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2023: Why We’ll Back Obi-Datti Presidential Ticket, Aggrieved Northern APC Christians Opens Up

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An All Progressives Congress (APC) group under the auspices of Aggrieved Northern APC Christians has recommended that its members and their supporters will back the Obi/Datti presidential ticket for the 2023 election.

The group in a statement titled “Why we have chosen to endorse the Obi/Datti ticket” signed by one of its leaders, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, said it came to the decision of supporting the Labour Party presidential candidate Peter Obi and his running mate Yusus Datti Baba-Ahmed after a painstaking review and analysis of the alternative tickets.

Describing the APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket as satanic, the group said it is a deliberate and well-calculated plan to sow a seed of religious discord among Nigerians, adding that Northerners are their intended target.

It advised against voting for the APC presidential candidate Bola Tinubu whom it described as a renowned Yoruba-hegemonist who championed the establishment of a Ministry of Regional Integration in each state government of the South-west geopolitical region and his running mate Kashim Shettima whom they quoted as once saying “restructuring my foot, let’s restructure our minds”.

The group said it believes that the Obi/Datti ticket will give Nigeria a breath of fresh air and the greatest opportunity to redeem the country from the quagmire into which it has been plunged by a recurring group of self-centered reactionaries.

Read the full statement below:

WHY WE HAVE CHOSEN TO ENDORSE THE OBI/DATTI TICKET

As one of the foremost critics of APC’s single-faith presidential ticket, and also in difference to those who have patiently waited for our guidance as to where to pitch our tent, after a painstaking review and analysis of the alternative presidential tickets, we now wish to recommend the Obi/Datti presidential ticket.

We wish to briefly narrate some few reasons among many why we have endorsed this ticket and commend it to all Nigerians of good conscience who desire justice, equity and a harmonious co-existence of all Nigerians across tribes, religion and geopolitical regions. More over there is currently in circulation the fake news that I have thrown in my towel with the PDP. Nothing could be further from the truth. To me the PDP and APC are different sides of the same coin.

1 The APC same-faith is a deliberate, well-calculated plan to sow the seeds of religious and social discord among Nigerians. It is obvious that Northerners, in particular, are the intended targets and victims of this satanic plan. It is an indisputable fact that the whole of Northern Nigeria is currently mired in several intractable socio-economic problems due to the activities of several nebulous criminal groups. Agriculture, the mainstay of the northern economy, is all but abandoned because kidnappers and bandits have prevented people from venturing out of the safety of their homes. Interstate and intercity travel for either business or leisure have all but ceased not only due to un-motorable roads but more so for fear of kidnapping, armed robbery and other forms of banditry. Our rural schools have all but closed for fear of kidnappers. Government-owned universities have closed thus depriving the children of the already impoverished Northern masses access to affordable higher education. Thus, our out-of-school and idle children have become easy targets for recruitment by bandits and kidnappers. And there is no solution in sight.

Then, out of nowhere this man Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a renown Yoruba-hegemonist, a man who championed the establishment of a Ministry of Regional Integration in each state government of the South-west geopolitical region which he bestrides as an emperor, and a man who was once quoted as saying “I do not believe in one Nigeria” (THISDAY, The Sunday Newspaper, April 13, 1997, page 9) comes up with a Muslim-muslim ticket knowing fully well that religion is the underbelly of Northern Nigeria. APC’s same-faith ticket is a ploy to further sow discord among Northerners using the most potent weapon of social discord – religion. As Karl Max once said – “religion is the opium of the people”. Nigerians from all shades of the society must see this Tinubu/Kashim same-faith ticket as a proposal from the pit of hell that can only be conjured by the most Machiavellian minds known to man and therefore must be rejected wholesome by all lovers of our country and its nascent democracy.

On the other hand, Alhaji Kashim Shetima, Tinubu’s Vice Presidential running mate is a man who once said “restructuring my foot, let’s restructure our minds”. For eight years he presided over Borno State at a time when Boko Haram was overrunning the state almost at will and restructuring the minds of its victims against Christianity and western education. The kidnapped Chibok and Dapchi girls and many more are now slowly trickling out of captivity in the Boko Haram indoctrination camps fully Islamized and carrying children born into Islam in captivity – a true example of “mind restructuring” if there ever was one. There is also this little matter of an allegation of a very close relationship or otherwise between the Vice Presidential candidate of APC and Boko Haram! And, which Christian can forget one Kabiru Sokoto the alleged Boko Haram kingpin accused of complicity in the Christmas bombing of St Theresa Catholic Church, Madallah that resulted in 44 deaths and 77 injured Christian worshippers? Or that the said Kabiru Sokoto was eventually arrested at his hiding place in the Borno State Government Lodge Abuja? Are Christians not justified in being scared of a government run by these duo?

