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Letter to the Editor, Premium Times, by Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Sept 4, 2018)

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RE: OSINBAJO GOT IT WRONG ON RESTRUCTURING — ATIKU
Dear Editor,
Kindly permit me a response to a piece in your publication, titled “Osinbajo got it wrong on Restructuring,” written, we are told, by my illustrious predecessor in office, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
First, let me say that I really would have expected Alhaji Abubakar to at least get the full text of my comments before his public refutal of my views. But I understand; we are in that season where everything is seen as fair game! He quoted me as saying that “the problem with our country is not a matter of restructuring… and we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into the argument that our problems stem from some geographic re-structuring”.
Yes, I said so.
As the quote shows, I rejected the notion that geographical restructuring was a solution to our national problems. Geographical restructuring is either taking us back to regional governments or increasing the number of States that make up the Nigerian federation.
As we all may recall, the 2014 National Conference actually recommended the creation of 18 more States. And I argued that, with several States struggling or unable to pay salaries, any further tinkering with our geographical structure would not benefit us.
We should rather ask ourselves why the States are underperforming, revenue and development wise. I gave the example of the Western Region (comprising even more than what is now known as the South West Zone), where, without oil money, and using capitation tax and revenues from agriculture and mining, the government funded free education for over 800,000 pupils in 1955, built several roads, farm settlements, industrial estates, the first TV station in Africa, and the tallest building in Nigeria, while still giving up fifty percent of its earnings from mining and minerals for allocation to the Federal Government and other regions.
I then argued that what we required now was not geographical restructuring but good governance, honest management of public resources, deeper fiscal Federalism, and a clear vision for development.
On the issue of deeper fiscal Federalism or restructuring, I explained how the then Lagos State Government, led by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, decided to fight for greater autonomy of States.
As Attorney-General at the time, it was my duty and privilege to lead the legal team against the then Federal government, in our arguments at the Supreme Court. I am sure that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar would remember these cases on greater autonomy for States that I cite below, as he was Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the time.
At the Supreme Court, we won several landmark decisions on restructuring Nigeria through deeper fiscal federalism, some of which our late converts to the concept, now wish to score political points on.
It was our counter-claims alongside those of other littoral States, that first addressed so comprehensively the issue of resource control. We agreed with the oil producing States that they had a right to control their resources. We argued, though unsuccessfully, that the Ports of Lagos were also a resource, which should enable Lagos State, in the worst case, to be paid the derivation percentage for proceeds of its natural resources. Years later, we also filed an action at the Supreme Court arguing that the Value Added Tax, being a consumption tax, should exclusively belong to the States.
On the issue of who, between the Federal and State governments, should have authority to grant building permits and other development control permits, the Supreme Court, by a slim majority, ruled in our favour. It held that, even with respect to federal land, States had exclusive authority to grant building or other developments control permits.
In 2004, we created 37 new local governments in Lagos State. We believed that we had a Constitutional right to do so and that in any event, a State should have a right to create its own administrative units. Several other States joined us and created theirs.
The Federal government’s response was to seize the funds meant for our local governments, thus strangulating States like Lagos, which had created new local governments. We challenged this at the Supreme Court. The court held that the President had no right under the Constitution to withhold or seize funds meant for the States. The allocations were not a gift of the Federal Government to the States. They were the Constitutional right of the States and local governments.
The court also agreed that States had a Constitutional right to create local governments, pursuant to section 8 of the Constitution, but that the creation remained inchoate until the National Assembly, by resolution, amended the existing list of local governments to capture the newly created LGs.
In response, we created by State Law, Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), to accommodate the newly created Local Government Councils until such a time as the National Assembly would complete the process. But the Lagos State Government took up the challenge to re-engineer its revenue service, making it autonomous. With innovative management, tax collection in Lagos became more efficient, and tax revenues continued to grow geometrically. Today, the State earns more IGR than 30 States of Nigeria put together!
Further, we contested the attempts of the then Federal Government to create supervisory authority over the Finances of Local Governments by the signing into law of the Monitoring of Revenue Allocation to Local Governments Act, 2005. The Supreme Court also ruled in our favour, striking down many provisions of the law that sought to give the Federal government control over local government funding.
I have been an advocate, both in court and outside, of fiscal Federalism and stronger State Governments. I have argued in favour of State Police, for the simple reason that policing is a local function. You simply cannot effectively police Nigeria from Abuja. Only recently, in my speech at the Anniversary of the Lagos State House of Assembly, I made the point that stronger, more autonomous States would more efficiently eradicate poverty. So I do not believe that geographical restructuring is an answer to Nigeria’s socio economic circumstances. That would only result in greater administrative costs. But there can be no doubt that we need deeper fiscal Federalism and good governance.
Alhaji Atiku’s concept of restructuring is understandably vague, because he seeks to cover every aspect of human existence in that definition. He says it means a “cultural revolution”. Of course, he does not bother to unravel this concept. He says we need a structure that gives everyone an opportunity to work, a private sector driven economy. Yes, I agree. These are critical pillars of our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), including our Ease of Doing Business Programme.
If, however, this is what he describes as restructuring, then it is clear that he has mixed up all the issues of good governance and diversification of the economy with the argument on restructuring.
Good governance involves, inter alia, transparency and prudence in public finance. It involves social justice, investing in the poor, and jobs for young people; which explains our School Feeding Programme, providing a meal a day to over 9 million public school children in 25 States as of today. Our NPower is now employing 500,000 graduates; our TraderMoni that will be giving microcredit to 2 million petty traders; our Conditional Cash Transfers giving monthly grants to over 400,000 of the poorest in Nigeria. The plan is to cover a million households.
Surprisingly, Alhaji Atiku leaves out the elephant in the room — corruption. And how grand corruption, fueled by a rentier economic structure that benefits those who can use political positions or access to either loot the treasury or get favorable concessions to enrich themselves. This was a main part of my presentations the Minnesota Town Hall meeting.
In arguing for good governance, I made the point that our greatest problem was corruption. I pointed out that grand corruption, namely the unbelievable looting of the treasury by simply making huge cash withdrawals in local and foreign currency, was the first travesty that President Buhari stopped.
I showed the OPEC figures from oil revenues since 1990. In four years from 2010 to 2014 the PDP government earned the highest oil revenues in Nigeria’s history, USD381.9billion. By contrast the Buhari Administration has earned USD121 billion from May 2015 to June 2018, less than 1/3 of what Jonathan Administration earned at the same period in that administration’s life. Despite earning so much less, we are still able to invest more in infrastructure than any government in Nigeria’s history. The difference is good governance, and fiscal prudence.
In the final analysis, restructuring in whatever shape or form, will not mean much if our political leaders see public resources as an extension of their bank accounts.
This, I believe, is the real issue.

