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Rabiu Kwankwaso, the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), on Saturday, advised a former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, to accept an offer of being his running mate for the forthcoming presidential election.

Mr Kwankwaso said Mr Obi being on the ticket of the NNPP as a vice-presidential candidate in 2023 would provide a viable route for the South-East to actualize its presidential ambition in the future.

The former governor also said accepting to be running mate to Mr Obi or any other presidential candidate would lead to the collapse of his own party, the NNPP.

Mr Kwankwaso, a former governor of Kano State, who was in Gombe State to inaugurate the state office of NNPP and to meet with elected members of the party, stated this in an interview with journalists.

He said his political profile built over the years and his wealth of experience, having served in various capacities in the country, had helped in bringing NNPP to limelight within a short time.

He said with the fame the NNPP has achieved within a short time, anything short of his presidency under the party would mean the collapse of the NNPP.

Mr Kwankwaso confirmed that his party had been in talks with the Labour Party for possible merger but the main issue hindering progress is the issue of who becomes the presidential candidate of such an alliance.

“From the discussion with Labour Party, the main issue was who becomes the president if the parties merge,” Mr Kwankwaso said.

A former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, is the presidential candidate of the Labour Party.

“At the end of the day, some of our representatives thought that there should be a criteria in terms of age, qualification, offices held, performance and so on,” the NNPP candidate said.

“Of course the other side wouldn’t want that. Most of the people from there believe that presidency has to go there (South East).

“If now I decide to be vice presidential candidate to anybody in this country; NNPP will collapse, because the party is based on what we have built in the last 30 years.

“I served for 17 years as a civil servant; we are talking of 47 years of very serious hard work that is what is rarely holding NNPP now,” he said.

The national leader of the NNPP said he was not against presidency going to any part of the country but it must be done based on “strategy, political calculation and equation.”

According to him, the South-East are good in business and are well talented but they should learn politics.

 

“In politics they are at the bottom line,” Mr Kwankwaso said.

He stated that the zone lost out on the presidential and vice presidential candidates of both All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but now has a chance with the NNPP.

 

He stated that those saying “even if my friend (Peter Obi) wants to accept vice presidential candidate, some people in the South-East will not accept, that is not strategic.”

He said Bola Tinubu was strategic to have supported the APC in 2015 and “today he is the presidential candidate of the APC.”

Mr Kwankwaso said the best option for the South East was for the zone to partner with NNPP, “this is a golden opportunity, if they lose it, it will be a disaster.”

On the choice of his running mate, Mr Kwankwaso said “we have options in the NNPP in the South to pick a good vice president and one of them is the Labour Party man (Peter Obi) you are talking about.”

On the chances of NNPP in 2023 elections, Mr Kwankwaso said his party had the structure, organisation and population across the country to contest and win elections.

He said if elected president in 2023, his vision would be to create opportunities for the youths of Nigeria to get employed, achieved their dreams and be empowered educationally and economically.

[Premium Times]

Prominent lawyers, including one-time President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr OCJ Okocha (SAN), have expressed worry over the present composition of the Supreme Court of Nigeria (SCN), saying the relevant authorities must review the criteria of appointment into the apex bench if it must rescue the country.

But the lawyers, who separately spoke to Sunday Vanguard though agreed on prioritizing excellence, integrity and character, learning and competence as criteria for appointment of judicial officers into the institution, they did not speak with one voice on the use of Federal Character in considering fit and proper persons for the apex bench.

Sunday Vanguard reports that the Supreme Court is presently composed of the newly sworn-in Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, and 13 other justices from different geo-political zones of the country.

The 13 other justices are Justice Musa Datijo Muhammad, Niger, North-Central; Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Lagos, South-West; and Justice Chima Centus Nweze, Enugu, South-East.

Others are Justice Amina Augie, Kebbi, North-West; Justice Uwani Musa Abba-Aji, Borno, North-East; Justice John Inyang Okoro, Akwa Ibom, South-South; Justice Lawal Garba, Zamfara, North-West; Justice Helen Ogunwumiju, Ondo, South-West; and Justice Abdu Aboki, Kano, North-West.

Also in the Supreme Court are Justice I.M. Salnwa, Katsina, North-West; Justice Adamu Janro, Gombe, North-East; Justice Tijani Abubakar, Jigawa, North-West; and Justice Emmanuel Agim, Cross River, South-South.

The table above shows that five of the 14 justices are from the North-West, only one from the North-Central, two from the North-East totaling eight justices from the northern part of the country.

It also shows that South-West has three justices, one justice from the South-East and two others from the South-South totaling six justices from the southern part of the country.

Sunday Vanguard reports that the number of justices from the northern part of the country was nine until the immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria resigned on June 27, 2022 while the South had six.

Whereas, Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution provides that “the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the Federal Character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.
Nigeria is divided into six geopolitical zones: North-West, North -East, North-Central, South-West, South-South and South-East.

