Solution To Nigeria’s Problems Not Secession – Orbih - IReporteronline
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Solution To Nigeria’s Problems Not Secession – Orbih

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The National Vice Chairman, South-south, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Dan Orbih, is the immediate Chairman of PDP in Edo State. In this interview with South-south Bureau Chief, Bisi Olaniyi, he expresses optimism that his party will produce Nigeria’s president in 2023 and that the crude oil and gas-rich Niger Delta region deserves more developmental projects from the Federal Government, among other issues. Excerpts

 

What is your reaction to the March 29, 2021 dismissal of the four remaining petitions against Governor Godwin Obaseki of the PDP, by the Justice Yunusa Musa-led three-member governorship election petitions tribunal in Benin, for lacking merit, not minding the moves by the petitioners to proceed to the Court of Appeal?

For us in PDP, it is a welcome development. The governorship election in Edo State took place on September 19, 2020, which is an aspect of our democracy.

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides for aggrieved parties to seek redress at the election petitions tribunal, Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court.

The election is over and the judges of the tribunal have given their verdicts. It is time for Edo people to come together and work in the interest of the state.

It is also time for Governor Godwin Obaseki of PDP to reach out to every person to come on board to develop the state. There is no need for us to be distracted by appeals and challenges at this time.

Have you forgotten that APC and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu were joined as 4th and 5th respondents respectively in the petition by Action Democratic Party (ADP) and its governorship candidate, Iboi Emmanuel, but the two respondents were first struck out on March 29, when the judgment was delivered?

APC and Ize-Iyamu were joined as busybodies, not as genuine respondents in the petition by ADP and its governorship candidate. That’s why the unnecessary respondents were first struck out by the eminent judges of the tribunal. It is so obvious that PDP won the governorship election in Edo State with a landslide, across the 18 local government areas and the three senatorial districts of the South-south state.

APC was only interested in the technical aspect of the alleged perjury and forgery of the University of Ibadan’s (UI’s) first degree certificate of Governor Obaseki, which have been put to rest by the judgments of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on January 9, 2021 and the Court of Appeal, Abuja on March 18, 2021.

Are you not aware that APC and one of its chieftains, Edobor Williams, are challenging, at the Supreme Court, the verdict of the appellate court in the alleged perjury and forgery suit against Obaseki?

I am not aware, but we will wait for the pronouncement of the justices of the apex court on the matter.

The Imo State experience through the Supreme Court, where the last suddenly became the first, is not likely to happen in Edo State.

For two terms, you were the Chairman of PDP in Edo State, before your recent unopposed election in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, during PDP’s zonal congress. How was the experience, especially being in the main opposition party (PDP), before Obaseki, then of the APC, defected to your party on June 19, 2020, ahead of the September 19, 2020 governorship election, following his disqualification by APC’s screening committee in Abuja, when Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was the National Chairman?

It was a very interesting and quite challenging experience. Parties that are in the opposition, either at the state or federal level, should learn lessons from our experience in Edo State. If you are focused and you are up to it, it may take a little while, but you will get there. Power will not just fall on your laps; you have to work for it.

In 2016, PDP filed a suit against Obaseki, then of APC, on his UI’s certificate saga, but the same Obaseki is now in the PDP and he has suddenly become a saint. Is that not double standard?

When Obaseki was in APC, the suit against him by PDP in 2016 was not entirely about the UI’s certificate. Although there was an aspect of the suit on the UI’s certificate, the major issue, which I am going to speak on for the first time, was that there was a constitutional issue that we (PDP leaders) were challenging.

If not for the fourth amendment to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, only God knows what would have been the outcome of that case.

In the INEC’s form, there is a place where the governorship candidate is asked if he/she has ever been a member of a secret cult. In 2016 the then governorship candidate of APC, Godwin Obaseki, did not fill the particular column and it is not optional. It is a constitutional requirement and if you admit that you have been a member of a secret society, you are automatically disqualified from contesting.

So, it was assumed in 2016, by our (PDP leaders’) estimation, that maybe Godwin Obaseki was a member of a secret society, but he did not want to state it there. In 2020, Obaseki corrected it by declaring that he was not a member of a secret society.

If the case against Obaseki in 2016 was decided on merit, probably, it might have gone the other way. But the fourth constitutional amendment caught up with the case. So, the case was not decided within the specified period of time within which the judge should give the verdict. Eventually, we withdrew from the case and it was struck out.

The suit against Obaseki was not all about the alleged forgery and perjury involving the UI’s certificate of the then governorship candidate of APC, but the certificate matter was also an issue in the filed suit in 2016. When you go to court, lawyers will definitely put in a lot of issues. Secretly, our major case against Obaseki was the secret society matter, while the outside world thought PDP leaders in 2016 were pursuing the issue of UI’s certificate.

