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.”
Coronavirus – Angola: Confronting the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Oil Price Shock
The COVID-19 pandemic and the shock from the falling price of oil have put severe pressure on Angola since the country’s second review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) in December 2019.
Only months after the conclusion of the second review in December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic reached Angola, ushering in economic and health crises. The decline in oil prices further strained the economy, which is heavily reliant on oil exports. The economic downturn and social distancing to contain the spread of the virus have been damaging, especially given the large informal sector.
A swift response to the crisis
The Angolan authorities adopted timely measures to tackle the challenges arising from the COVID-19 shock. Measures to protect public health included quarantine, social distancing, closing of borders with limited exceptions, closures of schools, restaurants, and public events, and limited transportation. The government recently approved a prudent supplementary budget for 2020 using a conservative oil reference price. It has also introduced a comprehensive set of fiscal and monetary measures to support economic activities.
On relief to help vulnerable people:
• Tax exemptions of value-added tax (VAT) and customs duties on goods imported under humanitarian aid and donations.
• VAT tax credit for imported capital goods and raw materials for producing essential consumption goods.
• Interest-free, deferred payment option for social security contributions.
• Regulation of prices for a list of medical goods.
On government spending:
• Freeze of 30 percent of purchases on nonessential goods and services.
• Reduction in the number of ministries from 28 to 21.
• Suspension of selected, nonessential capital expenditures.
• Decrease in travel and real estate investments.
• Additional liquidity support to banks and a liquidity line to buy government securities from nonfinancial corporations.
• A credit-stimulus program.
• Temporary suspension for debt service payments.
• Requirement for banks to provide credit to importers of essential goods.
A proactive external debt management
The government needs to safeguard its ability to continue to service its debt on schedule, even under the current trying circumstances. The government has therefore availed itself of the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative. They have also secured selected debt reprofiling operations with some of their large creditors.
Financial support from the IMF
On September 16, 2020, the IMF’s Executive Board approved the third review under the EFF and additional financial support to Angola to help mitigate the impact of the crises. Accordingly, the IMF has provided $1 billion to Angola, bringing its total expected financial support to about $4.5 billion under the three-year program. The authorities are strengthening their public financial management to improve accountability for the funds received from the IMF and debt relief from creditors.
The path to recovery
It is important for Angola to continue to stabilize the economy, control inflation, keep the reform momentum, and safeguard financial stability. It is also crucial to persevere with structural reforms, such as privatization, improvement in governance in state-owned enterprises, and strengthened legal frameworks. These reforms will help improve the business environment and pave the way for foreign direct investment and growth-enhancing economic diversification.
Republic of Korea Contributes Rice and Cash to Assist Ugandans threatened by locusts
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed 5,000 metric tons of rice and US$300,000 in cash from the Republic of Korea to provide much-needed relief assistance to 781,000 people including refugees and Ugandans threatened by locusts.
“WFP is extremely grateful for the continued generosity of the Republic of Korea since 2018 and its appreciation of the immense humanitarian needs in Uganda, which were suddenly made even more complicated by COVID-19,” said WFP Officer in Charge Ryan Anderson.
”This contribution of 5,000 metric tons of rice found us at a crossroads when we were considering whether to make deeper ration cuts for refugees because of a shortage of funding, even as we have evidence that they already face high food insecurity,” he added.
Combined with other contributions, the rice may allow WFP to maintain rations for 1.26 million refugees at the current 70 percent of a full ration for a while. Valued at US$4.3 million, it will also meet cereal needs of 614,000 refugees in seven settlements towards the end of the year.
The additional US$300,000 in cash will enable WFP to meet the relief needs of 167,000 people in the northeastern region of Karamoja, which is the most food-insecure region in the country and is threatened by a combination of malnutrition among its residents, locusts, floods and animal diseases.
“The Republic of Korea is committed to supporting vulnerable groups of people in Uganda, especially refugees fleeing conflict and nationals faced by chronic food shortages and malnutrition,” said Ambassador Ha Byung-Kyoo.
“We also are very pleased to continue making contributions of rice, which we have heard is appreciated by the refugees and contributes to much needed dietary diversity,” he added.
WFP was forced to reduce rations for refugees in April to 70 percent of a full ration because of funding shortages. The economic pressures that COVID-19 has brought on donor capitals has further complicated funding to feed refugees. WFP is putting in place safety measures in 13 refugee settlements to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during food and cash distributions.
The Republic of Korea has contributed rice to WFP in Uganda annually since 2018 in support of 1.43 million refugees – the highest number of refugees hosted by any country in Africa.
The US$300,000 contribution will also contribute to supporting WFP assistance in Karamoja. Even though families in the region were able to harvest some crops in August, despite repeated sightings of locusts between February and July, the very presence of the pests in the region threatens both agriculture and vegetation needed for animals. Relief food helps to cushion families as the government and UN partners work to control the impact of locusts.
UAE May Reverse Visa Restriction on Nigerians Today Amid Airlines Ban
Nigerian Government Pressures UAE to Revisit Visa Restrictions
Barring any last-minute hitches, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), will today, review the visa restriction placed on Nigerian travellers, following the ban of Emirates Airlines from the most populous black nation.
Sources at the company’s his office in Lagos confirmed that the issue was being reviewed, and the “right” diplomatic approach taken.
This came as aviation stakeholders commended the Federal Government for going “tough and playing tit-for-tat with countries that would not accept Nigerian travellers into their domains.”
The Federal Government, following pressure from some quarters, banned Emirates Airlines from Lagos and Abuja airports, effective today, over refusal to grant fresh visa applications submitted by Nigerians.
The government earlier banned European carriers, with the exception of British Airways, over travel restrictions.
Emirates officials said: “We have met with the Nigerian government on this issue, and we assured them that we will resolve it. We are presently working on it.”
“I hope this issue will be resolved before Monday. One thing I will assure you is that the issue will be resolved earlier than expected,” a manager said.
The Chief Executive Officer of Finchglow Travels, Bankole Bernard, said assurances had been given on the matter.
He noted that Nigeria was third-biggest market to Emirates, adding that the UAE would do everything to sustain their operations.
“UAE should have resolved this matter long ago. The ban means that they will lose the market, and they know the implication.
A market lost is never easily regained. Right now, we are certain that the ban will only affect Monday flights, and hoping that things will be normal by Tuesday,” he added.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, at the weekend, via his twitter handle, announced the suspension of Emirates Airlines from Nigeria, saying the ban would take effect from today.
Emirates Airlines’ situation was reviewed, and they are consequently included in the list of those not approved, with effect from Monday, September 21, 2020,” he said.
The President Muhammadu Buhari administration had in August warned that Nigeria would activate the principle of reciprocity in granting permission to airlines to resume operations in the country as it reopens its airspace.
It said the decision was informed by the embargoing on flights from Nigeria by some nations.
Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, Etihad Airways, Angolan TAG, Air Namibia and Royal Air Maroc were not approved to operate flights into the country.
Aviation stakeholder, Julius Akintunde, said the measures were in the best interest of the economy.
Also speaking, Secretary-General of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), urged that the reciprocity should be done with caution in order for the Nigerian market not to be undermined by neighbours.
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