WITH only four weeks to the 2015 General Elections, the political-sphere is gradually gathering steam. For instance, political parties and their supporters have resumed campaigns and allied activities to improve their electoral fortunes.
ENCOMIUM Weekly’s Associate Editor, UCHE OLEHI reviews issues that dominated the second week preceding the March 28, 2015 General Elections.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2015
HOUSE IN ROWDY SESSION OVER USE OF SOLDIERS FOR 2015 ELECTIONS
The House of Reps was thrown into confusion on Monday, February 23, 2015 over moves by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to truncate the judgement of the Court of Appeal against the deployment of troops for elections.
The Court of Appeal in deciding the Ekiti election petition case, ruled that it is illegal to deploy soldiers for election duties.
The judgement validated the decision of a Sokoto High Court that the military should play no role during elections. It was based on this landmark judgement that the House Minority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila last week moved a motion that the House should compel President Jonathan to effect the judgement. One of his prayers was for the House to urge Jonathan not to deploy soldiers for the 2015 elections. But the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal didn’t allow the debate. He referred the motion to three committees: Judiciary, Justice as well as Rules and Business to advise the House.
It was the submission of the Committees’ reports that sparked off tension in the House. Citing some court papers, the proponents of troop-deployment-for-election urged Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, the Deputy Speaker who presided over the House proceedings, to stay action on the motion.
The Deputy Speaker’s support for the view of the ruling PDP members was the root of the chaos that stalled the House proceeding for over two hours. The debate for troop deployment for the March 28/April 11, 2015 elections has been raging with those opposed to it arguing that soldiers should remain in the barracks so they wouldn’t be used to manipulate the election.
The PDP supports the use of soldiers for the elections, while the opposition, APC is kicking against it.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2015
JONATHAN SHELVES CAMPAIGN FOR BAYELSA WOMEN BURIAL
The eight female Bayelsa PDP women leaders who lost their lives in a fatal auto crash on Valentine day (February 14, 2015), were given a state burial on Tuesday, February 24, 2015.
Interred in four graves at the Gloryland Cemetery, Azikoro, Yenagoa, amidst tears, the burial was attended by President Goodluck Jonathan, the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, the Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson, among other PDP chieftains.
The late politicians buried on Tuesday included three relations of the President, and wife of the Secretary to Bayelsa State Government. They perished in a car accident on their way to Rivers State after seeing the First Lady.
The unfortunate demise of the Bayelsa women dominated the polity, with critics of Patience Jonathan blaming her for their untimely death.
That, however, didn’t stop the First Lady from her ongoing campaign tour under the Women for Peace Initiative.
From Bayelsa to Cross Rivers State, the PDP women had a massively attended rally in Asaba, Delta State, on Thursday, February 26, 2015.
JONATHAN ACCUSED OF BRIBING LAGOSIANS
The leadership of the opposition, APC have accused President Goodluck Jonathan of bribing Lagosians with dollars during his recent visit to the state.
First to allege this was Governor Fashola. And later in the week the party’s spokesman in the state, Joe Igbokwe sent out a press release confirming the APC’s allegation.
The President has not reacted to the party’s claim.
WEDNESDAY, FEB. 25, 2015
APC TAKES CAMPAIGN TO LONDON
The APC continued its presidential campaign on Wednesday, February 25, 2015, in London. Although the party’s presidential flagbearer, General Muhammadu Buhari missed the event, its import was not lost on the ruling PDP, who concluded that Buhari’s absence confirms he is sick.
The rally was organized by APC diaspora community in the United Kingdom. APC supporters across the UK who converged at the Everlasting Arms Ministries Church, in East London for the rally, were, however, told that Buhari had been busy with meetings and consultations with British political leaders, while also having some rest after his energy-sapping nation-wide campaign.
“APC is committed to fighting corruption in the country by ensuring discipline, honesty, hard work and merit,” APC National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed assured the party supporters.
Also present at the APC London rally was former FCT Minister and APC Kaduna guber candidate, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai who said Buhari will bring about stability and peace in Nigeria.
The party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi and activist Mr. Festus Keyamo were also in London for the APC mini-presidential rally.
