NEWS

The Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Media and Publicity, Dr. Doyin Okupe, has defended his comparison of President Goodluck Jonathan to Jesus Christ.

Speaking during a visit to the corporate headquarters of PUNCH Nigeria Limited on Thursday, Okupe rejected criticisms saying that he committed an act of blasphemy by comparing his principal with Jesus Christ.

He said the comparison cannot be classified as blasphemy because Christ Himself advised His followers to be like Him and even urged them to do greater things. According to him, there was nothing wrong with what he said.

“The whole thing was just blown out of proportion. Comparing Jonathan with Jesus Christ is not blasphemous, because even Christ said we must be like Him and that we should even do greater things than Him. It is there in the Holy Bible, not from me,” he said.

Okupe’s latest position followed criticisms from a large section of Nigerians who pounced on him for comparing Jonathan with Jesus during a programme on Channels Television earlier on Monday. While some described him as a joker, others simply called for his head.

But he said he had been quoted out of context.

 

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The chairman BEN Group, Mr. Alistair Soyode, Presenting Nigeria Centenary Shoes to Acting Commandant General, Admin, Mr. Suleiman Bello while General Manager BEN TV Africa Regional Office. Steve Izedomi Looks on.

The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, (NSCDC) on Tuesday said peace is the key for development of any country, as the Corps pledges to collaborate with International Mentoring Corps a division of Nigerians in Diaspora Mentoring Corps in making sure the country achieve peace.

The acting Commandant General, Mr. Suleiman Bello  in Abuja said the Corps have the mandate to ensure peace and order is maintained, adding that any society that is not ready to dialogue and discuss their problems are at lost.

Engr. Suleiman Bello said this when he received the Coordinating Commandant of Nigerians in Diaspora Mentoring Corps and Chief Executive Officer of BEN Television in his office in Abuja.

Mr. Suleiman Bello said the Corps had devised different formulas to enlighten Nigerians that dialogue is the only best approach to resolving conflict.

According to him, “I want to inform you that NSCDC has laboured through the years, we are just 10 years old in the country when it comes to the law that established the Corps and among the functions is peace initiatives while others is to fight vandalism; they have the mandate to fight when attacked as and others also given the mandate of maintaining law which is a very great mandate and that is what they are doing.
“NSCDC have been given the mandate to maintain peace and order and peace is a mission I believe the creator want us to do. For every society that is not ready to dialogue and discussed their problems, they are at lost. It has been found out during the first world war and second world war that they end up dialogue after destruction of lives and properties.

“It is foolish of any group or set of individuals in Nigeria to take up arms against fellow Nigerian and if they can achieve anything by destruction, they would find out that they are also losing in both sides.

“So we want to be in a win-win game. NSCDC has come up with different formulas to let them know that dialogue is the best approach, it is internationally approved approach for any conflicts or any disagreement and that is what we are preaching.

The Commandant noted that women are been organise to talk to themselves as part of strategy to make sure that the country have peace.

He  however, commended the courage Nigerians in Diaspora Mentoring Corps has shown in making adequate contact and synergies with NSCDC and promised to make sure that The mission on IM Corps is achieved.

Earlier, the Coordinating Commandant of the IM Corps Mr. Alistair Soyode, said this something to engage Diasporans to contribute without necessity and hardship.

Mr. Soyode, explained that most youths lack mentorship or someone who they can look up and aspire to be like, adding that with the emergence of social media this can be realised as noted with the platform at www.nidmecorp.com.

“We believe that in order to engage the diasporans, we must find something that allows them to participate in national development. Something that they can engage and find their own time to contribute without much necessity and hardship on them. And that is what gave birth to Nigerians in Diaspora Mentoring Corps in the sense that we have millions of youth in the country who need advice and mentors.  One can look and aspire that you want to be like a successful person and then you look at mentee who are willing to learn from the mentor.

“we look at the social media whereby people can use mobile phones, use emails to communicate with their mentor or mentors might be coming to Nigeria and with this, Nigeria Mentorship Corps has given us the opportunity to let them know that indeed they can come and participate. We have the platform at www.nidmecorp.com

The CC of the IM Corps however, presented some Centenary Celebration Shoes as souvenirs to the NSCDC as part of efforts to contribute to NSCDC initiatives.