The regime of President Sani Abacha created the geopolitical zones for administrative purpose and sharing of the country’s economic, political, and educational resources.

The six zones were, however, not entirely carved out based on geographic location, but rather states with similar ethnic groups, and/or common political history, were classified in the same zone.

Sunday Vanguard reports that relevant authorities, since the present Supreme Court was established by Section 230 (1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended), including the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the National Judicial Council also headed by the CJN, have merely promoted justices of the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court bench to fill vacant seats purportedly in line with the Federal Character policy of the Nigerian state as enshrined in Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution.

All past Chief Justices of Nigeria from the time democracy berthed in May 1999, who had the opportunity to recommend best brains, including serving super lawyers and judges with impeccable record from both the bar and the bench as the old Supreme Court in Lagos did to fill available vacancies at the Supreme Court during their tenure, failed to so do but merely promoted justices of the Appeal Court to the policy court.

The past CJNs are Justice Muhammad Lawal Uwais (1995-2006); Justice Salisu Modibbo Alfa Belgore (2006-2007); Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi (2007-2009), Justice Aloysius Iyorger Katsina-Alu (2010-2011); Justice Dahiru Musdapher (2011-2012); Justice Aloma Mariam Muhktar (2012-2014); Justice Mahmud Mohammed (2014-2016); Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen (2017-2019); Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad (2019-2022).

All the nine past CJNs were themselves beneficiaries of the seniority on the bench rule to find their ways into the exalted seat of the CJN.

Although some of them, upon elevation to the CJN seat, promised to consider exceptional candidates from the bar, they always opted for the old criterion when it was time proper to fill the vacant seats at the Supreme Court.

Top lawyers in the country are, however, contending that the resignation of the immediate Chief Justice of Nigeria should be a good opportunity to reform the judiciary beginning with the mode of appointment into the apex bench.

Some of the lawyers who spoke to Sunday Vanguard on the issue were Okocha, Chief Anachebe Benbella (SAN) and a law scholar and former consultant to the Supreme Court who wanted to remain anonymous.

Okocha said, “Supreme Court of Nigeria, being the apex court, the finest in terms of learning and character should go there. It should be constituted by the most erudite persons, most learned persons, well behaved persons and persons with integrity.

“The court composition should not be based on quota system. Yes, there should be Federal Character in the appointment of judges into High Courts, Court of Appeal but not at the Supreme Court level. This is because it is a court that states what the law is”.

The former NBA President added that he was aware that some SANs indicated interest to join the institution but he would not know why the Supreme Court did not consider them.
But Benbella disagreed with Okocha on not his position that Federal Character should not be used to appoint justices into the Supreme Court.
His words: “The constitution of the Supreme Court should be aligned with Federal Character. We should pick the best justices from each region. What we want is the best.
“Unfortunately, what we have today is a deliberate policy by a section of the country to dominate in all spheres. That is the greatest error of the Buhari regime. The Supreme Court is in dire need of reform through which justices are appointed into the institution”.

The law scholar, on his part,was, however, of the view that “the Federal Character provision is not an accurate or appropriate basis to examine the composition of the Supreme Court. It is in any case fulfilled if one of the justices comes from each zone”.

He added: “The court is not and should not be associated with governance or government in Section 15 of the 1999 Constitution. It has been described as a super court of super justices. The present situation is a flawed situation based on seniority to appoint up to 21 justices”.

[Vanguard]

 

Up until the May 29 and 30, 2022 Special Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during which the party elected its presidential candidate, it was as if the party had only two options: to stand strong together or fall apart into splinter interest groups.

As the various presidential aspirants campaigned for the party’s ticket, the unmistakeable sign was that two individuals represented the two broad options open to the former governing party in the country.
   
Those two tendencies were personified by Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and fourth republic Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who as the 2019 presidential standard bearer of the party craved the right of first refusal to lead PDP, once again, to the 2023 electoral battle.
    
While Atiku demanded the right of first refusal, Wike and some of his colleagues said it was the turn of the South to produce the party’s presidential candidate, arguing that in 2019, it was an all northern-aspirants presidential primary in Port Harcourt.
   
Seeing that the incumbent state governors elected on the party’s platform were exhibiting solidarity among themselves, one of the presidential aspirants, Mr. Peter Obi, resigned from the party and later pitched tent with Labour Party (LP).
  
Two days later, specifically in the morning of the convention day, May 28, another aspirant, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen quit the race also. But, instead of moving away silently like Obi, Hayatu-Deen, a former Managing Director of defunct FSB International Bank, disclosed in a letter to the PDP national chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, that he was quitting because the primary had become “obscenely monetised.”
 
  
Having lost two out of the 12 presidential aspirants before the convention, it became apparent that the battle was going to be between the north and south, specifically between Atiku and Wike. However, as the convention kicked off and the aspirants were called upon to make their last pitch to the delegates, another aspirant, Dr. Nwachukwu Anakwenze, said he was opting out, regretting that PDP failed to observe its constitutional provisions and need for fairness.
  
