exclusive

Exclusive: Real Reasons Behind Okorocha’s Planned Defection From APC

By ‘Tunde Babalola

 

There are indications that Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha is contemplating leaving the All Progressives Congress (APC) haven done on him that his future political aspiration is bleak with the major opposition party.

FrontiersNews investigations revealed that Okorocha, the only South east governor who embraced the merger of the three opposition parties that culminated on the birth of APC mid 2013 when he led a faction of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in defiance to the national leader of APGA because of his perceived desire to occupy a presidential or vice presidential seat may have been disappointed by the seeming disposition of the APC which sources said have concluded on the zones of the country that would produce the presidential and vice presidential candidates.

Observers noted that from every permutation, the presidential and vice presidential candidates of the APC may emerge from the North and South south leaving Okorocha in the wilderness over his never hidden desire to occupy Aso Rock.

We gathered that other reasons why Okorocha is contemplating dumping APC is a bid to retain his seat in 2015 as Imo State governor since it is not certain he may get another viable platform to aspire for the presidency apart from the poor acceptance of the party in Imo State and the South-East region where APC is regarded as a Muslim dominated party with northern agenda.

 Okorocha’s decision was also informed by the fact that all his colleagues in the region are solidly behind President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election ambition.

 Presently, the Igbo community considers him the ‘black sheep’, for feeling comfortable in the APC, a party that is likely to settle for a northerner.

 According to them, it is better to support Jonathan, a southerner, than a northerner who may never include people of the region in the scheme of things.

Meanwhile, sources hinted FrontiersNews that Okorocha is yet to make up his mind of which party to return to, though he was said to be considering the Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA); the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) or the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

It was however not clear as at press time if members of APGA and PDP would be keen in having the governor back because of the fear that he may use and dump them again.

His best option appears to be the PPA, whose founder and former Abia governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, has financial strength and still controls a number of loyalists that can re-engineer party structures to garner support for Okorocha’s re-election as Imo State governor.

  • Exclusive: Confab Committee Recommends Independent Candidacy For Future Elections In Nigeria

    The political space in the country may soon be expanded should the National Conference currently sitting in Abuja, the Nigeria’s capital, accepts the recommendation by its Committee on Politics and Governance, that Independent Candidacy be allowed in future elections in the country.

     

    The Committee on Politics and Governance co-chaired by Prof. Jerry Gana and Chief Olu Falae recommended to the Conference that Independent Candidacy be allowed in all future elections in the country as a means of freeing the political space for more Nigerians who feel disenfranchised to participate in politics.

    Section 221 of the 1999 Constitution provides that: “No association other than a political party, shall canvass for votes for any candidate at any election or contribute to the funds of any political party or to the election expenses of any candidate at an election” and the Committee noted that “this unnecessarily restricts the democratic space”.

    It therefore said “Membership of a political party should not be a condition for contesting elections”.

    The Committee’s recommendation, which was obtained by Frontiersnews.com states that “Any Nigerian wishing to contest elections but fails to find space in the political party system has his democratic rights truncated. This needs to be remedied,” the Committee observed and therefore recommended that “Every Nigerian who meets the specified condition in the Electoral Act should be free to contest elections as an Independent candidate”.

    Consequently, the Committee recommended the “repeal of Section 221 of the 1999 Constitution” and in its place be “replaced with “Every Nigerian who meets the specified condition in the Electoral Act should be free to contest any election as an INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE”.

  • Exclusive: Come Late For Meetings And Get Sacked Jonathan Warns Ministers, Others

    President Goodluck Jonathan has warned of immediate suspension or sack of ministers and other political appointees who come late to the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) and any other meetings at the Presidential Villa, where he will preside.

     

    The directive our correspondent gathered followed the nonchalant attitude of some key ministers and political appointees in the government who have formed the habit of coming late to FEC and other meetings where the president superintend.

    Investigation revealed that the new directive has been duly communicated to all ministers through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HOCSF); the National Security Adviser (NSA), Special Advisers (SA), Senior Special Assistants (SSA), heads of agencies who attend the weekly FEC meeting and other meetings as well as other who may be invited to attend such meetings.

    Senior presidential sources told FrontiersNews that President Jonathan has warned that he would no longer tolerate the idea of a minister or political appointee coming late for any meeting while he is seated.

    The source said, “Mr. President view this attitude as disrespectful and gross indiscipline and therefore unacceptable. I can tell you that henceforth, any person who flouts this new directive is in for a big trouble”.

