officers.
“And recently, the development of Cultural Industries centres in Nigeria, among others.
“I must add that China, through the youth-oriented programmes such as the photos competition and similar activities in the past is surely a dependable ally.
“In redirecting the energy and mind of our youth to creative ventures, thereby furthering the Nigerian government’s policy of lifting a hundred million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years”, Anyanwukatu said. (NAN)
Lagos Prohibits Open Cattle Grazing, Sanwo-Olu Signs Bill Into Law
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Monday, assented to the bill prohibiting Open Cattle Grazing and Trespass of Cattle on Land, signing the legislation into law 11 days after it was unanimously passed by the State House of Assembly and transmitted to the Executive arm for authorisation.
By implication, it is now criminal in Lagos for cattle rearers to occupy unapproved public areas and private land with their livestock for grazing. The law also prohibits the act of moving cattle round public places by herders.
The signing of the anti-open grazing law by the Governor followed the decision of Southern Governors’ Forum last August, setting the September deadline to pass the law across member States.
There have been crises witnessed in some States, resulting from alleged open grazing.
Although farmer-herder crisis is not pronounced in Lagos, the anti-open grazing law is expected to prevent the spillover of the menace into the State.
Sanwo-Olu, who assented to the bill during the State’s Executive Council meeting in Alausa, directed the security agencies to swing immediately into action and enforce provisions of the law.
He said: “By the powers vested in me as the Governor of Lagos State, I am signing the bill on Open Cattle Grazing and Trespass of Cattle on Land into law to prohibit issues associated with open grazing of livestock.”
The Governor also signed legislation transforming the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) into a full-blown agency.
The development coincided with the commemorative month dedicated to raising awareness on gender-based violence in the State. The Governor and members of the State’s cabinet wore attire with purple shades to support the campaign against sexual violence.
The DSVRT legislation provides for the establishment of Sexual Offenders’ Register that would help the State efficiently tackle violations in the communities.
After signing the law, Sanwo-Olu said: “Raising awareness about domestic and sexual violence is an important piece of working to end the cycle of violence. It is important to reiterate the State Government’s zero tolerance to all forms of sexual and gender-based violence. We will not rest on our oars until the menace is reduced to the barest minimum in Lagos.”
The Governor appointed Mrs. Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi as the Executive Secretary of the new agency.
Vivour-Adeniyi was the coordinator of the response team before the legislation was signed into law.
ECOWAS Imposes Sanctions on Guinea Junta Over Coups
West African leaders have decided to impose travel bans and freeze the financial assets of members of Guinea’s ruling junta and their families after a coup more than a week ago.
The decisions were announced Thursday after an Extraordinary Summit on Guinea in Ghana’s capital, Accra. Mediators with the regional group had traveled to Guinea to meet with junta leaders and check on the condition of deposed President Alpha Conde.
ECOWAS president Jean Claude Brou said the West African leaders have also insisted that there should be no “need for very long transition for the country to return to democratic order.”
The targeted sanctions come after Guinea’s coup leaders set a number of conditions for releasing Conde, according to the foreign minister of Ghana.
ECOWAS had already warned it will impose penalties on the junta in Guinea unless it immediately releases Conde, who has been held at an undisclosed location since being detained during the Sept. 5 coup in Conakry.
“We are coming to address a burning issue in the region,” said Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the current chair of the regional bloc, ahead of the summit. He was joined by presidents or high-ranking officials from eight of the other 15 ECOWAS countries.
Members of the ECOWAS delegation that visited Conakry after the coup presented their reports at Thursday’s meeting, said Ghanaian Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway. The junta has set a number of conditions for complying with the demands of regional mediators, she said but declined to disclose what they are.
The delegation has spoken with Conde’s doctor “who ascertained that indeed physically, he’s very well,” she said. However, she said, the ex-president is still coming to terms with the fact that his government has been toppled after more than a decade in power.
“For anybody who has gone through such a traumatic experience like he did, mentally, it’s not the best, not to say that mentally we found anything wrong, but he was quite shocked; he’s still in a state of shock,” she added.
Meanwhile, in Conakry, junta leaders were also set to meet with mining company representatives on the third day of a special summit to chart Guinea’s political future. Junta leader Col. Mamady Doumbouya has sought to reassure the country’s most vital economic sector that the political changes will not impact existing mining projects in the country, which has the world’s largest reserves of bauxite.
Guinea’s coup leaders have yet to make public their proposed timeframe for handing over power to a civilian transitional government, nor have they outlined how quickly new elections can be organized.
Conde had sparked violent street demonstrations last year after he pushed for a constitutional referendum that he used to justify running for a third term, saying term limits no longer applied to him. He ultimately won another five years in office last October, only to be toppled by the coup 10 months later.
At the time he came to power in 2010, he was Guinea’s first democratically elected leader since independence from France in 1958.
The regional bloc also planned to tackle concerns over whether a second member state, Mali, is making enough progress toward a return to democracy more than a year after a military takeover there.
In Mali, the ruling junta led by Col. Assimi Goita has committed to holding new elections by February 2022, though mediators who recently visited have expressed concern about whether that deadline now can be met.
Goita overthrew Mali’s president in August 2020 and then agreed to a civilian transitional government and an 18-month timeframe for holding a vote. However, only nine months after the first coup he effectively staged a second one, firing the civilian interim leaders and ultimately naming himself as president of the transition.
ECOWAS has not reinstated Mali’s membership in the bloc, marking the first time since 2012 that two of the 15 member states are suspended concurrently.
ECOWAS President Brou said there was the need to revisit the organization’s 2001 protocol on good governance “because a lot of things have changed or improved.”
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