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Beyond The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea By Kunle Wizeman Ajayi

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 1:55pm


So many pundits are building their predictions of tomorrow's elections on a political trap that the ruling class have been hoping to set forth as the prevailing idea: Nigeria, like 2015, is caught between the devil and the blue sea!

This is seemingly right but deeply wrong. I employed the word "deeply" to set a lifeline for the real truth that many have decided to look away from, owing to pessimism and the absence of political courage. 
The Saturday elections is never a sure bet for the ruling class even in their most trusted zones. The two big parties have been able to muscle the prevailing idea, neglecting the basic factors that have sprung up in the processes to this elections. I will do three things shortly with this piece. 

The primal is to show that the "supposed prevailing idea" may not be prevailing as expected. Pre-elections polls have shown very unstable results that have thrown pure confusions to the spines of the ruling elite. Nigerians, for the first time, are openly against voting the two main parties-PDP and APC. Many new parties have sprung up and are littering the whole populace. Though only a very few of these parties are not surrogates, the masses are excited about them. While these parties, except Omoyele Sowore's AAC, do not have national spread; they have areas where they mutter some solid supports. Also, this piece will show that beneath the public perception that both APC and PDP are birds of the a feather, is the mass rejection of both thieving parties which will likely show at the elections tomorrow. This will then lead to the perspective that expressly shows that, contrary to what our rulers want us to believe, millions of new and youthful voters are determined to rock the boat and shock the ruling class with protest votes. 

A PREVAILING IDEA OF GREED AND POWER

International capital is very interested in the Nigerian elections for obvious reasons. The world is in crises and revolts and electoral activism is ravaging the bases of mass exploitation, poverty and hardship that the system represents. France is haunted by the combined forces of the Yellow Vests and the Working class strikes. This is an improvement on the conditions of the Los Indignados movement that rocked Spain. Left Roots and other revolutionary socialist groups are greatly influencing the politics of the Democratic party more than ever. This has shown in the Bernie Sanders movement and the emergence of socialists in the last elections into Congress. The rise of the British Labour Party and its influences on the consequent fall of the Republican Party that has been crawling in power as the Theresa May government is in shambles. 

Venezuela and Brazil are also going through very serious electoral crises despite the victory of Nicolas Maduro again and the emergence of the right wing populist Bolsonaro. 

Africa is also being rocked with electoral revolution as is being witnessed in Zimbabwe, Uganda and Nigeria. 

So, the old order is shaken to its roots as the globe has been pregnant enough with a radical new order. The elections tomorrow, I believe, will go in that more momentum. While the press has been so unfair to the other presidential candidates, they were all forced to air the alternative views at the last minutes. A good instance is the debate organized by NEDG and BON. That debate failed to include the only ideological alternative views of the Omoyele Sowore's African Action Congress (AAC). The organizers were arrogant after successfully holding the Vice-presidential debate last December. This aroused the anger of mass of youths and students who protested both physically and on the social Media. By the time the presidential debate was to hold, many other debates sprang up and the two ruling parties could not face the other candidates, especially Sowore, on the podium. The Kadira Ahmed/NTA "The Candidates" four-week Town Hall meetings exposed the ruling class candidates. Buhari and Osinbajo of the APC were beaten to their own lies and misarguments. It also helped to expose the roguery business dealings of Atiku and Obi of PDP two weeks later. But between those exposes, Sowore and Rufai of the AAC super impressed the masses. They showed another alternative and present a bundle of hopes to the masses in their concise manifesto called SPICER HEAT. 

Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) has also been cleared as a refined version of the APC and PDP. 

TAKE IT BACK: AN INTERLUDE OF REVOLUTIONARY DISRUPTIONS 

As I write, a mass of youths are receiving Omoyele Sowore of the AAC in his Ondo South, they show bountifully that another Nigeria is very possible!

The #TakeItBack movement has for the past one year, establishing urgent structural and radical disruptions in the streets, campuses, towns and cities. We have painstakingly crisscrossed the  nooks and corners of the whole country, bringing hope to the hopeless and creating real and new ideas of building another world. For the discerning, people's welfarism is on the front burner again. The APC in power is being forced to rush on abandoned projects, sharing crumbs as Trader Moni and such others. Railways, though very archaic, are rushingly laid to try to impress the masses.

The Take It Back movement has successfully shown as a political hurricane beyond the ballots. This has put the ruling class into a very tight corner. An idea for the millions is now a sceptre haunting the neo-liberal capitalist ideas wholly for the millionaires.

Sowore and the AAC are at a big advantage tomorrow. This is the first time mass of youths and students are going to the polls. 45 million youths which 22 million students are gotomorrow. The ruling class parties are really afraid of this. Also, the AAC is massively organized through the Social Media thereby demystifying the half truths that you must be very rich to build a mass party or contest. The party is being funded by the masses and they get transparent responses of how money comes into the accounts every night when Sowore sits "on the couch". 

IN LIEU OF CONCLUSION; AWAITING A SATURDAY OF PEOPLE'S VICTORY

As I write, the Kiribo youths are going agog, shouting the ribs out to take it back. My pen is getting hotter and redder. My tiny fingers cannot type faster. But a force of hope is rallying my heart heartily. There grand falsehood that another Nigeria, nay the globe, is not possible is falling into crumbles. 

Youths, students, and working people are advised to silently punish our oppressors tomorrow. We must vote the alternative that we have all laboured for. Sowore and the AAC are just catalysts. They represent the hope we have all dreamt. While Gani Fawehinmi and the National Conscience Party (NCP) started the processes in 2003, 16 years after, the fruit of action is very ripe now. There is no nascent democracy to lie with again. Students will never neglect free and quality education for the current fraud going on. This is the same way they will never be happy to vote between the devil and the blue sea.

I must conclude by wishing our comrade Sowore a Happy Birthday in advance. He will be 48 tomorrow. And we the working people will give him a handsome gift with our votes tomorrow. 

While APC and PDP are rolling out billions they have stolen from our common sweats, just to dash us some crumbs and buy our votes, it is important that we use tomorrow to reject their one-day money for a lasting joy. The difference between the umbrella and the broom is the difference between the armed robber and 419. Let's cross our ten fingers to shame them on February 16th.

To hell with the devil and the blue sea, Sowore/AAC is here! No going back!!

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There May Be Low Turnout Of Youth Voters For Elections, Says Study

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 1:06pm


Ahead of the 2019 elections slated for February 16 and March 2, a study has predicted low turnout of youth voters.

The study entitled: ‘Role of Youth-led Organisations in Peaceful Elections and Political Participation of Young People’ was conducted as part of the UNESCO Youth Civic Engagement Initiative.

The study was implemented in Lagos State by One African Child Foundation for Learning, in Oyo and Osun states by the Building Nations Initiative (BNI) and in Kwara and Ekiti states by the Women and Youth Development Foundation (WOYODEV).

According to the study, a total number of 166 youth-led organisations actively involved in promoting political participation and peaceful coordination of elections were identified by respondents. Among these organisations identified by respondents include: Junior Chambers International (JCI), AISEC, All Nigeria United Nations Students’ Association (ANUNSA), YALI Network, Youth Aid Development Foundation, among others.

Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says young people constitute the majority of registered voters, and are major determinants of 2019 election winners, and according to the analysis, there has been a progressive decline in the level of political participation among young people.

