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By: Manny Ita

Senate President Bukola Saraki today led Principal Officers of the National Assembly for a World Press Conference.
In his speech the senate leader condemned the siege laid by the security operatives of the Department of State Services on the National Assembly on Wednesday, saying it’s “an assault on democracy.”
He said, “It is a matter of record that yesterday, lawmakers and staff of the National Assembly were prevented from entering the
“The National Assembly, the seat of democracy in Nigeria, was under lockdown. Senators and Members of the House of Representatives were prevented from gaining access.”
“The ensuing standoff was a show of shame that played itself out over several hours in full view of the country.
“In no circumstances should this have happened. And we as a nation reaped the bitter fruits instantaneously, as evident in media images relayed around the world, images that shame us as a democratic nation.
“The siege was also an act of cowardice by those seeking to carry out an illegal impeachment of the leadership of the Senate in flagrant disregard of the law.”
He commended Acting President Yemi Osinbajo for rising up to the occasion.
Continuing, Saraki said, “People who seek control at all costs, by whatever means, never minding the injury to democratic norms. I have to say that this is not about me – Abubakar Bukola Saraki — as an individual. It is not about Ike Ekweremadu, nor is it about Yakubu Dogara.
“I am speaking for my colleagues when I say that this is about the soul of Nigeria, what we represent as a country, and our standing in the comity of nations. This is a country where so much is expected of us.
“So many rungs of the ladder that we are supposed to have ascended as a nation. Instead we are wallowing in impunity and illegal show of force, all of which retard our progress. This is most disheartening. I don’t get any joy in saying ‘I said so.’ I don’t.”
“However, some of you may recall that about two years ago, I stated that there was a government within this government, to a purpose that was not in the interest of what the people voted for.
“I said it then, and now we are beginning to see the manifestations of that government within a government.
“It beats one’s imagination how the head of an agency could have authorised the brazen assault on the legislature that we saw yesterday.”
“Despite the threat to our lives, we shall continue to fight impunity and injustice in this country. Happily, by the actions that Nigerians took yesterday, they demonstrated our strong resolve as a nation not to give ground to oppression.
“The legislature, more than any other institution in this country, more than any other arm of govt. represents the will of the people. We are elected by the people, & an assault on the legislature is an assault on the people of Nigeria.”
“The forcible shutdown of the legislature was an unconscionable assault on a national institution, and thanks to all your efforts, the aggressors have been put to shame.
“The resistance mounted by staff of the National Assembly, my colleagues in both chambers and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) who refused to leave the entrance of this Complex until the siege was broken, strengthens my faith in the people of this country.
“The rain fell, the sun rose, but Nigerians stood their ground in defence of democracy. With the strength of will demonstrated by everyone against unwarranted and unconstitutional militaristic might, the siege could not stand.
“By this, we have shown that Nigerians can resist government within government in whatever guise, and this is humbling for me.
“Those who sought to attack the National Assembly under my leadership for their selfish ends have only affirmed my belief in this country.
“They attempted to execute an illegal impeachment of the leadership of the Senate without the backing of the law, but they faltered.
“I am confident that, together, we shall always defeat acts of unconstitutionality.
“The rule of law shall always prevail.
“I thank the thousands who monitored the situation on radio, television and social media, voicing their outrage at the siege, thereby sending a clear message to those that hatched the plot that the Nigerian public would not buy this act of gangsterism using instruments of state such as the DSS.
“I also thank the international community, particularly the European Union and the international press, for their prompt reactions to the invasion of the National Assembly.
“CSOs and Socio-cultural groups were emphatic in their statements during the crisis, and we very much appreciate their vigilance. Among the many that come up for special mention, I believe that Honourable Boma Goodhead, a member of the House of Representatives, stands out.
“She looked a masked security operative in the eye and dared him to shoot. She let it be known that Nigerians would not stand for the barricade at the National Assembly, that we would not be cowed.
“It was another pointer to what is possible in this country when women take their place in leadership.
“I applaud all who kicked against the atrocity and who stood firm until sanity prevailed.
“I am proud of how everyone conducted themselves in what was no doubt a tense standoff.

“The principled stance and defiant reactions to the ugly incident proved crucial to the failure of the plot.
“This is what we have been saying about the power of the people. The role of the people in defending democracy is paramount.
“I thank the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for his handling of the situation we were all confronted with yesterday. His decisive action went a long way towards restoring confidence.
“It sent a powerful message – that the DSS cannot be recklessly deployed against institutions of our democracy.”

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2019: Atiku’s emergence means it will be eagle vs eagle…..Bakare

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The Convener of Save Nigeria Group (SNG), Pastor Tunde Bakare on Sunday congratulated Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on his emergence as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate.

According to Bakare, Atiku’s victory would make the 2019 election keen and interesting.

Bakare, Senior Pastor, Latter Rain Assembly, spoke to newsmen in Ikeja after making a speech on Nigeria’s 58th Independence in his church.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Abubakar, a former Vice-President, was declared winner at his party’s convention in Port-Harcourt early Sunday.