    One of the sources who spoke to our correspondent, on condition of anonymity said the President was furious in one of the meetings where a very key minister came late to a very important meeting.

    “The President is very serious right now that anybody who works for him, be him the SGF, HOCSF, ministers, NSA, SA, or anybody who henceforth reports to any meeting late will be locked out and such person would be severely punished. And if such person or persons have no cogent reasons for such late coming, they face immediate sack from the cabinet,” the source stated.

    Some ministers in the current cabinet are in the habit of coming to the weekly FEC meeting late and sometimes have to wait at the council chamber’s ante-room before been allowed to join their colleagues.

    “This kind of behaviour has to stop. Once the president is seated, no matter who is late would not be allowed into any such meeting. Let him or her be the key person at such meeting, they won’t be allowed to participate,” the source said.

  • Tom Brady scares His Fans With Frightening Waterfall Dive shared on Social Media!

    One of the most prolific American football players, Tom Brady recently put his fans on a scare alert when he posted a video on Facebook showing how he made a frightening waterfall dive, seemingly encouraged by his wife, Gisele Bündchen during a recent vacation.

    The quarterback for the New England Patriots of the National Football League (NFL) captioned the video clip with the following message.

    “Never doing that again”

    Tom Brady has won the ‘Most Valuable Player’ and the ‘ Super Bowl’ awards several times and is among the most recognizable faces in American football.

  • Why FG Embarked On Port Reforms – BPE

    The need to reposition Nigerian Ports in line with international standard prompted the Federal Government to initiate and implement the Ports Sector Reform, the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Benjamin Dikki has revealed.

    Dikki maintained that it was against that background and the recognition of the role of transport and ports in modern economic growth and development that the Government undertook to reform the Port sector to bring it in line with international best practices.

    According to Dikki, prior to the Ports Reform Program, the Nigerian Ports sector was characterized with infrastructure deficit and minimal private sector participation adding that there was a dominant public monopoly in charge of design, development, maintenance and operations of the Ports.

    The Director General stated this while delivering a lecture in Lagos entitled: Imperatives of Ports Reform & Its Objectives at the Monitoring and Compliance Conference said the former Ports system was an impediment to efficient transfer of cargo and facilitation of trade.

    “The Ports were inefficient and unattractive to shippers and were bogged by long turnaround time for cargo and ships, insecurity of cargo, low productive labour force in NPA, multiple government agencies in the ports, corrupt practices and excessive charges”, he added.

    “The objectives of ports reform are located in the overall desire to achieve fast clearance of cargo, quick turn-around time for ships calling at our ports, removal of duplications in the functions of security and related government agencies, and the facilitation of trade”, he said.

    Dikki, who was represented by the Acting Director, Transport, Mr. Adamu Yusuf said the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)’s governance framework at the time was characterized by Unusual degree of centralization, Limited autonomy, Government interference, Burdensome bureaucratic structure, Excess labour force; and NPA’s Conflicting role as a regulator and an operator amongst others.

    According to the BPE boss, the result of these was inefficiency in the ports operations with the attendant high cost of processing imported goods and the inability of Nigeria’s exports to compete in the international market.

    Specifically he stated that the Ports Reform sought to increase the efficiency of the port operations, decrease the costs of port services to the port users, decrease the costs to government of supporting a viable port sector, boost economic activities and accelerate development and make Nigeria the hub for international freight and trade in West Africa.

    He said the Reforms and privatization program of the Federal Government aims at opening up hitherto government-dominated sectors to the private sector and simultaneously divesting government interest in those sectors to pave way for innovative and hardworking Nigerian entrepreneurs to grow the economy.

    While noting that no human endeavour is completely perfect, he called for constant monitoring and review of the concession program to keep pace with the exigencies of the times.

    Speaking earlier, Minister of Transport, Mr. Idris Umar who was represented by the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello, asserted that the port concession program had brought tremendous benefits to the Nigerian economy.

  • Sierra Leone To Lock Down 2.5 million People As Ebola Hit

    About 2.5million people in the northern part of Sierra Leone will be confined to their homes across the capital in a three-day shutdown to stem the Ebola epidemic tide.

    This was announced Thursday after the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Wednesday that the death toll from Ebola since December 2013 stood at almost 10,200.