The study, however, was able to deduce that while majority of the respondents (71.1 per cent) had participated in one civic education/political-based seminar/event from one youth organisation or the other, the sensitisation from such programmes still remains to translate to full actions with respect to variables of political participation measured.

The study also reveals that while over 80 per cent of the respondents hold the perception of whether their votes will count or not, only about 68 per cent of respondents are currently reported to have a Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and about 50 per cent had previously voted in an election.

It further added that 31.2 per cent of the respondents, who do not possess voter cards, were unable to participate in the voter registration exercise owing to time constraints and busy schedules as career professionals and students. Technical challenges on the part of INEC staff, disorderliness, long queues, and distance to PVC registration centres were also identified as reasons for not participating in the voters’ registration exercise.

On the question of foreseeing peaceful elections, a greater proportion of respondents in the study hold positive perceptions, while a lower percentage held negative perceptions.

This is a pointer to the fact that while perceptions on political participation may change and become more favourable, there may be need to provide very significant cues to action for corresponding behaviour that will result in active political participation of young people.

The revelation of the study thus calls out to youth-led organisations already working around sensitisations for a peaceful election and political participation to intensify their efforts in promoting peace, as the mischievous act of these seemingly few respondents, who still hold a favourable disposition towards election violence, could be far reaching in causing political instability and prevention of peaceful elections.

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Protests In Borno Over Sudden Replacement of NYSC Ad Hoc Staff By 'Political Supporters'

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 1:05pm


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More than 300 members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) protested in Maiduguri on Friday over the replacement of their names as ad hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled for Saturday.

They protested in front of the Old Maiduguri Police Station in Jere Local Government Area of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

According to the NYSC members, their names came out on the first list, but on getting to their various centres, the names have been changed to another set of names.

A staff member of the Borno chapter of NYSC alleged that some INEC staff connived with politicians replace the names of corps member with those of party faithful.

"Let me tell you; our state coordinator has informed the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mohammed Ibrahim, about this, but he promised that nobody can replace corps members, because they are automatically qualified to work," the NYSC official told SaharaReporters.

"Hundreds of them have called to tell us about how INEC has replaced their names with strange people presumed to be political supporters. This is really sad. They have undergone training and now their names have been replaced."

However, Lawan Turawa, the state NYSC Coordinator, appealed to the irate corps members to be calm and promised to resolve the issue. He assured the NYSC members that he would personally take the names to the state REC for reconsideration.

They have demanded an explanation from INEC on why their names were replaced, and urged the INEC Chairman to punish the errant staff.

The corps members have vowed not to leave the place unless their names are restored because they were shortlisted earlier.

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The Choice Between Two Tested And Failed Men And A Third Force By Ogochukwu Paul

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 11:48am


On Saturday, tomorrow February 16, , Nigerians are going to polling centers across the country to cast their votes to either re-elect a sitting president Muhammudu Buhari or elect a new one – a former vice president Atiku Abubakar  fronting for the main opposition party, PDP, or a third force from a pool of different parties. This is not the first time my country men and women will be casting their votes for a president to lead at the center.  Since we returned to democratic rule in 1999 after almost 30 decades of military rule, we have elected four presidents within 19 years. But this Saturdays’ election is different and I will explain why. When the APC was formed in 2014 from a merger of AC, the Bola Tinubu led party, ANPP, some fallout from the PDP and APGA, and CPC, the Muhammadu Buhari led party, it was to wrestle power from the then incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan whose party the PDP had been in power for 16 years. Those years which is widely believed to have been a waste, steeped in colossal failure when compared to the time, resources, energy and faith that was its disposal.

In those 16 years that the main opposition party had been trying to oust the PDP, no other president gave them a good impetus to succeed than Jonathan. Jonathan had continued from his late boss, Umaru Yar’adua, who just two years into his administration died from a protracted illness.  (Nigerians still believe that his government held so much beautiful promises that would have materialized into a new Nigeria). After the elapse of the remaining two years, he Jonathan contested and was elected President.  But that was not without some discontent within his party because of the sharing formula that was in place which meant that the north was to produce the president for 4 years to finish their turn of 8 years of rule. Nonetheless, Jonathan won the elections and was given the chance to do a great job. But he bungled that opportunity. Jonathan proved himself to be incompetent and lacked the strong will needed of a Nigerian president. He bagged the clueless tag – a leader who didn’t have the faintness direction to lead a country of over 180 million people. He was believed by a large percentage of Nigerians and APC to have failed spectacularly.  He failed to create jobs and tackle the raging insecurity spewing from Boko Haram that was threatening to over whelm the nation. Yet the greatest underdoing of his government was the flamboyant corruption in a lot of his Ministers and other public officials. There was the reputation of running a massively corrupted government that paved inordinate ways for his family and friends to enrich themselves. He didn’t help his case when on a national TV while answering questions proudly retorted that “stealing is not corruption” a statement that would hurt him, giving more arsenal to those seeking to dethrone him, and which they used as campaign material to convince Nigerians to kick him out at the 2015 polls. What also didn’t help his case was that he fell out with a lot of his party men and state governors, with five of them decamping to form the opposition party APC. They claimed he had become unflinchingly arrogant to heed advice from well-meaning folks like them. And so they connived with the rival party folks and plotted to remove him in order to teach him a lesson. They succeeded.

Thus the 2015 election brought Buhari in at the center with Jonathan calling him to congratulate and concede, giving credence to his famous quote that his ambition was not worth the blood of any Nigerian. And so the party with the broom and the chant of ‘Change’ came to presidential power with so much expectations from Nigerians. They were expected to fight and bury corruption. To decimate Boko Haram. To revive the economy, remove many Nigerians from the pit of poverty by creating millions of jobs, engaging the productivity of its youth, and to build world class infrastructure. This hasn’t happened in their almost four years of leading. There hasn’t been any much difference between them and their predecessor.

This is not just a belief I made up. There is palpable disillusionment with this administration. A lot of Nigerians had widely expected the APC to bring a big change and difference in attitude, economy, infrastructure and a lot of other things, but there hasn’t been any change or difference. Instead things have worsened. Nigeria has a new name of being home to the highest number of people living in extreme poverty, overtaking India. Poverty has risen to unprecedented height. There is so much insecurity at every corner of the country. Buhari – a man who contested elections and lost out three times but won on the fourth time is seen as a bigoted and nepotistic leader in a country with a federal quota system where every state is expected to be represented in government appointments yet he appointed his northern kinsmen into all the positions especially in the security apparatus. This is not surprising from a man who with the mindset of “97% vs. 5%”.

At the polls tomorrow, and with the choice to choose who will lead them for the next four in their hands tomorrow, whose court will Nigerians play the ball into? Is it into the court of a 76 year old president who has been tried, tested and whose results reeks of disappointing failures? One whose saintly and messiah image has been dismantled due to monumental incompetence on his part. Or is it into the court of another old man – a 72 years old Atiku Abubakar who has the notorious reputation of being a public thief and all the entanglement of corruption around his neck?

