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Obasanjo recants, backs Atiku’s presidential bid

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Chief Olusegun Obasanjo addressing a world press conference on his endorsement of PDP Presidential Candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo addressing a world press conference on his endorsement of PDP Presidential Candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, went back on his “God will not forgive me” vows on Thursday and pledged to support Atiku Abubakar’s presidential bid, as candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Obasanjo declared his support for Atiku while addressing newsmen after a closed-door meeting with Atiku, some prominent PDP members and some other prominent Nigerians.

Some of the people at the meeting were the National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Uche Secondus, former governor of Cross Rivers state, Liyel Imoke, Chief Bode George, Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Solo, Rev. Matthew Kukah.

Others are the Pastor and presiding Bishop of the Living Faith Church, Bishop David Oyedepo and a Kaduna- based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi and Ayo Adebanjo, who represented his faction of Yoruba group, Afenifere.

Atiku emerged on Sunday in Port Harcourt, as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)after the party’s presidential primaries held in Port-Harcort.

Obasanjo hinged his support on the fact that he and Atiku had reviewed what went wrong and he believed that the former Vice-President had re-discovered and re-positioned himself.

He said his prior position concerning Atiku was not personal but based on what he had done against the PDP and the country.

Obasanjo had accused Atiku of corruption and once said that God would not forgive him if he ever supported Atiku. Now he has eaten his words.

The elder statesman, however, said Atiku had apologised and he had forgiven him.

“From what transpired in the last couple of hours, you have shown remorse, you have asked for forgiveness and you have indicated that you have learnt some good lessons

” You have also promised to mend fences and make amends as necessary and as desirable.

“Whenever or wherever you might have offended me, as a Christian who asks for God’s forgiveness of my sins and inadequacies on daily basis, I forgive and I sincerely advise you to learn from the past and do what is right and it will be well with you.

“Obviously, you have mended fences with the Party and fully reconciled with the Party.

” That’s why today, you are the Presidential Candidate of the Party,” he said.

Obasanjo advised Atiku to appreciate all that the PDP had done for him and also work together with all other presidential aspirants as a campaign team.

The former president noted that there were both national and international fences for Atiku to mend.

” I am convinced that if you continue with the attitude that brought you here with these distinguished leaders of goodwill, with remorse and contrite heart, the rest of the coast within and outside the country can be cleared.

“And if there is anything I can do and you want me to do in that respect, I will do.

“I am sure with the right attitude for change where necessary, and by putting lessons learned by you to work, you will get the understanding, cooperation, support and mandate of Nigerians.

” With Nigerians voting for you, it will mean that you secure their forgiveness and regain their confidence.

“It will be with the hope or assurance of a Paul on the road to Damascus Conversion. After all, change and conversion are of man and I believe that with a contrite heart, change is possible in everybody’s life and situation.

Obasanjo noted that beyond other PDP presidential aspirants, Atiku possessed, for me, relatively and of all the aspirants the widest and greatest exposure, experience, outreach and possibly the best machinery and preparation for seeing the “tough and likely dirty campaign ahead” through.

He claimed Atiku has a better understanding of the economy than President Muhammad Buhari.

“You surely understand the economy better and you have business experience, which can make your administration business-friendly and boost the economy and provide jobs.

“You have better outreach nationally and internationally and that can translate to better management of foreign affairs.

“You are more accessible and less inflexible and more open to all parts of the country in many ways,” he said.

Obasanjo advised Atiku to run an inclusive government where merit and performance count more than blood relationship, friendship or kith and kin like they both did between 1999 and 2007

“Please uphold truth, integrity, principles, morality and fight corruption, crimes and insurgency.

“The fundamental law of the land, our constitution must be scrupulously defended.

” I make one demand and one demand on you today, I need you to say before God and man that you will always remain irrevocably committed to upholding all the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the whole country will remain your single indivisible constituency.

“Constitutionalism, popular participation and inclusiveness are pre-conditions for reversing the deficits of the past three and half years.

” They will ensure abiding faith in our indivisibility, oneness and faith in the survival of all against none.

“The fundamentals for our development, economic growth and progress are hard and soft infrastructure.

” Remember to always give adequate places in your administration to our youth and women.

“All the authorities involved with the preparation, all processes and conduct of the election must ensure that the election is free, fair and credible,” he said.

Atiku in his opening remarks had described the meeting as historic for him and Obasanjo as well as for Nigeria.

He reiterated that he could not have become relevant without the training and tutelage from Obasanjo’s leadership.

