Sunday, 1 February 2015

I want people to remember me for good –Abimbola Fashola

Abimbola FasholaFifty in April, the First Lady of Lagos State, Dame Abimbola Fashola, comes across as plain-spoken and down-to-earth. Exuding a calm aura, her disarming smiles were never in short supply while the chat lasted. Without airs, she mingled effectively while she commissioned and inspected a block of seven classrooms at Hope Primary School, Ikoyi, built by the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials and furnished by the MTN Foundation, last Monday.
The incumbent chairman of COWLSO, a community-based gender organisation, Mrs. Fashola is passionate about the humanitarian services being rendered and discussed it with an unusual excitement. “I chair a committee of women made up of about 200 of us .Our focus is to touch the lives of fellow women. We aspire to empower and ensure every woman can earn a living. At our annual conferences, we do not only solicit for funds from ministries, government and corporate bodies, we also levy ourselves. We help women who are affected by breast and cervical cancer by paying for their treatment among other humanitarian services.”

Threats: OPC,Ohanaeze, MASSOB, back Niger Delta militants

Tompolo, DokuboDespite widespread condemnation of the war threat by some Niger Delta militants if President Goodluck Jonathan loses the February 14 presidential election, some socio-political and cultural groups in the South-East and the South-West have backed the militants.
The groups made their positions known in separate interviews with SUNDAY PUNCH.
At a meeting with the Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, on January 24, which had a former Commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, Victor-Ben Ebikabowei, aka Boyloaf; leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, Mujahid Dokubo-Asari; and Government Ekpudomenowei, aka Tompolo, the militants had threatened unrest if the President loses his second term bid.

Jonathan’s biggest economic mistakes — Pat Utomi

Renowned economics professor, Pat UtomiRenowned economics professor, Pat Utomi, in this interview with TOBI AWORINDE, backs a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Soludo, who accused the Goodluck Jonathan-led Federal Government of plunging the country’s economy into severe crisis
Do you think former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo’s argument, depicting the Federal Government as incompetent, was factual?
Absolutely. There are things I want to disagree with there, but there are many things I agree with. And this is really the nature of what political campaigns should be: to raise strong ideas that affect polity, in terms of the quality of life of the citizens. The truth is that there is no one solution in this world; perspectives on that issue can then allow society to find a more robust response. I do think that it is demeaning of the democratic process for people who are responding, instead of looking at the issues he has raised and providing facts to dispute or support, to then embark on ad hominem and personal broad fights against him. By making the whole thing emotive, rather than rational, they take away from quality democracy and this is part of fanning the embers of violence that is going on in this environment.

Ex-Militant Leaders Issue TY Danjuma Seven-Day Ultimatum To Apologise Over Call For Tompolo, Dokubo’s Arrest

REUBEN WILSONEx-Niger Delta militant leaders have issued a seven-day ultimatum to a former Minister of Defence, Lt.-Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), to apologise to them for calling on the authorities to arrest them.
The former militant leaders, who spoke under the aegis of Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative, also declared Danjuma a persona non-grata in the oil rich region.
In a statement signed on Friday by the group’s President, Pastor Reuben Wilson, they accused the former minister of belonging to the clique of northerners that had been benefitting from the oil produced in the region.
You may recall that Mr. Danjuma had called for the arrest of the ex-militant leaders such as Government Ekpemudo, alias Tompolo, and Mujahid Asari-Dokubo over their threat to wage war against Nigeria should President Goodluck Jonathan lose the February 14 election.

Poll postponement: APC, others seek UN, EU pressure on Jonathan

National Publicity Secretary, All Progressives Congress, Alhaji Lai MohammedOpposition parties, including the All Progressives Congress, are presently perfecting strategies to resist any attempt by the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Federal Government to shift the February general elections
Top on the game plan of the parties is to reach out to the international community to mount pressure on the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration not to shift the elections.
Another option the parties are exploring is to approach the courts to seek an injunction that will stop anyone from delaying the polls though INEC had said it was not contemplating a postponement of the elections slated for February 14 and 28.
Already, the United States Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry, had at a meeting with the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party and the APC last week, advised that the elections should hold as scheduled.
Kerry’s position was coming after the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), had last week advised INEC to postpone the elections to allow more people to collect their Permanent Voter Cards.

