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EFCC Case No Barrier To Akpabio Becoming Senate President – Ndume




Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, talks to LEKE BAIYEWU on why he stepped down for a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, in the race for the next Senate President, among other issues

You declared to run for the position of the Senate President in the 10th National Assembly, but there are reports that you have backed out of the race. Is this true?

As you know, I indicated my interest in becoming the Senate President. I presented my 10-point agenda. But you know, in whatever you do, you consider national interest first. Secondly, you consider the institution’s interest before your personal interest. So, when the party (All Progressives Congress) and the President-elect (Bola Tinubu) approached me that I should step down for a candidate from the South-South, that is (Senator Godswill) Akpabio, and they also appealed to me to lead the campaign for Akpabio in order to ensure stability in the polity, I conceded and agreed. That is why. I believe I am the most qualified but that is not the only consideration when you want to serve.

Are you saying the APC and Tinubu approached you, and not Akpabio himself?

No, not Akpabio. Initially, Akpabio appealed to me to step down for him and I told him that I would not step down because I was waiting for the party and the President-elect to decide on the zoning (of leadership positions in the Senate) or if they had any preferred candidate. He told me that he was the President-elect’s preferred candidate and I said I had to confirm that. And I confirmed it with the President-elect. It is already in the public domain; the party has endorsed him as the preferred candidate.

How will the APC deal with the agitation from other aspirants, especially some of the lawmakers from the South-East?

That is normal because we were about eight to 10 that indicated interest (in the position). It is natural for people to resist or be displeased with the decision taken by the party. But the party is supreme as far as I am concerned and it does not depict any sense to place your interest above the national interest, especially the stability of the nation. In fact, that is why we named the group that is leading the Akpabio pact the Stability Group. These are lawmakers who are interested in the stability of the country by being just, fair and equitable. Akpabio from the South-South fixes that because I think he is almost the only one there with the cognate experience and the capacity to actually be the Senate President.

There are those who are aggrieved that Akpabio, while he was the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, once accused members of the National Assembly of taking contracts from the Niger Delta Development Commission, most of which were not executed. This happened when the House of Representatives was investigating the commission. Is presiding over an institution he was part of and later criticised not enough reason to move against him?

I don’t think so because in the first place, I knew about the incident. It was not that Akpabio directly attacked the National Assembly. The accusation was directed at one of the executive directors (of the NDDC), who happened to be a one-time member of the National Assembly. So, having a disagreement with the National Assembly on some issues is not a new thing and it should not be taken personally. As of then, Akpabio was the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs. Even though I am not deeply concerned about what happened, that should not be an excuse to sacrifice him when there is a call for this important national assignment.

If the APC wanted to create stability by insisting on the South-South and Akpabio, has the party not created instability by denying the North-Central any slot and giving two to the North-West?

Well, that one is another topic entirely and I don’t want to dwell on that because I am not the party nor am I the President-elect.

But you are a leader of the party and from the North. Aren’t you?

I understand that the party preferred and nominated one Abbas Tajudeen as the preferred candidate for the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and there is a lot of agitation and revolt from the members-elect. But as I told you, I don’t want to go into things that I don’t have the locus standi to speak on. I am talking about the Senate and I will prefer you talk to me about the Senate.

There is another top Senate presidential aspirant from the North-Central, Senator Sani Musa, from Niger State. What would you advise him to do at this point?

Senator Sani is not agitating as far as I am concerned. We all started this project together and I know that the President-elect has spoken to him too. I did not hear directly from him, but I hear that he has also conceded. All they are agitating for now is the position of the Deputy Senate President.

Can you vouch for Akpabio to be a competent and efficient President of the Senate, especially as the current leadership of the National Assembly has been widely criticised and described as a rubber stamp for the executive?

Let me tell you that I don’t know very much about Akpabio, but you know I worked with him for a short time – about two years. When I was the Majority Leader, he was the Minority Leader. One thing I know is that Akpabio is reliable. One thing I know is that he has the capacity. He was once a commissioner, he was governor, he was Senate Minority Leader, and then, he was a minister. At a point, he attempted to be the President before he stepped down for the President-elect. So, I know that Akpabio had the required pedigree to be the Senate President. Besides, the 10th Senate is not going to be like the previous ones when you have, more or less, the senators’ president instead of the Senate President. Akpabio has agreed with us that he will just be one among equals and not first among equals. Very soon, we will push for the (10-point) agenda that I presented to the party for it to be adopted. Even if it is not (adopted), I will stand by the agenda in my pursuit during my sojourn in the 10th Senate.

Do you agree that Akpabio’s case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission could be a distraction to him as President of the Senate?