 

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The primary elections of Nigeria’s two strongest political parties, the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) might have come and gone, but the dusts raised by the exercises across various states of the federation are yet to settle. As things are currently going, it is unlikely that the primary election appeal committees of both parties will adequately or significantly settle these dusts so much that it will amount to a major change of the status quo.

Petitions, accusations, allegations and counter allegations from different aspirants may have to be settled by the courts as INEC’s deadline for accepting nominations from political parties has elapsed.

For better or for worse, these nomination processes by the two biggest parties have taught us some lessons, some of which were so funny to the extent that one occasionally finds it difficult to differentiate between Nigerian politics and comedy.  From the expected and usual to the bizarre and unexpected, here are some of these things are;

Aspirants Only Unite After Losing Primaries;

This year’s elections have seen a lot of contenders for different positions with some states having from between 10 to 15 gubernatorial aspirants in one party alone.  Ideally, one expects all the aspirants to have one major goal, that of using the office they are vying for to better peoples’ lives and the only differences between them should be in methods and approaches to achieving that goal. In the pursuit of their mandates, they differ very much. While some are craving for free and credible primaries, some are clamouring for zoning, some want automatic tickets while others are waiting for anointment. However, once the primaries are over and the ‘winner’ emerges, the defeated aspirants will for the right or wrong reasons gang up and suddenly unite under one agenda, call for fresh primaries. Aspirants with hitherto no connections or even sharing animosities, suddenly become partners searching for justice. A lot of PDP Gubernatorial Primaries have resulted in such scenarios with Yobe, Adamawa, Kano and Imo been typical examples. The APC has a similar case in Gombe.

APC Is Merged but Not Integrated;

From early to late last year, the ANPP, ACN, CPC, APGA Faction, nPDP and others merged to form the APC with some coming after  the party’s formal registration.  However, the recent primaries in some states showed that they didn’t really merge; the only glued or fastened together. In many states, there was rancour over what they termed ‘marginalization of legacy parties’ or ‘scheming out of non-legacy parties’, etc. in other states, candidates were ‘allocated’ based on legacy or merging parties. A senatorial aspirant in Kano State only remembered that he was a former ACN member after he lost the primaries. One of the reasons he gave why the primaries should be annulled was that ACN was marginalized in the state.

Consensus Is More like Coercion

The issue of consensus candidate is not new in our politics, but it was practically kicked off this term by the PDP and President Jonathan. PDP undemocratically barred anyone from contesting against the president, despite the fact that nothing suggests that Jonathan will not win the PDP primaries with a landslide against whoever decides to contest.  Although a convention was later organized to ratify Jonathan’s candidacy, we also learnt from that convention that all this while, the PDP National Chairman and Secretary have been in acting capacity.

Furthermore, most candidates who were claimed to have stepped down base on consensus arrangement, later turned back and kicked against the consensus arrangement, citing coercion, threat and potential injustice for their withdrawal. In Jigawa State, the former Deputy Governor of the state emerged as APC gubernatorial candidate through consensus, only for one of the other aspirants to make a u-turn and insists on primaries. That aspirant won, but the earlier consensus candidate did not participate in the primaries.

There is No End in Sight to Godfatherism and Nigerian Governors are Simply Unstoppable;

Godfathers, most of who are governors have continued their dictatorial trend of dominating politics left, right and center. Governors’ favoured aspirants are winning primaries with ‘ease’ and by the governors forcing themselves as senatorial candidates; they are now well positioned to take over the Red Chamber in 2015. Meanwhile, the abysmal performance of deputy governors in primary elections continues. It is safe to assume that no less than 90% of Deputy Governors covertly or overtly nurtured the ambition of flying their party’s flags, but only two (Kano and Ebonyi) succeeded, others failed woefully.

Simply put, success in Nigerian politics is fast becoming an impossibility without a godfather. Even the mighty Buhari had to rely on Tinubu’s support to be sure of victory.

Nigerians Have No Stake in Determining Flag-bearers;

The most popular aspirants usually lose in the primaries, leaving voters to elect between whomever candidates the party primaries produce for them in the general elections.

Early this year, APC embarked on a massive membership drive promising Nigerians that they would be given the opportunity to choose their leaders through direct primaries. However, since after the enormously successful membership registration exercise, the party began to systematically distance itself from that promise, until it eventually settled for what it called ‘modified indirect primaries’. That arrangement has seen only 6,008 delegates select a Presidential Candidate for more than 170 million people.