SHAGARI @ 90 TURNS TO POLITICAL RALLY
Former Nigerian President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari clocked 90 last week. And on Wednesday, February 25, 2015, the nonagerian was hosted to a memorable birthday bash graced by President Goodluck Jonathan and all Nigerian former presidents (except General Buhari who is still in London) was more of a political rally as candidates seeking endorsements were in Shagari’s Sokoto home state. It was indeed a gathering of the nation’s political gladiators who used the forum to further their political interest.
The celebrant has since endorsed President Jonathan for a second term.
MINISTERS RELOCATE HOME FOR JONATHAN
President Goodluck Jonathan has reportedly ordered his ministers to relocate to their states to drum support for his presidential aspiration.
The informal order, ENCOMIUM Weekly learnt, was given last week. Worried by the surging popularity of Buhari, Jonathan has since taken his destiny in his hands.
First, he had to personalize his campaign by reaching out one-on-one to eminent Nigerians and interest groups. He has now reportedly mandated his ministers to follow up on this strategy.
THURSDAY, FEB. 26, 2015
BUHARI SHINES @ CHATHAM HOUSE, UK
Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, General Muhammadu Buhari finally made it to the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, London on Thursday, February 26, 2015. General Buhari who was accompanied to the UK by APC chieftains delivered a moving lecture where he berated the Jonathan-led government and unveiled his manifesto, if elected president.
An outing political analysts agree is strategic, Buhari’s mission was, however, greeted with sponsored protests, which the APC equally promptly countered with a pro-Buhari peaceful demonstrations at the venue of the programme.
The ruling PDP had dismissed Buhari’s London working tour as a medical trip.
THE CHATHAM PROTESTERS DRAMA
You are already aware of the expose by one-time NTA presenter, Rose Peters, now based in the United Kingdom. Rose Peters Graham’s interview with some of the anti-Buhari protesters at Chatham House revealed that some of them were rented to give the impression that Buhari is not wanted by Nigerians. In fact, some of the protesters confessed they had no idea why they were at the lectures venue.
Rose Peters has, however, been dressed down by Jonathanians who faulted her expose as obviously partisan.
JONATHAN VISITS BAGA, VOW TO FLUSH OUT BOKO HARAM
On Thursday, February 26, 2015, President Goodluck Jonathan visited some of the reclaimed towns in Adamawa and Borno States.
Jonathan’s surprise visit is generally seen as a major breakthrough in the fight against insurgents who had terrorized the North East for over six years.
One of the reasons the February 14 election was postponed, Jonathan is flaunting his ego rooting out Boko Haram from the North East, while indirectly urging Nigerians to vote him back.
With the heat on the insurgents in the North East, Nigerians are optimistic that the military would finally flush out Boko Haram from the region so that the rescheduled March 28 General Elections would hold there.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had postponed the February 14 and 28 elections on security grounds.
INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega even told the Senate on Wednesday, February 16, 2015, he cannot guarantee that the elections would hold on March 28.
SENATORS UNCOVER FRESH PLOT TO SACK JEGA
Some APC senators have alleged there is a fresh plot to stop INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega from superintending the forthcoming polls.
Revealing the plot on Wednesday, February 25, APC chieftain, Senator George Akume said the Head of Service would direct Jega to proceed on a retirement leave on March 1, 2015. But it has since turned out that the senators’ fears were unnecessary since the electoral umpire is still very much in charge.
It would be recalled that President Jonathan had in a media chat rubbished the rumours he had plans to fire the embattled INEC boss.
POLITICAL PARTIES INTENSIFY CAMPAIGNS
24 days to the general elections, political parties have intensified their campaigns. Candidates of the two major political parties are reaching out to the electorates, using different strategies.
There are, however, other fairly popular parties like the Labour Party, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Social Democratic Party (SDP), among others.
And mobilizing support with all at their disposal, the rallies have been going on with or without the presidential candidates.
Interestingly, the campaign war is mainly between the ruling PDP and the opposition, APC.
DEATHS, VIOLENCE TRAIL PARTY CAMPAIGNS
The Chairman Governing Board, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Professor Chidi Odinkalu also in the week, released the list of pre-election violence casualties.
According to NHRC report, about 58 people have lost their lives so far. The deaths, the commission said, occurred between December 3, 2014 and January 31, 2015 from 49 election related violence across 22 states of the federation.
