FactcheckElections: Review Of Top Political Events Of The Week

Oluwaseye Ogunsanya

The two edged swords of naira note scarcity and petrol supply shortage piercing through the souls of many Nigerians and making the hardship in the country reach its all time high was one of the major highlights of the week.

After several calls from many Nigerians including the House of Representatives to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend the January 31, 2023 deadline slated for the return of the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes, the apex bank at the beginning of the week headed to the calls by extending the deadline to February 10 but many Nigerians have found it difficult to obtain the new naira notes. This is evident in the long queues in many banks across the country and the exorbitant charges by POS attendants.

Coupled with the scarcity of the new naira notes, Nigerians have also been battling with petrol scarcity across the country for months now. 

Additionally, the week also witnessed some blockbuster events in the political scene as Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-rufai revealed that there are “elements” in the presidential villa who are working against the APC. On the flip side however, APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu continued his attack on Buhari’s administration by criticising the country’s exchange rate.

Below are some of the top political events of the week

El-Rufai: Some Elements in Aso Villa Want APC to Lose the Elections

…Aisha Buhari shares El-Rufai’s Interview Video

…FG Reacts, Says Buhari For Free Poll, Not Against Any Candidate

On Wednesday, the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-rufai revealed that there are saboteurs in President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration working against the success of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the polls.

El-Rufai who spoke on Channels TV’s programme, Sunrise Daily, refused to reveal the identities of the persons, he said those working against Tinubu were aggrieved that Tinubu defeated their candidate in the APC presidential primaries, and that these elements were hiding behind President Muhammadu Buhari’s desire to do what he thought was right.

He said in part: “Most of the people in the villa are not members of our party. I believe there are elements in the villa that want us to lose the election because they didn’t have their way.

“They had their candidates, and their candidates didn’t win the primaries and I think they are still trying to get us to lose the election and they are hiding behind the president’s desire to do what he thinks is right.”

 

In the same vein, hours after El-rufai made the statement in his interview with Channels TV, the first lady, Aisha Buhari, shared the video clip of the interview on her Instagram page with the caption “#longlivethefederalrepublicofnigeria”.

Aisha who currently serves as the grand patron of the Tinubu/Shettima women campaign team has publicly complained about fifth columnists in the presidential villa.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government dismissed El-rufai’s allegation, affirming that President Buhari was committed to ensuring free and fair election.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed who disclosed this after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday added that “If there’s anybody working against a candidate we don’t know officially.”

According to him, Buhari is more concerned with seeing the elections being credible, and not tilted in favour of any particular candidate or against anyone.

Mohammed who also spoke at the 22nd edition of the administration’s scorecard series on Thursday in Abuja said Buhari is in total support of Bola Tinubu adding that it is “preposterous to even suggest that Mr President, who is the leader of our party, is equivocating on his support for our presidential candidate”.

He said: “Yesterday, while reacting to a question at the post-federal executive council briefing at the state house, I said, inter alia, that Mr President is committed to a free, fair and credible elections,”

“This comment has been misinterpreted in some circles, especially with regards to Mr President’s support for the presidential candidate of our party, the APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

“I want to say, unequivocally, that Mr President is in total support of our party’s flag bearer, and that is attested to by his continuing campaign with the candidate across the country.

“I hope this clears any ambiguity that may have arisen from my statement yesterday.

Tinubu Criticizes Buhari’s Administration On Naira Depreciation

…Tinubu’s Comment Was Not An Attack on Buhari – APC PCC

For the second time in two weeks, Bola Tinubu of APC, on Tuesday, criticised the current administration again.

While speaking about saboteurs working to scuttle his victory at the polls by hoarding the new naira note and making fuel supply scarce last week, this week he criticised the country’s foreign exchange (FX) rate management system which has led to the rapid depreciation of the naira and the currency redesign policy at APC’s campaign rally in Cross River state.

According to him, in 2015, the naira/dollar exchange rate was about N200 to a dollar but it has depreciated to about N800/$ at the parallel market.

“Don’t let them lie to you about change of currency. Their families — they have never understood what inflation is about,” the APC presidential candidate said.

“They never understand (sic) what money laundering is all about. They never understand (sic) keeping our currency in the dark corner of their room.

“To change and the torture moved the exchange rate from 200 to 800. If they had repaired it, if they had arrested this, we won’t be where we are today. We will be greater. They don’t know the way, they don’t know how to think, they don’t know how to do.

“I say, follow me. Are you going to follow me? Are you going to vote for me?”