If you look at the EFCC case… let us not be trivial. In Nigeria of today and all these politicians, is there anybody that has no EFCC case virtually in one way or the other? Besides, what the EFCC is doing is to normally deal with petitions from individuals. So, by tomorrow, if something happens, you can write a petition against me and the EFCC has an obligation to invite me to testify if it is not true. So, there are even convicted people who are running for public offices. We have people that have EFCC cases who are there. Almost all those that want to contest (elections), especially in the Senate, have at one time or the other had an EFCC invitation. Unless you are convicted, you are not a criminal in Nigeria.

What if a current President of the Senate is prosecuted, found guilty and sentenced; is that not a bad image for the country?

Don’t be concentrating on trivialities. I don’t do interviews on trivialities. Are you not aware that even somebody that is agitating to be Senate President has been convicted?

Now that you have quit the race for the office of the Senate President, what are the other leadership positions you are considering?

No, it is not personal. What God has done for me is a big favour that He has done for only a few (persons). This is my sixth term in the National Assembly. I wanted to be the Senate President and I believe it would have been better, but because of the other considerations, which I have told you, especially national interest and stability, I stepped down based on the appeal by the party and the leadership. So, position is not the issue that I am looking out for. I am sure that I will get a role. Whatever role I am given, if that is what God has destined for me, I am ready to work for it. God has already done me the favour of going through an election and winning that election. Alhamdulillah! I am satisfied with that and I will be ready to take up any assignment God assigns to me.

How do you think the opposition and minority caucus will fare under Akpabio in the Senate, especially being a former member of the Peoples Democratic Party and ex-Minority Leader?

That is one of the greatest advantages that he has. I also have that advantage because I was in the PDP at one point. Akpabio was in the PDP, now he is in the APC, and that serves as an advantage because it tells you that in Nigeria, the political party does not really matter; it is the individual and what they intend to do that matters. As I said, we have already resolved before the inauguration of the 10th Assembly that we will work for the stability of this country; we will sacrifice. We will draw up programmes that will stabilise the polity, the economy and provide what is the purpose of a government; that is, security and welfare of the citizens.

We have also agreed to restore the integrity of the Senate, which we have lost. We also agreed that we would work with the executive harmoniously without compromising the institutional independence of the legislature. We also agreed that we would work in harmony with the executive, especially the President-elect being one of our own, because the President-elect and his deputy were both senators. And as you know, senator is a life title. Once you are a senator, you are always a senator. So, we are hoping to have a rancour-free 10th Assembly. We will work with the executive, doing our oversight function and helping the government to stabilise the country, improve the economy and bring back the integrity of not only the Senate, but the country in general.

Resolutions reached and bills passed by the National Assembly don’t usually get the attention they deserve from the executive and its institutions. How will the 10th Assembly be able to get the executive to prioritise resolutions of the federal parliament?

As I told you, those who are at the helm of affairs of the country now are members of the National Assembly. So, if they disregard the resolution of the National Assembly, it means that they are disrespecting the National Assembly.

Who precisely are you referring to as members of the National Assembly?

Tinubu was a senator; Kashim (Shettima) was a senator. The National Chairman (of the APC, Abdullahi Adamu) was a senator. The National Secretary (of the APC, Iyiola Omisore) was a senator. The Deputy National Chairman (North of the APC, Abubakar Kyari) was a senator. Even the wife of the President (Oluremi Tinubu) is a senator. So, we believe and we are expecting that we will have the highest respect during the administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He is a senator. He was a governor. Now, he is a President-elect. He is a true democrat; he does not have a military background. So, there is no military mentality. You remember that most of the presidents, apart from (Goodluck) Jonathan and (Umaru) Yar’Adua, had military backgrounds. So, there was a mixture or element of military mentality in the presidents. But this time, it is purely a democratic process.

If the President-elect is nominating who should be President of the Senate, how can you assure Nigerians that it will not be another rubberstamp Senate in the 10th Assembly?

Am I an insurance company? Let me tell you one thing; I can assure you about myself. That is to say whenever anything that is not right or whenever it requires that we must speak truth to power, Nigerians can always count on me and my voice will be heard. Even if I don’t have my way, I will have my say.

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I Won’t Abandon Atiku – Dele Momodu




The Director of Strategic Communications of the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Council, Dele Momodu, on Monday, insisted that the February 25 presidential election, which produced President Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, was manipulated.

In a statement tagged, “I stand on rule of law,” issued a few hours after  Tinubu’s inauguration as Nigeria’s 16th President, Momodu insisted that the judiciary still had to decide the authentic winner of the poll.

Momodu said he would stand by and not abandon the presidential candidate of his party, Atiku Abubakar, for any gains.