Or will Nigerians dare pull a surprise and play the ball into the court of any one of the presidential contestants of called the Third Force. (Nothing is impossible. An incumbent was removed from power for the first time in 2015, remember?) These Third Force – an entire and better alternative to the two evils are a crop of young men and women who have the antecedents of good character and competence. Their education and the results of their achievements from their private work and public engagement signal that if given a chance and elected, Nigerians will experience a big departure from incompetent, greedy, nepotistic and corrupt  leaders . I will name a few of the popular ones among these Third Force presidential contestants. There is Kingsley Moghalu on the ticket of YPP who is a political economist, university professor and a former CBN deputy governor with over 20 decades of competent experience in the private and public sectors. There is Omoyele Sowore of the AAC - a prolonged activist, widely noted for his activism from his UniLag days as the President of the students’ body and the owner of a popular online media – Sahara Reporters which has grown into a reputation of giving sleepless nights to public officials by under covering and exposing their nefarious clandestine activities. There is Tope Fasua with the ANRP ticket is a business man and economist who run runs a successful consulting firm. I have not exhausted the list of the Third Force, there many others but these ones named are the more popular ones who have taken serious steps to campaign, to seek for votes and pursue their ambition of leading Nigerians as their president.

This is not the first time that alternative candidates have emerged, different from the characteristics of presidential candidates in the ruling and main opposition party but this time there is a big difference. It is the strong rise of a crop of technocrats that are not the career politicians that the citizens are used to and who are strongly seeking to do things differently for real – and have pulled a vibrant and engaging national campaign.  It is the huge awareness that there is a big pool of credible and competence people for Nigerians to choose from – better alternatives to the two old, tried and failed evils running for presidential leadership in this 2019 polls. Can they – the Nigerians voters pull a surprise? Can they change the norm or will it be as usual till perhaps 2023?

Ogochukwu Paul is on Twitter @Ogochukwu_Paull

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Kwara REC To 'Personally Arrest' Journalists Who Move Without Accreditation Tags

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 11:30am


Mallam Garba Attahiru-Madami, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Kwara State, says he will "personally arrest" journalists who try to cover Saturday's presidential election without donning their accreditation tags.

Attahiru-Madami disclosed this on Friday at a press conference in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, to brief the public on the commission's preparations for the election.

"I will personally order the arrest of any journalist that does not use the accredited tag and is moving about to cover the election," he said. "So, I urge all journalists covering this election to get themselves accredited, because I don't want to have any issues with anyone.”

He also said a total of 106 journalists had been accredited to cover the Saturday's presidential and National Assembly elections in the state.

Attahiru-Madami also stated that a total of 1,827 local and international election observers have been accredited to cover the polls.

He said: "A total of 106 media men and women were accredited even though over 200 applied. Also, a total of 1,827 local and international observers have been accredited in the state.

He said the electoral commission is fully prepared for Saturday's poll, noting that a total of 2,887 Smart Card Readers have been upgraded, fully charged and will be deployed for the election.

He gave the total number of registered voters in Kwara State as 1,407,400, stressing that of the figure, a total of 1,149,969 had collected their Permanent Voter Cards (PVC).

The figure represents 82 per cent of the total figure. 257,431 uncollected cards have been forwarded to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for safekeeping until after the elections.

According to Attahiru-Madami, a total of 11,992 electoral staff have been trained and deployed for the elections, just as he restated the commission’s readiness to ensure a credible and transparent exercise.

He disclosed that sensitive and non-sensitive materials for the polls have already been deployed to the 16 Local Government Areas of Kwara State in the presence of both political parties and security agents.

Attahiru-Madami, however, warned political parties to avoid any form of violence during the Saturday elections and urged the electorate to come out and vote en masse.

"By and large therefore, I can say without mincing words that we are ready for the elections. I, therefore, use this medium to call on eligible voters to turn out en masse to cast their votes without any fear. To the political actors, please play the game according to the rules and be reminded that there are lots of dos and don'ts, which must be religiously observed as the law will catch up with anyone trying to flout the laws," he added.

He said the result for the presidential election would be announced in Abuja, noting that INEC will only annouce the Senate and House of Representatives election results at the state level.

Kwara State is made up of 193 registration areas (wards), 1,872 polling units and 1,015 voting points.

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409,000 IDPs To Vote In Borno

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 11:24am


The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday confirmed that a total of 2,315,956 registered voters are expected to cast their votes across 3,933 polling units in Borno State on Saturday.

Mohammed Ibrahim, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), stated this at a press conference on Thursday in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, during which he promised that INEC is committed to free, fair and credible elections.

He affirmed that 409,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) will cast their votes in eight special voting centres in parts of the state, as a result of security challenges in the eight council areas.

He noted that 41 political parties in the state will field 435 candidates contesting for various elective positions.

A total of 5,071 smart card readers for accreditation of voters have been enhanced, configured and delivered to all the polling units, including required sensitive and non-sensitive materials.

Hundreds of ad hoc staff were seen around the INEC office in Maiduguri and there is heavy security patrol in the state capital.

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2019 General Elections: Where Is Your Stake At? By Adebayo Raphael

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 10:14am


Adebayo Raphael speaking at a public function.

Adebayo Raphael

Different types of governments have come and gone in the history of mankind and nations the world over. During these times, when the chips were down, visionary leaders and exceptional members of the body politic have risen to the occasion to recall mankind and nations from the path of impending doom.

I am inclined to think, that at this point in our national history, majority of the citizens are aware of the inhumane social, economic and political realities under which we all are presently grappling to live. According to statistics, 91.16million Nigerians are now living in extreme poverty and six people are falling into poverty every minute. This alone is indicative of a nation on the verge of catastrophic doom. Even worse, several thousands of Nigerians have lost their lives to terrorism across the country, just as several millions have been displaced as a result. 

In addition to these, child mortality rate is worsening, under-five deaths are growing worrisomely, democratic institutions are crumbling, records of human rights abuses are rapidly growing, clampdowns on free speech and press freedom have become the order of the day. These are dangerous signs of imminent doom. 

In times past, when great nations were threatened with Nigeria’s present unlivable realities, they were either rescued by exceptional leaders or by the peoples of those nations. Although progress and prosperity is often everlasting with the latter and transient with the former, inclusive growth and widespread prosperity are often achieved when both work together conscientiously.

This time, Nigeria, too, has reached her turning point. And, it is of utmost importance that we the people collectively agree to reorder our steps, review our past, and embrace a national vision for the future, and more importantly, embrace the general will (the will of people combined) as against the private will; for it is clear, that Nigeria is presently entrapped  in the snares of elite-conspiracy and the selfish will of the few; and for her to burgeon, this must change.

Again and again, it has been proven that when nations advance the general will in their odyssey of nation-building, there is often an unprecedented wave of a cohesive and long-lasting progress and prosperity. And as the saying goes; it is better to walk in company than in solitary.

In less than 24hours, Nigerians will stroll to the polls to decide the fate of our dear nation for another four years. This act of civic responsibility is not as crucial as the motive driving it. For when the motive is wrong a favorable result cannot be guaranteed. When the means is defective the end cannot be rosy. In fine, we need to ask ourselves; Are we pleased with the administration of the present leadership? Can we trust them with the future of our nation? For often times, we are dangerously caught in the urgency of the now that we forget the coming times. 

It must be established, that the onus of achieving an auspicious future and a prosperous nation that works for the good of all starts with the people; before their representatives. This is so because in a democracy, the will of the government, which is transient and subordinate, is derived from and answerable to the will of the people, which stands supreme to the will of the government. Bearing this in mind makes the role of the people clearer as we go to the polls. Elections should never be about reinforcing failure. 

The poverty that we see today, the hopelessness populating the atmosphere, the insecurity and starvation, the darkness and backwardness, the joblessness and the rest - they all can go away with a single decision: a clearly defined terms of agreement between we the people and those seeking our votes. It is called a Social Contract. 

