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2023 Enugu governorship contest: The heist cannot stand

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By Emeka Nwosu

The just concluded General election came with its twists and turns across the length and breadth of the nation. The attendant fraud and malpractices have continued to reverberate in the land. In Enugu, the polls recorded high drama and subterfuge, never witnessed in the annals of electoral history in Nigeria. The election was not only brazenly manipulated but eventually stolen by the ruling PDP in the State, thus denying the Labour Party (LP) the clear mandate which the people of Enugu State freely gave to its flag bearer, Hon. Chijioke Jonathan Edeoga.

It is unfortunate that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) allowed itself to be used to subvert the popular will of the people of Enugu State in the March 18, 2023 rescheduled gubernatorial election, using the over-bloated votes of Nkanu East Local Government Area (LGA) as the staging post. It will be recalled that the Returning Officer for the election, Professor Maduebibisi Iwe, who is also the Vice Chancellor of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture (MOUA), Umudike, had, while announcing the controversial Nkanu East result which purportedly gave victory to Mr. Peter Mbah of the PDP, stated that he was acting under a higher authority.

In other words, what Professor Iwe was actually saying was that he was cajoled, intimidated and directed to declare the manipulated figures from Nkanu East, even when he knew that the figures in question were totally contrived. And how do you compare Iwe and his counterpart, Professor Nnenna Oti, the Returning Officer in the governorship election in Abia State, who stood her ground and firmly refused to be swayed by the powers that be who wanted her to admit and announce falsified figures from Obingwa LGA which would have tilted the outcome of the election in favour of the candidate of the ruling PDP, Chief Okey Ahiwe, as opposed to the flag bearer of the LP, Dr. Alex Otti, who was leading Ahiwe with about 91,000 votes?

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In the case of Enugu State, the LP candidate, Edeoga, was cruising to victory, having defeated his main opponent, Mbah, in majority of the 16 out of the 17 LGAs in the State declared by INEC, remaining the controversial Nkanu East LGA. Having realized that Edeoga has virtually won the election, the PDP generated for itself 30,500 votes from the LGA to wipe the lead which Edeoga was maintaining with the impressive votes he received from Nsukka LGA. Unfortunately for the PDP and its candidate, the voters accredited by the BVAS machine in Nkanu East were not more than 9,000 persons. It was, therefore, unthinkable that 30,500 votes were being recorded for the PDP.

Under the 2022 Electoral Act, once the number of votes in any polling unit, ward or LGA exceeds the total number of those accredited for an election, those votes are supposed to be cancelled in line with the law. But what played out in the case of Nkanu East was not only bizarre and unconscionable but totally despicable. It will be recalled that following the stiff protests by the LP and election observers, the collation of the falsified Nkanu East results was temporarily halted. The Returning Officer was summoned by INEC to its Headquarters in Abuja for a review of the controversial Nkanu East results.

The least action that was expected from INEC Headquarters was the cancellation of the entire Nkanu East results or the pronouncement of the results based on the BVAS accreditation. Even if all the 9,000 valid votes cast at the election in Nkanu East based on the BVAS accreditation were given to Peter Mbah, the LP candidate, Hon. Barr. Chijioke Edeoga would still have won the election.

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It is, therefore, surprising that INEC, after the so-called review in Abuja asked the Returning Officer, Professor Iwe, to proceed with the announcement of results that had no bearing to the true outcome of the votes in the Nkanu East LGA. That fraudulent action is nothing but an act of impunity that defies logic and rationality. The heist must not be allowed to stand.

It is unfortunate that Professor Iwe who is said to be the Head of the Scripture Union in the academia in Nigeria lacked the strength of character and moral courage to do the right thing unlike Professor Nnenna Oti who refused to be compromised. Professor Iwe cannot be exonerated from allegations of complicity and conspiracy by saying that he acted under authority. That proclamation alone merely showed him as a simpleton who was used as a tool to subvert the will of the people of Enugu State.

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The likes of Professor Iwe, by the ignoble roles they played in the 2023 elections across the country have brought dishonor to themselves and the academia. Their shameful actions will continue to haunt them for the rest of their lives. Nevertheless, people like Professor Oti still give a modicum of hope that all is not lost with the academia.