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Nigerian bodybuilder brothers who confessed to staging ‘hoax attack’ against Jussie Smollett will likely AVOID any criminal charges, legal experts say

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-Legal situation of Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo now called into question
-Brothers confessed to staging fake hate attack on actor Jussie Smollett
-They sought no immunity deal in exchange for their testimony against Smollett
-Charges against Smollett have been dropped, raising questions for Osundairos
-But Smollett was not exonerated and the brothers are unlikely to face charges

Abimbola ‘Abel’ (left) and Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo (right) did not seek an immunity deal for testimony that Smollett hired them to stage an assault, but they are unlikely to face charges

Two Nigerian bodybuilder brothers who confessed to hoaxing a hate crime attack on actor Jussie Smollett face legal questions now that the case against Smollett has been dropped.
Abimbola ‘Abel’ and Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo did not seek an immunity deal for their testimony that Smollett hired them to stage an assault on him outside of his Chicago apartment on January 29.
A grand jury indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts of filing a false report, but those charges were dropped on Tuesday with little explanation by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who initially recused herself from the investigation due to personal ties with parties involved.
Because Foxx’s office did not exonerate Smollett in dropping the charges, however, it seems unlikely that the Osundairo brothers will face charges for assaulting the actor, legal experts say.

Smollett maintained his innocence at a press conference on Tuesday, although the prosecutor did not say he was exonerated of the charges in dropping the state’s case

The Cook County State’s Attorney Office and an attorney for the Osundairo brothers did not immediately return requests for comment from DailyMail.com about possible charges against the brothers.
In announcing that the charges had dropped, Foxx’s office said merely that prosecutors felt that Smollett’s ‘community service’ and willingness to forfeit his $10,000 bond was a ‘just disposition’ for the case.
‘We didn’t exonerate him,’ said first assistant state’s attorney Joe Magats, who made the final call not to pursue the charges.
Chicago criminal defense attorney Michael J. Petro, who is not connected to the case, told DailyMail.com that he did not expect the Osundairo brothers to face charges, based on statements from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
On Tuesday afternoon, Johnson and Emanuel gave a press conference in which they lashed out at prosecutors for dropping the charges, and stood by the evidence gathered by investigators showing that Smollett had staged the attack.
‘This is a whitewash of justice,’ Emanuel said, visibly angry. ‘From top to bottom this is not on the level.’

