With about three months to the Imo State governorship election, Governor Hope Uzodimma, and a former governor of the state, Rochas Okorocha, on Thursday visited the Presidential Villa.
They were in the company of the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Ganduje.
The trio was seen heading to the President’s office and walked out in less than five minutes, accompanied by the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
When approached, Governor Uzodimma declined comments on the purpose of their visit to the Villa.
There have been reported confrontations between the administration of Governor Uzodinma and Okorocha, who was the governor of Imo State between 2011 and 2019.
Tribunal to deliver judgment on Rhodes-Vivour, Jandor’s petitions against Sanwo-Olu’s victory Monday
The Lagos State Governorship Election Tribunal will deliver judgment on Monday on the petitions filed by the governorship candidate of the Labour Party, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, and his counterpart of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olajide Adediran, popularly known as Jandor.
The Justice Arum Ashom-led panel communicated this message to parties on Saturday.
Rhodes-Vivour and Jandor are challenging the return of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Deputy Governor Obafemi Hamzat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the March 18 governorship elections in Lagos State by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
On August 12, lawyers in the petitions adopted their final written addresses before the tribunal.
Judgement Day: All the issues at stake as presidential tribunal delivers verdict
Finally, the D-day is upon us! The five-member panel of the presidential election petition tribunal will either set a record or follow the trend.
Since the return of democracy in 1999, no court has ever overturned a presidential election in Nigeria. The winner declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) usually triumphs at the tribunal; and even when the case gets to the supreme court, nothing changes.
The presidential tribunal is set to deliver its verdict in a few hours. Some Nigerians are hoping that something different happens, while some pray that luck shines on their preferred candidate
Unlike in the past, the proceedings of the 2023 presidential election petition tribunal have generated a lot of talking points from the inception to the end.
One man — Ahmed Bola Tinubu — has been at the centre of the legal battle at the tribunal. After he was declared the winner of the February 25 presidential election by INEC, opposition parties rejected the outcome of the election.
Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Peter Obi, his Labour Party (LP) counterpart, approached the tribunal to challenge Tinubu’s victory.
In a few hours, the tribunal will rule on certain issues that form the pillars of the petitions.
25% IN FCT
One major issue that has generated a lot of talking points since the announcement of the presidential election results is the 25 per cent debate as it relates to the federal capital territory (FCT), Nigeria’s capital.
Tinubu failed to secure 25 per cent of the total votes cast in the FCT — a development that has elicited varied reactions.
According to results declared by INEC, Obi scored the highest votes with 281,717, Tinubu got 90,902 votes, while Atiku came a distant third with 74,199 votes. With the results, only the LP candidate garnered 25 per cent of the votes cast in the FCT.
Both Atiku and Obi had argued that since Tinubu failed to secure 25 per cent of the votes in FCT, he should not be declared the winner of the election.
Their argument is hinged on the provision of section 134 (2) of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
Section 134 (2) says: “A candidate for an election to the office of President shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there being more than two candidates for the election: (a) he has the highest number of votes cast at the election; and (b) he has not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the States in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”
However, Tinubu’s legal team argued that the FCT has no special status in Nigeria’s electoral process.
The presidential tribunal will definitely provide answers to the raging debate of 25 per cent votes in FCT.
‘MANIPULATION OF RESULTS, OVERVOTING’
A woman casting her votes at a polling unit
The tribunal will also determine whether the petitioners — Atiku and Obi — provided enough evidence to support their claims of alleged manipulation, overvoting, suppression of votes, mutilations, cancellations and overwriting on result sheets, and manipulation of BVAS machines, among other alleged infractions.
The five-member panel will also decide whether the alleged infractions cited by the petitioners are enough to overturn Tinubu’s victory.
The petitioners had raised a number of issues on the conduct of the election by the umpire.
DELAY IN ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION OF RESULTS
INEC ad hoc
An electoral officer with BVAS machine
In the build-up to the 2023 election, INEC promised Nigerians that results at polling units will be immediately uploaded to its resulting viewing portal (IReV)
However, during the presidential election, the commission failed to instantly upload results to IReV.
Owing to the incident, petitioners asked the tribunal to decide whether INEC complied with the provisions of the Electoral Act of 2022 and its guidelines on the electronic transmission of election results.