Atiku who described the day as one of the happiest days in his life said it was time for well-meaning Nigerians to come together so that the country could be repositioned on the path of unity and prosperity.

He pledged to dedicate and commit his tenure, if elected as president, to the continuation of the Olusegun Obasanjo- led administration.

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Buhari’s Environmental Minister, Jibril resigns

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Ibrahim Usman Jibril

Ibrahim Usman Jibril


The Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jubril, has just resigned his appointment.

Jubril is now the new Emir of Nasarawa, following his selection by the Nasarawa Emirate Council.

Governor Tanko Almakura of Nassarawa State had also approved the minister’s selection.

On Wednesday, the Federal Executive Council held a valedictory session in his honour.

The FEC was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

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Ebute to Ango-Abdullahi: ‘North will vote for President Buhari in 2019’

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President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

Former Senate President, Ameh Ebute, has replied the convener of Northern Elders’ Forum, NUF, Professor Ango Abdullahi, on his recent assertion that the region will not vote President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 presidential election.

Abdullahi, a former Vice Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, had while speaking to newsmen in Zaria as part of activities to mark his 80th birthday, also advocated for a return to parliamentary system of government, stressing that the system was more accountable than the presidential system.

Responding to Abdullahi’s submission, Ebute in a rejoinder forwarded to our reporter on Wednesday, insisted that the NUF chairman would not decide for the entire north.

The former lawmaker warned Abdullahi to retract the “shameful public statement” credited to him and retrace his steps, or risk running NEF as a one-man show.

The rejoinder reads.

I am extremely pained to publicly address Professor Ango Abdullahi on a matter I consider very important for regional cohesion and the stability of Nigeria.

However, in the prevailing circumstances, I have no choice than to do the needful in view of his recent vitriolic comments against the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR and his 2019 reelection bid.

No doubt, Prof. Ango Abdullahi is a respected academic, elder and son of the North. He is a brilliant man and the fourth indigenous Vice Chancellor of the premier and prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, (ABU) Zaria. I deem him a reference point anytime, Northern history comes into focus.

Ango’s convening of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) was a laudable initiative embraced by all of us. We sensed reason in his explanations of why elders of Northern extraction should have a common platform where they could congregate, brainstorm on issues affecting the North, lobby the central government to solve them and play advisory roles to the younger generation and the government when necessary.

We perceived these issues as very important and germane, hence the respected Alhaji Maitama Sule, (may his soul rest in peace) a former Ambassador to the United Nations, an Danmasanin Kano, agreed to serve as NEF’s pioneer chairman. That was the veneration NEF attracted.

With other prominent Northerners such as Wantaregh Paul Unongo a former minister of Power and Steel in the Second Republic, serving as NEF’s Vice Chairman, alongside an array of other officials, NEF was run purposefully and meaningfully in consonance with its original idea to which we were all signatories.

We have never had issues within NEF because we adhered strictly to its core mandate, doctrine and operational principles of neutrality and non-partisanship.

But it appears we are reversing ourselves now, after the demise of Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule. NEF’s leadership has fallen on Prof. Ango Abdullahi. I regret to say, he is not dispensing this leadership in consonance with the core operational principles of NEF to which we all subscribed and have observed religiously over time.

I wish to remind Prof. Ango Abdullahi that NEF was conceived as an apolitical organization. Therefore, the recent widespread public statement, published in various media, which claimed members of NEF have dumped the 2019 reelection bid of President Buhari, credited to Prof. Ango Abdullahi is extremely in bad faith. It abuses the sacred guiding principles upon which NEF was founded; derived its strength and endorsed by the rest of us.

For clarity sake, I wish to remind this NEF convener that NEF has not met in recent times and adopted a common position on the rejection or acceptance of the reelection bid of President Buhari or any other candidate vying for the office of the President of Nigeria in 2019.

The public statement credited to Ango in all ramifications came to me as a rude shock. And I dare say, it is an abuse of his right to freedom of speech by aligning his personal thoughts with a group, which is not part of his thinking on the matter canvassed.

Already, there are dissenting voices against this apparent insensitivity and absurdity as propagated by Prof. Ango Abdullahi. We cannot accept anybody’s personal desire to drag NEF into public ridicule or partisanship, except Ango wishes to be its sole owner, as convener, chairman, secretary, publicist and the rest.

Thus far, I completely and faithfully align myself with the position of objection to Prof. Ango Abdullahi’s posture by my other Northern elders, majority in silence, but others vocal like the trio of Maj. Gen. Paul Tarfa, Capt. Basir Sodangi and Sani Daura.

