Pro-Saraki senators reject Lawan, Akume as Senate leaders

The current crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress, worsened on Saturday when senators loyal to Senate President, Bukola Saraki, vowed to resist alleged moves by the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and other party chieftains to impose Senators Ahmad Lawan and George Akume as the Senate leader and deputy, respectively.
Senators Ahmed Sani-Yerima and Danjuma Goje, who spoke with journalists in Abuja, specifically declared that the plans by the leadership of the APC to fill the remaining four principal-officer positions with ranking members of the Senate Unity Forum was totally unacceptable.
The Senators Unity Forum consists of loyalists of Lawan, who lost the Senate Presidency bid to Saraki.
The remaining leadership positions yet to be filled in the senate include, Senate Leader; Deputy Senate Leader; Senate Chief Whip; and Deputy Chief Whip.
Our correspondent learnt that the APC leadership had allegedly been perfecting an arrangement which would see Lawan emerging as the Senate leader and Senator George Akume as his deputy.
The pro-Lawan group, which has the backing of Tinubu, was also said to have picked Professor Olusola Adeyeye (Osun) as the Senate Chief Whip, while Senator Abu Ibrahim from Katsina State would be his deputy.
But Senator Sani-Yerima, a former Senate Deputy Minority Leader, and Goje, a former governor of Gombe State, insisted that the pro-Saraki Like Minds senators would resist imposition of principal officers on the chamber.
Sani-Yerima maintained that the election of the four principal officers was the exclusive right of the zonal caucuses in the Senate.
He said the move by the APC leadership was illegal, adding that “there can never be imposition of candidates on the chamber by the party leadership”
He said, “As far as I’m concerned, the party cannot impose leadership on us. It is unconstitutional and against the rules of the Senate.
“The Senate Majority Leader; Deputy Majority Leader; Senate Chief Whip; Deputy Chief Whip were elected by their zonal caucuses in the Seventh Senate and the case of the Eighth Senate cannot be different.
“The best thing the party can do, given the circumstances, is to give us directives. Any attempt to impose will be resisted and this will further divide the party.”
He also, insisted that the party must follow due process, stressing that the Senate Presidency of Senator Bukola Saraki was committed to protecting the interests of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said, “We should follow due process. Allowing the party to impose a leadership on the Senate President is to make him to fail because he cannot be forced to work with his rivals.
“We are committed to giving President Buhari protection in the Senate. What we are doing is definitely not against the President.”
On his part, Goje warned the party against imposition of candidates, adding that such a move would likely further polarise the party.
He said, “By trying to impose another set of leaders on the National Assembly is to cause further crisis in the party. It will complicate matters and generate further crisis in the National Assembly.”
Spokesperson for the pro-Lawan senators, Kabir Marafa, described the argument of the pro-Saraki senators as incorrect and argued that the choice of other principal officers who are not elected on the floor of the Senate remained the sole business of the party leadership.
He said, “It is not possible for the executive of the party at the zonal levels to determine who will be made the Senate Leader, the Deputy Senate Leader, Chief Whip, and the Deputy Chief Whip. It has never happened and it won’t happen this time around.
“The party executive must determine all the occupants of the four principal offices. The party will write the Senate President. That is the tradition. It cannot be done at the zonal level. We must follow due process.” Culled from Punch.