ALLEGED DOUBLE NOMINATION
The nomination of Kashim Shettima as Tinubu’s running mate is also one of the issues at stake at the presidential tribunal.
Petitioners alleged that Shettima was still the APC’s candidate for Borno central senatorial district when he accepted the nomination to be Tinubu’s running mate.
But APC argued that the vice-president had resigned as the party’s senatorial candidate before the presidential primary.
In May, the supreme court ruled that Shettima was not guilty of double nomination.
ALLEGED PERJURY ON AGE, DUAL CITIZENSHIP
Prior to the February 25 election, the exact age of Tinubu was a controversial issue. But Tinubu said his record is consistent.
At the presidential tribunal, petitioners argued that the alleged inconsistency in Tinubu’s age made him unqualified to contest for the position of president.
Another issue was the debate on dual citizenship. Tinubu was said to have voluntarily acquired the citizenship of the Republic of Guinea.
Petitioners had tendered a document purported to be Tinubu’s Guinean passport to support the claim of dual citizenship.
Petitioners had also argued that the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the presidential election was invalid because of his alleged dual citizenship.
The authenticity of Tinubu’s academic records is another issue that will be determined by the tribunal.
Tinubu’s credentials showed that he graduated from Chicago State University (CSU) in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, accounting and management.
However, there have been allegations bordering on discrepancies with Tinubu’s certificate. At the tribunal, petitioners raised issues on alleged discrepancies in the certificate.
Recently, Atiku approached a US court for the northern district of Illinois in Chicago for an order compelling CSU to release Tinubu’s academic records.
ALLEGED DRUG CONVICTION
This is arguably the biggest issue at stake at the presidential election tribunal. Many Nigerians are keen to know the verdict of the tribunal on the issue.
At every point in Tinubu’s political journey, the issue of an alleged drug conviction involving the former Lagos governor in the United States has always resurfaced.
The petitioners said the alleged forfeiture of $460,000 by Tinubu as a fine for narcotics trafficking imposed by a US court on the president in 1993 makes him unqualified to contest for the election.
The forfeiture case has elicited reactions on whether forfeiture is the same thing as conviction.
The tribunal will definitely provide answers to the issue of whether the forfeiture of the funds amounts to a criminal conviction for drug trafficking.
I knew Buhari didn’t understand economics but didn’t know he was so reckless – Obasanjo
President Olusegun Obasanjo, who twice led Nigeria — first as military head of state (1976-1979) and later as an elected civilian president (1999-2007) — can claim to have seen it all. Born on March 5, 1937, the 86-year-old retired general has been a constant in Nigeria’s history in and out of office, offering comments — even if controversially — on political and economic issues. In this interview with TheCable, he gives his opinions of a wide range of issues.
Increasingly, we are witnessing an era of military coups in Africa again. What do you think is going on?
Obasanjo: In 2021, when Col Mamady Doumbouya overthrew President Alpha Condé of Guinea, I recall that I travelled to Conakry. I spent two nights there. The coup leader didn’t want to meet with me because he didn’t know what I would say. They said he was out of town, which was not true. But I met every other important government official. I met his No 2 and his speaker. I listened to them and concluded that we had a new phenomenon on our hands. I realised that they had the support of the youths and were not thinking of staying in power for four, five years years. They are in for a generation.
When I noticed this, I went to Addis Ababa to meet the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat. I told him that maybe he had not seen what I was seeing. That I saw this in Guinea Conakry. He said I was talking about Guinea Conakry, what about his own country, Chad? He said Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea Conakry, and Chad were thinking the same way and they were connected. I said that was a new phenomenon in Africa. I said I was the one who in 1999 advocated that if you are not a government backed by the constitution, you should be suspended from the African Union, and these chaps don’t even mind any suspension. I told him that all the instruments we had used in the past would not work and asked what he would do about it. He told me about his challenges, especially with his country. So we have a situation where we have a continent where we have to rethink democracy. The liberal democracy we are copying from settled societies in the West won’t work for us.
What type of democracy would work for us?
Obasanjo: I don’t know. But we have seen that the liberal type of democracy as practised in the West will not work for us. We have to put our heads together.