In its manner, the party’s presidential campaign subsequently defended Tinubu by saying that he did not attack President Muhammadu Buhari when he spoke about the country’s exchange rate.

The campaign’s media director, Bayo Onanuga, said the PDP created the current exchange rate crisis experienced by the country adding that Buhari has been able to build back the reserve to about $38 billion.

“The reference to exchange rate was not in any way an attack on the Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress administration but an attempt to capture how the economic mismanagement of the PDP created a forex crisis in the country since 2015,” he said in part.

Bauchi LP Campaign Director Defects to PDP Due to ‘Lack of Structure’

The Labour Party campaign director in Bauchi state, Alhassan Bawu defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday.

According to Bawu at a media briefing in Bauchi, the defection was informed by the lack of structure of the LP at the state, local, and ward levels.

He further added that all the chairpersons of the party, state, zonal officers as well as national officers from the zone have also defected to pitch their tent with the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

He said: “The LP is not strong and won’t be able to win a single seat in the region,”

“We are officially declaring that all the north-east executives of Labour Party are defecting to PDP to support Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

“We don’t want to waste our votes, and we want to use this time to mobilise votes to who has the capacity to win the election.”

Wike Withdraws Approval of Stadium for Atiku Rally

Wike Revoked Approval For Our Rally Because He is Supporting Tinubu – PDP PCC

…I Never Promised to Name Our Presidential Candidate On Camera, Wike Says

On Wednesday the Rivers State Government announced the cancellation of the approval earlier granted the Presidential Campaign Council of the PDP for the use of the Adokiye Amasiemaka Stadium for its presidential campaign billed for February 11, 2023.

This decision was communicated in a letter signed by the State Commissioner for Sports, Barr. Christopher Green and addressed to Governor of Sokoto State and Director General of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal.

Green said the decision was taken due to an alleged plot by the Atiku campaign in the state to share the facility with a “violent” faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC) loyal to Tonye Cole, the Rivers APC governorship candidate.

“Credible intelligence available to the Government of Rivers State and recent developments now show that your Presidential Campaign Organisation is working in collaboration and in cahoots with a faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State led by Tonye Patrick Cole, and that it is the intention of your Presidential Campaign Organisation to accommodate and share the approved facility for your campaign with the said faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC),” the letter reads in part.

In its reaction, the PDP presidential campaign council alleged that Nyesom Wike is working for Bola Tinubu

According to the Director General of the campaign in Rivers, Abiye Sekibo, in a letter on Wednesday, Wike has directed government officials in the state to work for the election of Tinubu.

Sekibo said it is “appalling and highly preposterous” for the Rivers state government to “assume” that the PDP plans to hold a joint rally with the APC at the venue.

“We completely deny your assertion as patently false and perverse and we believe that our highly respected security agencies cannot furnish you with such untrue and unfounded lies,” the letter addressed to Wike reads in part.

Meanwhile, Governor Nyesom Wike said on Wednesday that never promised to announce his preferred presidential candidate on live television.

Recall that Wike had continually said that he would start campaigning for a presidential candidate by January, however the Rivers state governor said during a PDP campaign in Port Harcourt that people of the state know who to support for the presidential election.

“I never told anybody one day, I will bring a camera and announce to you this is who will go. I said I will tell Rivers people the candidate they will support,” he said.

“I did not tell you the method of saying it. I did not tell you I will bring live coverage and say it. But Rivers people know.”

Southern, Middle Belt Leaders Endorse Obi

On Thursday, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) endorsed the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, as its preferred candidate for the February 25 presidential election.

The leadership of the forum which is made up of the Middle Belt, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere, and the Pan Niger Delta Forum took the decision after its extraordinary meeting in Abuja.

The forum said in a communique: “That we give our unalloyed vote of thanks to our father and leader, Chief Edwin Clark, for his boldness, his sagacity, his tenacity, and his relentlessness in pursuing the aims and aspirations of this organisation.

“That we warn all those who want to change the hands of the clock of Nigeria by doing anything that will derail a peaceful transition to the next civilian government of this country, that we shall rise like one man in defence of the ballot box and that Nigerians must go to vote.

This we have resolved today and we enjoin other Nigerians who do not belong to our organisation to join us in realising this for the betterment of Nigeria: Peter Obi is your son and he is the rock upon which Nigeria will stand.”

Gunmen Raze INEC Office in Anambra

On Tuesday, gunmen set ablaze the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Idemili south LGA of Anambra state.