Smollett, who is black and gay, on Tuesday maintained that he was telling the truth about being attacked by two strangers yelling racist and anti-gay slurs, who he said punched him, poured bleach on him, and looped a noose around his neck.
A meticulous review of surveillance cameras and car hailing data led police investigators to the Osundairo brothers, who worked with Smollett on the television show Empire.
The brothers, who are American citizens of Nigerian descent, flew to Nigeria just hours after Smollett reported the attack, and were detained immediately upon their return two weeks later.
The pair were questioned and confessed that Smollett had paid them to stage the attack, police said.
Police also recovered a wealth of corroborating evidence, including footage of the brothers casing the scene of the alleged attack with Smollet, and of them purchasing masks and rope like that used in the incident.

‘They fully cooperated with the police. They’re still cooperating with the police. They have not sought out any kind of immunity or any kind of plea deals,’ said Gloria Schmidt, the Osundairo brothers’ attorney, after they testified before a grand jury last month.
‘That is not on the table. They are not interested in that. They just wanted to come out and cooperate and tell the truth,’ she said.
The brothers said that Smollett had paid them $3,500 to stage the attack, and a cancelled check was provided as evidence.
Police released them without charges and treated them as cooperating witnesses in the case against Smollett.
Foxx, the state’s attorney, had recused herself from the case during the investigation stage ‘to address potential questions of impartiality based upon familiarity with potential witnesses in the case’, according to a statement from her office.
Chicago police have also alleged that Smollett sent a fake threatening letter to himself with white powder inside, which turned out to be crushed Tylenol.
No federal charges have been filed in the mail threat case.

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EXCLUSIVE: Home Office nabs people with UK families for deportation flight to Nigeria & Ghana

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People with UK family ties have been held in detention centres, moved into isolation and rounded up for a removal flight tonight.

Donatus Egberoa / Facebook

The Home Office has not confirmed details, but it is believed a flight has been chartered to deport people to Nigeria and Ghana.

But some appear to have been taken to be deported unlawfully.
At least two have had last minute injunctions to stop their removal, and people say they had just five days notice – little time to prepare challenges.
The London Economic spoke to Donatus Egberoa, 33, and his British partner Caroline.
Donatus’ family live in the UK and have British passports, including his mother, father and five siblings including his twin sister.
Donatus says he has nobody in Nigeria as he has lived in the UK since the age of 16.
He has Indefinite Leave To Remain but says he had not been able to afford converting that to citizenship and was not aware it mattered before he was convicted of a £50 robbery in his youth.
Since then he has been put in detention by the Home Office a total of seven times to remove him from the UK even though he has nobody in Nigeria and evidence that he was tortured there as a child.
Under the Home Office’s own Rule 35 regulations, people who have medical evidence of torture should not be detained, and Donatus was found to have been tortured by a doctor under the rule.
His partner Caroline told The London Economic: “Why can’t immigration give him a second chance? I just lost my mum and Donatus is my backbone. We have been together for 2 years. If he was returned he could come to harm as he has nobody there, no connections as he hasn’t been there for over 16 years.”

As we spoke to Donatus today, he was told that his solicitor at immigration firm Duncan Lewis had secured an injunction and put in a Judicial Review.

So at the last moment he was driven back from the airport, as he appears the Home Office were set to remove him unlawfully.

Donatus sounded traumatized. He insisted that as a bisexual, unable to read or write because of his dyslexia and with no family links left in Nigeria he feared for his prospects.

Donatus said his £50 robbery conviction was under joint enterprise and there had been no DNA evidence connecting him to the crime and he was not picked out of an identity parade.

He shared this video on Twitter before his smartphone was confiscated:

Another father of two with a British wife and two children aged 5 and 3 was also given a last-minute injunction against removal.
Immigration officials had told him that his kids and wife can join him in Ghana. He had left the UK after serving a 2004 conviction for cannabis possession and returned to the UK, settling down with his new family.
Others on the flight have no conviction and women are being held in Yarls Wood Detention Centre due to be removed on the flight too.
Up to 2,000 people a year are loaded onto secretive deportation flights – generally at night.