    According to Palo Conteh, Head, National Ebola Response Centre (NERC), Sierra-Leone, “The lockdown will be conducted from March 27 to March 29, similar to the one conducted in September 2014.

    Conteh also said that the government and partners are hopeful that latent cases that are now not being reported or recorded will come out.

    NERC further revealed that the worst-ever outbreak of the virus has claimed almost 3,700 lives across the West African country of Sierra-Leone making both the nation’s economies wrecked and healthcare systems wiped out in the crisis.

    Meanwhile, health authorities in Sierra-Leone will use the 72-hour window period to search out patients in the Western Area including Freetown, as well as the northern districts of Bombali and Port Loko.

    Health experts will go from door-to-door to remind residents of the dangers of traditional burials, a key factor in the spread of the virus, and investigating deaths not reported to the government.

    Conteh said that the lockdown is aimed at controlling a recent spike in the three districts which threatened to undermine the recovery, saying that if allowed to spread, it will set the country back on course for an April 15 deadline for eradicating Ebola announced by the leaders of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

    While speaking with reporters in Freetown, Conteh said: “People have become complacent and are still touching corpses, washing bodies and taking sick people to traditional healers. We are therefore determined to bring Ebola to an end and meet the deadline set by the… presidents for April 15. This is what we are working towards.”

    The WHO on Wednesday reported 150 new confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease in the week to 15 March, compared with 116 the previous week. The body also reported 95 new confirmed cases in Guinea describing it as the highest weekly total for the country in 2015, saying that Sierra Leone is however faring better.

    The Sierra-Leone lockdown is sequel to a two-week door-to-door operation in Port Loko, a coastal district immediately north and east of the Western Area, to find out if families were harbouring Ebola patients or concealing bodies.

    Speaking on the latest developments, WHO Chief, Margaret Chan, disclosed on Wednesday that Sierra-Leone reported 55 new confirmed cases, the lowest weekly total since late June 2014, while also admitting that the country has made “tremendous progress” in combating Ebola.

    A report also noted that Freetown reported 29 of the infections, while 17 were registered in Bombali and Port Loko.

    The country’s media reports say that over 300 healthcare workers have been infected with Ebola in Sierra Leone while about three-quarters have died. Aside the American healthcare worker who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone, reports state that ten other healthcare workers who have been in contact with the evacuated clinician are being monitored for signs of illness in the UN.

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  • Sierra Leone To Lock Down 2.5 million People As Ebola Hit

    BY

    About 2.5million people in the northern part of Sierra Leone will be confined to their homes across the capital in a three-day shutdown to stem the Ebola epidemic tide.

    This was announced Thursday after the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Wednesday that the death toll from Ebola since December 2013 stood at almost 10,200.

    According to Palo Conteh, Head, National Ebola Response Centre (NERC), Sierra-Leone, “The lockdown will be conducted from March 27 to March 29, similar to the one conducted in September 2014.

    Conteh also said that the government and partners are hopeful that latent cases that are now not being reported or recorded will come out.

    NERC further revealed that the worst-ever outbreak of the virus has claimed almost 3,700 lives across the West African country of Sierra-Leone making both the nation’s economies wrecked and healthcare systems wiped out in the crisis.

    Meanwhile, health authorities in Sierra-Leone will use the 72-hour window period to search out patients in the Western Area including Freetown, as well as the northern districts of Bombali and Port Loko.

    Health experts will go from door-to-door to remind residents of the dangers of traditional burials, a key factor in the spread of the virus, and investigating deaths not reported to the government.

    Conteh said that the lockdown is aimed at controlling a recent spike in the three districts which threatened to undermine the recovery, saying that if allowed to spread, it will set the country back on course for an April 15 deadline for eradicating Ebola announced by the leaders of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

    While speaking with reporters in Freetown, Conteh said: “People have become complacent and are still touching corpses, washing bodies and taking sick people to traditional healers. We are therefore determined to bring Ebola to an end and meet the deadline set by the… presidents for April 15. This is what we are working towards.”

    The WHO on Wednesday reported 150 new confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease in the week to 15 March, compared with 116 the previous week. The body also reported 95 new confirmed cases in Guinea describing it as the highest weekly total for the country in 2015, saying that Sierra Leone is however faring better.

    The Sierra-Leone lockdown is sequel to a two-week door-to-door operation in Port Loko, a coastal district immediately north and east of the Western Area, to find out if families were harbouring Ebola patients or concealing bodies.