Boko Haram Leads In World Fatalities Rankings

Boko Haram ranks first among the world’s terror groups in terms of the number of fatalities in 2014, according to the US Department of State annual terrorism report for last year.
“Although ISIS was responsible for the greatest amount  of attacks last year, it was a close second to Boko Haram in number of fatalities”, the report said.
The report also singled out the Islamist group, led by Abubakar Shekau, as sharing ISIS penchant for the use of brutal tactics”.
Boko Haram drew world attention in April last year when it kidnapped more than 200 school girls in Chibok, Borno State.
The group was also behind sustained attacks in the three North-East states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
President Muhammadu Buhari just relocated the military command to Maiduguri, Borno State capital, to contain the Islamist group.
Meanwhile, the US Department of State report said ISIS was beating al Qaeda at being the world’s leading terrorist group.
The “unprecedented” spread and brutality of ISIS, its strength in recruiting foreign fighters, messaging and its ability inspire lone wolf attacks have helped the group supplant al Qaeda as the leading global terrorist group, said the report. The report said both were adapting their tactics in ways which are more brutal and harder to trace.
“The prominence of the threat one posed by core al Qaeda diminished in 2014,” the report found. In addition to significant losses of its core leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan, it noted that “AQ leadership also appeared to lose momentum as the self-styled leader of a global movement in the face of ISIL’s rapid expansion and proclamation of a Caliphate.”
The number of terrorist attacks in 2014 increased 35% over the previous year, but were more heavily concentrated in a handful of countries. More than 60% of all attacks took place in five countries — Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Nigeria — according to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland, which compiles statistics on worldwide terrorism.
The U.S. is “deeply concerned” about the growth of ISIS beyond Syria and Iraq and the birth of self-proclaimed affiliates, the report found, particularly in Libya, Egypt and Nigeria. It acknowledged questions remain about the meaning of such affiliates – whether they represent a command relationship or the groups simply share “merely opportunistic relationships” with ISIS.
Although al-Qaida’s leadership has been weakened, the report said the group “continued to serve as a focal point of inspiration” for its worldwide network of affiliates, such as AQAP in Yemen, al-Nusra Front in Syria and al-Shabaab in Somalia.
Even as it negotiates with the U.S. and other world powers on a nuclear deal, the report found Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism worldwide last year remained “undiminished.”
“These attacks may presage a new era in which centralized leadership of a terrorist organization matters less, group identity is more fluid and violent extremist narratives focus on a wider range of alleged grievances and enemies with which lone actors may identify and seek to carry out self-directed attacks,” the report found.
The U.S. has been working to “shift” it’s counterterrorism strategy to more effectively partner with countries where terrorist networks have a foothold, the report said. The US has assembled a sixty-plus nation global coalition to stop ISIS advances on the ground, counter its messaging and stem the flow of foreign fighters and financing.
The U.S. is also working with allies in North Africa and the Middle East to strengthen their counter-terrorism capabilities and help them develop new laws to address the foreign fighter issue.

Northern Group Holds Solidarity Rally For Tinubu

A group, Patriotic Northern Coalition for Justice, Peace and Equity, will hold a solidarity rally in Kaduna to express gratitude to the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC ), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu .The National Coordinator of the coalition, Alhaji Babangida Sule-Manchok Jnr, told newsmen in Kaduna yesterday that the rally will hold immediately after the fasting period .He pledged that all its members across the 19 northern states in the country and beyond have been notified about it .He said the coalition was working for the development of the north and will therefore support any individual or group that works towards the success of the region .“As a group, our basic interest is to work for the progress of the country in general and the North in particular .“So , we will support anyone who has worked or is still working for the betterment of the region or have the interest of our region at heart.“By working tirelessly to ensure the victory of our son , brother , father and leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, Bola Tinubu has shown that he is a true friend of the region .“Even though people have grown tired of former President Goodluck Jonathan , it would have been difficult to defeat him if not for the unique commitment of Tinubu towards ensuring that his South -West region voted overwhelmingly for Buhari. ”He went on : “ So as part of our gratitude , we are organising this solidarity rally is to show him that we , the Northerners , are grateful to him for what he has done for us .“It is not a political rally because electioneering campaigns have come and gone . ?“This is a rally of gratitude and of a grateful people . In the rally , we shall also acknowledge all those who played one role or the other in the victory of Buhari.”Asked if there were moves by some to work against Tinubu in APC as being reported, he said: “ We won ’t even allow anybody or group of persons from any part of the country to plan anything against Tinubu ’s interest in APC .“It is true that such moves are ongoing and we even know some of the people involved, but they won’ t succeed .“Selfish politicians can’ t just sit down and begin to plot against someone we in the North are planning to appreciate for what he has done for us.”