Some would say it is working in Nigeria, that it has survived 24 years…
Obasanjo: I won’t answer you (laughs).
But what can work?
Obasanjo: You have to put your heads together to fashion it out. You can give it any name. But we have seen that this is not working. Out of the six countries that have experienced coups, three of them are directly from elections. Burkina Faso, Guinea Conakry, and Gabon that we have just had are directly from elections. The other three are indirect, if you like.
Would you say ECOWAS could have handled the Niger coup differently?
Obasanjo: What I said about the Niger is now what we did with Gabon, not a threat of force. Tinubu said “we are watching”. In Niger, ECOWAS has beaten the drum, and they have seen that it didn’t work. The point is this: where in Africa have the people benefited from the dividends of democracy? Tell me.
Obasanjo: You don’t know the inside of Botswana. Ian Khama, the former president, cannot go to Botswana today. His father was the first president. I worked with him. As they were settling down, I thought they were making progress because the president after his father was the one who became minister of finance. When I was military head of state, he used to come and visit us, and we would render assistance to them, and he later became vice president and president. The next one was the same way. Ian Khama, who became the head of the army, moved the same way. The one that succeeded him now is chasing him from pillar to post. That is not liberal democracy.
What of Ghana?
Even if not in terms of dividends of democracy but liberal democracy…
Obasanjo: Maybe Namibia is the closest to it.
Coming back home now. There is a raging issue regarding Mambilla hydropower over the award of a $6 billion contract to Sunrise Power by your government in 2003. It is now a subject of arbitration. Sunrise is asking for $2.3 billion in compensation, alleging breach of contract. But the federal government is arguing that the contract was invalid…
Obasanjo: Did you say my government awarded the contract to Sunrise?
Dr Olu Agunloye, your minister of power in 2003, wrote to Sunrise announcing the award of the contract…
Obasanjo: Who gave him the authorisation? When I was president, no minister had the power to approve more than N25 million without express presidential consent. It was impossible for Agunloye to commit my government to a $6 billion project without my permission and I did not give him any permission. If a commission of inquiry is set up today to investigate the matter, I am ready to testify. I do not even need to testify because all the records are there. I never approved it. When he presented his memo to the federal executive council (on May 21, 2003), I was surprised because he had previously discussed it with me and I had told him to jettison the idea, that I had other ideas on how the power sector would be restructured and funded. I told him as much at the council meeting and directed him to step down the memo.
I find it surprising that Agunloye is now claiming he acted on behalf of Nigeria. If I knew he issued such a letter to Sunrise, I would have sacked him as minister during my second term. He would not have spent a day longer in office. When I was in office, Leno Adesanya, the promoter of Sunrise Power, ran away from Nigeria. I would have jailed him if he was in the country because of the things I knew about him. After I left office, he returned and I saw him. I told him that he was lucky I was no longer president. Otherwise, I would have jailed him.
You took a different route over the power sector, coming up with the power sector reform and building power plants such as Geregu, Papalanto, and Omotosho. But the problems of the power sector remain. What else can we do?
Obasanjo: You can only get the power sector right when you get all the fundamentals in the power sector right. In 2006, we ordered 42 turbines that should have been completed if not by 2007 then in 2008. My target was 10,000 megawatts of power by 2007. Up till today, I understand that five of the turbines have yet to be installed. I have been out of the office for 16 years. If after 18 years when those turbines had been ordered, five have still not been installed, what are you talking about?
One major issue was that the turbines could not be transported to location because of issues with bridge and water depth in some places. The feeling was that you did not do a proper assessment before ordering the turbines.
Obasanjo: We did what we should do before I left office. I targeted 10,000 megawatts but today, we are still struggling with 4,000. Then you had President Goodluck Jonathan doing privatisation. If that privatisation was done the way we did privatisation, it would have been okay for the country. When you see these things and still ask me the questions you ask, I feel like punching you (laughs).