    Speaking on the latest developments, WHO Chief, Margaret Chan, disclosed on Wednesday that Sierra-Leone reported 55 new confirmed cases, the lowest weekly total since late June 2014, while also admitting that the country has made “tremendous progress” in combating Ebola.

    A report also noted that Freetown reported 29 of the infections, while 17 were registered in Bombali and Port Loko.

    The country’s media reports say that over 300 healthcare workers have been infected with Ebola in Sierra Leone while about three-quarters have died. Aside the American healthcare worker who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone, reports state that ten other healthcare workers who have been in contact with the evacuated clinician are being monitored for signs of illness in the UN.

  • UNICEF Challenges Online Publishers To Create Space For Children On Their Platforms

    BY

    The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has challenged Online Publishers to create space in their platforms for issues concerning children.

    Rising from a two-day dialogue with members of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) in Enugu on Friday, UNICEF emphasised that issues affecting children across Nigeria and the world are so crucial that they could not be kept in the dark for long.

    Describing children as the vulnerable part of the society, the UNICEF’s Communication Specialist, Geoffrey Njoku who coordinated the dialogue, regretted that voices of children have been shut out from media because they are seen as not important.

    He said that the shutting out of the voices of the children has been one of the discrimination which the UN General Assembly’s Convention on the Right of the Child is out to correct.

    Njoku was however happy that with the dialogue, things would change in favour of the children, even as the Online Publishers requested the UNICEF to participate by supplying relevant news materials on children for them.

    The dialogue was addressed by among other academics, the Head of Department of Mass Communications of the University of Lagos, Associate Professor Abigail Ogwezzy Ndisika. She made it clear that the future development of any society is determined and shaped by the kind of children such society breed.

    GOCOP was led to the dialogue by its President, Mr. Malachy Agbo who publishes of The Citizen.


Political News

  • Nigeria Will Be Counted Among 20 Largest Economies In The World Under President Goodluck Jonathan – Sambo

    BY

    In continuation of his tour of all the zones in Kaduna State, Vice president Mohammed Namadi Sambo was on Tuesday hosted by  the southern Senatorial zone of the state where he stated that Nigeria under President Goodluck Jonathan was on her way to becoming one of the most development economies by the year 2020.

    The Vice President gave the assurance today when he held separate meetings and interractive sessions  with royal fathers, district heads, religious leaders, women and youth groups at Kagoro and Kafanchan from the zone.

    Arc Mohammed Namadi Sambo said that the Jonathan Administration has been vindicated by the its record of performance in all sectors cutting across education, agriculture, healthcare, transportation, power and industrialization that had lifted the country to an enviable position, making it the third fastest growing economy after China and Qatar as revealed by World Bank in its rating of 2014

    While at the palace of the Chief of Kagoro, where he held meeting with Traditional Rulers from the Zone, The Vice President assured them that their dream of a new Gurara State would be realized under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan and the promise of more federal presence to follow.

    “We wholly support the creation of the Gurara State from the Present Kaduna state. He said. He added that the creation of the new state would bring about more development to the people through the multiplication of federal institution in the area like the federal University, federal polytechnic, Federal College of Education, Federal Unity College, federal Medical Centres and several others.

    He also assured the Royal Fathers that Jonathan administration was working to return traditional rulers to the status quo by by restoring their roles in the Constitution of the country.

    Furthermore, the Vice President said that the Jonathan administration has brought a lot of development to the zone in terms of the Provision of Infrastructure and creating wealth for the people. He added that the 30 mw Power Plant and the irrigation component in Gurara were some of the developments the administration has brought to the people of Zone II. Others were the construction of two 132 kva sub-station in Kafanchan to boost power supply in the zone, the rehabilitation and modernization of the rail infrastructure where trains now move from Kafanchan to other parts of the country.

    On their part, the royal fathers expressed their appreciation to President Goodluck Jonathan for appointing their sons and daughters to key positions in his government. They also appeal for more federal presence in the zone

    Prayers were offered by the monarchs for the conduct of peaceful in the forthcoming general elections as well for peace and posterity of the country

    The meeting was attended by all the traditional rulers from the zone, amongst whom ate the Agwan Bajju Malam Nuhu Bature, the Emir of Jeman HRH Isa Mohammed, the Chief of Moro’a Malam Tagwai Sambo, the Chief of Kagoro Mr Ufuwai Bonnet, amongst others.

