Obi, Yakubu and Kwankwaso in Chatham House, APC PCC Asks Atiku to Step Down, Calls For His Arrest…
The Royal Institute for International Affairs also known as Chatham House in London made the headlines this week as it played host to Mr Peter Obi, the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu and Dr Rabiu Kwankwaso, presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party. While Obi and Kwankwaso were also at Chatham House to speak on their visions and plans for Nigeria, Mahmood Yakubu spoke on INEC’s level of preparedness for the forthcoming general elections.
While the Chatham affair was ongoing outside the country, here at home, the All Progressives Congress presidential campaign council (APC PCC) held a press conference demanding the immediate arrest of Atiku Abubakar for allegedly stealing public funds through ‘Special Purpose Vehicles’
In this report, we look at the top political events that went down this week.
Peter Obi, Rabiu Kwankwanso and Mahmood Yakubu at Chatham House
As we countdown to the 2023 general elections, it’s important to note that British think-tank, the Royal Institute for International Affairs also known as Chatham House has become a critical part of the election conversation. This is because as a forum for the exchange of ideas and open expression, research and knowledge, the institute serves as an avenue for Nigeria’s leading presidential candidates to sell their political agendas to Nigerians home and abroad.
Recall that on December 5, 2022, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was at Chatham House where he spoke on the topic ‘Nigeria’s 2023 Elections: Security, Economic and Foreign Policy Imperatives’. His outing was criticized by many due to his delegation of questions and comments raised by his audience to his team.
On Monday 16th January, it was the turn of Labour Party’s candidate, Peter Obi to speak to Nigerians on his vision for Nigeria. The former Anambra state governor who spoke on the topic: ‘Nigeria’s 2023 Election: A Vision for Policy Change and Institutional Reforms’ disclosed his plan on insecurity, ethnic tensions and IPOB agitations.
He noted equity, justice and fairness would solve the problem of agitations in the country and his administration would prioritise securing Nigeria by first engaging all aggrieved groups in the country for talks.
He also vowed to “destroy the structure” that has kept Nigerians in poverty if he is elected president adding that he would create a suitable platform to attract foreign investors into the country.
In the same vein, Dr Rabiu Kwankwaso, presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party who was also at Chatham House on Wednesday 18th January, said he is confident that his party will win the election “fair and square” and there won’t be a need for a run-off.
Kwankwanso who spoke on the subject “Nigeria’s 2023 elections: service delivery and policy alternatives” also commented on the failed alliance between his party and the Labour Party.
According to him the much-talked-about alliance did not work because the LP did not see the reason to work with him and the party is built on regional and ethnic sentiments. He also took a swipe at the party likening its initial hype and popularity to Andrews Liver Salt, he said it has begun to dwindle ahead of the general elections.
The former Kano state Governor who boasted about his over 30 years of experience in the civil service said withdrawing his ambition to support Obi was not an option as he believed he is more qualified than all other candidates contesting in the election.
On Tuesday 17th January, INEC boss, Professor Mahmood Yakubu graced the Chatham House podium to address Nigerians on the commission’s preparedness for the polls. Yakubu who spoke on the topic ‘Nigeria’s 2023 Elections: Preparations and Priorities for Electoral Integrity and Inclusion’ affirmed that INEC is ready to conduct next month’s general elections.
He also gave updates on Nigeria’s voter population and the ongoing collection of PVCs scheduled to elapse on 29th of January. He revealed that in order to ascertain the integrity of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), the Commission would conduct mock accreditation nationwide ahead of the elections. He said the mock exercise would be carried out across selected polling units before the main polls in February.
Yakubu who also spoke on the possibility of a presidential run-off said the commission is up to the task in case no winner emerges at the first ballot adding that INEC is not considering postponement of the presidential poll, despite attacks on its offices nationwide.
APC PCC Asks Atiku to Step Down, Calls For His Arrest, PDP Reacts
The integrity and eligibility of both Atiku Abubakar and Bola Ahmed Tinubu to contest the presidential election took center stage this week as both parties engaged in a running battle.
It all began on Monday when the All Progressives Congress presidential campaign council (APC PCC) called for the arrest of Atiku Abubakar for allegedly stealing public funds through ‘Special Purpose Vehicles’. This allegation was made by the joint media directorates of the PCC at a world press conference in Abuja.
The call for Atiku’s arrest came after his former media aide, Michael Achimugu alleged that he was privy to how Atiku laundered public money through the Special Purpose Vehicles.
While the PCC Special Adviser on Media, Communications and Public Affairs, Dele Alake said Atiku deserved to be arrested following evidence that he abused his office as vice president from 1999 to 2007 by allegedly carrying out the act, the PCC Chief Spokesperson, Festus Keyamo said it was obvious from the oral account, voice notes and all other supporting documents provided by the whistle-blower that Atiku committed infractions such as gratification, money laundering, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.
Subsequently Keyamo petitioned the EFCC, ICPC and the Code of Conduct Bureau, demanding Atiku’s arrest, investigation and prosecution within the 72 hours vowing to get a court injunction compelling the agencies to arrest or invite the Atiku for questioning if they fail to act on the petition.