With this social contract, we the people can confidently choose a leader who will represent our collective will and at the same time strengthen our ownership of the democratic process and deepen democratic accountability in process of time. With this social contract, we can easily separate the wheat from the chaff and the charlatans from the bonafides. With this social contract, we can agree on what those seeking our votes will do for us and what we will do in return. With this social contract, we can easily pay our taxes knowing that they will be used to ameliorate our living conditions. 

With this social contract, voters’ confidence and public will to demand accountability is a certitude. And, unlike the infamous vote-buying that comes with the trappings of ephemeral gains during elections, albeit for a few; the social compact promises a long-lasting gain - in education, infrastructure, security, vibrant economy, and so on - for the collective. 

The very beginning of a reformed democratic process is the decision of the enlightened body politic to engender accountable democracy through the ownership of the democratic process. This ownership is guaranteed when you employ the strategy of a social contract. It is simple logic; you cannot influence what you have zero stake in. 

 

Adebayo Raphael is the National Secretary of the OurMumuDonDo Movement. He writes from Abuja and can be reached on Twitter via @Asorosobioro.

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BREAKING: Sixty-Six Killed In Kaduna On Eve Of Presidential Election

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 10:11am


Less than 24 hours to the presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled for Saturday, sixty-six people have been killed by gunmen in Kajuru Local Government Area (LGA) of Kaduna State.

They were killed on Friday.

Among those killed are 22 children and 12 women.

Speaking on the incident, Nasir el-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, expressed sadness at the development, and said the perpetrators would be brought to book.

Meanwhile, the Kaduna State Government has condemned the killing and warned all communities against instigating attacks or reprisals.

A statement issued by Samuel Aruwan, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor (Media and Publicity), on Friday, noted that four persons who sustained injuries have been rescued by security agencies and are now receiving medical attention.

The statement read: “Security agencies today reported the recovery of 66 bodies that were killed in attacks by criminal elements on various dispersed hamlets in the Maro Gida and Iri axis of Kajuru LGA. The settlements affected include Ruga Bahago, Ruga Daku, Ruga Ori, Ruga Haruna, Ruga Yukka Abubakar, Ruga Duni Kadiri, Ruga Shewuka and Ruga Shuaibu Yau.

“Among the victims were 22 children and 12 women. Four wounded persons rescued by the security agencies are now receiving medical attention.

“Government condemns the attacks and commiserates with the families of the victims. Security agencies have been deployed to the area and arrests have been made. Government urges community, traditional and religious leaders in the area to encourage residents to avoid any reprisal attacks and to leave the matter in the hands of the security and law enforcement agencies. The killings are being investigated and residents are assured that indicted persons will be prosecuted.

“Residents of Kaduna State are enjoined to uphold peace and harmony, shun violence and allow the elections to be held in an atmosphere of calm. Any suspicious activity should be reported to the security agencies in person or through the following lines: 09034000060 and 08170189999.”

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Buhari vs Atiku: Between A Promising New Order And An Elitist Old Order By Obajeun Jonah Ayodele

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 10:05am


More than ever before, the stakes this time are high. Like everywhere in the world except in Africa, political battles are almost always preceded by intellectual warfare. 

In Nigeria, political discourse amongst upwardly mobile political minds is always riddled with poverty of logic and deified ignorance especially in times like this. It is always difficult, if not impossible, to engage productively in intellectual repartee with them. There is always a god who bosses over sharp rational hollowness.

I often find myself in political banters, not as a learned pundit or intellectual hell-raiser, but as a humble student of history and rationalism who always find himself keeping quiet in many of those banters only to be badly hit by void. Truly, there is a crisis of intellectual initiative in contemporary Nigeria. 

One of such banters I found myself happened recently in the ancient city of Ibadan. It was on the issues that defined the candidacy of the politically savvy Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and that of the lanky and spartan General, Muhammadu Buhari. The badinage became a theatre of nonsense and as usual, yours sincerely was on mute mode.

There cannot be vacuum in any political firmament, it is always cloaked with transactional handshake, world over. It is like the popular aphorism that there is no smoke without fire. Both Atiku and Buhari are products of their own choices.

Unfortunately, the issues that are expected to shape campaigns found themselves conveniently taking the backseat. When the din of political commotion has receded, when tempers have cooled, when frayed nerves have calmed considerably, we will have to resume the dialogue, if not for our own sake but for the sake of our children, for the sake of posterity and for the sake of a nation in dire need of direction.

In the build up to the 2015 elections, yours sincerely described Buhari as a grandpa of necessity at the most virulent time after trying to be born in three different eras. I wrote about how wisdom shaped Buhari while his popularity was spreading like wild illumination to lighten up the dark mood of the country. I had thought at the time that what was needed to prevent us from crashing through the world like a falling stone was his wisdom. 

I wrote further that: “wisdom is the vessel unto which he poured himself. It gave him shape, structure. It harnessed him. It contained him. His love. His madness. His hope. This is Buhari, whom the world has suddenly come to see as a grandpa of necessity.”

Are these descriptions still true about Buhari? No, not in his political wisdom which was made evident in Abeokuta when there was a rain of stones in the breezy enclaves of Olumo rock.

President Buhari’s failings are evidently stubborn. Apart from his insularism and his simplistic and mass appeal approach to economic management, he is also infused with a provincialism that has alarmed the very essence of the country’s nationhood. His adherents have argued that his narrow-mindedness can be traced to the political exigencies of the time. He seems to have become a complex abstraction electorally unaffected by his failings.

In politically divided and ethnically fractured nations where zero-sum politics is the name of the game, the struggle for power is often seen as a struggle for the soul of contending nationalities. While Buhari’s candidacy has a cloak of northern hegemony dominance, Atiku’s candidacy is seen as southern push to advance the cause of the minority group. No wonder then that democratic contests are framed as a battle for the survival of the ethnic group in a hostile environment rather than a struggle for office. In such circumstances, there would be a need for a leader who can rally nationalities to a common cause of nationhood. Inclusiveness is the name of the game. President Buhari isn’t present here. 

However, Buhari is history in the making. He has trodden where angels dread, for instance as far as to the red wired castles of judges and got away with it. No matter is failings, President Buhari has succeeded in pitching a sizable mass of Nigerians against elitism. In three and half years, he has shown consistency in what he stands for – he wants to be remembered as the President who gave corruption a good fight while whipping the society into line. Excuse the none methodical approach. The streets seem to prefer this behavioural reconfiguration.

His supporters don’t pander to elitist demonstration or struggle. To them, Muhammadu Buhari has become a religion, a deified figure with unmatched electoral value who buys nothing from them but sells his spartanism. They see this as an exemplary trait.

Unlike Buhari, Atiku’s history and association are haunting him. His nomination as the flagbearer of his party revved up his popularity but suffered setback with the Dubai holidays. The former vice president has struggled unsuccessfully to give sufficient traction to his bid. Questions bordering on his ethical rectitude in both private and public life are drowning him.

To the streets, Atiku does not come across as inspiring, dodgy and elitist. But his supporters have argued that he is more mentally alert and cosmopolitan, and is even more tolerant, urbane and inclusive. The challenge is that he has been unable to project his ideals and personality as brilliantly and effectively as his candidacy demands. His stance on his friends’ entitlement to wealth accumulation and amnesty for corrupt officials have only lent credence to his baggage.