However, just as the stage was set for balloting to begin, chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who was also a contender, indicated his intention to make further remarks. The entire Velodrome of the Moshood Abiola Stadium was quiet.
   
It was gathered that out of fear that the Rivers State governor, Wike, who was said to have cornered all the delegates from Kano State, could win, some influential northern leaders, particularly former military officers, pressured the Sokoto State governor to step aside and direct his supporters to vote for Atiku.
   
Incensed by the additional time given to Tambuwal, Wike wanted to protest, but was pacified on the understanding that such could disrupt the process and give easy victory to the governing All Progressives Congress (APC). At the end of the day, after balloting, collation and counting, former Vice President Atiku carried the day.
    
Nonetheless, based on the recriminations that followed the primary, Atiku embarked on reconciliatory visits to all the losers, assuring them that they are part of the move to rescue the country from the inept APC administration.
 
    
As things turned out, it was Atiku’s promise to involve PDP stakeholders in the search for his running mate that opened the party to another round of ill feelings. Not minding that he had previously promised the Delta State governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, of his (Atiku’s) intention to pick him as running mate, a committee headed by Chief Tom Ikimi, was set up to screen potential presidential running mates.
   
Although the general impression among party faithful was that the position should go to the first runner-up, Wike, the committee recommended three candidates including Wike, Okowa and Akwa Ibom State governor, Udom Emmanuel. Incidentally, Atiku picked Okowa, thereby sidestepping the committee’s recommendation.
   
Piqued by that inglorious outcome, Wike left Abuja the night before the unveiling of Okowa as the PDP Vice Presidential candidate. The cold treatment given to Wike united some governors behind him, even as speculations of his planned defection started making the rounds.

Beautiful Bride
FOLLLOWING his overt disgust at the ignominious way he was treated after screening, Wike recoiled to his Port Harcourt base and easily became a beautiful bride sought after by many suitors from other political families.
    
Although Ebonyi State governor, David Nweze Umahi, who contested unsuccessfully for the APC presidential ticket, was the first to visit Wike after the loss of PDP’s VP slot, it was the visits by Peter Obi and Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, presidential candidates of LP and New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) respectively, that exposed Wike as a bargain store.

 
    
Obi and Kwankwaso visited separately. But, on account of the political alliance talks by their respective parties – LP and NNPP – the two presidential candidates’ call on Wike sparked conjectures that the Rivers State governor was being lured into the bourgeoning Third Force being programmed to sack APC and PDP.
   
While speculations of Wike’s possible alliance with the Third Force candidates were swirling, former Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, also arrived the Port Harcourt Government House, where he also conferred with Wike. Despite Fayose’s ambivalent posture, he was said to be more associated to the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, than he is to Wike. It was that cross alliance that threw up the possibility that Wike and Tinubu must be up to some political games.
  
Unknown to many, Wike and Tinubu share political comradeship, which was put into good use during the Rivers State governor’s supremacy contests with his former ally, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi for the control of the oil rich state.
   
Sources said though Wike would not defect from PDP as is popularly insinuated, he would stay back and requite the party for its insult, while reciprocating Tinubu’s gesture to President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 presidential election. The former Lagos State governor, then in Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), was said to have worked for the electoral victory of PDP presidential candidate at the expense of the ACN flag bearer.
 
  
However, of all the retinue of callers at the Rivers State Governor’s lodge, it was the visit of the Ebonyi State governor that surprised many. Questions were raised over the possible reasons for Umahi’s newfound solidarity with Wike after a prolonged soured relationship between them.
    
At about 9pm penultimate Saturday, Umahi had visited Wike, in what he described as “a friendly and brotherly visit.”  No official statement was made regarding the outcome of their meeting. Like Umahi in APC, Wike had unsuccessfully contested the PDP presidential primary.
    
Ordinarily, a visit of such nature should not elicit interest, especially due to the fact that both men still hold the reins in their various states as chief executives. But, posers made the rounds after the visit following the no-love-lost relationship that had existed between them as they worked at cross-purposes to achieve their presidential ambitions.
   
Before the visit, both governors had abused each other to the extent of calling for open debates, while enlisting their lieutenants into their political crossfire. Their disenchantment had affected the collective desire of southern governors, especially within the PDP, which had wanted the presidential slot ceded to the south.
     
Wike, as governor of Rivers State remained a strong pillar of PDP. He had never jumped party platforms. He contested the elections that saw him win his seat for two terms on the party’s platform. He had also wanted to rule the country had he succeeded in the PDP presidential primary.
    
That could not be said of Umahi. The Ebonyi State governor had actually won elections for the present seat he occupies on two occasions using the platform of the PDP. But in November 2020, he had ditched the party for the APC over what he termed the injustices of the PDP. He had told those that cared to listen that he had chosen to tango with the APC as a way of repaying PDP for its inability to repay the support by the southeast region.
 