I would like to call on members of the National Assembly to revisit the issue of the minimum qualification to contest elections in Nigeria.

The minimum qualification to contest election in Nigeria should be secondary school leaving certificate.

While Obaseki was in APC, you were very critical of his administration, as the then Edo Chairman of PDP, with the videos still on YouTube, but you are now singing his praises. What has suddenly changed?

If Obaseki is still in APC and I am the Edo Chairman of PDP, I will not do anything different from the roles that I earlier played and the constructive criticisms.

As the state chairman of the party, I had the responsibility to win back the Edo government for PDP. All I was doing was to ensure that we won back the government. I was only doing my duties as the state chairman of the then main opposition party (PDP), thereby convincing Edo people of the need to give PDP a chance to win again and govern the Niger Delta state much better.

On March 23 this year, the Government Reservation Area (GRA) houses, near Government House, Benin of three associates of the immediate National Chairman of the APC, Comrade  Adams Oshiomhole, who is a former Edo Governor: Dr. Pius Odubu, the deputy to Oshiomhole for eight years; the member representing Owan Constituency in the House of Representatives, Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, who is a former Secretary to Edo State Government (SSG), and a sports enthusiast, Mr. Mike Itemuagbon were demolished by officials of Edo State Government, on the orders of Obaseki, after the December 21, 2020 revocation of the Certificates of Occupancy (C of Os). Are the demolitions not politically motivated?

The three APC chieftains, whose houses were demolished in GRA, Benin City, are all my friends. We are all Edo people. So, politics should not prevent us from being friends. I do not play politics with bitterness. The government that took the demolition decision is a government that contested the September 19, 2020 governorship election in Edo State and won, under the PDP. I was in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, when the demolitions took place.

As somebody who is watching events closely, as a matter of fact, this is not the first time that a government in Edo State will have reasons to demolish houses on plots of land that belong to the state government.

Houses of the staff of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) in the same GRA, Benin City were demolished by Oshiomhole’s administration.

The current demolitions by Obaseki’s administration are generating so much noise, because politicians are involved.

Recently, Governor Nyesom Wike said as one of the leaders of PDP, he would support the presidential candidate of the party in 2023, and that if his benefactor, the former President Goodluck Jonathan, defects to APC, as is being speculated, he would not support him. Is Wike still completely loyal to his former boss, Dr. Jonathan?

How do you expect Wike to support an aspirant or candidate in another political party? Such a decision will amount to anti-party activity.

Wike is a committed member, frontline leader and respected governor of PDP. He made a statement expected of a loyal member of a political party.

It will be unfortunate for former President Jonathan of PDP to vie in 2023 on APC’s platform. I do not think he will make such a political blunder at this crucial period.

As of today, no member of PDP has publicly declared to contest for president in 2023.

We must get it right in Nigeria in 2023 by electing a better president on PDP’s platform because we are already in a mess, as Buhari’s government has failed, particularly because of insecurity. The primary purpose of government is the protection of lives and property of the citizens. If Nigerians are no longer safe, along with their property, don’t you know that the Federal Government of Nigeria has failed?

The future of Nigeria depends on the youths, but the students are being regularly kidnapped and moved into the forests, with huge ransoms demanded and collected by the fully-armed criminals, especially kidnappers, bandits and terrorists.

Is insecurity in Edo State, with a PDP government, not worse as kidnappers now turn the strategic Benin-Ekpoma-Auchi-Abuja road into a no-go route?

Security is not a state’s function, but the responsibility of the Federal Government, which has failed abysmally to secure the lives and property of Nigerians. Insecurity is all over Nigeria. Do not isolate the kidnappings on Benin-Ekpoma-Auchi-Abuja road. Kidnappings happen across Nigeria on a daily basis, while Buhari’s government has not been able to address the challenge.

Quite unfortunately, officials of the government are now negotiating ransoms with bandits, kidnappers, terrorists and other criminals.

Most Southeasterners are continuing with the secession agitations to have Biafra Republic, not minding the civil war of 1967 to 1970, which led to huge loss of lives and property of many innocent people. Also, agitations to secede are now louder in the Southwestern part of Nigeria, with the clamour for Oduduwa Republic. What do these secession agitations portend for the nation, which the founding fathers prefer to remain united?

The solution to Nigeria’s problems is not secession by people of the Southeast and Southwest zones.

We need to quickly go back to the drawing board and address the problems facing Nigerians, who are opting for agitations to secede.