The PDP stalwart said, “My position on the state of our country, Nigeria, is simple and straightforward. I’m a loyal member of the PDP who owes absolute allegiance to Nigeria and its rule of law. My political party, the PDP and others, passionately hold the view that the last presidential election was savagely manipulated by the ruling party APC and the cases are already in courts.

“Nothing will make me abandon my party on the altar of convenience and profit. Win or lose, I will continue to stand on this principle without any malice or prejudice against those who think otherwise. Democracy is a game of choice and I’m resolutely standing by our candidate, the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar,  who has taken the honorable and peaceful step of going to court to seek redress. This is the only way we can deepen our hard-earned democracy. Sacrifice is not always convenient but painful.”

He commended those who took the initiative of challenging the electoral outcome in court, saying, “I salute and respect the Wazirin Adamawa and others like my dear friend and brother, former Governor Peter Obi, the Labour Party presidential candidate, for promoting the best tenets of democracy in Nigeria and I’m willing to encourage them rather than discourage their onerous quests.”

Last week, the suit filed by the PDP seeking the disqualification of the Vice President, Kashim Shettima, on grounds of alleged double registration, was dismissed by the Supreme Court which ruled that the party lacked the locus to institute the suit in the first instance.

Atiku and Obi both turned down invitations extended to them by Tinubu to attend his inauguration ceremony, citing different reasons, not unrelated to the fact that they are in court to challenge the process that brought him to power.

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Start By Publishing Your Assets, Investments, SERAP Tells Tinubu



As Bola Tinubu assumes Nigeria’s presidency today, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has advised him to promptly make public his assets, income, investments, liabilities and interests. He is also charged to impress it on his vice, Kashim Shettima, to toesame line.

The group, in a letter dated May 27, 2023 and signed by deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, also urged the Lagos State ex-governor to prioritise respect for human rights, media freedom, rule of law and the judiciary.

It recalled Tinubu’s recent promise to “kill corruption,” reminding him that the outgoing administration in 2015 made similar promise that was not kept.

SERAP said: “As Nigerians have witnessed for eight years, (outgoing) President Muhammadu Buhari has neither ‘killed corruption’ nor obeyed court judgments on transparency and accountability.

“Publishing details of your assets, income, investments and liabilities and encouraging your deputy and others to do same would allow Nigerians to know your worth and that of other public officials.

“If your election is upheld by the judiciary, your government can use transparency in asset declarations as a means of promoting public accountability and ending systemic corruption in the country.”

According to the group, Buhari’s “broken promises to make specific details of his assets public and to kill corruption have opened up the country’s political and electoral processes to a money free-for-all, discouraged political participation and contributed to impunity.”

It continued: “Although (outgoing) President Buhari’s march to Aso Rock was predicated, in large part, on his campaign rhetoric to ‘kill corruption’, corruption remains widespread among high-ranking public officials and in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

“Making public details of your assets, liabilities and interests would reduce unjust enrichment of public officials, ensure integrity in public offices and promote transparency and accountability, as well as good governance.”

The body noted that enforcement of court judgments is critical to national interest and restoration of rule of law in the country.

SERAP added: “The incoming government, therefore, has a responsibility to improve citizens’ trust and confidence in government. But it will be difficult for the new government to be trusted if its leaders do not come clean about their assets and income.

“Disclosure of income, assets and conflicts of interest can serve as powerful tools to draw attention to abuse of public office, help prosecute corrupt offenders and create a culture of scrutiny in the public sector.”


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2023 Northern Presidency Failed Because Peter Obi Left PDP – Okowa




The outgoing Delta State Governor and 2023 vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ifeanyi Okowa has stated that a northerner could have succeeded President Muhammadu Buhari if Peter Obi didn’t leave the PDP.

According to Okowa, the PDP had analyzed and concluded on how to present a northern candidate, with a southern running mate as the best way to counter the All Progressives Congress (APC) from getting massive bloc votes in the 2023 elections.

The party threw its presidential ticket open with a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar eventually emerging as the PDP candidate.

However, the Delta State Governor said the decision of Obi to join the race for the ticket threw up southeast and religious sentiments and his eventual decision to dump the party for the Labour Party affected the votes of the PDP.

He made the submission during a chat with journalists on Sunday in Asaba.

According to Okowa, the northern presidency would have succeeded if Obi didn’t leave the PDP.

“I belong to the PDP and for me as a person and for the majority of the people in the PDP, they believed that our pathway to victory was to have a northern candidate and a southern vice,” he said.

“Why? Because we were not a majority.”

“The only thing that turned our reasoning out was when Obi came out from the south-east and there were a lot of feelings that came in among the Christians.

“So it ate very deep into our votes and that is what led to the loss of the elections,” Okowa added.

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