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Thepledge Big Story: 2023: How Serious Is Kwankwaso’s Candidacy?



By Augustine Akhilomen

Little may have been heard about the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and its Presidential flagbearer, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso until recently, when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), declared campaigns open on September 28 for all political parties.

No doubt, the three parties and presidential candidates that appear to have dominated the political space are the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi.

These parties have directly or indirectly silenced the voice of the NNPP and other smaller parties, making its Presidential candidate look irrelevant to his political rivals.

However, given his popularity, large followership in the north, particularly Kano State, it will be an aberration to assume that the former Kano State Governor is down and out of the Presidential race in 2023. It does appear that Kwankwaso is growing in popularity in the Northwest states and may pose a challenge to both the APC and PDP.

Although there have been calls for him to collapse his ambition and form an alliance with another stronger party, Kwankwaso has reiterated that he won’t step down but fight tooth and nail for the seat of power.

“I won’t be stepping down for anyone, our party is popular across the country, and we’re sure of victory at the polls.

“Our candidacy is based on capacity and performance. Nigerians will not vote for any experiment now, people are looking for those that have done it better in the past, and people who are trusted.

“Nigerians want someone that can unite Nigeria, improve the education system, and end the issue of incessant insecurity. We’ve always cared for the people. And many, especially the poor masses, were happy that I got the presidential ticket of the NNPP.”

But then, questions have been asked on the chances of Kwankwaso to wrestle power from APC and its opposition parties in 2023. Many observers are wondering if he has a clear pathway to victory in next year’s election.

From the outset, not many observers gave the NNPP a chance of displacing the two major parties. At best, it was expected to share the spoils with the ruling APC in the North, particularly in Kano. But, Shekarau’s defection from the party to the PDP, with the breakdown of his alliance with Kwankwaso, is no doubt a big blow to the NNPP’s chances, not only in the presidential election but even in the Kano State governorship race.

Interestingly, Kwankwaso’s base, Kano State, has the highest number of local governments and votes of any State in Nigeria’s political arithmetic. But you cannot win Nigeria’s presidential election with only Kano and Jigawa. A serious contender will have to spread his victory across the geo-political zones for him to be taken seriously.

Without a doubt, Kwankwaso is the single most important political figure in Kano, a fact he is now proving with the strides being made by his party in the state. The waves that the NNPP is making in Kano have got APC and PDP grandees as well as political observers in the country consulting the political tea leaves to fathom what this may portend.

Some observers also believe that Kwankwaso’s major strength will come from the North, where he’s more popular but he faces stiff competition from Atiku and also Tinubu’s running mate, Kashim Shettima who are also from the same region.

Meanwhile, Isaac Idahosa, the running mate to Rabiu Kwankwaso the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People Party (NNPP), has said he is optimistic that the party would win the 2023 presidential election due to the experience of its presidential candidate.

“We will shock Nigerians; today, they can say it is impossible but tomorrow they will congratulate us. We are already consulting and I am already looking forward to the campaigns which will be a big shock to those who are in doubt over what we are able to pull out”.

A Chieftain of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Alhaji Ahmed Tijani, says the presidential candidate of the party, Senator Kwankwaso, will beat other candidates to win the 2023 general election.

“What the NNPP achieved in just three months of its registration, both the APC and the PDP couldn’t achieve in one year. If you look at the general acceptance of our party by the Nigerian masses, you will agree with me that nothing is stopping us from winning the 2023 general election.

“Just look at the massive reception that our leader, Sen. Rabiu Kwankwaso gets each time he visits one state or the other, you can see the large turnout of people coming out of the streets to receive him.

“I think that this is clear enough for people to see that we are in the process of winning the presidential election”, he said.

The National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute led by Secretary of State for Ohio, Frank LaRose, said in July that the candidacy of Kwankwaso and Peter Obi could alter the modern history of Nigerian presidential elections.

The institute noted that for the first time since 2007, the presidential election will be an open contest with no incumbent.

“The emergence of Peter Obi, former Anambra State governor and presidential candidate for the Labour Party and Rabiu Kwankwaso, former Kano governor and presidential candidate for the NNPP, as viable ‘Third Forces’ has excited many young Nigerians. If a third party draws sufficient support, a runoff presidential election could be a real possibility for the first time since the transition to democracy, adding complexity to the 2023 elections,” the institute says.

Kwankwaso is not known to be afraid of taking ‘wild’ political decisions. From the PDP, he switched to the APC in 2014 and returned to the PDP four years later. The fact that he left the parties while each was in government says a lot about his readiness to take bold decisions even at the risk of losing it all.

Even though the 2023 election might not yield the desired result for him, Kwankwaso is fully aware that he will surely have a say on who wins the coveted seat. His supporters will be keeping their fingers crossed to see how he plays his card.