On the final analysis, this is a fragile nation on its knees, taking baby steps out its economic woes. Buhari has led the country during the most perilous period defined by scarcity of resources and ethnic agitations on one side, and error of judgement on his side. With lean resources, it will amount to grand self-deception if what is happening to infrastructural recovery is treated with a wave of the hand. There is a strange political will to press on with fund recovery, naming and shaming of looters, which is unpopular among the elites. He has trudged on in tough times.

Atiku has led the country in a period of buoyancy. There is little or no evidence of his toughness in austere period. With a running mate who sees nothing wrong in investing state funds in a family business and with a collective belief that offering amnesty to looters is an anti-corruption wizardry, it would be difficult to argue that the Atiku ticket can stand the test of scarcity.

But more importantly is a paradigm shift in political hegemony that 2023 promises. 2023 will be a defining season for the future of the country. The generational shift in 2023 is as vital as the independence of the country. It would mark the end of the old order and offer a fresh start of a new order.

Buhari’s re-election offers the shortest route to the promises of 2023. Atiku’s election would delay this transition. Therefore, this is no time to experiment, even though we are stuck with two Septuagenarians. One inspires confidence of a much-expected shift in the shortest of time, the other offers reinforcement of the old order. From the foregoing, Buhari becomes a necessary ‘evil’.

Having walked barefooted with history, the vote-weary electorates would have a choice to make. But one thing is sure, it is going to be an election where the common man is king!

Obajeun Jonah Ayodele writes from Lagos. He is on twitter via @Obajeun

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My Letter To Nigerians: Just Before We Cast Our Votes By Ariyo-Dare Atoye

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 10:01am


Shall it be said by the heavens that God is wrought because a country like Nigeria exists? The Almighty God rules in the affairs of the world and is watching us. Shall it be exclaimed by the world that we are a people without a soul, wisdom and lacking in knowledge? The global community is watching us. 

After months, weeks and days of waiting, here comes the time to cast our votes and we shall do so in a few hours. The time to campaign ended a few hours ago. The time to announce the results shall follow and, thereafter, the time to answer the questions above.

Those who have no sense of posterity or any concern for future generations may not understand the purpose of pondering before we vote. In the immortal words of Obafemi Awolowo, there is no overdraft in the bank of nature; only the transaction of sowing and reaping. 

The vote is a seed because choices have consequences. The choice we make on Saturday, February 16, 2019 will affect our life, family, standard of living and, most importantly, the peace and stability of our nation. It is akin to making a decision that could make or mar our tomorrow.

Lest we forget, my late friend, Bukhari Bello Jega, may his soul rest in peace, made a choice in 2015 to vote and side with Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. He worked tenaciously for his choice and was visible in the social media space. We had our quarrels online but maintained our friendship offline.

But when the soldiers of the regime came for the Shiites in December 2015, they did not know or remember he helped to enthrone the government. He was slaughtered in cold blood together with his wife and daughter. His sisters too were not spared. An entire generation was wiped out. 

I am not blaming Bello for the choice he made, but it is a given that for every choice we make, there are consequences. My friend and Comrade, Deji Adeyanju did not vote for Buhari on March 28, 2015, but because a government that has no respect for human rights was elected, he is today held in illegal detention by the regime.

We have come to a very sad place as a nation, where decisions are taken by the government of the day based on your religion and tribe. Our fault lines have been widened by nepotism, bigotry, lack of fairness, and made worse by the clannish and provincial disposition of the Buhari administration.

There is no pretence in the action of Gen. Buhari to foist on Nigeria the superiority of his tribe and religion. The plot to divide our nation along the odious lines of the inferiors and the superiors, disguised in the garb of those I can trust and those I cannot trust, is no longer hidden. He has driven our unity far into recession.

On his watch, other tribes have become pawns in the affairs of government, good only for power play and not because they deserve to have a fair share. Unfortunately, he does not give a damn about anyone, except Abba Kyari and Mamman Daura. The leaked tapes of his Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, said it all: "The president does not listen to anybody. He doesn’t care."

He had along the line pretended to be cleaning the Augean stables, but far from the truth. It is now obvious to Nigerians that on his watch, blood and interest are thicker than corruption. Relatives, friends and those who have entered into a pact to support a second term bid have either been freed or their trials compromised.

State capture and creeping authoritarianism have become full blown. We are witnessing his final onslaught to drive our nation into ethno-religious violence. From investigation to prosecution and finally to judicial verdict, the agencies and institutions of government have been consigned to a single ethno-religious tribe.

For the first time in 20 years and worst since 1960, the security apparatchik, sensitive appointments, the finance, the economy and all the arms of government are controlled by one religious group. It is not because Buhari is a Muslim. When an extremist is allowed to rule in a multiethnic society, he sees only his tribe and ideology as the supreme. 

The regime has abused separation of powers and put our democracy in a clear danger. For all he cares, his foot-soldiers can cross a blood line without sanction and punishment. The nation is badly divided. But we must seek redemption.

What shall be the next level for over 91 million Nigerians living in extreme poverty, after the incompetence and failure of his administration pushed Nigeria to become the global capital of extreme poverty? If you failed to interrogate change, what shall you tell your creator about next level? Will affliction arise the second time?

The hopes of the Almajiris who were once becoming the focal point of the nation for redemption, have been dashed and betrayed. The youths are seen only as "lazy pikins" by the grandpa. Poverty and lack have been redesigned as a virtue and made to be seen as anti-corruption through some hopeless brainwashing.

Dear electorate and the good people of Nigeria, I seek not to foist a choice on you. The decision to vote a leader that will unite and stabilise our nation is entirely yours. The alternative may not be the best of option, but going out of Egypt is an option. As a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who, in 2015, warned about a coming calamity, I also have a responsibility to tell you that Gen. Muhammadu Buhari is not an option going forward. 

If God had desired it for us to be one religion and tribe, He would have created or so. I seek a nation where Ekiti will not be suspicious of Fulani and where the strength of religion in ensuring peace, good conduct and genuine love will conquer bigotry and extremism.

Let us redeem our nation from the jackals and the hyenas. Nigeria is too precious to be governed by proxies. The decision is ours. We can salvage this nation. Let us do it.

 

Atoye contributed this piece from Igbara-Odo Ekiti via aristotle001us@gmail.com

 

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Scam Alert: Dear Nigerians, Be Wary Of Atiku And Buhari By Elias Ozikpu

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 9:57am


Exactly four years ago, Nigerians thronged to the polls to elect the incumbent Muhammadu Buhari of the APC after Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP had overseen an administration replete with sizeable catastrophes that undermined Nigeria’s progress as a nation. At the time, Atiku Abubakar was a chieftain of the APC until his wild ambition for the Nigerian presidency drove him to re-join the PDP.

Four years later, having experienced monumental ineptitude and unprecedented nepotism in the Buhari Administration, Nigerians have another opportunity this Saturday to chart a new path in history. The single issue for determination as Nigerians head to the polls is whether or not a country with a high population of young and highly gifted people should be left in the hands of septuagenarians who have failed and consistently looted our treasury for approximately six decades! The combined years of the APC and the PDP in power, along with the terrible track records of their presidential candidates, should signal a strong warning to Nigerians. The same characters who have shattered our hopes of having a great nation cannot now implement policies that will benefit everyday Nigerians. The same characters who for 58 years failed to give us power, good roads, water, housing, equipped hospitals and schools, etc will never think of putting these things in place in the next four years.