NHRC revealed that 11 incidents resulted in 22 deaths in Lagos, which topped the list of states with the most devastating record of election-related violence within the period surveyed.
Kaduna recorded three incidents resulting in nine deaths, while Gombe had three fatal accidents that accounted for five deaths.
In Taraba State, four Nigerians died in one election-related violence while Ogun State recorded two incidents that led to four deaths. Kano State had incidents that culminated in two deaths, according to NHRC’s figures.
Bayelsa State also recorded one incident resulting in three deaths, while Akwa Ibom Stae had two incidents resulting in three deaths.
In all, the Commission’s report indicated that the South West recorded the highest number with 28 deaths from election-related violence within the same period, followed by the North-West with 11 deaths, North-East had nine deaths, South-South had eight deaths and South-East two deaths.
Rivers State reportedly remains the number one flashpoint in Nigeria as a local government (Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni) had recorded about 20 deaths since November 2014.
It was the same state that erupted in violence when the opposition APC took their campaign to Okrika. The election-related violence claimed the life of a policeman, leaving scores wounded after the bomb explosion.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2015
OSINBAJO FORCED TO TAKE OATH TO HAND OVER TO TINUBU SIX MONTHS AFTER ELECTION – FEMI FANI-KAYODE
At a media briefing in Abuja on Friday, February 27, 2015, the spokesman of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Femi Fani-Kayode claimed that a chieftain of the APC, Ahmed Bola Tinubu has forced the party’s Vice Presidential candidate, Professor Yemi Osinbajo to swear to an oath that he would resign as Vice President six months after inauguration (if the APC wins) so that he can scheme his way to power if General Buhari dies in office.
His words: “The PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation wishes to use this forum to expose the ungodly plan by Tinubu to seize the Presidency of Nigeria by subterfuge. The real reason Tinubu nominated Osinbajo has been made known to us and we hereby offer a public service to the Nigerian people by drawing national attention to it. Tinubu wanted to be running mate to Buhari in spite of the nationwide resentment for Muslim-Muslim ticket that he and Buhari planned to foist on their party men and women. But when he and Buhari could not push through the agenda within the APC, he (Tinubu), after being given the opportunity to nominate a vice presidential candidate, decided to prop up his stooge in the person of Prof. Osinbajo.
“Tinubu, according to our information, has compelled Osinbajo to swear to an oath that after six months in office, he would resign as the vice president, in the unlikely event that their party wins.
“Credible pieces of information at our disposal indicate that Tinubu has perfected plans to come to power through the back door. The ultimate objective of this plot is to ensure that Tinubu becomes president. The script is simple: given the questionable health of Buhari, Tinubu who is desperate to be president for his own selfish reasons, will simply bid his time in the evil expectation that Buhari will not be able to go the whole hog.”
The former Lagos State Governor, one of APC founding fathers and one-time senator of the Federal Republic has not responded to FFK’s weighty allegation.
78.93 PER CENT OF PVC COLLECTED
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has put the percentage of Permanent Voters Cards collected at 78.93 per cent. This was contained in the report released by the Commission in Abuja on Friday, February 27, 2015.
While INEC puts the number of registered voters at 68,833,476, it ended that it had also delivered 67,206,600 PVCs across the country.
INEC, however, said that only 54,327,747 PVCs, which represent 78.93 per cent of the cards, had been collected.
According to INEC, Jigawa, Gombe and Akwa Ibom top the list of states with PVC collection.
Leading from the rear is Ogun State where only 808,590 out of the 1,829,534 registered voters had collected their PVCs. The figure represents just 44.20 per cent.
In Lagos, only 3,693,355 out of the 5,822,207 registered voters have collected their PVCs. And that is 63.33 per cent of the total number of registered voters.
But INEC claimed that 5,558,062 cards had been delivered for voters in the state with highest number of PVCs.
INEC used the occasion to explain how the use of card readers would prevent rigging and related electoral offences.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2015
JONATHAN RETURNS TO LAGOS
President Goodluck Jonathan continued with his personal consultation with interest groups in Lagos on Saturday, February 28, 2015. He would be here till the end of the weekend. With over five million votes for grabs here, winning the hearts of Lagosians might well translate to victory at the March 28, 2015 presidential election. Lagos State has the highest number of registered voters in Nigeria. Next is Kano State.