In a statement on Wednesday, INEC’s commissioner for information and voter education, Festus Okoye said 729 ballot boxes, 243 voting cubicles, 256 election bags, 11 megaphones, one electric power generator were destroyed during the attack.

“Large quantities of indelible ink and liquid gum” were also destroyed in the inferno.

The commission, however, said permanent voter cards (PVCs) were kept in a fireproof cabinet and as such, weren’t affected.

INEC said in December 2022 that since 2019 it had recorded 50 attacks on its facilities in 15 states of the federation and this could affect the conduct of the general elections.

Similarly, the commission said on Tuesday that its logistics for the forthcoming elections may be affected by the scarcity of petrol.

Speaking at a consultative meeting with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), INEC boss, Mahmood Yakubu said the issue of logistics has been a perennial problem in election administration in Nigeria.

He said for this reason, the commission is collaborating with the NURTW and the Marine Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN) to ensure hitch-free arrangements on election day.

“The commission is aware that this is an enormous task. Election is the largest deployment a nation periodically undertakes and mobilisation of vehicles for election is a large and complex exercise. However, this comes only once in four years. What is critical here is forward planning.

“We have presented to the union the number and specifications of the vehicles required for the election. We have also indicated to you the locations where the vehicles are needed.” Yakubu said.

He also said that the commission shares the transport union’s concern about the fuel situation and its impact on transportation on election day.

“The truth is that our arrangements may be negatively affected by the non-availability of products,” he said.

“For this reason, the Commission will this afternoon meet with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) to look into ways to ameliorate the situation. I wish to assure Nigerians that we will continue to engage every national institution for the success of the 2023 general election.”

Campaign Watch: PDP Campaigns in Sokoto, Zamfara

…Tinubu Takes Campaign to Anambra, Cross River, Osun and Ekiti 

…Obi’s Campaign Train Stops at Jigawa, Adamawa, Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Abia and Ebonyi

…Kwankwaso Campaigns in Agege, Lagos

It was a very busy week for the leading presidential candidates as they travelled the length and breath of the country to propagate the gospel of their candidacy to the members of the public.

On Tuesday, the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his campaign team was at Sokoto state where supporters and party faithfuls turned out in large numbers to receive them.

The former vice-president indicated that if elected he will transform the country into a more developed nation with full opportunities for citizens to thrive economically adding that he would inject $10 million into fighting poverty in the Northwest state through a responsive empowerment scheme for women, traders and youths.

Earlier on Monday, he was at Zamfara where he promised that he will end terrorism if elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“I will reposition Zamfara State in terms of security network, agriculture and solid mineral resources if I am voted into power,” he said.

On the other hand, the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu and his running mate Kashim Shettima joined party faithfuls for campaign rallies in Anambra and Cross River on Tuesday.

At Anambra, Tinubu promised to address the recurring erosion menace in the state the same way he “tamed” the Atlantic Ocean surge in Lagos State if elected.

“You know me, the Lagos boy. I tamed the Atlantic Ocean. The same way, we will check erosion in Anambra,” he said. elected Nigeria’s president in 2023.

He also promised to create massive jobs for teeming unemployed youths in Anambra by creating industries in the state.

On Thursday in Osun, the former Lagos State governor suffered another gaffe while addressing his supporters in Osun state.

While speaking in Yoruba, he erroneously said he will double the duration of university education in the country from the current four years to eight years.

“Those of you in school, write it down. Call me a bastard if you spend more than eight years in school. You will be in school for eight years.” He said.

On Friday at Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti capital, Tinubu said the endgame of those behind the naira note scarcity is to ensure an interim government instead of election.

“They are hoarding naira so that you can be angry and fight. They want confusion so that the election can be postponed. What they want is an interim government. But we are wiser than them. We will not fight. Any rat that eats the rat poison will end up killing itself.

“I am in the race for the betterment of the people. If it is what I will eat and what I need personally, God has provided for me. I am in this race to make life good and better for you too.” he said.

Labour Party’s Peter Obi spent the most of his week in the Northern part of the country. On Monday in Jigawa promised to unlock the economic potentials in Northern Nigeria through agriculture and quality education.

In Adamawa on Tuesday, he promised to provide security across Nigeria while on Wednesday in Sokoto, he promised to fix endemic poverty by engaging the huge number of unemployed youths in the North in modern mechanised farming on the vast amount of arable lands. He also paid a visit to the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III at his palace where he recalled his first encounter with him.

On Thursday at his presidential campaign rally in Birnin Kebbi, the capital city of Kebbi State, Obi pledged to build a new Nigeria devoid of mass poverty and criminalities. He also promised to invest massively in agriculture to ensure food security and export of agricultural produce to other countries.