The PDP in its response dismissed as irresponsible the attempt by the APC and its presidential candidate to divert public attention from the issues affecting Nigerians. The party also added that it was ironic that Bola Tinubu, who had been accused of perjury, forgery, treasury looting, corruption and narcotic-related conviction had been left out.
Keyamo would later file a suit on Friday against the CCB, ICPC and EFCC at an Abuja Federal High Court for failing to arrest, interrogate and prosecute Atiku at the expiration of the 72-hour ultimatum given to them.
PVC Collection Deadline: States Declare Work-Free Days For Workers to Collect PVCs
Ahead of the January 29 deadline set by INEC for the collection of PVCs, during the week, state governments across the country declared work free days to allow their workers to collect their PVCs.
Lagos State government approved four days of work free for public servants to obtain their PVCs. According to a circular released by the state’s head of service, Hakeem Muri-Okunola, on Wednesday the work free days will commence on Tuesday, January 24, and end on Friday, January 27, for different grade levels of workers.
In the same vein, the Cross River state government declared Thursday, January 26 and Friday, January 27 for its workers as work-free days while the Ekiti state government declared January 24, a work- free day to enable eligible voters to collect their PVCs.
NPC Holds Meeting With Political Parties
On Friday, the National Peace Committee (NPC) held a meeting with political parties in order to review the conduct of political parties, and work towards maintaining peace ahead of the elections.
In attendance at the meeting were Abdulsalami Abubakar, former head of state and NPC chairperson; Matthew Kukah, Catholic bishop of Sokoto diocese; Muhammadu Abubakar, Sultan of Sokoto; as well as presidential candidates including Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Omoyele Sowore of African Action Congress (AAC), and Kola Abiola of Peoples Redemption Party (PRP).
While Ifeanyi Okowa, PDP vice-presidential candidate and governor of Delta, represented his principal and former vice-president, Atiku Abubakar, nobody represented Peter Obi, the LP candidate.
Recall that last September before the commencement of campaigns, the National Peace Committee organised an event where candidates and their respective parties were made to sign the peace accord for the 2023 elections.
The chairman of the committee, General Abdulsalami Abubakar had said then that they will also sign an agreement this January to accept the result of the election.
Candidates Intensifies Campaigns as Explosion Hits Rivers APC Rally
As we countdown to election day, candidates and parties are leaving no stone unturned to reach as many people as possible to sell their political agendas to the electorates.
While Oyo state governor, Seyi Makinde was absent at Atiku’s campaign in Oyo on Thursday, the party was well received in Ekiti on Wednesday except that a former governor of the state, Ayodele Fayose; former governorship candidate, Bisi Kolawole; and several chieftains of the party shunned the presidential rally.
The PDP presidential candidate was also in Ogun on Wednesday where he gave the party members conditions that must be met to get appointments and contracts from his government when he becomes the president. He also refused to pay a courtesy visit to his former boss, former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Meanwhile, on Thursday an explosion occurred at the venue of the Rivers APC governorship campaign rally at Ojukwu field, Rumuwoji community in Port Harcourt.
According to Rivers APC spokesperson, Darlington Nwauju, the “explosion” happened around 1pm and five people were injured. He said some elements of the explosive device were removed from the body of one of the injured persons, adding that it happened before Tonye Cole, the party’s governorship candidate, arrived at the venue.
However, Rivers police spokesperson Grace Iringe-Koko said no explosion occurred, adding that the incident was a clash between the community members and party supporters.
Wike: We Will Name Our Preferred Presidential Candidate Soon
The Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike made this known on Tuesday at the flag-off of Local Government Campaign of Rivers State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ikwerre.
The governor urged the people to remain calm, saying when the final decision on the presidential candidate is taken, the Rivers electorate will be notified.
“As we finish from here now, you’ll go home and start working towards the appropriate time when we will ring the bell. When you hear the bell, know that the decision has been taken”
Recall that Wike and 4 other PDP governors – Seyi Makinde of Oyo, Samuel Ortom of Benue, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu – known as the integrity group or G5 are not on good terms with the leadership of the PDP due to the party chairman and presidential candidate coming from the same region.
Court Matters: Court Strikes Out Suit Seeking Tinubu’s Disqualification Over Muslim-Muslim Ticket as Supreme Court Affirms Akpabio’s Candidacy
The week also witnessed some court rulings relating to the 2023 elections as Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed of a Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday struck out a suit instituted by an Abuja-based legal practitioner, Osigwe Momoh seeking the disqualification of the All Progressives Congress and its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, over the party’s Muslim-Muslim ticket.
The suit was dismissed by the judge on grounds of lack of locus standi by the plaintiff. In his ruling, Justice Mohammed held that he not being a member of the APC and having not participated in the process that produced Tinubu and his running mate, Kashim Shettima, cannot query them on the nominations.
Similarly, the Supreme Court on Friday restored former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio as the senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Akwa Ibom North Senatorial District. The Court of Appeal judgment delivered on November 14, 2022, had voided Akpabio’s candidacy.
In a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Ibrahim Saulawa, the apex court upheld the ruling of the Federal High Court in Abuja which in September 2022 granted a verdict in favour of the immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.