PDP’s case is even worse in all ramifications as about 3000 delegates were made to vote for just one contender. Also, 21 delegates were alleged to have determined the PDP gubernatorial candidate for the whole of Yobe State. We also learnt, especially from the PDP primaries that delegates may be different from voters and that it is not the voting that matters, but the counting.

Jonathan is Focused on His Ambition;

It is clear that Jonathan is strictly focused on his ambition, leaving little or no room for distractions. This is evident, going by the fact that most of his men failed to clinch the various tickets they contested for. With the exception of Darius Ishaku (Taraba) and Nyesom Wike (Rivers), none of his former ministers managed to scale through the PDP gubernatorial primaries and events suggests that Jonathan did little to help.

Despite being part of Jonathan’s kitchen cabinet, some ministers like that of FCT simply refused to participate in the PDP gubernatorial race probably due to lack of encouragement from the President. It looks like Jonathan did not take sides directly and didn’t get involved much in PDP state primaries, probably as a pay back to his sole candidacy or to avoid any move that could backfire.  Internal revolt is the least Jonathan would want at the moment.

APC is PDP’s Waste Basket;

A rough estimate suggests that between 60 to 80% of all successful APC candidates at all levels are either former PDP members or those who left the PDP recently.

Many aspirants joined APC from PDP within days or hours and went ahead to clinch gubernatorial tickets. Akwa-Ibom, Kebbi and Benue states are typical examples. It would be interesting to see if APC would complain if these guys keep to tradition and later re-join the PDP after they win.

The other twenty or thirty something remaining political parties are no more than anyone’s waste basket. Only few of them conducted meaningful and visible primaries with most of their notable candidates emerging after crossing over from other parties.

It Is Possible To Contest for Two Posts at a Time;

This phenomenon practically began with Tambuwal who was eyeing both the APC Presidential and the Sokoto State Governorship Tickets. Media reports suggest that he has obtained nomination forms for both positions. However, he later settled for the governorship.

Kwankwaso and Rochas successfully executed what Tambuwal only attempted. They may not have broken any law, but their actions are simply insulting on peoples’ sensibilities. It was very much clear that Kwankwaso was eyeing the Kano Central Senatorial Ticket even as he was vigorously pursuing a clearly predictable presidential contest. Kwankwaso made sure that his in-law, former Personal Assistant and current Commissioner clinched the Kano Central APC Senatorial Ticket and after he lost the APC Presidential Primaries, the ticket was relinquished to him, just as one’s personal property would be returned to him when he comes for it. Rochas practically did the same by apparently asking his commissioner to take custody of the Imo APC Gubernatorial Ticket for him before he collected it back almost on the very day he lost the presidential primaries. One wonders how APC allowed that without any query so far.

Being Running Mate Is More Difficult That Being Candidate;

Vice president Namadi Sambo’s seat was under threat for much part of their second coming with Jonathan.  It was clear that in the past 2 years that some Northern PDP Governors were not eyeing the Presidency but the Vice Presidency which made Sambo’s position looked insecure for some time.

Similarly, the choice of Buhari’s running mate gave the APC’s top hierarchy a tough time with meetings running into marathons. Before succumbing to religious propaganda which probably necessitated the emergence of Professor Osinbajo, they had to seriously contend with more than 7 names with Amaechi, Oshiomole, Tinubu and Fashola among them. The APC VP slot was fiercely contested to the point one thought the party would organize a fresh convention to elect a VP Candidate.

Similar scenarios played out in some states where Gubernatorial Candidates had to determine their Running Mates on INEC candidates’ submission deadline.

2015 Elections Would Not Be Free and Fair;

Going by the controversial nature by which many candidates emerged; one has every reason to be pessimistic about the General Elections. Many unpopular incumbents had forced themselves through the primaries and are probably hell bent on rigging themselves through the General Elections.

President Jonathan for example who has one of the poorest public ratings in Africa currently and whose eligibility to contest is still controversial, must be very conscious of this, and he wouldn’t have decided to contest if he was willing to allow a free, fair, smooth and credible election to take place. The way he emerged as PDP’s sole candidate only adds possibility to this assumption.

Furthermore, with many primaries of both parties dominated by money sharing, coercion of delegates, rigging, do-or-die attitude, winning-at-all-costs and winner-takes-all phenomena, one only has to wonder the extent to which candidates that emerged from such processes would go in trying to win at the general elections.

