Home Nigeria Conflicting Signals In APC As Jonathan Makes SW Inroads With Confab Report

Conflicting Signals In APC As Jonathan Makes SW Inroads With Confab Report

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Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, APC National Chairman
Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, APC National Chairman

There may be confusion in the All Progressives Congress on how to respond to President Goodluck Jonathan’s recent foray into the South-west geopolitical zone and with a promise to implement the national conference report, a matter that resonates with the South-west voters. Following enquiries to APC by THISDAY, the newspaper got two different and conflicting responses.
The APC national publicity secretary, Lai Mohammed, disclosed on Saturday that the party would study the recommendations of the national conference convoked by the federal government last year with the aim of implementing relevant sections of the report if the party is elected at the March 28 presidential election. He said government is a continuum and an APC federal government would adopt germane reports commissioned by the incumbent Peoples Democratic Party government.

However, director of publicity of the APC presidential campaign organisation, Garba Shehu, insisted that the rationale behind the national conference was dubious, reiterating the official position of the party on the conference it had boycotted. Shehu said the recommendations were another “un-implementable report” of the Jonathan government.

Jonathan had opened the national conference on March 17 last year in Abuja, with 492 delegates drawn from diverse geopolitical, economic and social interests across the country, and chaired by former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Idris Lebo Kutigi. It was mandated to discuss and recommend solutions to the various political, economic, and social problems besetting the country.
The report of the conference, made in 22 volumes and annexures totalling about 10, 335 pages, was submitted to the president on August 21 last year. APC had officially boycotted the conference, though its governors nominated delegates to the forum.

Mohammed said if the APC presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, was elected he would implement aspects of the national conference report that would help Nigeria make progress. The explanation came against the background of allegation by the PDP that APC would dump the conference report if voted into power considering that the party was indisposed to its conduct.

The national conference has become a major campaign issue recently, with Jonathan seeming to win points, especially in the South-west, by promising to fully implement the report of the conference. Yoruba leaders under the aegis of Afenifere have premised their support for the president on his pledge to implement the report. At various post-conference meetings held in Akure and Ibadan recently, they assured Jonathan of the zone’s support in his re-election bid.

But Mohammed told THISDAY by telephone, “Any part of the conference report that is going to further unite Nigeria and probably make the country a better place, APC is going to implement, but we will follow due process.”

He wondered why Jonathan had not started implementing the report since its submission nearly seven months ago. “Government is a continuum, APC governors sent representatives to the conference and they participated there. Who stopped President Jonathan from implementing the provisions of the outcome of the national conference?”

The APC spokesman accused PDP of deceitfully dangling the national conference report like a carrot before Nigerians.

He said, “The president has majority in the National Assembly. Has he done anything on the report since the conference wound up other than embarking on campaign of calumny? Why have they not implemented the report? Is there part of the conference report they took to the National Assembly and it was rejected. This is nothing but cheap blackmail.

“I can tell you the South-west is not moved one bit by this cheap blackmail because they know it is not true.”

But Shehu insisted that the conference was the product of a sinister motive. He alleged in a statement on Saturday, “We feel a huge responsibility on us to restate, at the risk of being repetitive, that the raison d’etre by President Jonathan for convoking the national confab was for achieving the unpatriotic extension of tenure for the regime. After profligately spending a colossal sum of N7 billion, the national confab report was as good as adding to the number of other un-implementable reports gathering dust at the office of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

“The perfunctory handling of the confab report stemmed from the zero-input of the Nigerian people in the constitution of the confab’s members. Indeed, none of the 492 members was elected by the people of Nigeria. This aptly typifies what the revered British jurist, Lord Denning, said: ‘You cannot build something on nothing and expect it to stand.’

“This is why APC as a party refused to partake in the charade and circus show that Dr. Jonathan spent huge resources to put together. It is for this reason that we also believe that these Afenifere elements should stop deceiving our people in South-west about implementation of the circus show put together by President Jonathan.”

First Lady: Jonathan must rule for 8 years
Meanwhile, the First Lady, Dame Patient Jonathan, said on Saturday in Benin City that her husband would do his two terms of eight years, like those from other geopolitical zones, regardless of the stiff opposition to his second term.
She spoke during a rally by the Women for Change and Development Initiative.

The first lady told crowds of supporters at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, venue of the women rally, that the president must have another term in order not to short-change his native South-south.

“Everybody stayed there for eight years. Now it is our turn; so, we must complete our eight years because God has ordained it. We will complete our two tenures; we will hand over,” she stated.

The president’s wife also denied insinuations of corruption against her, stressing that there is no avenue for such sleaze because her office does not have a budget. ”Go and probe me and see whether there is any budget attached to my office. I don’t touch your money. Whatever I have, I worked for it,” she said.

Mrs. Jonathan said her husband had performed well in all major sectors of the polity and, thus, deserved re-election.

Disquiet in INEC over strategic positions
In a related development, reservations are being raised in some quarters regarding postings in the Independent National Electoral Commission that tend to put persons from a certain section of the country in strategic positions ahead of the general election though the postings had been made before the beginning of the campaigns.

Under the current setting in the electoral body, the chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, from Kebbi State, is in charge of financial matters. The director of finance and accounts, Salamatu Ibrahim, reports directly to the INEC chairman and the Information Communications Technology unit is also under his supervision.
The ICT department, with Chidi Nwafor as director, is in charge of the card readers and the computerised voter register. It is this department that is in charge of the permanent voter cards.

Another strategic department in the management of elections is the Elections Operations Department, which handles logistics and operations matters. This department is under the supervision of Professor Nuhu Yacub from Yobe State. The director, Oladimeji Kayode, is answerable to the national commissioner.

The next in the order of relevance is the estate and works department under the supervision of Colonel M.K. Hammanga (rtd) from Gombe State. Dr. Ishmael Igbanji from Rivers State is the chairman of the Electoral Institute, which is seen as the intellectual arm of the election management body. He was the national commissioner in charge of election and political parties monitoring, which is now under Lai Olorude from Osun State. The director in charge of elections and political parties monitoring is Bala Shittu.
With Igbani at the Electoral Institute, he is seen basically as an outsider.
Dr. Chris Iyimoga from Nasarawa State is the national commissioner in charge of voter education and publicity, with Osaze Uzzi as the director. This directorate is charged with voter education, publicity and enlightenment. Telema Iremiren from Delta State is in charge of legal affairs.

Okey Ndeche is the director, planning and monitoring, and Akem Emmanuel is the director, voter registry.

Most of the national commissioners from the southern part of the country, like Dim Gladys Nwafor from Abia State and Lawrence Nwuruku from Ebonyi State, are perceived to be in charge of departments that are not directly involved in elections.

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