   
Few days after his exit from PDP was made public on November 17, 2020, Umahi disclosed that he wanted to be a martyr that could be sacrificed to achieve the much- sought Igbo Presidency.
      
“I have to lead the protest against the marginalisation of the Igbo by the PDP and I don’t have to consult anybody to lead such a protest. I don’t want the PDP to collapse in the southeast but it can collapse itself in the zone if it does not heed the people’s advice to entrench justice, fairness and equity.

“The PDP should be bold to declare its stand on zoning of the presidency to the southeast and if it cannot, should tell us why we are not capable of holding such a position but will come for our votes during elections,” he had said.

This was the point of departure between the two men. Wike was angered by Umahi’s assertions. He had insisted that he felt offended by Umahi’s attempt to justify his decision on the purported injustice meted on the southeast by the PDP. He had described Umahi as a liar and accused him of being unfair to the PDP, which gave him the party’s governorship ticket in 2015 against all odds and repeated the same feat in 2019. He stated that the lure to become president in 2023 was why Umahi left PDP and not the injustices assertion.
   
Wike demanded that Umahi retracts the statement that PDP had been unfair to the southeast region, stressing that under PDP, the region produced senate presidents, National Vice Chairman of the party and Secretary to the federal government.
     
He had insisted that it was erroneous for Umahi to accuse PDP of injustice, when he had unilaterally imposed his younger brother as south east zonal Vice Chairman of the PDP, adding that, “In life, power is sweet, but conscience is important. It is most offensive and insulting for a man to lie against his party because of power.”
  
A war of words had broken out as Umahi fired back, asking Wike to mind his responsibilities. He went as far as accusing the Rivers State governor of behaving as if PDP was his personal property, adding that he (Wike) spoke like an “emperor”. The disagreement between the two men was imported into their southern governors meeting. Umahi stopped attending the meetings of the group including the ones held in Enugu and Lagos.

 
     
In March this year, a Federal High Court, Abuja, had sacked Umahi, his deputy, Kelechi Igwe and members of the State House of Assembly for defecting to APC with the mandate of the PDP. Umahi had accused Wike of masterminding the judgment that sacked him.
     
Wike on the other hand, had told the embattled governor that the PDP would stop at nothing in reclaiming the state, stressing that there was a big lesson which Umahi must be taught on how not to be greedy about power.
On April 14, this year, when he had gone to Ebonyi State to canvass support of the PDP delegates for his presidential ambition, he had described Umahi as one of those who will reap and abandon those that helped them and reiterated that the party must recover the mandate given to him.

Umahi on the other hand, had dismissed Wike’s statement, describing him as “a lawyer that does not know law.”

“I am calling him to a debate; he wants to be president, I want to be president, let us do a debate so that the world will see how intellectual property will be deployed”, he noted.

Unfortunately, both men had gone into the presidential primaries of their various political parties and failed to clinch the tickets. They had left the exercises complaining and accused the delegates of betrayal. Umahi, who secured 38 votes had accused not only APC delegates of Igbo extraction of betrayal, he had further expressed disappointment with the leadership of the apex Igbo socio- cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo over its alleged failure to galvanise support for his aspiration.

 

Wike on the other hand has continued to nurse the injury of his defeat at the primary election and has blamed the party leadership for its “compromised stance” in ensuring that he lost the election. But while Umahi had returned to declare support for the winner of the presidential primary in the APC, the PDP are still battling to convince Wike on why he should support the aspiration of the presidential candidate of the party.

Now, what could have informed the meeting with Umahi who originally dumped the PDP for APC to achieve the presidency? Was it to mend fences so as to stall the recovery of the mandate of the PDP, which Umahi ran into the APC with? Was the meeting aimed at repairing their fractional relationship and paving the way for Umahi’s return to the PDP or on the other hand, for Wike to join APC? Was it to consider who to support between PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and the APC flag bearer, Bola Tinubu in the 2023 elections?

Unlike Wike who has remained a strong voice in the south-south as well as in the PDP, Umahi   can no longer reckon as one for the southeast. He lost his place the moment he left the PDP for the APC and leading the zone’s governor’s forum.

A source however stated that both men could still pull the strings that could benefit their parties in the elections, adding that the way the presidential primaries had gone, there was the need for forces to combine to achieve a stronger bargaining power for their people in the coming dispensation.

[Guardian]

No fewer than 77 persons said to have been kidnapped and detained inside a church in Ondo, headquarters of Ondo West Local Government Area of Ondo State have been rescued by the police.

Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) for the state police command, Funmilayo Odunlami, confirmed that two pastors allegedly involved in the abduction saga were arrested.

The PPRO also disclosed that some members of the church where the victims were discovered were also arrested by the police who stormed the church following a tip off.

She said the incident happened at The Whole Bible Believers Church also known as Ondo Church located at Valentino area, Ondo.

The police image maker informed that policemen were sent to the church to invite the pastor and the members of the church; but on sighting the police, they attacked them.