They are often shackled with waist restraint belts or leg restraints.

There have been many reports of manhandling by the security guards. Security is now supplied by private security giant Mitie, under a 10 year £524 million contract.

Charter flight companies include small airlines such as Titan Airways.
The Home Office refused to discuss individual cases, and a spokesperson said: “We only return those with no legal right to remain in the UK, including foreign national offenders and failed asylum seekers.
“We carefully consider all representations made in relation to a case and, should further submissions be made, have a duty to grant these appropriate consideration.”


tle

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Senate Presidency: Ndume Queries APC Position

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Senator Ali Ndume representing Borno South senatorial district has kicked against the endorsement of Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, by the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as the preferred candidate for the position of Senate President in the 9th Assembly.

Addressing journalists in Abuja on Tuesday, Ndume said the leadership of the party had at a dinner with President Muhammadu Buhari in the Villa told Senator’s elect that the party had settled for Ahmed Lawan as the next Senate President, a decision which he said has put others at a disadvantage.
Ndume said he is disappointed at the decision of the party without first seeking the opinion of senators-elect, questioning why the party leadership moved to impose a candidate on the members.

Ndume, however, said he is still consulting widely on his ambition and will take a decision at the right time.

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Former Minister of FCT, Bala Mohammed Wins Bauchi Guber Race

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Senator Bala Mohammed of the People’s Democratic Party has emerged the new Governor of Bauchi state, polling 515,113 votes to defeat the incumbent Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar of the All Progressives Congress APC who scored 500,625 votes.
Bala won with 14,488 votes in another tight governorship race. Sokoto and Kano governorship races were similarly close.
News Agency of Nigeria reports that the governorship election in the state had earlier been ruled as inconclusive by INEC and March 23 fixed for re-rerun poll in Tafawa Balewa local government area and some polling units in some other local government areas of the State.
INEC later reversed itself as it ordered the collation of the results. This followed a fact-finding report by a panel led by an INEC commissioner Festus Okoye.

But Governor Abubakar challenged INEC’s volte-face in an Abuja High court.
The court initially ruled to stall INEC’s action, but on Monday, the court gave INEC the go-ahead to conclude the collation.
The Returning officer Professor Mohammed Kyari declared Bala Mohammed, a former senator and minister of the Federal Capital Territory as the winner of the election on Monday night.
“Bala Mohammed having scored the highest votes and satisfied all the requirements of the law is hereby declared Winner of the Governorship election in the state”, he said.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Alhaji Ibrahim Abdullahi appealed to politicians to take defeat in good faith
“In any contest there will be a winner and a loser”. He urged the politicians not to gloat in victory.
But the advice was not heeded by supporters of Bala Mohammed, who turned the celebration of the victory into a carnival, as they took over the popular Ahmadu Bello Way, singing ‘Sai Kaura’, drumming, blowing flutes, trumpets and saxophones and dancing to the tunes of a variety of music. Motor-cyclists joined in the revelry with acrobatic displays.
Mrs Aisha Usman said God has answered the citizens’ prayers.
“We are celebrating the outcome of the results of the election as INEC finally declared the man of the people, Sen. Bala Muhammed the winner of the governorship race.
“This is what we have been praying for and God has answered the cry of the masses,” she said.
Mrs Abigail Haruna, who also joined the celebration, said the governor-elect was a good man with a high spirit of patriotism.
She said the people believed that the new governor would take care of them.
“I am very happy that I am witnessing today that the change we wanted is actualised”, said Mr. Ismail Raji, another Bauchi resident.
“I thank God that the final result favoured the Peoples Democratic Party and Senator Bala Muhammed in particular. Bala Muhammed is the change we wanted in Bauchi state,” Raji said.

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Anambra government reaffirms the state government’s commitment on N30,000 new minimum wage

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The Anambra Head of Service, Mr Harry Udu, has reaffirmed the state government’s commitment towards implementing the new minimum wage as promised.

The head of service made the assertion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka on Friday.
He said the implementation would help motivate civil servants in the state to perform their duties optimally.

Udu said Gov Willie Obiano had given matching orders to the Internally Generated Revenue agencies to redouble efforts in raising extra N1.4 billion that would ensure that the promise was kept.
He said that Obiano’s pledge in his address to civil servants during the electioneering period to be the first to pay the wage once approved was not a political statement.
“Gov Obiano remains irrevocably committed to fulfilling the promise of being the first governor that will pay the new wage once approved,” he said.