One of the fundamental problems of the Nigerian electorate is that he has been deluded into believing that the seat of power is the birthright of the APC and the PDP. Nigerians must immediately be reminded that the PDP were evicted in 2015 for their woeful performance in office after sixteen tall years, and now that Buhari’s APC has followed the same path of failure, turning to Atiku and PDP for succour is a move that Nigerians will forever rue. Nigeria will not and cannot be the property of the APC and the PDP. Now is, therefore, the time to seek a better and credible alternative, away from the old, failed and overly corrupt generation that continues to impose itself on the people even when they lack the skill and intellectual capacity to cope with the tasks that come with the Office of the President of Nigeria.

It is laughable for Nigerians to continue to recycle the same old and analogue leadership and then expect a different result after the elections. The truth is that an analogue leader cannot perform beyond his capacity, his head will explode and shatter into tiny shreds without a prior warning.

The Nigerian youth whose role has always been reduced to that of a political gorilla aimed at maiming and killing on election day must tender his resignation letter to his slave master and support members of his generation who have shown courage to permanently retire the likes of Atiku and Buhari, two figures whose track records appear extremely frightening for the future that the new Nigeria deserves.

By now, it should be obvious to Nigerians that both Atiku and Buhari lack the competence to move Nigeria from a Third World to a First World nation, even if each of them is allowed five hundred years in office. This is evident in the wasted eight years during which Atiku and Obasanjo led Nigeria, a period which witnessed a healthy competition in the privatisation of public wealth between both men, before the contest culminated in a stern face off.

As for Buhari, his incompetence since assuming office in 2015 is unspeakable. With his fragile health, he is being pushed by an Aso Rock cabal headed by Abba Kyari and Mamman Daura, two desperate individuals who presently run the country. Buhari’s ascension to power has been a reign of pain and terror, accompanied by first-class nepotism and corruption. The Buhari Administration is so visionless that it presented no manifesto throughout its campaign period, except for displaying eight fingers at every campaign venue. In fact, the “change” mantra was abandoned for the 2019 campaign after it became clear to them that the people had tagged it a scam of gargantuan proportions. The Administration then proceeded to plagiarise the “Next Level” slogan which Nigerians rightly see as the next level of poverty, starvation, death, unfathomable darkness, etc.

Like in Ekiti and Osun States, the Buhari Administration has finished putting finishing touches to manipulate the presidential elections by all means. The Buhari government is working in cahoots with INEC, the judiciary and all the security agencies to impose Buhari on Nigerians for another four years. This, of course, accounts for why Buhari’s appointments are lopsided, favouring Northern individuals whom he probably believes will be loyal to his grand scheme. On the other hand, the PDP whose presidential candidate is equally desperate, is not left out of this grand conspiracy against the Nigerian people. As former chieftain of the party Ibrahim Mantu confessed in 2018, the PDP has rigged itself to power since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999, before their manipulating skills deserted them in 2015.

The young people of Nigeria whose future is about to be kidnapped for the umpteenth time by their own ancestors must compulsorily reject Atiku Abubakar and Muhammadu Buhari as both candidates are not interested in the progress of Nigeria and its people, except for the illegal accumulation of public wealth at the expense of millions of citizens who struggle on a daily basis to stay alive! Nigerians have the opportunity to express their displeasure by masterminding an electoral revolution that will sideline our destiny kidnappers for life. But the question is: are oppressed Nigerians truly ready to break free from the chains of their internal colonialists? 

You have been warned. The choice to heed and act right is entirely yours!

Elias Ozikpu is a professional playwright, novelist, social commentator, activist and polemicist.

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Less Than 24 Hours To Polls, NYSC Members In Katsina Not Yet Issued Duty Stations

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 8:53am


With just hours before the presidential and National Assembly elections slated for Saturday, February 16, 2019, members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheduled for election duty in Katsina are yet to be issued duty stations.

Corps members besieged the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Katsina on Friday to check their names on the list, which displayed polling unit allocations for election officials at the venue of the election training in Modoji, Katsina.

The list is still far from complete, as a lot of corps members (especially 2018 Batch C corps members) have not found their names.

There are reports that the corps members have been posted to nearby villages and, as such, are not included in the list for Katsina town duty stations.

Some lists have also been shared on Whatsapp platforms for the NYSC members, but they do not have official verification.

Election officials in Katsina Local Government Area are expected to assemble at 12 collection centres on Friday to collect election materials from the presiding officers at the respective collection centres.

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Note To Nigerian Youth By Adeyeye Olorunfemi

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 8:53am


I write this with mixed feelings. One of grief and another of bliss. Grief, knowing that we still have young people supporting the old guards even after supporting the #NotTooYoungToRun mantra and having seen a clear alternative in a young man named Sowore.

The bliss however comes from the hope that the over 91 million Nigerians living in extreme poverty want a better Country for themselves. They want better education, security, power, healthcare etc. They want to go to the hospital and get treated when sick and not to just get medical advice. They want to take their Country back from the behemoths of the PDP and APC. 

I am scribbling my thoughts in bullet points for easy read. 

Dear Colleagues,

1. Elections have consequences. Good and Bad. Everyone is a voter including the person who did not register to vote. The political apathetic individual is voting for the statusquo to remain. 

2. If you do not take interest in Politics, Politics would definitely take interest in you. An example of Politics taking interest in everyone is how of recent students and lecturers spent almost 4 months at home. It was due to the decisions of some elements governing us. When the good people are not concerned, the bad would make decisions for them. 

3. In a Country of 65 percent of young people, we have no business begging the old guards for power. It is only in this part of the World such happens. 

4. Don't just go to the Polling booth with your PVC. Take along with you your brain; remembering how you have been cheated for too long. How you are still calling your mum to send you money for feeding and upkeep at age 30. 
Would OAU students remember how they fetched water from wells and streams? Would UNILAG students remember their bedbug-infested hostels? Would YABATECH students forget so easily how they sleep in classrooms because of the inadequacy of hostel accommodation? Will Nigerian students forget how 1000 students are made to receive lectures in classrooms that should ideally be for 50 persons? Are we going to forget our struggles to save Public Education that landed some of us in prison?

5. Please do not forget that the PDP is not an opposition to the APC. They are the same. 4 of the Presidential Aspirants who were in PDP Port Harcourt Convention in 2018 were in APC Lagos Convention in 2014. 

6. You can not say there are no alternatives in this election. Why stick to two evils (less or lesser) when we have a good? How you question the possibility of 100,000 living wage but do not question the criminality in 14 million naira allowance of Senators, sale of NNPC or TraderMoni is disturbing. 

7. As against the general notion that market women, motor park thugs i.e- the uneducated population are those who vote, the 2019 elections have proven to be different. Students would be the major deciders. We are 22 million while market women are 7 million. Youths (students inclusive) are over 42 million. 
We are people who have undergone some kind of tertiary education, which means we are not looking for our WAEC certificate. We are more qualified than Buhari. 
We are people who can not afford to buy NNPC that Atiku promises to sell to enrich his friends. That means we are not Atiku's friends. Atiku knows his friends.  

8. I believe we represent the category that understands that vote-buying is criminal. And that no politician of the old order is 'Father Christmas'. Any politician who gives money gets it back in millions. He gets it directly by stealing from the treasury or indirectly by selling off public assets and increasing fuel price, tarrifs etc. 

9. We know that unfortunately the Almajiris also fall under the 22-million category. But if half of 22 million students decide to go the 'new way', the election results would be tough to announce. 