According to her “preliminary investigation revealed that one Pastor Josiah Peter Asumosa, an assistant pastor in the church was the one who told the members that Rapture would take place in April, but later said it had been changed to September, 2022, and further told  the young members to obey only their parents in the Lord.

“Another family who was also around during the rescue said their daughter, a Part 3 student, dropped out of school due to the strange teachings of the pastor, and left home in January 2022 to start living in the church.

 

“In all, 77 members including 26 children, eight teenagers and 43 adult members were rescued from the church.

“The two pastors are in police custody; investigation has commenced, and the outcome will be made known to the members of the public,” she added.

[Sun]

Chelsea manager, Thomas Tuchel, has ruled out any possibility of bringing Manchester United forward, Cristiano Ronaldo to Stamford Bridge this summer.

This claim was made by respected CBS Journalist Ben Jacobs.

According to Jacobs, there is no suggestion that Tuchel wants Ronaldo at Chelsea.

He disclosed this in a tweet via his Twitter handle on Saturday night.

 

Chelsea has previously been linked with Ronaldo, with the Blues’ new co-owner Todd Boehly reportedly holding talks with the player’s agent Jorge Mendes.

“Manchester United respect Cristiano Ronaldo’s request but a ‘satisfactory’ offer won’t just be financial. MUFC are very reluctant to sell to a Premier League rival. Club irritated by a meeting between Jorge Mendes and Todd Boehly,” Jacobs tweeted.

“Not too much should be read into that meeting, though, in this context. Told Ronaldo was discussed but he was not the reason or focal point for the meeting.

“Boehly introduced himself and multiple names were spoken of. No indication Tuchel wants Ronaldo.”

Meanwhile, Man United have been given a huge shock with reports claiming on Saturday that Ronaldo has asked to leave the club if a reasonable offer comes in.

[DailyPost]

Rabiu Kwankwaso, the Presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), on Saturday said accepting to be the running mate to any presidential candidate would lead to the collapse of NNPP.

Kwankwaso, who was in Gombe State to inaugurate the state office of NNPP and meet with elected members of the party, disclosed this in an interview with newsmen.

The former Governor of Kano State said with the fame the NNPP had achieved within the short time, anything short of his presidency would mean the collapse of the NNPP.

Kwankwaso also confirmed that his party had been in talks with the Labour Party for a possible merger, but the main problem that hindered progress was the issue of who would become the presidential candidate.

He said, “From the discussion with the Labour Party, the main issue was who becomes the president if the parties merge.

“At the end of the day, some of our representatives thought that there should be a criterion in terms of age, qualification, offices held, performance and so on.

“Of course, the other side would not want that. Most of the people from there believe that the president has to go there (South-east).

“If I now decide to be the vice-presidential candidate to anybody in this country; NNPP will collapse because the party is based on what we’ve built in the last thirty years.

“I served for seventeen years as a civil servant; we are talking of 47 years of very serious hard work that’s what is rarely holding NNPP now.”

[DailyPost]

Given the chance, Nigerians online are known to always share their opinion, especially regarding issues that bother the country and about that, the 2023 general election comes to mind, as that was what popular activist, Aisha Yesufu did after she took to her Twitter handle revealing what she thinks would happen if Peter Obi becomes the president come 2023 with an unprecedented margin win as announced by INEC.

According to her, she said thousands will decamp from APC/PDP to the Labour Party and before anyone knows, it would be time for the Nigerian youth/women to meet with Peter Obi and lock things down regarding the percentage that would be for them.

Aisha Yesufu also went on to tweet saying “I look forward to a government of 60% older Generation and 40% youth. ( Anyone above 35 is part of the older generation)

The 60% older generation made up of 50% men and 50% women and the 40% youth also made of 50% male and 50% female.

With the first criteria being COMPETENCE”

[NationalDaily]

Nigeria is one big country, heterogeneous and with sensational happenings. It is the stage upon which the theatre of the absurd is established. The absurd can come in different ways. Just like the cunny chameleon treats its audience to crafts and stunts, Nigeria acted to the chagrin of those who want the best for it. And to those who want worse, he gave his best. Do not ask the country anything, as she might not give to you despite having more than enough. Her goodies are meant for delegates who are subject to the lopsided morals in the album waxed by the hip-hop artiste, who sang, Collect Your Money, Wake Up! This was the song to which the political delegates were treated at the All Progressives Congress’ National Convention.

In the previous week, Nigeria acted weird and showcased the spirit of one of her foremost leaders, a man whose frustration though wrapped in the resplendence of the flowing agbada could not endure the cool and collected atmosphere. It had to rear its ugly head, while he was away, and not just the beauty of his wife could scorch the fanned embers of scandal prepared against him by his frustration and the enemies of his soul.

Ike Ekweremadu is a legal practitioner and a sitting senator with meteoric growth. He used to be the deputy president of the Senate; had also contributed in no small measure to what operates as law-making internationally. He will clock 20 years in the Senate in a few months.