Udu said that the governor had read the riot act to all its revenue agencies and pointed out the importance of maintaining its standards.
“Government is focused on making arrangements to move to the new minimum wage without having challenges in the legacy of the governor.
“Efforts are being made to get additional revenue to sustain the practice of workers receiving salaries on 25th of every month.” Udu said

The head of service said the directive on the financial implication of the N30,000 minimum wage and other options being considered were being handled, so as to have a seamless transition.
Udu said that since the Nigerian Senate had approved the wage increase, efforts are on top gear to ensure that the promise was actualised, once President Muhammadu Buhari gave assent to the bill.
He said that the Salary and Wages Commission would issue a circular on its implementation indication chart, the grading.

“Once all those processes were done, then the promise will be achieved after due calculations,” he said.

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I influenced 2019 elections – Tinubu admits

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Sen. Bola Tinubu, an All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, says his moral authority plays a role in his ability to influence elections.
He also said that other tools that helped him influence elections were his skills as a veteran politician and dedication to campaigning and mobilising his own party members.
Tinubu said this on Friday in Lagos while responding to an advertorial in the media, alleging that he met with the INEC Chairman to influence the Sokoto State governorship rerun election in favour of the APC.
Our attention has been drawn to a partisan advertorial in the March 21 edition of Daily Trust, entitled – ‘Inconclusive Gubernatorial Election: Sokoto People Warn Tinubu, Oshiomole, Yari, Bagudu and others’.
“The advertorial, placed by an organisation called the Sokoto State Coalition of PDP Supporters, bears the logo of PDP National Youth League and is signed by one Engr. Haruna Usman Shagari.
“The advert made baseless allegations against myself, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, Chairman of APC, Sen. Adamu Aliero and Gov. Abdul’Aziz Yari of Zamfara.
“It falsely alleges that I, along with the others, met the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu in order to influence the Sokoto State gubernatorial rerun election in favour of the APC.
“These allegations by a contrived PDP organ are desperate untruths without a basis in fact. But they are entirely in line with the delusional reactions of PDP to their loss in the presidential elections,” he said.
Tinubu said that he had Always been at the forefront of the struggle for electoral reform which culminated in the establishment of the Uwais Commission by late President Umaru Yar’adua.
“A prominent member of that panel, Prof Attahiru Jega later became the INEC Chairman and was able to implement the far-reaching reforms that have enabled us to have the free and fair elections that we witnessed in 2015 and now in 2019.
“If I were such a prominent supporter of electoral reforms, why wilI I now be among those trying to subvert democracy?
“My only tools for influencing elections are my moral authority, my skills as a veteran politician, and dedication to campaigning and mobilising my own party members, ” he said.
Tinubu urged the PDP in Sokoto state to desist from using his name to defraud the people or as a way to gain sympathy.
“With respect to Sokoto, former Gov. Aliyu Wamakko is a popular figure and leader who has the respect of the people of the state.
“It is also clear that the APC candidate is more qualified and more committed to the welfare of the people than his PDP opponent.
“By his panicked responses, Gov. Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State has shown his sheer desperation, fears that his political career is crumbling. If he loses this election, he has lost everything.
“Thus there is no untruth he will not tell and no tactic too extreme in order to hold on to his seat. However, he should not use my name to defraud the people or as a way to gain sympathy.
“Instead, Tambuwal should face the consequences of his own actions. It is Tambuwal, who has caused his own predicament. The people know that Tambuwal has sacrificed their interests to advance his own.
“He can try whatever propaganda and untruths he wants, but in the end, the people will render the verdict that his selfish and unproductive record deserves, ” tinubu said.

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European Union Congratulates President Buhari on Re-election

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The European Union has congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari on his re-election as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and expressed willingness to work with his government.
In a letter dated March 22, 2019 and jointly signed by Donald Tusk for the European Council and Jean-Claude Juncker for the European Commission, the Union said:
“On behalf of the European Union, we would like to congratulate you on your re-election as the President of Nigeria.
“We look forward to your leadership in strengthening democracy and uniting the country in line with the principles and spirit of the 2019 Abuja Peace Accord, and the EU is willing to work with your government to follow up on the recommendations of our Election Observation Mission.”
The European Union also reiterated Nigeria’s important position in world affairs and the Union especially.
“What happens in Nigeria matters to the rest of the world, including to Europe. Your commitment to an inclusive government offers an opportunity to take Nigeria forward in a way that meets your objectives of strengthening the economy, fighting corruption and improving security.
“The European Union has always partnered with Nigeria and its people. We look forward to continued and increased cooperation on bilateral and international matters,” the statement said.
The Union wished President Buhari more success in promoting peace and prosperity for all Nigerians as he enters the new mandate.
Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President
(Media and Publicity)
March 23, 2019