10. In Conclusion, it would be a total disgrace to anything we call Education if with 22 million students, either Buhari or Atiku returns to power on Sunday, February 17th, 2019. It would be better we lock up our schools or convert them to asylums. 

- Adeyeye Olorunfemi

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BREAKING: Two Arrested For Planting Explosives On Ebonyi Bridge

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 8:37am


Breaking bannner

Two persons have been arrested in their attempt to plant explosives on a bridge in Ebonyi State.

The arrest was disclosed by David Umahi, Governor of Ebonyi State, during a broadcast on Friday.

According to the Governor, the duo were nabbed on Idembia bridge in Ezza South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

He noted that the government had received intelligence reports that there were plans by some political parties to bomb bridges and other such facilities in the state, adding that the suspects were arrested by the villagers in the area.

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BREAKING: Names Of Election Ad Hoc Staff 'Replaced At The Last Minute' In Adamawa

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 6:45am


Breaking News

Most of the names shortlisted as ad hoc staff in Adamawa State have been replaced at the last minute, a source at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has complained to SaharaReporters.

"Most of the people who were originally shortlisted just woke up on Thursday morning to discover that their names had been removed and replaced with names, majority of which were Muslims," he said. "The replacements were most evident in Metropolitan Local Government in Yola North."

The source also raised the alarm about the possibility of inadequate supply of sensitive and non-sensitive materials for the conduct of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections.

Speaking exclusively with SaharaReporters, the source said "as of midnight on Thursday, both sensitive and non-sensitive materials delivered to Adamawa State were inadequate”.

"You may wish to call the Resident Electoral Commissioner for confirmation. Please ask him to give you figures categorically. I'm telling you in all sincerity, ballot papers as brought to Adamawa are not complete. By the way, the situation is the same, virtually in all the states. You can find out,” he said.

However, Kashim Gaidam, the Adamawa REC, denied the claim, saying: "As I speak with you, I'm at CBN supervising the release of materials for the conduct of the election. Be rest assured materials have been supplied enough for the exercise tomorrow.”

Efforts to contact political parties were not successful as calls directed to the mobile phones of Tahir Shehu, the Peoples Democratic Party Chairman in the state, and Mohammed Abdullahi, the state All Progressives Congress (APC) Publicity Secretary, for clarification were both rejected.

Adamawa State is the home of Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential candidate and lead challenger of President Muhammadu Buhari in tomorrow's polls.

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Yahaya Bello Wants To Kill Me, SDP Senatorial Candidate Natasha Akpoti Cries Out

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 6:32am




Natasha Akpoti, a senatorial candidate for Kogi Central Senatorial District, seeking to contest on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), says Yahaya Bello, Governor of Kogi State, wants to “assassinate” her.

She stated this in a letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari entitled ‘Governor Yahaya Bello Wants to Kill Me'.

According to Akpoti, the reason the Governor wants to assassinate her is that she “dared to step out to give expression to my ambition to represent my Senatorial zone in this election”.

She urged the President to call the Governor to order, as many of her supporters had been killed.

    

THE LETTER IN FULL:

Dear President Muhammadu Buhari, 

As Nigerians head for the polls, I am constrained to draw your attention urgently to the naked and arbitrary show of power, orchestrated murders and the embarrassment Governor Yahaya Bello has become through various atrocities in Kogi State which led your party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), to an unprecedented embarrassment in the state.

In clear and unambiguous terms, Mr. President, Governor Yahaya Bello, has perfected plans to assassinate me for daring to step out to give expression to my ambition to represent my senatorial zone in this election. This did not start today. As a matter of fact, on Friday, 17th of August 2018, Governor Yahaya Bello threatened me in the presence of three of his closest aides; Mr. Jibril Momoh (Accountant General of Kogi State), Mr. Kabiru Onyene (Special Adviser on Domestic Matters) and Mr. Abdullahi Bello, a.k.a. Dollar (Chairman, APC Kogi state) to "abandon my political ambition or face dire consequences".

This ordinarily would have passed without much worry. Unfortunately, many other recent developments have made it crucial for me to cry out that you kindly save my soul.

Just yesterday Mr. President, two of my supporters were killed at my campaign. At this campaign, it was an organic crowd of genuinely loving people. I was immersed and buried in the love and embrace of very impoverished people who desired a paradigm shift. Some of these people paid the supreme price yesterday from the brutal hands of Governor Bello's thugs! Their pictures are here.

In only a few weeks that my campaign gained momentum morphing into a movement for the liberalization of Kogi Central, some of my other supporters that have been murdered are Mr. Ojo Enesi, Youth leader of my Campaign Organization in Obeiba, Ihima of Okehi Local Government Area in Kogi state. He was dragged out of his house at about 12:30am on the night of Saturday, the 12th of January 2019 and brutally murdered by a gang of APC thugs led by one Ojo Inna who pulled the trigger on late Enesi.

This was followed by the battery, stabbing and butchering of 8 of my supporters by known APC thugs at about 9am on Friday, the 11th of February 2019 during a door-to-door campaign at Obeiba in Ihima, Okehi Local Government Area. This is besides those whose property have been damaged and those who have been abducted. 

The spate of attacks continued on the 1st of February 2019 after one of my youth leaders in the Fulani community, Usman Abubakar, was abducted under the instigation of the Okehi Sole Administrator, Mr. Abdulraheem Ohiare, who on the orders.  This particular unforced and reckless error would have sparked an ethnic clash between the Fulani and Ebira communities in Kogi Central but for the prompt and timely intervention of the Kogi Army Commander, Major General Njoku.

Usman was released on the 12th of February after spending 12 days in a politically financed detention cell, all in a supposed democratic nation. 

The names of many victims not mentioned here, to save space and your precious time but who have suffered vicious attacks are well documented and have been reported to the Nigeria Police even as they have continued unabated. 

And as if the physical acts of violence were not enough, I have been at the receiving end of slanders and defamation on different occasions in the hands of Bello's agents including and not limited to his Chief of Staff, Edward Onoja. 

This is besides stoking the fire of religion which was watched by a shocked Nigerian audience on a live AIT programme, Democracy Today on the 4th of February 2019. That day, Kingsley Fanwo, DG to Governor Bello declared me persona non grata for elective post because according to him, I was not a Muslim and I "did not have a proper family!” I am at a loss Mr. President, when gender or being a single mother became the disqualifier for aspiring to lead the people.

The worrisome part, Mr. President, is the talk of town in the ears of well meaning citizens of Kogi State, that Governor Bello's brutal tactics is boosted by his boasts that he derives support from you as his ‘Political Godfather’. This has left many wondering if this was possibly the source of Yahaya Bello's power drunkenness and executive rascality since he assumed office. The APC machinery in the state is being used by his executives to groom thugs who kill, maim, destroy properties, kidnap and slander members of opposition parties in the guise of compelling an all-round APC victory in Kogi State. In each of this, Governor Yahaya Bello drops your name as his overall objective to deliver votes to!

Dear President, I am glad to recall vividly that on the 30th of August 2018, I attended a summit tagged the ‘Women Political Aspirants Advocacy’ organized by your wife, Her Excellency, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, where you spoke affirmatively towards the support of female candidates vying for different elective positions irrespective of their political platforms.

Mr. President, mine is “A call to service by my people”.

While this might sound like a belabored cliché commonly used by many politicians to hoodwink voters, the verifiable truth on ground is that my people have found purposeful leadership in me demonstrated painstakingly through years of consistent track record of robust advocacy and strategic galvanizing of the populace to hold on to the faith that the restoration of the Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill to rev back to life in optimal capacity utilization was soon to be a reality. The citizens of the state are excitedly awaiting the employment this would bring their way and the food that would bring on their now famished homes. 

