By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Atiku Abubakar, has been told to do everything possible within his power to mend fences with the Governor of Rivers State, Mr Nyesom Wike.
The Governor contested the party’s ticket a few months ago but lost out after his counterpart from Sokoto State, Mr Aminu Tambuwal, urged delegates at the primary to support the former Vice President of Nigeria.
Mr Wike had believed that the ticket would be his until the last-minute uppercut by Mr Tambuwal, who the Rivers Governor supported for the 2019 presidential primary.
After he lost his ambition to become the next President of Nigeria, Mr Wike had thought that he would be considered for the VP slot, but Mr Atiku opted for the Governor of Delta State, Mr Ifeanyi Okowa. Since then, Mr Wike has threatened fire, asking the chairman of the party, Mr Iyorchia Ayu, to resign.
This week, those in the camp of the Rivers Governor pulled out of the campaign team of the party’s presidential candidate, an action some observers have said could backfire.
But a frontline pan-Igbo socio-political pressure organisation, the South East Revival Group (SERG), wants Mr Atiku to handle the situation with care, warning of “impending political calamity, not just for him as a contestant, but also for the PDP as a political party” if Governor Wike and his protesting camp are ignored.
In a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Mr Willy Ezugwu, the group said Mr Ayu must step down, maintaining that “it was suicidal politically for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to play the my-hands-are-tied card.”
“As the leader of the PDP in prosecuting his 2023 presidential campaign, having emerged as the party’s candidate, the mistake of hiding under the rule of law to sustain injustice and promote lack of honour by party members will be detrimental to the success of the PDP and her presidential candidate in February 2023.
“Atiku must not forget that the entire South, especially the South East, has options after Igbos were denied the presidential ticket by the PDP when it jettisoned the zoning formula as entrenched in the party’s constitution but will now turn around to insist on a lopsided leadership of the party under the guise of the party constitution even when Ayu became the National Chairman of the party based on an agreement that he will resign if a presidential candidate emerges from the north.
“Such other political options will be gladly explored by the South East of Nigeria and other southern political blocs when it becomes expedient.
“It must be noted that with the Peter Obi movement’s increasing acceptance through the current move by young Nigerian people to produce a President of their choice, and the decision of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to produce a northern Muslim vice-presidential candidate from Atiku’s North East constituency, should be ringing the loud political bell in the PDP that ignoring the demands of the Wike camp will be an irredeemable mistake.
“While it is true that the PDP gave Iyorchia Ayu a resounding vote of confidence, the question is, how will such vote of confidence convince traditional PDP zones like the South East and South-South to vote for Atiku?
“Already, the denial of the South East of its well-deserved presidential slot, contrary to PDP’s zoning arrangements, was a way of saying to the region that your loyalty to the party over the years does not matter.
“However, to throw away the aggrieved Wike camp, which cuts across the six geopolitical zones of the country, will be a regrettable decision for Atiku and the PDP,” SERG warned.
SERAP Drags FG to Court over $23m Abacha Loot
By Adedapo Adesanya
A suit has been filed against the federal government by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) over the recently recovered $23 million looted by ex-Head of State, General Sani Abacha.
In a suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1700/2022 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Abuja, the group is asking the court to “direct and compel President Buhari and Mr Abubakar Malami to release and widely publish a copy of the agreement on the Abacha loot with the US.”
In a statement on Sunday by SERAP Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) is joined in the suit as respondent.
The United States government had in August signed an agreement with the federal government to repatriate the $23 million Abacha loot to Nigeria. It was in addition to the $311.7 million Abacha loot repatriated from the US to Nigeria in 2020.
“The Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s international obligations impose transparency obligations on the Federal Government to widely publish the agreement on the $23 million Abacha loot,” SERAP argued in the suit.
“Publishing a copy of the agreement with the U.S. would allow Nigerians to scrutinise it, and to monitor the spending of the repatriated loot to ensure that the money is not mismanaged, diverted or re-stolen.
“The repatriated $23 million Abacha loot is vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. A substantial part of the estimated $5 billion returned Abacha loot since 1999 may have been mismanaged, diverted, or re-stolen, and in any case remain unaccounted for.
“Publishing a copy of the agreement would ensure that persons with public responsibilities are answerable to the people for the performance of their duties, including the management of repatriated loot,” SERAP said.
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Atinuke Adejuyigbe, said the Nigerian Constitution, Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s international obligations rest on the principle that citizens should have access to information regarding their government’s activities.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
Lagos to Severely Punish Those Behind Mushin Collapsed Building
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The owner of the building that collapsed in the Mushin area of Lagos State and others would be “severely punished,” the state government has promised.
On Friday, it was reported that a 3-storey building on 2/4 Oye Sonuga Street, Palm Avenue, Mushin, Lagos collapsed, killing four people and injuring others.
In a statement issued yesterday, the new Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr Omotayo Bamgbose-Martins, said the state government would go after whoever is indicted in the incident, hinting that an investigation has commenced to unravel what happened.
During a visit to the scene of the unfortunate incident, the Commissioner directed that the adjoining building be pulled down for safety reasons, adding that efforts are on to rescue those who might have been trapped in the rubble.
He disclosed that the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) and the Lagos State Materials Testing Laboratory have been directed to unravel the cause of the collapse.
NNPC Opens Talk with Financers on Gas Projects
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited has established talks with the United States Finance Corporation and the African Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) to seek financing for its multi-billion-dollar gas projects.
The Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, disclosed this at the Nigerian International Economic Partnership held in New York as part of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Mr Kyari said: “Inclusion (in energy transition) means we need to be supported. We are already talking to the US DFC, and the EXIM so that they can give us financing and funding for our gas projects, and this is very critical so that we can have that flexibility to move forward and at the back of this.
“I’m sure some of you may be aware that today, we are getting a grant to build baseline carbon emission studies in our country by the United States Government. This is very helpful in the sense that President Muhammadu Buhari, has also asked that we need to be supported. Currently, the major source of financing we are having is from the African Exim.”
Nigeria’s transition to net zero by 2060 requires enormous investments in gas projects which have been positioned as the country’s major transition fuel.
Mr Kyari said Nigeria is looking for opportunities to leverage the gas resources in the country to provide the possibility required for the energy transition.
It will cost $410 billion to transit, according to the federal government, and huge gas projects like the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the NNPC, ECOWAS Commission, and Morocco to deliver pipelines along the African corridor will gulp billions of dollars.
“We are embarking on massive infrastructure and to see how we can deliver the Morocco gas pipeline which will pass through some countries to provide a number of securities including bringing people out of poverty and increasing gas supply in the domestic market,” Mr Kyari said.
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