Ganduje slashes salaries, allowances of political office holders by 50 %

Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State on Saturday announced a 50 per cent cut in the salaries and allowances of all political officer holders in the state.
Ganduje made the announcement in Kano during the swearing in ceremony of 13 new commissioners for the state.
“I hereby announce that the salaries and allowances of all political office holders are reduced by 50 per cent.
“We shall pursue an aggressive internal revenue generation in view of the dwindling oil revenue from the federation account as business will no longer be as usual,” he said.
The governor disclosed that the new administration had also introduced new reforms including reduction in the number of ministries from 19 to 14, to cut cost of governance.
He said that the commissioners were selected on merit and urged them to deploy their expertise to the service of the state.
Ganduje added that they must discharge their responsibilities with utmost sense of accountability, transparency and fear of Allah.
NAN reports that the new commissioners include the immediate past NUJ President, Malam Mohammed Garba as Commissioner of Information, Youth and Culture, Alhaji Murtala Garo, Local Government and Community Development and Haruna Falali, Justice.
Others are Dr Kabir Getso, Health, Alhaji Usman Ririwai, Water Resources and Rural Development, Prof. Kabir Dandago, Finance, Hajiya Zubaida Sharif, Women Affairs, Alhaji Ali Makoda, Environment and Alhaji Rabi’u Bako, Commerce.
The rest include Hajiya Aisha Mohammed-Bello, Planning and Budget, Garba Lambu, Works and Housing, Alhaji Faruk BB Faruk, Lands and Physical Planning while the Deputy Governor, Prof. Hafiz Abubakar will oversee the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. (NAN).

Ambode Appoints Agosu Ag CEO Of LSDPC

Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi AmbodeFriday approved the appointment of Engineer Jacob Agosu as the Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSDPC).
Governor Ambode also approved the immediate reorganization of the LSDPC to stem the tide of negative capital returns in the corporation, according to a statement signed by Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Habib Aruna.
“Consequently, Mr Taofeek Abiodun Oki, the Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer and three Principal officers of Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSPDC) have been relieved of their appointment” he said.
Prior to his new appointment, Engineer Jacob Agosu was the Deputy General Manager (Joint Ventures) in the Corporation and a member of the Nigeria Society of Engineers and the Nigeria Institute of Structural Engineers.
He joined the services of the LSDPC in March 1984.

We’re Ready To Regain Power From APC In 2019-PDP

The Peoples Democratic Party has said it has recovered from electoral defeat it suffered in the 2015 general elections saying it has begun moves to recapture power from the All Progressives Congress in  2019.
It said one of the moves aimed at winning the elections in the future was the election of the Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, as the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum.
The party hailed the process that led to Mimiko’s emergence, saying the development reflects the unity and sense of purpose within its fold, especially at this rebuilding time.
The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, in Abuja on Saturday, described Mimiko as a seasoned administrator and a highly organized person, who is eminently equipped for his new role as the Chairman of the Forum.
He also commended the governors for their continued commitment towards the party “as it reengineers and repositions to regain power in 2019.”
Metuh added that the recent political events in the country have continued to vindicate the PDP as “the only true national platform committed to national interest, where all citizens as equal partners are free to hold opinion and aspire to any position, no matter how high, without regard to creed, class or ethnic considerations and in which no individual or group of individuals can claim ownership or attempt to appropriate control.”
Stating that the PDP “has since overcome the setback of the last general elections,” the spokesperson for the opposition party said as a party founded on the principles of freedom, equality, justice and national unity, the PDP’s spirit “is still alive and stronger now more than ever before, in the minds of most Nigerians and families in all the nooks and crannies of the country.”
He, therefore, charged its members in all the wards, local governments and states of the federation to close ranks, double their efforts and continue to work with their leaders at all levels to ensure that the PDP comes out stronger to regain power at the center and in its traditional states come 2019.