In short, the man is one of the few titled men of his era, not to be compared with the deadlock in Unoka, a full-blown man addressed as “woman” in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Only a few men see the model in Unoka, they have chosen not to see the courage with which he parades his debts, including those terrible times when he had to sleep in the gutters after entering the trance of Dionysus, the first connoisseur of wines.

 

The giant, Ekweremadu, and his wife, Nwanneka, were nabbed for the first time by the unsparing and trained fingers of the Metropolitan Police at the Heathrow Airport, London. The controversial arrest was said to have been necessitated by the need to quickly check Ekweremadu, lest he proceeds to harvest from where he has not sown or that he tampers a subset of the sacred set. The big fish was caught for not just allegedly trafficking a fingerling but also attempting to predate on its flesh by harvesting, speedily, a kidney and life.

This is not to say there is something wrong with the idea of getting from one to rescue the other. It is absolutely right to do this, to share life as if it were the last supper on the table. But it must be with intent and in the spirit of a passionate disposition to consolidate on the sanctity of human life.

Research carried out in the United States revealed how not less than 21 people die every day while expecting to be placed on life support or rescued via a much-needed organ. In fact, 107,380 men, women and children await the transplant of a life-saving organ. But the physicians saddled with this job will not just pick anybody, sweet-tongue him to submission. They have to run through some mental routines; inform the parents, family healthcare provider, lawyer and religious leader.

Ekweremadu and his wife were both arraigned before the Uxbridge Magistrate Court on the matter of Sonia Ekweremadu, who is currently battling a kidney issue. They, to this effect, invited one 15-year-old Ukpo David, a destitute hustler, through one Okoro, who had reportedly approached David with the enticing picture of the white man’s land, and asked him if he could work in the UK. Ukpo answered in the affirmative and signified interest in meeting the Ekweremadus. It was from here that the journey of travelling to the Queen’s land began. In all these, there are glaring vacuums, loopholes yet to be filled.

It is yet to be confirmed whether there was any engagement between the family of the homeless donor and that of the donee before he was issued the passport on November 4, 2021. Whether the engagement eventually resulted in a legally binding agreement between both parties is still a subject of serious controversy. The agreement does not in any way tamper with the right of the donor to give consent. It is about building structures around the young boy, in other to aid his decision when he eventually beholds the shock.

Recently, different controversies have greeted his age. The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Isa Jere, said Ukpo is 21 and not 15, as he claimed. The age mentioned has been consolidated by his Bank Verification Number details.

As much as I don’t want to dwell on the contentious age, I feel a 21-year-old is still a child who needs discretion. Neurology pinpointed that people in their early 20s have the same brain as teenaged minors. The mid-20s are the period when the brain is fully developed and changes from adolescent to adult.

How sure are we that the guy was well furnished with the nitty-gritty of his action? Reports revealed how he had been having medical appointments as to the donation of the organ since he travelled to the UK around February. He never protested until he was aware of what he came to do. Which is within his right to do.

Could Senator Ekweremadu have reached an agreement with only David and not the parents who gave birth to him, not even when his attaining the age of majority doesn’t translate to maturity?

How does he want to defend the fact that he left Nigeria to be at the bedside of his own sick daughter but could not afford to fly David’s parents to encourage him through the complicated process of the organ harvest? How does he want a young boy, beclouded by youthful exuberance, to cope with the reality of the process without support? Did he ask about the parents?

 

David Nwamini is just one of the vulnerable, poor, illiterate Nigerian young persons, beaten down to a tool that works for an end. He is a product of the failure planted by politicians of Ekweremadu’s stock. They have used them to achieve their selfish ends and have also feasted on their flesh.

I feel Ekweremadu (being a scholar of law) should be the specimen upon which the powerful experiment of justice is carried out. This is because the system has chosen to shield invited suspects like Police Inspector Abba Kyari, whose domestic offence has been limited to a Nigerian prison. The UK government has allowed justice to take its full course by resisting bail for Ekweremadu.

He should defend himself against what Prosecutor Damla Ayas told Uxbridge Magistrates Court. Damla maintained that David is just 15, though destitute. He was deceived with the promise of a better life in the foreign land and was eventually presented with the criminal passport of a 41-year-old. The passport was obtained via shady means. Damla revealed how David does not have the full knowledge of his mission despite its being written on his visa and his blood sample being obtained. He was still unconscious of his mission despite being taken to several medical facilities in the UK. He became conscious on turning up for a medical appointment with experts at the Royal Free Hospital, who took him lessons on organ harvesting for a kidney transplant.

I do hope justice is done in this case as the Senate has by conduct chosen not to interfere. The Ekweremadus may get a maximum of life sentence or 12 months imprisonment or a fine or both on summary conviction under the United Kingdom’s Modern Slavery Act 2015 if found guilty.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has met with some 22 senators of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who were reportedly aggrieved over the outcome of the recent party primaries to select flagbearers of the party for the 2023 general elections. Before the meeting, there was a report that the senators were planning to defect from the party.