I find it pertinent to state that even the issues raised by Prof. Ango Abdullahi’s abhorrent statement such as insecurity, underdevelopment and poverty in the North under the Buhari Presidency are interrogated from a porous, biased and self-serving perspective.

We all acknowledge that the North and indeed, Nigeria deserves to be freed from the tethers of these nagging problems. What has baffled me is the deliberate refusal of Prof. Ango Abdullahi to critical and holistically assess the situation with an open and uninfluenced mind.

I cannot accept, much like many other Northern elders that insecurity in the country is worse under President Buhari. It was worse when our President mounted the saddle of leadership in Nigeria in 2015. President Buhari started from ground zero, but has made commendable progress over these problems.

The failure of the likes of Ango to see and appreciate the efforts and energies channeled into decimating and defeating Boko Haram insurgency in the North only conveys a personal hatred against the Buhari Presidency.

I expect Ango and those in his camp to speak to leaders of thought in the North. They should be concerned with engaging and dissuading their youths who are excitedly serving as hirelings to exacerbate the insecurity situation in the country in order to reverse the gains already recorded by the Buhari Presidency. Ango and co-travellers should not find this as a platform to castigate and vilify President Buhari.

President Buhari has taken steps to address the massive youth unemployment across Nigeria, including the North, with the N-Power jobs, even if we pretend not to see his laudable agricultural policies which have created millions of jobs with three years of his administration.

Prof. Ango Abdullahi cannot be preaching to us underdevelopment of the North at this material time because it is a culture sustained for decades. In spite of it, President Buhari is prudently and fairly distributing meagre national resources in solving underdevelopment issues across Nigeria. The North has gotten its fair share, just like other regions in the country.

President Buhari is the political leader of Nigeria and not that of the North alone as Prof. Ango insinuates. It is senseless for Ango and cohorts to expect that Buhari superintends over skewed sharing or distribution of Nigeria’s commonwealth in favour of the North. As elders, I believe this disposition and thinking is faulty.

I am highly uncomfortable with Prof. Ango Abdullahi’s excessive mouthing in public domain in the guise of speaking for NEF. Our duty as elders is to encourage leaders to sit-up where we perceive lapses, as against outright partisan campaigns against leaders as Ango delights in doing.

Prof. Ango Abdullahi should retrace his steps. If President Buhari fails to grant NEF audience to discuss these issues, why is the public platform he has used in vilifying the President, not used as channel of advice to Mr. President? It speaks of a personal agenda, which I am encouraged to say, has missed the target.

Other Northern elders like me, at both personal and collective level, will keep supporting President Buhari on his redemption mission of Nigeria. We have seen and felt the positive impact of his administration. Where he is lacking, we would rather advise him privately. So, the attempt by Ango to bifurcate NEF with his personal political agenda is reprehensible and unacceptable to the rest of us.

Like others, I stand, with President Buhari and the excitement of Prof. Ango Abdullahi to mask under NEF will not change it.

I advise him to retract this shameful public statement credited to him and retrace his steps, or risk running NEF as a one-man show.

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2019 Poll: Real reason Atiku did not sign peace accord – Bishop Kukah reveals

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Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Matthew Kukah, has reacted to the absence of Atiku Abubakar, the presidential flagbearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, at the signing of the peace accord by presidential candidates.

The outspoken cleric dismissed claims that the former Vice President was not invited, saying Atiku’s absence was due to errors within the PDP national secretariat.

Bishop Kukah, who is the convener of the National Peace Committee, stated this on Tuesday night when he featured on Channels TV’s Politics Today anchored by Seun Okinbaloye.

Paul Ibe, Atiku’s media aide, had in a statement said his principal was not formally invited to the signing of the peace pact.

However, Bishop Kukah while brandishing on live television, a copy of the formal invitation letter sent to the PDP national chairman, Uche Secondus, which was duly acknowledged by the party, said a problem in communication within the PDP was to blame for the error.

His words: “I have a copy of the letter which was sent to all political party chairmen announcing this event.

“This is a letter we sent which was acknowledged in the office of Chief Uche Second us, chairman of the PDP.

“So, what happened is really a communication problem and I think we’ll rectify it. It was just an administrative error on the part of their (PDP) secretariat.”

The Bishop went further to add that the office of the peace committee will remain open for anybody, who for any reason missed the signing ceremony, to come and commit to a peaceful 2019 election.

“They can still come and append their signature. The most important thing is the commitment,” he said.

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