”We’ll Consider Rent To Own” Policy In Housing Sector-Ambode

Lagos State governor, Mr Akinwumi Ambode on Friday said the state would consider adopting a ‘rent and own’ policy in resolving its housing deficiency.
In a chat with media executives at his office in Alausa, Ikeja, Ambode acknowledged that it was not easy for a winner of a three-bedroom flat, under the state government’s housing scheme, to make an initial payment of about N5 million– half the cost– before spreading out the balance through monthly payments.
He noted that it was unnecessary for a bachelor or spinster to own a three-bedroom flat, stressing that it was better for those in this category to get studio apartments and upgrade to more spacious accommodations when they get married and started having children.
He appreciated the solid foundation already laid by his predecessors in office in the state, and called for suggestions and constructive criticism by all residents, including the media, so as to build on what was on ground.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes Ambode as noting that the multi-modal approach already in place to tackle transportation problems in the state would be improved upon.
Stressing that his mantra would be ‘continuity with improvement’, the governor said that the involvement of the private sector in solving Lagos State’s transportation problems would be intensified.
He said that though about 230 private boat operators were transporting about a million people daily through the waterways, more were welcome.
The governor said that as more means of mass transportation came on board, the more than 600,000 private car owners and 120,000 motorcycles that were being put on the road in the state on daily basis would reduce in number.
On dwindling federal allocation, Ambode said that the state would enlarge its internally generated revenue drive, without bringing hardship to residents.
According to the governor, less than half of the taxable adults in the state currently meet their civic obligations and it was time more were made to key in without increasing taxation.
Ambode also said that more effort would be put in place to promote tourism in the state and use this to provide jobs for the teeming unemployed, adding that a summit would soon be convened to address the critical issues in the sector.
The governor also said that with a view to making the state the hub of investments in the West African sub-region, modalities were being put in place to woo more genuine investors from far and near.
Reiterating that his focus would be to shift development to the rural areas and thereby arrest urban drift, Ambode noted that the provision of electricity, potable water and other social amenities would receive priority attention. (NAN)

Lagos State Gov., Akinwunmi Ambode In Mosque

Lagos State Gov, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode (middle), his Deputy, Dr. (Mrs.) Oluranti Adebule (2nd left), Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello (left), the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu II (left) and the Chief Imam of Lagos, Alhaji Akinola Garuba (2nd right) during a Special Thanksgiving Jumat at the Lagos Central Mosque, Lagos,on Friday, June 19, 2015.

FG Sets Up Committee To Investigate NIMC labour crisis

The Federal Government has inaugurated an independent committee to address the labour crisis between the National Identity Management Commission and the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria.
Deputy Director of Press, Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Mr. Samuel Olowookere, disclosed this in a statement in Abuja on Friday.
The statement noted that the committee, inaugurated by Dr. Clement Illoh, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, would look into the purported certificate forgery and irregular career progression in the commission.
It quoted Olowookere as saying that the upgrade and promotions resulting in proposed dismissal of some staff of the commission were also to be considered by the committee.
He said, “I have no doubt that the outcome of this assignment will put to rest all the suspicious misconceptions, ill feelings, emotional outbursts and tension this crisis has generated in the commission.”
He said members of the committee were drawn from the ministry, NIMC, ASCN, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice and Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Other members of the committee were drawn from the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation and the Federal Civil Service Commission.
He added that the single term of reference of the committee was to ascertain whether the disciplinary actions taken by NIMC were based on due process, transparency and accountability.