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Nigeria’s political transfer window is open

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The prospect of four years in the political wilderness appears to be too much for some members of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Gbenga Daniel, the former governor of Ogun State who was head of Atiku Abubakar’s presidential campaign, is one. On 14 March he quit active politics saying he was going to focus on “rejuvenating his nonprofit”.
*Three days later, a throng of his supporters “protested”, pleading with him to rethink the move and instead lead them into the fold of the ruling All Progressives’ Congress (APC).
Daniel, in a grand gesture, says he has no choice but to “listen to his supporters”.

All of this is just a roundabout way of joining the APC and supporting his old friend Dapo Abiodun, the governor-elect of Ogun.
*It’s the political equivalent of rescinding your signed contract in order to leave a football club on a Bosman transfer.
But it also speaks of a damaging rift within the PDP, financed to a large extent by Nyesom Wike, governor of the disputed Rivers State. Wike had pushed hard for the national chairman position in the PDP to be given to a member from his own region, the oil-rich South-South.

*“It appears the PDP is now bent on self-destruction. It has obviously allowed money moguls to dictate its thematic largeness. The party has lost its soul,” said Bode George in 2017, when he was pushed out of the national chairman race by Wike’s machinations.
Some might choke on their coffee to see references to the soul in the backscratch today/backstab tomorrow of Nigerian politics. Let’s just pause for a moment for a glance at the convoluted politics of Ogun State:
*The two factions of the PDP in Ogun State held parallel primaries producing two candidates.

*The courts – and later the Independent National Electoral Commission – favoured one of them, Buruji Kashamu, a former drug lord indicted by a grand jury in the American state of Illinois in 1998, who had earlier been expelled by the party leadership.
*Daniel and a section of the party decided instead to back the APC’s Dapo Abiodun.
*By contrast, the outgoing APC governor blatantly refused to support Abiodun, preferring to throw his weight behind his godson, Adekunle Akinlade of the Allied People’s Movement.

All clear?
Defection winds blowing

In the following days, there could be more dramatic episodes and the question is not if but when the gale of defections begins to the APC. The newcomers would surely include politicians already nursing ambitions for 2023, or eager to get into the good books of President Muhammadu Buhari and escape the hammer of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), like these guys for a start.

*All eyes will be on Rabiu Kwankwaso now. Like the former Senate president Bukola Saraki, who defected to the PDP before the election but lost his seat, Kwankwaso lost his bid to return to the Senate by proxy as his preferred candidate, the PDP’s Aliyu Sani-Madawakingini, was defeated at the polls.
*While Saraki’s political godson Abdulrazaq Atunwa lost his bid for governor in their home state of Kwara, Kwankwaso’s in-law Abba Yusuf is on the verge of an upset in Kano, where the APC governor Abdullahi Ganduje was involved in a bribe scandal. If he wins the seat, Yusuf and his Kwankwasiyya political movement could most likely be courted across party lines.
*Members of the “third force” parties could also be slowly making their way back to either the PDP or APC in the days before the 12 June inauguration and angling for cabinet posts and positions heading federal agencies. Some of them adopted either Buhari or Atiku ahead of the polls and could now formally jump ship.

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Smile Train CEO Lauds Mrs Obiano for helping Children with mouth deformity

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By emeka ozumba
The President/Chief Executive of Smile Train, Susannah Shafer has commended the Wife of Governor of Anambra State and founder of Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ), Dr. (Mrs.) Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme) for her immense contributions, and selfless services through her NGO to cleft care, by facilitating corrective surgeries for children with congenital birth defect of cleft lip or palate in Anambra State, Nigeria.
Ms Shafer made the commendation on the 18th of March 2019 during a global partner meeting with the CAFÉ team led by Dr. Mrs. Obiano at the corporate headquarters of Smile Train, 633 Third Avenue, New York, United States of America.