On the same day also at Zamfara, LP candidate said the natural resources in the state should be a source of good for residents of the state adding that his administration will unlock the potential of the state if elected.

On Friday, he challenged those who turned up at his rally in Abakaliki, Ebonyi state and the rest of Nigerians to hold him responsible if a new Nigeria does emerge with him in office having assured them and people of the South-East that his government will turn the region into Nigeria’s industrial hub if elected into office in February 25 election.

Meanwhile, the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-rufai dismissed the chances of Peter Obi winning the presidential election.

El-Rufai, who described the LP candidate in an interview with TVC as a “Nollywood actor”, said Obi can only expect significant votes from the south-east and south-south, but not from the north and south-west.

According to El-rufai, Obi does not have the necessary support across all states to win the presidential election.

“We are ahead. How can Peter Obi win any election? Peter Obi is polling one percent in Sokoto; two percent in Katsina; five percent in Kano. That’s where the votes are. All states are not equal,” he said in part.

Relatively, the New Nigeria People’s Party’s presidential candidate Rabiu Kwankwaso was at Agege Lagos on Wednesday to campaign.

According to INEC’s schedule of activities for 2023 General Election, campaign for presidential and national assembly ends on 23rd of February while that of governorship and house of assembly elections ends on 9th of March.

 

Court Matters: Supreme Court Affirms Fmr Kebbi Governor as PDP Senatorial Candidate

…Supreme Court Sacks Bwacha as Taraba APC Governorship Candidate

…Supreme Court Fixes Feb 6 For Judgment in Yobe North Senatorial Dispute Between Lawan and Machina

On Monday, the supreme court affirmed Adamu Aliero as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for Kebbi central senatorial district in the forthcoming National Assembly elections.

Delivering judgement, four out of a five-member panel of the apex court set aside the judgment of the court of appeal.

The appeal court in Sokoto had on September 28, 2022, nullified Aliero’s candidacy and affirmed Saidu Haruna as the authentic candidate for Kebbi central.

But Centus Nweze, a supreme court justice, held that Aliero’s appeal “is pregnant with merit and is accordingly allowed”.

On Wednesday the Supreme court nullified the nomination of Emmanuel Bwacha as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Taraba state.

Delivering judgment on Wednesday, a five-member panel led by Kudirat Kekere-Ekun affirmed the verdict of the federal high court which held that the APC did not conduct any valid governorship primary in the state.

A federal high court in Jalingo, Taraba state, sacked Bwacha as the APC’s governorship candidate in September 2022 as a result of a suit filed against Bwacha’s candidature by one of the aspirants, David Sabo Kente. Read more here.

On the other hand, the supreme court has fixed February 6 to deliver judgment in an appeal seeking to affirm Ahmed Lawan, senate president, as the All Progressives Congress (APC) senatorial candidate for Yobe north.

A five-member panel of the apex court led by Centus Nweze fixed the date on Wednesday after parties in the appeal adopted their briefs of argument as their final submissions.

While Crownwell Peters, counsel to the APC (appellant), prayed the court to allow the appeal. Ibrahim Bawa, counsel for the 1st respondent (Bashir Machina), asked the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking merit.

There has been a running battle over the senatorial ticket of the APC in Yobe north as Machina who won unopposed during the primaries organised by APC in May 2022 was reportedly asked to step down for Lawan who was said to have participated in other primaries organised by the APC after he contested the party’s presidential ticket unsuccessfully in June but Machina insisted that he is the rightful candidate. Read more here.

Finally on Thursday, the supreme court also affirmed the candidature of Gboyega Oyetola in the Osun state governorship election held on July 16, 2022.

A five-member panel of the apex court led by Centus Nweze, held that the appeal by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lacked merit and directed Kehinde Ogunwumiju, the counsel to the PDP, to withdraw it.

In September, Emeka Nwite, judge of a federal high court in Abuja, voided the nomination of Oyetola and his deputy. In his judgment he held that the nomination of Oyetola and his deputy, was unlawful and unconstitutional because Mai Mala Buni, who submitted their names to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), violated the provisions of section 183 of the constitution and section 82(3) of the Electoral Act 2022.

However, in December, the Abuja court of appeal set aside the judgement of the trial court, thereby affirming Oyetola’s nomination as the governorship candidate of the APC.

Not satisfied, the PDP went to the supreme court but the apex court held that the PDP could not, under the law, question the process leading to the emergence of Oyetola and Alabi as candidates of the APC.

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