The secession agitations that are getting louder actually arose from Nigerians’ sincere assessment of Buhari’s government, which they insist has failed to address the nation’s problems and refusing to fulfill the 2015 and 2019 campaign promises.

Nigerians can stay together in one indivisible nation if we have the right leadership that is not clannish in appointments, thereby making all Nigerians to have a sense of belonging.

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Lai Mohammed’s Statement Confirms Buhari Presidency Has Surrendered To Terrorists – PDP

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said the statement by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, that prosecution of bandits is not the responsibility of the Federal Government because it is not a federal offence, has confirmed apprehensions that the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Buhari Presidency have surrendered the nation to terrorists.

The PDP stressed that the statement by the minister is another clear evidence that President Muhammadu Buhari is indeed absent, has completely abdicated the responsibilities of his office and capitulated to bandits.

PDP, in a statement by its Spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan said that Lai Mohammed’s statement further reveals that the Buhari Presidency has not been committed to combating banditry but had, all along, been feeding Nigerians with lies, propaganda and falsehood, while bandits are pillaging the nation.

“It is incredulous that the Buhari Presidency, in its failures, is abdicating a responsibility exclusively vested on it by the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to operate all apparatus of national security; the police, military, paramilitary and all other armed services; to secure lives and property in all parts of our country.

“Perhaps, President Buhari and his Minister of Information need to be tutored that the Second Schedule (Exclusive Legislative List) clearly vested the control of all apparatus of national security on the federal government and not the states.

“Items 2, 28, 38, 45, 57 of the Exclusive List are clear investing the operation of the police, the military and other armed services; the control of arms and ammunitions as well as criminal records among other statutory paraphernalia of national security on the Federal Government and not the state,” the party said.

The PDP said that APC and the Buhari Presidency needs to be tutored that bandits and kidnappers are terrorists and that in line with the provisions of the constitution, the agencies vested with the statutory responsibility of protecting Nigerians from such outlaws are under the control of the Federal Government.

“It is unthinkable that President Buhari, who promised to lead from the front, is now running away from duty while seeking to heap the burden of his office on the states, who do not have control of security agencies.

“Moreover, the fact that a cabinet minister in the shade of Lai Mohammed is left to address this critical aspect of our national security that is vested on the President, shows that our nation is plagued by Presidential absenteeism and a dysfunctional command structure.

“Such situation never occurred under the PDP administration.

“Now that President Buhari and the APC-led Federal Government can no longer guarantee the safety of lives and property, the only way out is for the National Assembly to immediately amend the Constitution and establish state police to guarantee the security of Nigerians as already recommended by the PDP,” the party said.

The PDP called on President Buhari to come out of hiding and address the nation, in his own voice, on the worsening insecurity in our country, occasioned by his misrule.

In the same vein, the PDP is set to commence consultations with critical stakeholders across the six geo-political zones in furtherance of its democratic efforts to rescue the nation from misrule.

The party is also working on templates that will enable it to, within the ambits of laws, further harness suggestions from Nigerians on democratic means to tackle the festering insecurity, guarantee the safety of life and property as well as restore our national stability and cohesiveness.

PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, stated this at the PDP national secretariat on Wednesday, while receiving former Minister of Information and National Orientation and founding National Secretary of the PDP, Prof. Jerry Gana, who recently returned to the party.

Prince Secondus stressed that the main objective of the PDP is to rescue the nation from misrule, adding that it was imperative to tap from the wealth of experience of leaders like Prof. Gana.

Earlier during the visit, Prof. Gana emphasized that Nigeria “is in a dire strait,” adding that all hands must be on the deck to rescue the nation.

“Nigeria is on the brinks. The economy is stagnated. There is insecurity everywhere. Nigerians are beginning to doubt our nationhood. The political answer to the situation today is for PDP to take back power. Nigerians do not deserve what we are going through today. We must take decisive steps that will help rescue our nation,” he said.

Also, the party has vehemently condemned the incessant attacks by suspected killer herdsmen and terrorists on innocent Nigerians in Benue State.

The party further condemned the manifest failure of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC to take decisive steps to apprehend the assailants as well as provide adequate security in the state, even after the attempt on Governor Samuel Ortom’s life.

The PDP holds that the body language and lethargic approach of the APC-led administration appear to validate apprehensions that the assailants are enjoying the cover of some persons in government, in the execution of their bloody enterprise against Nigerian citizens.

“Our party insists that President Buhari has no further excuse but to take responsibility and adopt urgent security measures to stop the carnage in Benue and other states where invading terrorist elements, under various shades are displacing our citizens and taking control of their common patrimony,” the party said.

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Distribution Of CBN’s Free Prepaid Meters Starts Soon -FG

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The Federal Government on Wednesday said the distribution of the four million free electricity prepaid meters promised by the Central Bank of Nigeria would soon commence across the country.