She acknowledged CAFÉ’s successful collaboration with Smile Train in Nigeria for five years stressing that the meeting with Osodieme is the first of its kind with a partner organization at their headquarters. According to Shafer; “it is incredible, what you are doing in the area of the welfare of women and children is amazing.”
The Chief Executive of Smile Train explained that the work of the organization is empowerment; raising of funding for awareness about cleft deformity and channelling the funds and resources to local medical professionals in partner hospitals so that children in the communities can benefit through life saving surgeries.
Shafer further stated that it is important to Smile Train that they have not just the medical provision but government support of the initiative in local communities. She pledged the organization’s support through awareness grant to partner hospitals to boost campaign identifying and locating cleft lip/palate patients especially in hard to reach communities.


In her reaction, Dr. Mrs. Obiano thanked Ms Shafer for the technical support of the Smile Train team which has seen CAFÉ facilitating over one hundred free corrective surgeries performed on beneficiaries in Anambra State. She noted that the meeting has been rewarding because it has not only cemented the ongoing partnership between the two organizations but has yielded the additional benefit of funding through the local hospital for more awareness creation.
Mrs. Obiano stated that one of the ways CAFÉ fights trafficking in persons is through other initiatives like the Skills training and empowerment of over 4,400 women in the following areas: Tailoring and Fashion design, Soap making, Bakery and Confectionery, Hair dressing and Beauty Therapy, and Interior Decoration, Telephone and Computer repairs, Community Health Assistant Services as one way of encouraging their financial independence.
Osodieme, who was made the Smile Train Goodwill Ambassador in 2018 was accompanied to the meeting by the Speaker of Anambra State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Rita Mmaduagwu, Member representing Onitsha South-2 Anambra State Constituency, Hon Beverly Ikpeazu-Nkemdiche, Member Representing Idemmili North Constituency in Anambra State Constituency, Hon Nkolika Mmegbuanaeze, Commissioner for Women & Children Affairs, Lady Ndidi Mezue, and Chairperson of National Council for Women Societies (NCWS), Anambra State, Lady Oby Obodozie.
Smile Train is an international organization focused on empowering local medical professionals to provide free cleft lip and/or palate surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally; while CAFÉ is the NGO of wife of the governor distinct from the Anambra State. CAFÉ’s vision is to be a beacon of sustainable empowerment for indigent women and widows, youths, the physically challenged and the less privileged.

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Full Text : Senate Approves N30, 000 as National Minimum Wage

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The Senate at its plenary session on Tuesday, 19 March 2019, approved N30, 000 (Thirty Thousand Naira) as the National Minimum Wage following adoption of its Ad-hoc Committee’s report.
Presenting the report of the Ad-hoc Committee on the National Minimum Wage Bill, Sen. Francis Alimikhena (APC: Edo) summarized the objective of the Bill as prescribing a legal framework for the review of the National Minimum Wage. He then stated the highlights of the Bill as follows:
Establishment of a Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage by President Muhammad Buhari with equal representation from the Federal and State Governments, organized labour and the private sector with a secretariat domiciled in the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission.
Composition of the Tripartite Committee which shall comprise of a Chairman, Secretary, Representative of the Government and Head of the Civil Service with other members such as the Ministers of Labour and Employment; Finance; Budget and National Planning; Representatives of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission; Governors from each of the 6 Geo-political Zones; National Labour Congress; Trade Union Congress; etc.
An empowered Tripartite Committee with relevant officers of the civil service that can enforce implementation of the National Minimum Wage, employers obligations as well as to monitor compliance and penalties for offenders.
Sen. Alimikhena further noted that the Ad-hoc Committee had deliberated exhaustively on the Bill before requesting Senate’s approval on the recommendations below:
That the sum of N30,000 be approved as the new National Minimum Wage;
That the fine prescribed for non-compliance for record keeping of employees shall not exceed N75,000;
That the Federal Government should develop procedures that will lead to a review of the Revenue Sharing Formula in order to enhance the capabilities of States towards the implementation of the new minimum wage; and
That the Ministers of Finance; and Budget and National Planning should present to the National Assembly, the amount required for the new minimum wage for inclusion in the 2019 Budget.
It would be recalled that the Senate at its sitting of Thursday, 24 January 2019 had announced receipt of the New Minimum Wage (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2019 (transmitted to the National Assembly) from President Muhammadu Buhari.

Click the below  to view the full report of the Ad-hoc Committee

Report-of-the-Senate-Adhoc-Committee-on-a-Bill-to-Repeal-the-National-Minimum-Wage-Act

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