He polled 1,532 votes to defeat his closest rival, Gov. Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State (693 votes) and Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, among others at the convention that started on Saturday.

Bakare said the emergence of Atiku was a welcome development as it meant the battle for the presidency would be a tough contest between him and President Muhammadu Buhari.

The SNG convener said both the president, who is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and Abubakar were equal match and it was Nigerians who would decide between the two.

“I congratulate him (Abubakar), he makes the issue in 2019 more robust.

“It is not going an eaglet versus an eagle but an eagle versus eagle: an old eagle versus new eagle and probably both of them old eagles.

“I wish president Muhammadu Buhari the best in 2019.

“He has the power of incumbency and he will do his best to win the election, but Atiku is not going to take No for an answer when the two forces collide in the election,” he said.

Bakare said Abubakar, just like Buhari, had the experience, the exposure and the acceptance expected of the country’s president.

He, however, pointed out that having those qualities alone would not translate into the victory for him, as the electorate would decide the parameters on which to elect the next president.

“I can’t say Atiku will win or lose. You see, I am not advocating for him. Among all the aspirants who contested the PDP’s ticket with him, he is perhaps the most cosmopolitan,he is a Wazobia man.

“He was Vice-President for eight years, and he inherited something from late Yaradua that he had held on to so effectively.

“He has been a businessman with a business acumen and he has the exposure.

“But you see, that is not what qualifies you to win. A lot comes into play, so again, I can not say whether he will win or lose,” he said.

Bakare said for the PDP to win the 2019 elections, they would need to demonstrate to the electorate that they were a regenerated party and “show repentance for the years of the locust they engineered”.

He added that the opposition party had to convince Nigerians that they would not return to corruption, which he said was the way of life during its rule, to win the confidence of the electorate.

On the chances of APC, Bakare said though the government was trying its best, there was the need for them to do much more to win the next election.

He said the country was facing a lot of challenges which the government needed to offer solutions to, in order to fast track pace of development.

The cleric said that performance and policies, and not necessarily incumbency factor, would guarantee victory for the APC in 2019.

The SNG Convener said his comments about the Buhari’s administration from the beginning, should not be interpreted to mean he was attacking the government, but he was just raising issues needing attention.

“I didn’t take any swipe at the administration of President Buhari.

“What I have always said is that despite the acclaimed progress in the country, Nigerians are not feeling the impact in their homes.

“That does not mean the government is not working. Look at the groanings of the people, the government still has to do a lot more before the 2019 elections.

“They have to work harder to assure Nigerians that they are really up to the task of listening to their yearnings and aspirations.

“The purpose of government is the welfare and security of people.Take that from the equation, then governance means nothing,” he said.

He said the emergence of many political parties was good for democracy and freedom.

Bakare, however, said many of the parties were pretenders and they would need to “rise above the cacophony of noise” they were making to make impact in the elections.

The SNG Convener said he had a presidential ambition but would not contest against President Buhari.

Bakare, who did not say the year he would contest, however, said he would be the one to succeed the president.

In his speech on the Independence titled “The Road to 2019: Quo Basis Nigeria’, Bakare said Nigeria had the potential to be great with the right leadership and positive attitude of followers.

He said 2019 presented another opportunity for citizens to realise the destiny of the country by participating in the process and voting right.

Bakare urged citizens to vote according to their conscience and elect leaders that mean well for the country.

Source: NAN

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BreakingNews: Atiku Wins PDP Presidential Primaries

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Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has emerged the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic party for the 2019 election after four attempts.

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COLUMNISTS

Osun Election: Is this the INEC or should We Expect another?

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By Jude Ndukwe

During his screening exercise before the senate prior to his confirmation as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof Mahmud Yakubu had, in response to one of the questions from the senators, said it was too late in his life for anyone, no matter how highly placed or powerful, to influence him in the discharge of his duties. Although I had my reservations about his sincerity but having watched him on that day, he performed so well in convincing the senators and every other person who might have had doubts about his capacity, firmness and fairness that he was the right man for the job. Since then I have taken special interest in him to know if indeed we still have men around who honour their word irrespective of the prevailing circumstances and pressure.

For a majority of the elections which Mahmud Yakubu’s INEC has conducted since he came on board, Nigerians have often expressed strong reservations about them to the extent that at a point in time, the Commission was rechristened Inconclusive National Electoral Commission, INEC, in mockery of its several elections it declared inconclusive as a result of reasons not appearing genuine to some citizens, a move which many saw as attempts to rig the system in favour of one party against the other.

Although INEC has stoutly defended its conduct of elections, if there was still any faith in INEC by the citizens, such faith must have finally melted away with the conduct of the Osun State election which started well but whose rerun ended up leaving soured grapes in the mouths of electorates, observers and Nigerians in general.