Let it be stated clearly that the Enugu matter cannot be swept under the carpet. The retrieval of the stolen mandate from the PDP is a task that must be done. It is gladdening to note that the LP and its candidate have gone to Court to seek redress. It is a straightforward case. All objective political observers are hopeful that at the end of the day, Hon. Edeoga would retrieve his stolen mandate which was freely given to him by the good people of Enugu State.

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Dr. Emeka Nwosu, A Political Analyst, wrote from Abuja

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Tough economy: Trouble in APC, as staff plan strike

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A loud grumbling has enveloped the 40 Blantyre Crescent, Wuse, Zone 2, Abuja, headquarters of the All Progressives Congress (APC), where staff across different departments are threatening to down tools in protest of poor welfare and biting economic hardship.

Daily Trust, is reporting that the staff are specifically asking the party’s top echelon to make provision for their housing and other allowances, stressing that the economic situation of the country had become quite unfavourable to them.

The paper quoted one of the staff, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as saying that the party’s executive members had left them to suffer, while taking home humongous amounts of money as salaries and allowances.

Though Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, National Chairman of the party, is said to have commenced payment of N35,000 provisional wage award to them in January 2024, they argued that the largesse would in June, and they would be back to square one and therefore, they needed more stable welfare packages.

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In a swift riposte, Felix Morka, spokesman of the party, was quoted as dismissing the agitation, saying: “Those matters I don’t really discuss them. As you can see, there are many important things to discuss; at the national level, in Edo State. We are battling with all that. So, any in-house matters are not my focus right now.”

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BREAKING: Davido ups the ante, doles out N300million to orphanages

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David Adeleke Nigerian music sensation, otherwise known as Davido is stamping his giant feet with which he has mesmerised his audience across the world in the arena of philanthropy, with an announcement of a fresh donation of a whopping N300million to some orphanages across the country.

The latest is an increase of N63million up from the N237million the popular singer, who disclosed the largesse in a statement on his social media accounts on Tuesday, dolled out last year as part of the gesture in what is now turning out a yearly programme since it started a few years ago.

The gesture is coming at a time Nigeria is under an intense weather of deprivation and poverty, with the prices of food and other commodities hitting the roof and citizens, unable to afford basic items mostly going to bed on empty stomachs as a result.

In recent weeks, demonstrations had erupted in many parts of the country, including Niger, Kano, Ogun and Oyo States, where residents trooped into the streets to demand an end to the parlous situation, which they blamed on the insensitive policies of the government of Bola Tinubu, the Nigerian President.

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The singer, who first gave out N250m to 292 orphanages in October 2022, said the this year’s donation would be done through The David Adeleke Foundation (DAF), adding: “I and my foundation pledge the sum of 300 million Naira to orphanages around Nigeria … as my yearly contribution to the nation. Details of disbursement tomorrow.”

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BREAKING: Tinubu set to probe Buhari’s N23trillion Ways and Means debt

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At last, President Bola Tinubu, may be going through the N23trillion Ways and Means debt obtained by his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, with a fine comb to determine what the funds, which is attributed to a major part of the current debt overhang in the country, went into.

The Nation, quoted Wale Edun, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy as revealing this much to participants at the ongoing Public Wealth Management Conference organised by the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MoFI).

Besides, the Minister reportedly said the Federal Government would also present a bill to the National Assembly, soon to authorise the removal of “all taxes and levies that constitute nuisance from the country’s tax system, as a measure to wean itself from future Ways and Means indebtedness.

The government, Edun added, will vigorously pursue policies that will allow it harvest revenue in real time from Government Owned Enterprises (GOEs) and Corporate entities.

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It was also on the same day that the Minister explained that Tinubu’s administration inherited a surge in food and general commodity prices from the previous government, but emphasised the government’s commitment to reducing food prices and tackling the nation’s high inflation rate.

Outlining the measures government was taking in tackling the situation, he revealed that, the government had released 42,000 metric tons of grains, with an additional 60,000 metric tons scheduled for release soon.

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