    Also in his remarks, the Host Governor Ramalan Yero expressed his gratitude for the support and contribution of the royal fathers to peace and development in the state.

    The Vice President also met with 225 district heads from the zone as well as Christian clergies and Muslim Ulamas where he called for prayers for the peaceful conduct of the forthcoming general elections in the country.

    At his meeting with youth and women groups, the Vice President stated that Goodluck Jonathan administration has accorded women and youth the highest priority and therefore should support a government that believes in them.

  • IG Again Insist On Vote And Go Home

    BY

    ..Says military will play supportive role

    ..Result are to be read to hearing of all – Jega

    There seems to be a sharp disagreement between the Police leadership and the management of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the issue of voters waiting behind after casting their votes.

    The Inspector General of Police, Mr. Suleiman Abba for the second time in the last five days insisted that their was no need for the electorates to wait behind after casting their votes.

    Rather, the IG advised as he had done last week that electorates should vote and go home to relax.

    INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega had on the other hand said that result of the polls must be announced to the hearing of all in each of the polling units.

    The duo spoke in Abuja Tuesday during the INEC national stakeholders summit on the 2015 general elections, where Jega unveil the Commission’s process and procedures for the elections and also launch INEC official app “my INEC”. This will be the second time in the last one week that the IG and INEC will disagree on the issue.

    Jega on his part had stated that “at the end of sorting and counting of ballot papers, the results are to be announced to the hearing of all.” This obviously contradicts the police boss stand.

    The Inspector General of Police who noted that he was only advising the electorates and the politicians to stay away after they might have conducted their polls, explained that waiting behind could contravene the electoral Act, especially the one that bothers on loitering.

    Mr. Abba who relied on section 129 of the electoral act which listed some of the acts which could resulted into electoral offence. Section 129(1) i listed amongst other “loiter without lawful excuse after voting or after being refusal to vote” as some of the actions which could resort to electoral offences.

    He however assured the people that the police will be civil in it’s dealings with the general public.

    He insisted despite the huge uproar that greeted his statement, “I advised, cast your vote and go home and relax.”

    Abba who also reacted to the question raised by the All Progressive Congress (APC) representative, Senator Olorunibe Mamora, Deputy Director General General Muhammed Buhari Campaign Organization if waiting behind to protect votes constitutes loitering, said there will be term to distinguish protection of votes and loitering.

    He also added that waiting behind under on the provision of lawful purpose expires immediate one finishes with the business of casting one’s vote.

    He further explained that the law made provision for those who are to wait to protect the law.

    He added, “there are lawful people assigned to protect your vote.”

    While noting that the advise also affect the candidates who are standing for elections, Abba also urged them to exercise high sense of reasoning in educating their followers on peaceful conduct during and after the elections.

    On the deployment of soldiers for the elections, the police Boss noted that the military will be deployed to play the supportive role as stated in the constitution.

    Though he noted that he was yet to see the High Court Judgment on the issue, he however said the military will be deployed to provide the needed cover about 300 miles from the polling units.

    Jega had also used the opportunity to reassured Nigerians and stakeholders that the commission “has done it’s best to prepare adequate for the 2015 general elections, so as to make them better than the 2011 elections, and so as to ensure that they meet the aspiration of Nigerians for free, fair and credible elections.

    “let me also reassure that INEC and all it’s field officials are determined to be in partial and non-partisan in the conduct of these elections. We will continue to do everything humanly possible to ensure a level playing field for all parties and candidates. And we call on all stakeholders, especially voters, candidates and their supporters, to contribute positively to ensuring that the elections are fraud-free, peaceful, as well as free, fair and credible.

    “it is also significant to note, that INEC has put plans in place to improve the transparency and credibility of the process of collation of results.”

    He also added that “hard copies of result sheets from polling units would be scanned, converted to PDF format and put in database, which would be made accessible for viewing and downloading via the INEC website. Every voter or stakeholder will, hence be able to confirm the accuracy of results from the PUs, which have been conveyed to the collation centres.

    Explaining the process, Jega noted that three ballot boxes will be used in each polling unit/voting point. The box with red cover/lid will be used for presidential election, box with black cover/lid will be used for the senatorial election, while box with green cover/lid will be used for the House of Representatives election.

    INEC boss who also insisted on the use of the card readers in this Saturday election, said the commission was satisfied 100% on the security and accuracy of the technology, especially as it has proven to be very reliable.


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