Let’s discuss the refineries. They are still not working…
Obasanjo: They will not work as long as the government is keeping hold of them. When I was president, I invited Shell to a meeting. I told them I wanted to hand over the refineries for them for help us run. They bluntly told me they would not. I was shocked. I repeated the request and they stood their ground. When the meeting was over, I asked their big man (MD) to wait behind for a little chat. Then I asked him why they were so hesitant on not taking over the refineries. He said did I want to hear the truth? I said yes. He listed four reasons. One, he said Shell makes its money from upstream and that is where its interest lies. Two, he said they only do downstream or retail as a matter of service. Three, he said our refineries would be bad business for them, that globally, companies are going for bigger refineries because of the economics of refineries. Four, he said there is too much corruption in refineries.
I thanked him for his honesty. I knew we had a big problem in our hands. I had virtually given up hope on the refineries when God did a miracle. Alike Dangote and Femi Otedola approached me and said they would be interested in buying two of the four refineries. They said they would buy 51 percent stake in Port Harcourt and Kaduna. I was over the moon. I said, finally, this burden would be taken off the neck of the government. They offered $761 million and paid in two instalments. Unfortunately, Umaru (President Yar’Adua) cancelled the sale and returned the refineries to NNPC. Today, we are still where we were. Someone told me Tinubu said refineries would work by December. I told the person the refineries would not work. This is based on the information I received from Shell when I was president.
When you were military head of state, you believed in state ownership. You were a changed man when you returned as president in 1999. What happened?
When I was military head of state, we ordered 19 new ships to be built for the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL), which was owned by the federal government. We had about five at the time, and with 19, we were to have 24 ships. We took delivery of some before we left office. President Shehu Shagari took delivery of the remaining balance. When I returned after 20 years, the shipping line had been liquidated. Not one ship left. Let me tell you the story of one of the ships. They sold it for half a million dollars. Then, they started the Oron merchant navy school and needed a ship for training. They bought the ship they had sold for half a million dollars for $2 million and spent another $1.5 million to refit it so it could be seaworthy.
The ship went on the first voyage a week after I became president in 1999. One of the first things they brought to me was that the ship had been arrested for not being seaworthy and that I should bring $1 million to pay as fine for the ship that had been detained. I requested that they allow me time to look at the issues, and when I studied the issues, I told them to inform those who arrested the ship that I had gifted them the ship. The following day, the ship was released without Nigeria paying a dime. You can guess what happened there.
We left 32 aircraft for Nigerian Airways in 1979, but we had only one serviceable aircraft 20 years after I left office. When you look at that and what happened to Nigerian Airways, some directors formed an offshore company, and it was the company that they gave the maintenance and repairs to. The same company would then engage the people that would actually carry out the maintenance and repairs. The payment would be to the offshore company who, in turn, did not pay the contractors. When I returned in 1999, I took a stance that I didn’t owe Nigerians an airline. What I owed Nigerians was secure and safe traveling. So, when they talked about this Nigeria Air project, you would know it is nonsense. When I say certain things, people say Obasanjo has started again. It is because I know what I am talking about.
Our economy is currently in a bad shape with a heavy debt burden. With your experience, how do you think we can come out of this?
Obasanjo: Tinubu said the other day that it was unacceptable that he would spend 90% of his revenue to service debts. I wasn’t spending 90% when I went worldwide to get debt relief. Do you think that anybody would give you debt relief today? Buhari was spending money recklessly. I know Buhari didn’t understand economics. I put that in my book. But that he could also be so reckless, I didn’t know. Who would you go to today and ask for a favor? Tinubu says he has trimmed the number of people attending the United Nations General Assembly. Is that news? He will meet with Justin Trudeau, and he will meet with Emmanuel Macron. That will not solve any problem.
You’ve pointed to a number of your policies reversed or abandoned by President Yar’Adua. Since he was never an insider in your government, why did you support him to be your successor?
Obasanjo: See, I set up a committee headed by Dr Olusegun Agagu, of blessed memory, to search for a successor. They considered many names and did an extensive assessment of all them. They made their recommendation. Umaru was top on the list. Their biggest argument in his favour was that he had integrity and would not steal. The issues concerning his health were raised and I gave his medical reports to an expert for an opinion. Umaru’s name was redacted so that the expert would not know who it was and why I was seeking his opinion. After assessing the reports, he said the patient appeared to have done a kidney transplant and if that was the case, there was nothing to worry about and he would be as healthy as any other person. That was it. All insinuations that I knew he was going to die and that was why I supported him to be president were false. This is the true story I have told you.
Culled from TheCable
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