Why Afenifere endorsed Jonathan for second term — Adebanjo

Chief Ayo AdebanjoA leader of the Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, has said the group endorsed the re-election bid of President Goodluck Jonathan based on its conviction that he would implement the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference if he wins.
Adebanjo, told our correspondent on Friday, that the President had shown commitment to the call for the restructuring of the country by convening the conference.
He said, “Some other parties did not believe in the exercise. We have talked about the many problems confronting Nigeria but the main one is to restructure. We need to restructure the country.’’
The Afenifere leader added that all what Nigerians were clamouring for had been taken care of by the recommendations of the confab.
‘’When we talk about corruption, good governance and the reduction in the salaries of members of the National Assembly, among others, they were addressed in the report. That is why we are insisting on its implementation. This is our demand and he has promised to implement it because he believes in it,” he noted.
Spokesman for the group, Yinka Odumakin, told journalists on Tuesday in Akure, Ondo State after Jonathan visited a leader of the group, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, in his residence that Afenifere was endorsing Jonathan for a second term.
“Afenifere supports the President’s reelection because he had the courage to convoke the national conference and we hope that he will implement the report.
“The President expressed the commitment that he will adopt the report within 12 months of returning to office,” Odumakin said.

Parties pay supporters N2,000 each to attend rallies

Rowdy rally: Stampede at the All Progressives Congress presidential campaign rally held at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos...on Friday.A percentage of the crowd that turn up at election campaign rallies held by political parties for the forthcoming general elections is rented; investigations bySUNDAY PUNCH has shown.
Each of those contracted for the rallies are paid between N500 and N5,000.
It was learnt that the amount paid depends on the profile of the event, the distance of the venue and the calibre of people engaged.
The ruling Peoples Democratic Party and the major opposition party, All Progressives Congress, as well as other parties has been making claims, especially on social media, that the huge crowd that turn up at their campaigns was a proof of their popularity.
SUNDAY PUNCH, however, learnt that women and youth groups, as well as ‘elders’ are hired in Akwa Ibom, Oyo, Abia,
In Uyo, a member of the PDP, Mr. Eric Ekanem, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said, “If you observe, you will see that those who attend PDP rallies and campaigns are often mobilised at the end of the event, where they are given between N200 and N2000 each.
“The amount each person receives depends on the groups they belong.”
An Eket-based woman, Ms. Ikwo Edet, said she was paid N500 after the last political rally she attended in Uyo.
In Umuahia, Abia State, a source, who begged not to be named, revealed that unemployed youths, students of both secondary and tertiary institutions, tricycle and motorcycle riders, as well as traders form the category of individuals easily rented.
The source said the rent ranges from N500 to N3000, depending on the category of the individual and the importance of the political rally.
Confirming this, a tricycle driver, who identified himself as ‘One Nigeria’, said he did not belong to any political party but was ready to be hired by any party that could pay his charges.
Similalarly in Enugu State, SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that students are a major population hired for political rallies.
A student, who gave his name as Ebuka, told one of our correspondents that he had been part of a rented crowd in several rallies.
He said, “We have link men who are close to the politicians. Whenever the need arises, they usually get in touch with us. We are mobilised through these contact persons.”
It was a similar case in Bayelsa State, where parties reach out to youth and women groups in the local governments area for mobilisation.
A regular participant in such rallies, Ms. Ebilami Victor, who hails from Ekeremor area of the state, said she usually took part in such activity because it was the only way to make money.
“It depends on where the campaign is taking place. If it is within the local government area, each participant is usually paid between N1500 and N2000. But if it is Yenagoa, the state capital, we are paid N3000.
“But when it is outside the state, each person is paid between N2000 and N5000,” she said.
In Oyo State, there is a network through which crowds are gathered for political purposes. The ring is run by a women and men group, it was learnt.
Youths in Ondo State are also having a swell time attending political rallies organised by parties and candidates ahead of the elections.
A party member, who gave his name as Adedeji, who attended a Social Democratic Party rally in Akure, told one of our correspondents that each ‘supporter’ engaged by one of the candidates received N2, 500 to attend the rally.
Another supporter, an unemployed, who identified himself simply as Makinde, told our correspondent that he received N1000 to attend the rally.
In Cross River State, SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that political parties have resorted to contracting the job of hiring crowd to individuals or groups within the party.
Depending on the venue of the rally, the task of mobilising at least 1000 persons spread across the 18 Local Government Areas of the state could cost between N800,000 and N1m.
In the ruling PDP, one of such mobilisers, who preferred not to be named, said his last task of hiring 300 persons to a rally at the central senatorial district cost N1m.
In the case of Edo State, many of the supporters, who are predominantly youths, are sourced from both within the state and from neighbouring states.
A source within the APC said, “You know that there is unemployment and hunger everywhere. They can get N1,500 or N2,000, for transportation or feeding. If you are politically active, you would understand that you don’t have to be a card-carrying member of a party to show your support,” he said.
However, the APC insisted that in its case, crowds at its event venues were genuine Nigerians who were tired of the cluelessness of the PDP-led administration.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr. Lai Mohammed, told SUNDAY PUNCH in an interview in Abuja that it was impossible for the party to hire a crowd for any of its events.
Similarly, the PDP said it did rent crowd or pay those who attend its rallies across the country.
The National Legal Adviser of the PDP, Mr. Victor Kwon, who spoke with one of our correspondent in an interview in Abuja, described anyone making such insinuation as a political novice.

tosabod@gmail.com


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