And given his body language, the former governor is not unmindful of the difficult task ahead and the landmines that are in front of him before the election. That was why he said in Lagos at weekend that the likelihood of a runoff election will be a welcome development to both his party and the country.

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I Can Act Nude Provided The Money Is Attractive, Actress Ada Ezeriooha Confesses



Chelsea Ada Ezerioha, a budding Nollywood actress, has said she has no aversion to acting nude, provided the money is good enough.

The Silent Scandals actress stated that the nude scene would have to be done in a “tasteful manner”.

“If the opportunity comes with a good story and the money is right, I can act nude. As long as it’s tastefully done, I am okay with it,” she said.

“I will not be able to do a full frontal. I am not particular about what I am showing or what I am not showing. As an actor, you should be able to go the extra mile to portray certain character.

“There was no way the scene where Lupita Njong was nude could have been done without her going nude. If the story warrants that I go naked, of course I will do it because I am an actor before anything.”

The actress further opined that her future husband would have to understand that acting is make-believe while noting that the fee for acting nude must be in millions.

The University of Maiduguri graduate maintained that she could live with the backlash that could arise in the aftermath of the movie.

“I’m weary of the backlash because as human beings, some comments will get to me but at the end of the day I am an actor.”

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Strengthen FRSC, Don’t Merge It, Obasanjo Tells FG



Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on the Federal Government to reinforce the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) as a law enforcement agency to enhance its responsibilities, rather than merge it with other agencies.

The Corps was established in 1988 during the administration of former head of state Gen. Ibrahim Babangida. The Federal Government has however yet to make public such intentions to merge the FRSC.

Obasanjo, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, on Friday, recalled how he resisted temptations to merge the FRSC with other organisations while in office between 1999 and 2007.

The former president who played host to the Corps delegation, led by Deputy Corp Marshall, Susan Akenge in his Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) Penthouse residence, commended the organisation for maintaining sanity on the country’s roads despite the increasing population and the economy.

“One thing you have to accept is that with the growing population, which is increasing on a daily basis or even on an hourly basis, you manage both the driver (who may not be in the best frame of mind when going out from home in the morning) and the car, which may not be in the best condition that a car should be,” Obasanjo said.

“So, I must acknowledge that you have reasonably been doing well. I must therefore say that you have been beneficial to us all.

“When I was in government, I resisted that temptation to merge you with other agencies and I dont know if others will still come and merge you with others, but I hope they will not, because your responsibility is getting larger and larger by the day.

“Rather than merge you, they should ensure to continue to enhance your professional capacity in order to bring the best out of what you are doing now.”

FRSC Appreciates Obasanjo
Earlier, Akenge said the courtesy visit was accompanied by a message of appreciation from the Corps headquarters for the tremendous support the former president gave for the survival of the organisation.

“On behalf of the headquarters of the FRSC, the zonal headquarters and the Special Marshal, I have come to appreciate you and thank you, sir. It is our prayer that God will grant you longer life to reap the fruit of your labour, ” she said.

Others on the entourage were the Assistant Corps Marsal, Kayode Olagunju; Assistant Corps Marshal, Peter Kibo; Assistant Corps Marshal, Ahmed Umar (Corps Commander, Ogun State Sector Commander); and Segun Ogungbemide (Corps Commander, Lagos State Sector Commander).

Others were Comfort ASON, Corps commander (FRSC HQ special Marshal); John Ugbebor, National Coordinator Special Marshal; Sola Olojede, Zonal Coordinator, Special Marshal; and Solomon Adeniyi (Ogun State Coordinator, Special Marshal).

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NGF Faults FG Over Poverty Index Claim, Says Minister Got It All Wrong



The governors of the 36 states of the federation have said they are surprised by the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clement Agba over his accusation against them for Nigeria’s poverty index.

The Federal Government, through the National Bureau of Statistics, in November, said 130 million Nigerians are poor, representing 63 per cent of the nation’s population.

Recall that the minister had after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday told journalists that the Federal Government’s social investment plan had not impacted optimally because of a lack of cooperation from the state governors.

According to Agba, the governors concentrate on executing “bogus projects,” rather than improving lives in the rural areas.

But reacting in a statement signed by the Director of Media and Public Affairs, Nigeria Governors’ Forum Secretariat, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, the governors described the minister’s comments as unnecessary and diversionary, saying they represent a “brazen descent into selective amnesia.”

According to them, the assertion by the minister that the rural populace had been abandoned by governors is not only preposterous and without any empirical basis, but also very far from the truth.

The governors also stated that in this scenario, the “dereliction” the minister talked about lay strictly at the doorstep of the Federal Government.

Saying that it did not indulge in joining issues with the Federal Executive Council, the NGF explained that its primary mandate was to partner with all well-meaning institutions; concerns; ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs); and individuals for the progress of the Nigerian people.