To start with, it is believed by many Nigerians that the Osun rerun was conjured up by INEC under the influence of powerful forces who were desperate to subvert the people’s will in the election in order to create time and space for the many infractions observed during the rerun on Thursday, September 27, 2019. The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room rightly observes that “the circumstances that led to the cancellation of the election in the seven polling units where the election were rerun including violence, also repeated themselves in most of this election, raising questions on why results obtained under these conditions should now stand”.

It further stated that “the entirety of the Osun State rerun election derogates from the recent gains made in our elections process and the confidence that was beginning to be built. The lapses in the Osun rerun election have put a serious question mark on the electoral process and raise concerns about the forthcoming 2019 Nigeria general elections”.

Also, missions of the US, EU and UK observed these infractions with particular concern about the role of the security agents who were reported to have harassed and intimidated voters as a way of preventing some of them from voting and even arrested some election observers including those from the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA. It is therefore troubling that despite these reports from credible local and international observers, INEC still went ahead to declare results in a rerun where a good number of the voters were deliberately disenfranchised.

The Osun election has, no doubt, cast a dark shadow on the nation’s electoral process. Following the election, Nigerians across spectrums have questioned the usefulness of their PVCs which they conclude are only just another card that has no value whatsoever for elections as, in their reckoning, INEC, the security forces and other relevant agencies of government have over time shown unrestrained bias and openly pitched their tents consistently towards one party against the other.

There is no stronger evidence of the rigging template and determination of the APC in their insatiable desire for power even if it means severely circumventing the process and denying the people their will and choice than the Freudian slip of the APC chairman, Adams Oshiomhole who was caught on camera saying “Only people who can afford the pains of rigging…should partake in elections”. The bravado with which the former Edo State governor said it is even a louder testimony that the APC is working in cahoots with INEC and security agencies to continue to demean the system.

The Osun debacle borrowed its roots from the earlier Ekiti governorship election that was heavily militarized with the security agencies showing unmitigated bias against the PDP and other political parties in favour of the APC. It is therefore most unfortunate that the zeal and enthusiasm with which Nigerians registered for and collected their permanent voters card just in August have been dampened only barely a month after by the shenanigans of those in authority.

Some Nigerians have even been forced to conclude that the results of the 2019 general elections have already been written to favour the ruling party at the centre and therefore there is no need participating in the electoral process any longer.

How we got here is saddening. While APC rode on the goodwill of Nigerians based on their scurrilous attacks, campaigns of calumny, propaganda, half-truths and sophistry embarked upon against the then president Goodluck Jonathan and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, it is bewildering how this same party that had endeared itself to the hearts of Nigerians with their vitriolic style of campaign has lost so much support and so fast just in three years to the extent that they apply the win-it-by-all-means strategy including dubious collaboration with security agencies and INEC officials to manipulate the process and thereafter declare themselves winners with aplomb while dismissing the electorates and other participants with the “go-to-court” sermon that has now become a new catchphrase of ridicule in our electoral lexicon.

The Osun rerun is a monumental travesty. Videos abound where electorates were lamenting their inability to vote because security agents or APC thugs either harassed them or turned them back from approaching their polling units to cast their votes. The larger implications of such practices could be very dire on the nation. It was John F. Kennedy who once said that “Those who make peaceful change impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”.

In as much as no one wishes violence on another not to talk of the nation, the actions of some of our leaders have gone beyond preaching the impossibility of making peaceful change impossible to actually practicing its impossibility. Such leaders should know that there is a limit to the endurance of a people, and no one has the monopoly of violence. When people are constantly pushed to the wall, they would be forced to react and the extent of their reaction is sometimes only measured after the billowing smoke have gone down and the dust settled.

Prof Mahmud Yakubu and his team must realize that they owe posterity their integrity. They owe the nation their sworn impartiality. They must realize that sovereignty resides with the people and the people have the freedom to exercise it as they see fit. From Kogi, Ondo, Edo, Ekiti to Osun, the story has not been different. The disenchantment created by INEC’s perceived partiality against the people is leaving question marks on their lips? They are asking, is this the same INEC which Prof Mahmud Yakubu promised during his screening was going to be impartial and conduct free, fair and credible elections, or is there another INEC which Yakubu and his team want us to wait for to conduct a widely acceptable 2019 general elections?

INEC should know that the election observers including the US, EU, and UK who spoke with one voice in condemnation of the Osun rerun process cannot all be wrong. The nation is already hanging by the cliff and it might just take only one more push by INEC and the security agencies at the 2019 elections to finally push her down the abyss and set off a conflagration that might make historians write on the nation’s epitaph: “Here lays the ashes of Nigeria, murdered by her electoral umpires. Indeed, there was a country”! May this not be Nigeria’s lot. It will not be only if INEC, the security agencies and other critical stakeholders in the polity allow a free and fair electoral process.

INEC, over to you!

—jrndukwe@yahoo.co.uk; Twitter: @stjudendukwe

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