The Minister of Power, Mamman Saleh, disclosed this while answering questions from State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Recall that the CBN had promised to augment the government’s effort to distribute free prepaid meters with additional four million pieces.

Saleh assured Nigerians that the government is wrapping up the distribution of its initial one million meters, which he labelled phase zero, and will soon begin the distribution of the four million others, which he dubbed phase one.

He said, “It’s ongoing, we are almost rounding off. We have almost finished with phase zero, we are now going into phase one of the distribution of the meters, that is the remaining four million the Central Bank promised to augment with.

“The first set is one million, we’re about to finish with that, but you know it’s not the target, one million is very negligible compared to the demand of Nigerians.”

The minister added that Nigeria now generates 5,000 MW as opposed to the initial 3,000MW.

He further disclosed that the FEC approved $8.29 million as well as N3 billion for the execution of six major electricity projects in the country.

Saleh said that the projects, which include the procurement of equipment as well as designs and manufactures, are meant to upgrade Nigeria’s electricity facility and improve power supply across the country.

He added that the Ministry of Power which is under his purview tabled six memoranda to the FEC, with all six being approved.

He said, “The Federal Executive Council today approved six memos under the Ministry of Power. The first one is the award of a contract for the design, manufacturing, and supply of critical spare parts for Crompton Greaves 330 kV, 132 kV, and 33 kV circuit breakers to Messrs. Legen Engineering Nigeria Limited in the sum of N298,339,887.04.

“The second one is the award of the contract for the procurement of 50 sets of 400 AH battery banks, 30 to 50 volts and 30 number of 110-volt battery charges for the substation used by the TCN in favour of Messrs. DTS Transformers Electric Industry Limited at the sum of N644,805,953.10.

“The third award of the contract is for the procurement of 50 cents also of 132 kV isolators for the TCN in favour of Messrs. Leading Diagonal Engineering Nigeria Limited in the sum of $840,650 plus N53,900,000 within the delivery period of six months.

“The fourth one is the contract for the design, manufacturing and the supply of three 60/66 MVA 132kV power transformers with accessories and 15 number of 500 kV transformers, 33/0.415kV earthing transformers for the TCN in favour of Messrs. Zhenjiang Transformers Company Limited, in the sum of N1,296,953,044.55 with a delivery period of 12 months.

“The fifth one is the award of the contract for the design, supply and installation of Optical Wire (OPGW) and Universal Optical Transportation Network System (OTN) for some critical transmission lines in favour of Messrs. Xinjiang Power and Transportation Company Limited in the sum of $6,800,743.51, plus N668,843,634.74, with a delivery period of 12 months

“The last one is the upward review of the contraction for the design, manufacture, supply, installation and commissioning of 1X 100MVA, 132/33kV power transformers at Ogba Transmission Substation, Lagos, in favour of Messrs. Power Control and Appliances Limited, in the sum of $648,038.31, plus N48,342,524.18, with the delivery period of six months.

“All these procurements are geared towards upgrades of the transmission system to the national grid so that we can have sufficient power supply to the nation,” the Minister added.

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Buhari Appeals To Bandits To Release Abducted Greenfield University Students

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Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, has appealed to bandits to free abducted students of Greenfield University, Kaduna State.

Twenty-two undergraduates of the private university were seized from their campus on April 20, 2021, by bandits. Five of them have since been killed by their abductors, while one was released on Tuesday after payment of an undisclosed amount of money in ransom.

Buhari who took to his verified Twitter account to call for the release of the remaining 16 students on Wednesday, condemned what he described as increasing polarization of the country while asking that all hands be on deck to resolve growing insecurity in the country.

The president said he welcomed the release of 27 students of Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Kaduna, who were freed on Wednesday by bandits, while appreciating all those who contributed to their release.

“I welcome the release of the 27 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, and congratulate their friends, families, and the government and people of Kaduna State. We are happy they have been released,” Buhari wrote via his handle, @MBuhari

“Our deep appreciation to all who contributed one way or the other to this happy outcome, in particular, the defence and security agencies, the officials of the Ministry of Environment, and the Government of Kaduna State. We equally thank Nigerians for their prayers.
Muhammadu Buhari

“I again appeal for the release of the students of Greenfield University & all other citizens held in captivity. We will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that Nigerians live in a country where everyone can move where and when they want—without the fear of kidnapping & banditry.

“I call for steadfastness & security awareness on the part of the law enforcement agencies and citizens. Let me once again condemn the increasing politicization of security in Nigeria, by opportunistic politicians. All hands must be on deck to achieve enduring peace & security.”

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