The chief whip of the senate, Orji Uzor Kalu led his colleagues to the meeting which took place last Tuesday at the State House in Abuja. Interestingly, it would appear that all that the president did was to appeal to the senators to exercise restraint in the interest of the party. Kalu later explained that the meeting was successful and that the issue of defection of the senators had been laid to rest. 

The details of the grievances of the senators other than that they were unhappy with their party primaries were not made known. Also not made public were the exact promises made to them by the president which placated them enough for them to jettison the much publicized plan to quit the party. 

Let no one tell us that such details were purely internal party matters because if they were, we should not have been told in the first instance about the defection plan and why the meeting was arranged to distract the president from his busy governance issues. In any case, did all the 22 senators have exactly the same grievance and why were other senators able to win their own primaries?

Quotes by the media from the president’s prepared speech on the occasion, suggested that what assuaged the feelings of the senators consisted of a) an opportunity to be part of a meeting at the flamboyant council chambers, b) an address by the president himself and c) a group photograph with the president. The ease with which the alleged issue at stake was resolved tended to give the impression that none of the 22 senators had any point.

They only wanted to be returned to the senate on the basis of automatic ticket, without regards for the provisions of the new Electoral Act which had made it hard for them to face stiff competition from their rivals. As transactional politicians, they had looked forward to their continued stay in the senate so as to hold-on to huge material benefits accorded Nigeria’s federal legislators whose individual remuneration surpasses that of the American president.

Indeed, there was nothing the president said that the senators were unaware of. For instance, the president spoke about the importance of a level-playing field, which was no longer an issue for discussion after the primaries. Besides, the senators themselves had made huge efforts to pass a bill that was tilted in their own favour but which fate frustrated.

It is also obvious that senators are too senior within the hierarchy of the party to be brought together for the president to persuade on the importance of the party’s bigger picture. In addition, their national chairman senator Abdullahi Adamu who had earlier met with them had made a similar appeal.  Could it be that they wanted to hear it from the president himself or was it that they had expected some concrete rewards or ‘approvals’ which did not happen?

Analysts who are familiar with the nature of Nigeria’s electoral system know that APC’s transactional senators had nowhere to go, otherwise they would have followed the option of other senators who defected to opposition parties to get tickets to contest the 2023 elections. According to media reports, no less than 13 members of the Senate defected from the APC to various opposition parties.

Among them were: Senate leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (Kebbi North), Adamu Aliero (Kebbi Central), Ahmad Babba-Kaita (Katsina-North), and Francis Alimikhena (Edo-North) who defected to the PDP while Dauda Jika (Bauchi-Central); Lawal Gumau (Bauchi-South), and Ibrahim Shekarau (Kano-Central) defected to NNPP. The defections surprised no one because the superiority of personal interest over loyalty to a political party by politicians is well known.  How many of the 22 senators started off in the APC?   

It is to be hoped that in an attempt to placate senators who claimed to have dropped their defection plans, the APC would not overheat the polity by displacing those who won their primaries. Already, there has been tension over the Yobe North and Akwa Ibom Northwest senatorial districts where efforts had been made to substitute some candidates.

Not many in the polity have been able to comprehend how aspirants who were part of the presidential primaries held between June 6 and 8, 2022 could also have been part of the senatorial elections held earlier on May 27, 2022. Perhaps APC leaders had imagined that some winners could be persuaded to step down. Unfortunately, the new law does not allow the old order where party supremacy was used to coerce members into submission; now a member must voluntarily withdraw in writing from the process before he or she can be replaced. 

The issue of the moment now is the plan by some losers to blackmail officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the attempt to illegally replace some candidates. Aides and lawyers of the privileged candidates are now busy accusing some electoral officials of partisanship.

In the Akwa Ibom case, it has been argued that the resident electoral commissioner deliberately went to the wrong venue of the repeat primaries. They forgot that he was in that same ‘wrong’ venue with the state commissioner of police. Was the latter also partisan? Again, the nation is yet to know the infraction that necessitated a repeat primary election. I

nstead, great efforts have been made to educate the public on the importance of party supremacy and how primary elections are the internal affairs of a political party. This is simplistic because it forgets that Nigeria’s failed elections in the past were largely caused by poor internal democracy processes which now required INEC to ensure that the conduct of primaries follows extant rules.

There is also the viewpoint that a resident electoral commissioner (REC) is not a member of INEC but just an INEC representative in a state and that only INEC’s determination is valid. We are also told that it is only the judiciary and not INEC that has power to reject a party nomination. 

This is a smart legal argument that has always been used to weaken our societal institutions by those who often claim that when elected to power they would strengthen societal institutions. In other parts of the world, administrative bodies are empowered to act while courts can review how such bodies exercise their powers. 