With INEC being handicapped by the Electoral Act from fighting candidate imposition, refusing to accept flawed nominations or even properly checkmating rigging, anything can happen in 2015.

 

Mallam Amir, the President of Foundation for Better Initiatives (FBI) can be reached through abdulazeezamir@hotmail.com

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Uncertainty still hovers around the candidature of Mr Jimi Agbaje as Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) gubernatorial candidate as a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to maintain status quo on the contentious gubernatorial primary election held in Lagos over a week ago.

The court has fixed December 23, for INEC and the PDP to appear before it and as such forbids Mr. Jimi Agbaje , the acclaimed winner of the primary to stop parading himself as PDP candidate until the suit is heard.

Senator Musiliu Obanikoro had pleaded with the court to compel the PDP not to accept the result of the primary election held on December 8 in Lagos due to the alleged rigging that saw 806 accredited voters turn in 866 votes.

Obanikoro also asked the court not to recognise Agbaje because he joined the party barely six months ago and as such, morally unfit to contest for governorship since PDP National Working Committee, NWC had not given him a waiver.

Other allegation was that the leader of the party in Lagos, Chief Olabode George allegedly came with thugs to scare accredited voters loyal to Obanikoro away from the venue.

Hence, Obanikoro seeks an outright cancellation of the exercise and set a date for a re-conduct.

 

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The General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, has denied that the church endorsed the aspiration of one of its pastors, Prof. Yemi Osibajo, as the vice presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC.

Osibajo, who pastors the Olive branch of the RCCG on Banana Island, Lagos, on Wednesday emerged the running mate of General Muhammadu Buhari.

Adeboye, while reacting to the subtle endorsement of Osibajo by a Twitter handle: @rccgworldwide, presumed to be the official Twitter handle of the RCCG, denounced the page.

He said in a Tweet credited to him on @rccghq: “RCCG is not affiliated nor represented by @rccgworldwide.

“The church’s official twitter page is @rccghq.”

In no fewer than four other tweets, the church equally faulted the endorsement of Osibajo by the creators of @rccgworldwide.

One of the tweets by the Pastors Seed reads: “RCCG has not celebrated anybody for any position in the forthcoming elections! The #OfficialRCCG handle is @rccghq. Do not be misled.”

Another reads: “We are a mission and we do not meddle into politics #RCCG #OfficialRCCG @RCCGworldwide is wrong.”

Another said: “#OfficialRCCG – @rccghq We do not denounce neither do we endorse candidacies for elections. We are not a political party.”

Similarly, on his Facebook page – PASTOR E. A. ADEBOYE – the revered cleric posted the following statement.

“On behalf of The Governing Council of The Redeemed Christian Church of God, we would like to inform the public that RCCG is not affiliated nor represented by @rccgworldwide

 

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A Nigerian Army court martial sitting at the Army Headquarters Garrison, Mogadishu Barracks, Abuja, has sentenced 54 soldiers to death by firing squad.

The 54 were among the 59 soldiers who were serving in the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno state, but allegedly refused lawful orders by their commander to proceed on a mission to clear out terrorists and secure a town for subsequent military deployments.

The other five of the 59 were discharged and acquitted by the military court.

All the soldiers had pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against them at the commencement of the trial last October.

Details of the sentencing is however sketchy as stern looking soldiers posted at the entry gate into the Mogadishu Barracks, turned journalist away, saying they had instructions not to allow the media into the barracks.

 

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Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, has threatened to attack the Emir of Kano, Muhummadu Sanusi II, in retaliation for the Emir’s call on Kano residents and other Nigerians to arm and defend themselves against the terror organization.

In a new video released weekend, Mr. Shekau said his group does not consider Mr. Sanusi a true Muslim, and will attack him whenever an opportunity presents itself.

The Emir had earlier issued a call to arms after a series of deadly attacks by suspected Boko Haram militants in Kano.

Speaking at Kano’s central Mosque in October, the Emir charged the people of Kano to arm and defend themselves against the sect, which is responsible for more than 13,000 deaths.

Militants later launched a deadly assault on the Mosque on Friday, November 28, detonating multiple bombs and shooting worshippers to death.

Over 100 people died in the attack which was believed targeted at Mr. Sanusi.

The Emir, who had travelled out of Nigeria at the time, visited the Mosque on his return, and re-affirmed his vow that the Kano people will not cower in the face of Boko Haram’s threats.