2. Surely, APC’s same-faith ticket is intended to shame Christians and bestow on them and their religion a second-class socio-political status in their own country. In particular it is a validation of the discrimination and oppression being meted out on Northern Nigerian Christians where they are now denied employment, promotion, contracts, and admission to read prestigious and marketable courses in government-owned schools simply on account of their religion. It is no wonder then that Alhaji Bola Tinubu thinks that the Bible is a book of jokes from which he can freely construct his “jokes” like his “Poisoned Holly Communion” and “Speaking in Tongues” jokes. If he is man enough, I challenge him to ridicule the Holy Quran even once as he freely does the Holy Bible. This guy has no respect for Christians and Christianity at all.

3 This APC ticket goes against the grain of Nigerian politics which in practice (if not in law) has always sought to achieve a religious balance in its politics and governance. It is worth noting that all the other seventeen political parties fielding presidential candidates have gone the way of established conventions and practices by fielding different-faith tickets. Truly except for its incitement to social disharmony, there is no sense at all in APC’s same faith ticket.

Furthermore, in our quest for justice and equity in the socio-political and religious space of the country, it is obvious that only the Obi/Datti ticket has the potential of speaking to the genuine clamor for power shift to the South-East and at the same time speak to the cry of marginalization by our people of the South-East. Obviously, a Christian/Muslim presidency like the Obi/Datti one will be most appropriate at this stage of our political journey more so since we are now transiting from a Muslim/Christian presidency. It will also achieve the regional shift of the presidency from the current NW/SW to a SE/NW presidency as popularly being canvassed . This is justice; this is equity. This is political engineering at its best and one that engineers peace and harmonious co-existence of the various socio-political and religious classes of our nation.

5 Nigerians should also resist the temptation of being ruled by the same set of courtiers who are recycling themselves, their children and their friends in a monarchal fashion, in and out of government to the exclusion of other segments of the society. This trend has resulted in these disastrous consequences in which we now find ourselves – impoverished, unsecured, divided, severely underdeveloped and massively unemployed with a widening gulf between the rich and poor of the society. A keen observer will not fall to notice that APC is a transmutation of Action Group/UPN that is dominated by the children or grandchildren of those who once run and ruined the Action Group while the PDP is a transmutation of NPC/NPN similarly dominated by the children or grandchildren of the people who once run and ruined the NPC. A government of either APC or PDP will only be a recycling of the same class of people who have been running and ruining the country from independence to date. Is it any wonder that Nigeria has remained static?

The Obi/Datti will give us breath of fresh air and the greatest opportunity to redeem our country from the quagmire into which we have been plunged by a recurring group of self-centred reactionaries.

6 There is a also this palpable fear and anxiety over a possible transition of the current presidency from one Fulbe to another – same tribe, same religion, same region, same courtiers. This has given rise to a heightened fear of a possible perpetuation of a Fulbe hegemony in the country. Besides, there is the perception by many Nigerians that the Fulbe are the main actors in the banditry and kidnappings currently ravaging the country. Therefore, there is a widespread perception that another Fulbe-led government will not have the inclination or political will to address the country’s security challenges seeing as a majority of the perpetrators are its kindred.

There is also this perception that appointments by the current government are driven more by ethnic and religious cronyism than by Nationalistic considerations. This has given rise to a fear of a possible perpetuation of this trend by another Fulbe-led government. Both APC and PDP presents us with these horrible options. The Obi/Datti ticket possesses a great potential to wean us from these problems.

7 Finally, as the political campaigns advance towards the election dates, the tendency to divide the country along regional, tribal and religious affiliations is gradually beginning to manifest. We can see very clearly that the APC having woefully failed in its original plan to instigate a form of jihad which it had sought through its same-faith ticket in order to capture the moslem votes, has now resorted to a tribal card. The battle cry is now “it is our turn” tribal card in the South-West. The PDP on the other hand, seeing new opportunities in APC’s failed jihad strategy is tending towards adapting both the religious and ethnic strategies of APC in the North.

Nigerians must be awake to these very dangerous campaign trends because any of the political parties that comes into government by pandering to ethnic or religious sentiments may not be able govern successfully and might further accentuate the social cleavages.

Men of good conscience should therefore look to opportunities that unite rather than divide us. Only the Labor Party presents this opportunity. We therefore call on all patriots to labor for our country in this presidential election. Nigeria’s future is at stake in this presidential election. Obi-Datti is the only way to go. All other ways lead to perdition.

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

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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

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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

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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.

ABDULRAZAQUE BELLO-BARKINDO
DIRECTOR, MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS
NIGERIA GOVERNORS’ FORUM SECRETARIAT

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