The governors urged top government functionaries to always provide Nigerians with the requisite answers rather than what they described as pointing incentives on soft targets which they said did not help matters.

Read full statement:

The tirade early this week by the Minister of state for Budget and National Planning Mr. Clement Agba, on the 36 Governors, where he blamed them for the rising poverty index in the country comes to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum as a surprise. The Minister got his message totally wrong.

His attacks are not only unnecessary, but they represent a brazen descent into selective amnesia. It is also diversionary as far as the Governors are concerned.

The Minister who should be responding to a question demanding to know what he and his colleague, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, were doing to ameliorate the hardship Nigerians are facing attempted to defray the notion that rising levels of hunger and lack were peculiar to Nigeria.

True as that may be Mr. Agba went further to explain that their government, through many of its social security programs, has been dedicating resources to alleviating hardship, and then goes further to accuse state governors of misdirecting resources to projects that have no impact on the people.

While rightly pointing out that that 72% of the poverty in Nigeria is found in the rural areas, the Minister said that the rural populace had been abandoned by governors.

This assertion is not only preposterous and without any empirical basis, but also very far from the truth. It is Mr. Clement Agba’s veiled and deliberate effort, as a minister, to protect his paymasters and politicize very critical issues of national importance. Instead of answering the question thrown at him by journalists, Mr. Agba veered his attention to soft targets that happen to be 36 Governors.

It is the opinion of the Governors that the dereliction that the Minister is talking about lies, strictly speaking, at the doorstep of the Federal Government which he represents, in this scenario.

First and foremost, the primary duty of any government is to ensure the security of lives and property, without which no sensible human activity takes place. But the Federal Government which is responsible for the security of lives and property has been unable to fulfil this covenant with the people thus allowing bandits, insurgents, and kidnappers to turn the country into a killing field, maiming and abducting people, in schools market squares and even on their farmlands.

This dereliction of duty from the center is the main reason why people have been unable to engage in regular agrarian activity and in commerce. Today, rural areas are insecure, markets are unsafe, surety of travels are improbable and life for the common people generally is harsh and brutish.

The question is, how can a defenceless rural population maintain a sustainable lifestyle of peace and harmony when their lives are cut prematurely, and they wallow permanently in danger? How does a minister whose government has been unable to ensure security, law and order have the temerity to blame governors?

Two states, Edo State and Akwa Ibom State had promptly responded to the vituperations of the Minister. According to Akwa Ibom State, what determines poverty and unemployment in a country is its economic policy, which is set, normally by the central government nationally. Akwa Ibom insists that the Federal Government cannot abdicate its responsibility by blaming states and goes further to ask, albeit rhetorically, how economic policies in a state drive the dollar which determines almost every aspect of our national existence.

In its response to Clement Agba, Edo State, on the other hand, reeled out the projects the state embarked upon which were targeted at alleviating poverty among its people. Mr. Agba is perceptibly oblivious of them. Many other states have been implementing pro-poor programs in their domain, and they are there for all to see.

Although the Minister committed the folly of tarring all thirty-six governors with the same brush, there cannot be a one-size-fits all reply to the Minister’s misguided outburst.

For example, it is the Federal Government that, in its campaign message in 2019, promised to take 100 million Nigerians out of poverty. Today, records show that more than 130 million Nigerians are living below the globally accepted poverty line of a dollar a day.

Under the current administration that Mr. Clement Agba is minister, the national cash cow, the NNPC, had failed to remit statutory allocations to states in several months. The situation had compelled governors to rely on other sources of revenue like, the SFTAS program and other interventions anchored by the NGF, to fund states activities while monies budgeted for such federal ministries as Agriculture, Rural Development and Humanitarian Affairs are not being deployed in the direction of the people.

So, where is the Minister getting his unverified facts and figures from? It is important to mention here that only this week the House of Representatives asked the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk, to quit office if she was not ready to do her work of alleviating poverty in the land. This, in other words, is a resounding vote of no confidence on the ministers among whom Mr. Agba serves.

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum would like to state categorically that it does not indulge in joining issues with the Federal Executive Council, being a non-partisan organ. The NGF’s primary mandate is to partner with all well-meaning institutions, concerns, MDAs, and individuals for the progress of the Nigerian people. However, it is important to put on record the progress made by state governors in the administration of their states, which have witnessed tremendous progress in recent time. Governors have undertaken projects where they, in conjunction with their people, deem them fit for purpose. Governors have today shown greater responsiveness to the yearnings and aspirations of their people, and these vary from one state to another. The opinion, therefore, of one minister, based on a survey of 56 000 households in a country of 200million people can never diminish the good work that 36 pro-poor minded Governors are doing for this country.

Finally, it is important to admonish top government functionaries like Mr. Clement Agba that the Nigerian people deserve answers from even those who are appointed to serve them and these finger-pointing invectives on soft targets do not help matters, only answers do.


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