In a 19-minute new video first released Saturday, Mr. Shekau did not claim responsibility for the Mosque attack. But he said his group remains prepared to fight and kill anyone who challenges its ideology, and all non-Muslims and “fake” Muslims like the emir.

“Before I start talking to my brothers who believed in me and the religion of Allah not the religion of democracy, not that of western education, those who believed in the religion of the Quran not that of the constitution and not religion of the Emir of Kano

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Jonathan, Obasanjo, Atiku, Babangida, Obama, Bush, Clinton, but the religion of Allah,” he said.

“Now listen to me Emir of Kano. I am talking to you and only you because of your recent utterances. “Let me inform you now that you are late, you are should know that you are only but the King of Kano, King of Central Bank, King of money, you are only Sanusi Lamido,” he said.

Mr. Shekau denounced the Emir’s religion as religion based on constitution, idol worship and homosexuality. “Our own government is defined as government of the Allah by the Allah and for the Allah not as you define you own government as the government of the people by the people and for the people,” he said.

Mr. Shekau said his group will fight local vigilantes and hunters, who have successfully crushed the advances of its fighters in some parts of Nigeria’s northeast.

“Emir of Kano Sanusi you are late, that our triumph is just for a period of time so you said. Even your predecessors who are renowned idol worshipers in Islamic history like ‘Abujahal’ could not succeed fighting Islam.

Yes you can say that our success is for a period of time, because you are a king of Bank and a loyal citizen of his country,” Mr. Shekau said.

The terrorist leader said his members are ready to be slaughtered and killed so they can rest in heaven.

“Because you are made the Emir of Kano that is why you got angry and was calling on the Vigilante groups and hunters to attack us. Let me tell you that the hunters and the vigilante groups will fail and you will also fail,” he said.

He condemned all other Islamic sects in the country calling them pagans.

He said the Izala, Tijjaniyya, Qadiriyya and Shiite Islamic groups are pagans and his group will continue to kill their followers.

He also condemned the government Saudi Arabia saying they will all perish in hell. “We will kill you people, we will capture hostages and keep selling some.”

 

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Presidential candidate of the All progressive Congress (APC), General Muhammad Buhari today called the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye a few minutes after he made his final decision to announce Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as his running mate for the 2015 presidential election, to seek his blessings.

An aide to the retired general said Adeboye gave his blessing over the phone and wished Buhari and Osinbajo a successful election campaign.

Osinbajo is one of Pastor Adeboye’s close confidants at the RCCG, where Osinbajo is a pastor, and also a church compere for major events.

Buhari will be making an official announcement and presentation of Osinbajo as his running mate at the APC headquarters in Abuja.

 

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Report By Zainab Jacob

Following an order from a Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday, Monday, 15th December, 2014 restraining the Peoples Democratic Party from submitting the name of Alhaji Umar Nasko as a Governorship candidate for Niger State, a candidate that emerged through an unlawful, unconstitutional and stage managed primary election by Governor Aliyu.

It is indeed democratic heartbreaking, after a sleepless Night of Investigation to discover that Governor Aliyu has done the normal ‘process as usual’ to cover the tainted track of his controversial anointed candidate. First, he had to bribe the screening process of his anointed, and today he has buy-off newspaper editors of prominent Nigerian Newspaper to stop the publication of a court order challenging the 908 votes purportedly casted for Alhaji Umar Nasko to emerge as the PDP flag bearer in Niger State.

Anyway, for what can be best described as the coming of a messiah, Engr. Hannafi Mua’zu Sarkin Sudan’s suite filed before the court will go a long way in stopping the political evil plan by Governor Aliyu to totally privatize Niger state democratic affair and to the arrival of the social media and some private radio and television stations, it has become a saving grace from the hands of mischief makers.

To the Nigerian Television Authority network news that broke the story, we say thank you. To the newspapers editors stop engaging in dirty job with dirty politicians, be more professional and proactive.

The stopping of the publication has prompted an advertorial on today’s Daily Trust page 56 and 57, a single act that has galore confusion in Governor Aliyu’s plan. A very dependable source close to the governor revealed through a mobile conversation that Governor Aliyu is shocked and felt embarrassed by the development. The development that has humiliated the Governor’s plan has brought Jubilation internally amongst the citizens of the state. They best described it as saving the state from the brink of total and eminent collapse.

 

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