In Nigeria, politicians prefer to have public agencies that have no powers or discretion but mere on-lookers. Such an approach had in the past over-burdened the judiciary leading to the type of judgement in which a governorship candidate declared by our supreme court as winner of an election had more votes than available voters. How can INEC which monitored primaries accept submissions that are made to her which contradict the results of the primaries she monitored? 

As we prepare for the 2023 general elections it is time to appeal to our politicians that it is not only those that previously won primaries or general elections that would continue to be victorious in fresh political contestations. Whenever a candidate loses an election, he or she should recognize that someone has to be in the opposition for democracy to grow.

It is the role of the opposition to create a shadow cabinet that would keep the government in power in check. The transactional approach of always wanting to be in government can lead to a one-party state which is not different from dictatorship. It is worse when those in power manipulate elections so as to remain in power. INEC, must never allow politicians whose only focus is to remain in power by all means to divide its ranks because such politicians are only political traders and nothing more.  

Israel Adesanya defeated Jarred Cannonier via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 50-45) to retain the UFC middleweight championship.

Adesanya fought against middleweight contender Jared Cannonier at UFC 276 at the T-mobile Arena, Las Vegas Sunday morning.

Since making his debut in 2018, ‘The Last Stylebender’ has looked better each time he’s stepped into the Octagon and is still undefeated in the middleweight. He first captured the interim title in the Fight of The Year winner against Kelvin Gastelum in 2019.

‘Izzy’ then defeated Robert Whittaker and unified the titles that same year.

 

He has successfully defended his title four times since then. On an otherwise perfect record for Adesanya (22-1), his only loss was during his unsuccessful step up to light heavyweight, losing to then-champion Jan Blachowicz.

On Sunday, the Nigerian-born New Zealander successfully defended his middleweight title for the fifth time.

While Adesanya defeated Robert Whittaker in February for the second time to retain his middleweight strap, Cannonier knocked out Derek Brunson in the second round in February to become the weight’s No.1contender.

In the last round on Sunday, Cannonier struggled to get a takedown while Adesanya was cautious as the crowd got restless.

Though Adesanya landed clean jabs, Cannonier fired back with a flurry of punches.

However, Cannonier failed to complete a takedown and lost by unanimous decision.

Round four
Cannonier landed a little right hand early in the round but Adesanya tagged him with a hard jab in round four.

Adesanya landed a heavy body kick and a two-punch combo behind it. Another right hand landed for Adesanya.

He then landed a left and ducked and spun under a wild shot from Cannonier. Cannonier grabbed another clinch along the cage but did nothing with it before Adesanya broke away and landed a leg kick.

Again, Cannonier clinched up along the cage while Adesanya landed a few inside punches.

Round three:
Israel Adesanya went right back to the leg kicks before throwing a front kick that just missed Cannonier’s face.

For the first time in the fight, Cannonier shot but Adesanya threw him into the cage, easily avoiding the takedown. Cannonier missed with a sweeping hook.

Cannonier shot again and landed a right hand in the process.

He then stuck Adesanya against the cage, landing some good shots to the face and body in his best moment of the fight.

Adesanya came back with a hard jab and more kicks to the legs.

Cannonier connected with a left and right hand before Adesanya threw a four-strike flurry in return.

Cannonier then again drove forward with a clinch to stick Adesanya to the cage.

Adesanya landed a lot of short shots to Cannonier’s head while Cannonier held the clinch and kneed at the champ’s legs.

A better round for Cannonier but still likely one for the champ.

Round two:

Adesanya landed a good early jab, continuing to use his length to keep Cannonier from getting inside.

Adesanya then missed a head kick but landed to the body.

Adesanya landed a few hard leg kicks and then a left hand to Cannonier’s face. Adesanya started to throw more kicks to the legs and body as Cannonier’s output started to drop.

Cannonier just missed with a big counter left hand.

Adesanya opened up with a few flurries of strikes before landing a solid combination that stumbled Cannonier.

Then came an accidental eye poke by Adesanya that led to a break.

Adesanya went back to work on the legs with kicks but Cannonier returned with some of his own.

Adesanya landed one last left hand before the end of the round.

Round one:

UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and Jared Cannonier both threw leg kicks in round one without a touch of gloves.

Adesanya threw leg kicks and blocked Cannonier’s. A wild, winging overhand right was dodged by the champion.

Adesanya switched stances and twitches – not even fully feinting yet.

Cannonier missed with his first leg kick while Adesanya landed an early one of his own.

Both men were very hesitant early, but Adesanya landed a few left hands and more leg kicks as Cannonier stalked forward. Cannonier did land a few leg kicks after about a minute of action.

Adesanya landed a good body kick and used feints to keep Cannonier a bit unsettled. Adesanya started mixing his angles and strikes, but Cannonier did find a home for a few more leg kicks.

Cannonier ducked under an Adesanya head kick but did eat a left hand after.

[Punch]

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