We Won’t Make President’s Assets Declaration Public-CCB

The Code of Conduct Bureau has declared that it will not make public the details of assets declared by President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo due to limitations in federal laws covering such release.
The presidency said those details will be made available after the Code of Conduct Bureau authenticates claims in the declaration forms.
There has been controversy following the inability of President Buhari and his Deputy Osinbajo to release details of their assets since their inauguration May 29, despite the promise to do so.
Buhari pledged to publicly declare his assets despite the lack of a law requiring him to do so as the 1999 Constitution stated that office holders declare their assets, without requiring them to do so publicly.
A civil society group, Stop Impunity Nigeria, an affiliate of the Centre for Social Justice, had on June 1, 2015 applied to the CCB to request copies of the completed assets declaration forms by the President and his deputy.
The application, signed by the Lead Director of the Centre, Eze Onyekpere, was pursuant to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, FOIA, 2011.
But, in its response CCB/HQ/670/G/1/104 dated June 10, 2015 and signed by Ijeanuli Ofor on behalf of the Chairman, the CCB declined the request, citing the absence of prescribed law by the National Assembly authorizing the release of such information to the public.
The Bureau however, conceded the right by Nigerians under section 1(1) 3 and 4 of the FOIA 2011, to “access or request information, whether written or not in written form, in the custody of any public agency”.
According to the Bureau, regardless of this, ‘’sections 12(1) (a) (v), 14(1) (b) and 15(1)9a) of the same Act empowered it to decline any request, which it considered an invasion of personal privacy.
“Assets declarations by public officers contain such personal information, which falls within the exemptions to the disclosure of information in the FOIA,” the Bureau added, explaining further that, paragraph 3(c of the Third Schedule, Part 1 of the constitution (as amended) empowered it to “make assets declarations of public officers available for inspection by any citizen of Nigeria only on terms and conditions prescribed by the National Assembly.
“However, the terms and conditions under which that can be done have not yet been prescribed by the National Assembly.”

Saraki Seeks Obasanjo’s Support To End APC-Senate Crisis

The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki has admitted to the  crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress and that the leadership of the party was already addressing it.
He opened up to journalists after a two-hour closed-door meeting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo in his Abeokuta, Ogun State Hilltop residence on Friday.
Saraki arrived Obasanjo’s residence at 9.10am, in company with Senators Ahmed Yerima, Andy Uba, Tayo Alasoadura and Danjuma Goje.
Others in his entourage were a former National Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party and a former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and a former acting National Chairman of the PDP, Kawu Baraje.
All were former PDP members who defected to the APC.
Emerging from Obasanjo’s inner chamber two hours after, at exactly 11.10am, Saraki admitted that his emergence as Senate President and that of his counterpart at the lower chamber, Yakubu Dogara, caused crisis within the APC.
He, however, expressed confidence that the issues would be resolved.
He said, “As you can see, things are moving smoothly. Definitely, be rest assured that all that (the crisis) would be put behind us very shortly. We are very confident about that.”
Saraki also expressed his support for a downward review of the salaries and allowances of legislators to reflect the current economic realities in the country.
He said, “Well, I think that is already in progress. If you remember, last time, it was about N150bn and it is coming down to N120bn. I think the situation in the country deserves that every public servant must make sacrifices and whatever sacrifice that is necessary, we will do it. And that is being done.
“So, rest assured that we are sensitive. We are aware of the situation in the country and if we are going to lead, we must lead by example and we would do that.”
Speaking about the team’s visit to Obasanjo, Saraki said they had come to pay homage and seek the former President’s advice and blessings because of his immense value to the country.
He said, “I’m here with some of my colleagues. We are here to pay our homage to him, seek his advice, get his blessings and also consult (with him).
“We all know President Obasanjo’s value to this country and we are here to tap from his wisdom, knowledge and experience.”