May I also inform you Mr. President that I have also strengthened the capacity of various communities through the instruments of various social entrepreneurship projects I had undertaken for the betterment of the society. These and many more are the evidential credentials costing Governor Yahaya Bello sleepless nights. This was my arrival on the scene with a practised step built and unflinchingly driven by a passion for the grassroots and a complete departure from an accidental, inordinate and focus-lacking ambition.

This is a carefully thought-out decision backed by divine mandate to rescue our people from oppressive and repressive regimes which unfortunately, Governor Yahaya Bello now perfectly represents and illustrates.

As a self-imposed Emperor, Mr. President, Yahaya Bello is not a democratic Governor and has dealt a huge blow and shame upon the crop of youth who ordinarily ought to have found in him an exemplary rationale for venturing into politics. 

Mr. President, my only crime against GYB is my brand of people-oriented politics and advocacy, especially my relentless agitation for a legitimate resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Company.

Mr. President, I accepted the call to serve hoping to drive the campaign for genuine change on the platform of the All Progressives Congress in the State.

I pleaded with Governor Bello to provide a level playing field for free and democratic primaries which will make it possible for the best candidate to emerge as the party's candidate.

My belief was anchored on a conscious understanding that this would deepen our democracy and position the party for victory if the people’s wish was respected.

Unfortunately, this was not to be.

Rather than allowing the voice of the people to prevail, GYB threatened to crush anyone who stood on his way to impose his preferred candidate whom he hoped to exercise control over.
As a true progressive, I had no option but to seek to answer the call of my people using the platform of the Social Democratic Party.

I am conscious of Yahaya Bello's fear and why he wants to employ every savage cruelty to silence the voice of opposition in the state. It is not my fault that his political influence suffered a dwindling fortune; this is an injury inflicted by Yahaya Bello upon himself owing to his narcissistic demeanour and lack of proper grasp of power as a call to responsibility rather than a juvenile trigger of pump-actions, Bello can already sense the imminent and inevitable defeat of his APC candidate for Kogi Central Senatorial seat come February 16, 2019 to me, Barrister Natasha Hadiza Akpoti, the Senatorial candidate of Social Democratic Party (SDP).

Bello therefore, having lost face with the people has grown into a fit of panic based majorly on how does he explain a loss to you after all his deceitful boast of a robust political base.

Mr. President,  Yahaya Bello has confronted me to name my price and I have turned him down; Yahaya Bello has described himself as the ‘Brutal Putin of Nigeria’ and I had wished him luck. Yahaya Bello has told me Tafawa Balewa was loved by the people and was still killed and same could befall me. In all of these, I have remained strong and undeterred.

By killing and maiming my supporters, Mr. President, Yahaya Bello is writing a script in complete antithesis of your declarations that Nigerian citizens should be allowed to vote for candidates of their choice.

From the foregoing Mr. President, I call upon you not as a single mother or as a non-Muslim, part of the "crimes" Yahaya Bello has accused me of. But I am calling upon you as Natasha Hadiza Akpoti, a Nigerian who has led millions of Nigerians on the advocacy to reposition Kogi and to develop Nigeria, and who is constitutionally allowed to contest elective position, that you please use your good offices to ensure my votes count and to save me and save the lives of my teeming supporters from the murderous thugs being financed by Governor Yahaya Bello.

Please accept Sir the warm assurances of my kindest regards.

Barr. Natasha H. Akpoti
Senatorial Candidate

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LIVE: The Final Buildup To The 2019 Presidential Election

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 5:53am


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INEC Relocates Plateau Office Affected By Fire Incident

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 4:47am


The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has relocated its office in Qu'an Pan LGA of Plateau State.

Materials for the presidential and National Assembly elections were destroyed by fire at the INEC in Qua'an Pan Local Government Area in Plateau State on Saturday, February 9, 2019.

Ballot boxes, generators, electronic and manual voter registers, uncollected Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), among other materials, were burnt beyond recognition, and the security guard, who was expected to raise the alarm, was said to be drunk at the time of the incident. See Also Politics Election Materials Destroyed As Fire Razes INEC Office In Plateau 0 Comments 1 Week Ago

On Thursday evening, the commission disclosed that ballot boxes and voting cubicles to replace those lost in the fire incident were delivered to the LGA.

The voters' register for all polling units have also been reprinted, just as the INEC office was relocated.

A tweet by INEC read: "UPDATE ON PLATEAU FIRE INCIDENT: Truck carrying ballot boxes and voting cubicles offloaded at Qu'an Pan LGA of Plateau State to replace those destroyed in the recent fire incident. Reprinting of voters’ register for all polling units completed. Office relocated to a new building."

UPDATE ON PLATEAU FIRE INCIDENT
Truck carrying ballot boxes and voting cubicles offloaded at Qu'an Pan LGA of Plateau State to replace those destroyed in the recent fire incident. Reprinting of voters’ register for all polling units completed. Office relocated to a new building. pic.twitter.com/M9EcvTwtY7

— INEC Nigeria (@inecnigeria) February 15, 2019

According to the commission, “elections will hold in Qu’an Pan.”

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Rivers APC Sues INEC Chairman Over Exclusion Of Candidates

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 3:50am


The Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has served contempt proceedings on Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

Prince Tonye Princewill, Director, Strategic Communications of the Tonye Cole Campaign Organisation, disclosed this to newsmen on Friday.

According to Princewill, the INEC Chairman will explain to the court “why he should not be jailed for disobeying subsisting court orders and excluding APC in Rivers State.”

He said: “Proceedings were served yesterday, because INEC has shown us that it is no longer independent. How else can you explain the speed with which they acted after a judgement by Omotosho that said we should not only be removed from the ballot, but we should also be barred from campaigning? People should learn to fear God.

“Now that same Omotosho’s order has been stayed, yet two weeks later, we’re still waiting for our rights to be restored and INEC is comfortable that it has not been given to us. To make matters worse, the Supreme Court last week, threw out the appeal against the stay judgement. So what is still holding INEC? They cannot exclude us. But if they do, they will face the legal consequences. We can either do this election once or they will conduct it twice. The law is on our side.”

He thanked Rivers people for showing restraint and implored them to come out and vote as “who becomes President is who determines the leaders in the state”.

“Do not be distracted by INEC. If they do not put us on the ballot, that election will be repeated. It will not be an election. But the presidential is not in doubt. All states must put in their quota towards victory. That includes us too here in Rivers State,” he said.

Members of the APC in Rivers State also staged a protest on Thursday at the INEC office to demand inclusion of its candidates for elective positions in the state.

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BREAKING: Onnoghen Pleads Not Guilty, Granted Bail On Self-recognition

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 3:34am


Onnoghen in court

Onnoghen in court

Walter Onnoghen, the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), has pleaded not guilty to the six-count charge preferred against him over fraudulent declaration of assets.

He is standing trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

After initially refusing to appear before the CCT, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest on Thursday.

He eventually showed up before the CCT on Friday morning.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges, and was granted bail on self-recognition.

Chris Uche (SAN), the CJN's lead counsel, also applied for a withdrawal of the arrest warrant issued by the CCT for Onnoghen and his application was granted since Onnoghen voluntarily submitted himself to the CCT.

The trial was adjourned till March 11.

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