APC Deceived Us With Their Change Slogan — Ameh

Chief Peter Ameh is the National Chairman of Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA. In this interview, he bares his mind on the recent development in the nation’s political scene. Ameh while x-raying the controversies which characterised the recently conducted National Assembly leadership election concluded that a bi-partisan legislature is good for the country.
How would you react to the controversies generated by the election of presiding officers in the National Assembly?
There have been a lot of intrigues behind closed doors among the various blocs that came to form the All Progressive Congress, APC, that gave it the power it now has and the ability to have the national spread that gave it the advantage to take over power at the centre.
These power blocs have been pitching opinion against opinion and interest against interest, and that is what has really made this thing very difficult. But nevertheless, we know that there is a good intention from the elected president. But APC as a party is making very serious mistakes maybe from the leadership.
I thought that based on their popular slogan of Change, that they would be an all-inclusive party, a party that has respect for internal democratic process, a party that has respect for the interest, wishes and aspirations of it members. But so far, APC has fallen short of that and has failed to achieve that in a lot of areas.
Like the National Assembly elections, I want to sincerely fault the leadership of the APC. While we commend the President, Muhammadu Buhari for accepting that he would work with any person that is chosen as leader at the National Assembly level. We want to fault the negative influence of the APC as a political party in the leadership process of the National Assembly.
Because one, if you say a member who wants to contest for the post of the Senate President has an interest and that member is a member of your party, and that member has contributed financially up to date, the member has contributed personal manpower by moving from one state to another campaigning for the victory of the APC. You said that member should not run that you have a preferred candidate, what have you done? Have you not infringed on the right of that person to participate and have you not refused to create a fair playing field for participation for all your members? Have you not refused to create an all-inclusive process of election?
These were all the things that the previous political parties like the PDP were doing that were wrong that caused the party to crash and yet APC claimed change. APC would have allowed its members to elect the leader or leaders of their choice without any imposition.
As the national chairman of a political party do you think Senator Saraki and Speaker Dogara violated party discipline by contesting against the party’s nominated candidates in the leadership contests?
I want to tell you one thing, our party the PPA, had people like Senator Uche Chukwumerijie of blessed memory elected to the Senate in 2007 under its platform, Chief Ikedi Ohakim became the governor of Imo State under the platform of our party, Chief Theodore Orji, the immediate past governor of Abia state became governor under the platform of our party. I think when the position of the party becomes too stiff; you push your members away, and the damage that would be done would be too much to recover from.
If you say party discipline, you must create a system of fair hearing, you must create an equal level playing field for all those persons that you want them to follow party principles and party policies; you must create that equal playing field.
You cannot be a judge in a matter where your interest is already known, there is no way you can judge that matter fairly because from day one the party was known to favour some candidates as the choice candidate of the party; Lawan-Akume and Femi Gbajabiamila tickets. So there is no way if I were involved in the process, if a member of my party is involved in that process that he would want to participate because there was no equal level playing field.
And there is nowhere that you will create a straw-poll for leadership of the Senate before they go to the floor of the senate because you have no right to do that. The leaders as stipulated by the constitution and all external rules said that the elected leaders of this Senate and House of Representatives will elect a leader amongst themselves on the floor of the Senate. So the party went above the normal thing.
PPA adopted former President Goodluck Jonathan as its candidate in the last presidential election. Why did he lose?
Internal wrangling, betrayal here and there caused his loss because Jonathan as a person did well for this country, he has served this country well. Indeed, we formed a committee; issues were reviewed. Before we adopted Jonathan, we took time. We were the last set of people to adopt Jonathan, we took our time, we reviewed a lot of issues and sincerely, lawyers were involved in this process. We discovered that Jonathan was the best candidate for that election from my own point of view.
We became happier when despite losing an election Jonathan became a celebrated individual; he became more celebrated than even winning because of his approach to the election after he lost. He called President Buhari before the final result was collated, they have not even announced some states.
So at the time we took our decision, with all the relevant information at our disposal, it was the best decision we took at that point in time. So for Nigeria that has come and gone, we are now engaged in nation building. In politics you align, and you re-align and you continue to create an alliance for a better Nigeria and that is what we are doing. We are here to build a better future for our people, so it is not a personal thing.
The governorship election in your state, Kogi is expected to hold by October this year, will your party field a candidate for the governorship election.
If I don’t feature my interest to show how much I am on the ground in the state. You know the last election, Senator Abetemi Usman, as serving senator contesting on the platform of my party lost by just a slight margin because of the Buhari syndrome.