Eight days to the presidential bout of the general election, it appears the centre could no longer hold amongst the aggrieved G-5 governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and other leaders, who earlier shared their sentiments on the state of the party vis-à-vis their choice of presidential candidate.
Although the self-styled leader of the group and Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, had announced different dates, when he would announce his choice candidate for the presidential race, he has yet to make any such public announcement.
But with the elections some eight days away, it is becoming clearer how and where the G-5 and other party leaders, who would rather a southern president, stand as the election inches closer.
While the G-5 governors had secretly met with the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, a couple of times in London, Wike appears to be leaning towards Tinubu as his candidate, even though he has not publicly announced this, but after openly foreclosing any last minute deal with his party’s candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Wike, expectedly, is not alone in the support drive for Tinubu, a former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, though suspended, has also elected to back the former Lagos State governor, both on ethnic and regional sentiments.
On their part, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom; former Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko; his Cross River State counterpart, Donald Duke; former Deputy National Chairman of PDP, Chief Bode George and former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, have enlisted support for Obi.
While others have not clearly indicated their stand, Ortom, yesterday, crawled out of hiding, and declared support for Obi, asking Nigerians not to vote along party lines but vote individuals with credentials, character, competence, educational backgrounds and the mettle to deliver and revamp the socioeconomic fortunes of the country.
In another breath, while the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde and the Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, have remained undecided, the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, has retuned to the candidate of his party, Atiku, whom he warmly received recently, when the former vice-president visited Enugu for a presidential rally.
However, throwing more light on his support for Obi, Ortom, who was a guest at a town hall meeting for stakeholders across the 276 councils wards of the state organised by the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) in Makurdi, said both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had failed the nation.
This is as the Benue State High Court, has issued an order of interim injunction, restraining the PDP, its National Working Committee (NWC), National Executive Committee (NEC) or its National Officers (elected or appointed) from expelling the governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom.
At the same time, Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, yesterday, in Abuja, hinted that the agitation of the embittered G-5 governors of the PDP, was beyond the forthcoming 2023 general election.
Speaking on the sidelines shortly after the public presentation of the book, entitled: ‘The Biochemistry of Environmental Pollution’, co-author by him and Kalu Kalu Igwe, Ikpeazu, said all that the G-5 governors wanted was nothing but inclusiveness.
However, addressing the townhall, Ortom, said the people must fashion out a new Nigeria that would give them equity, fairness, and justice as the nation inch closer to the general election and urged them to shun all partisan sentiments as the major parties today had failed the nation.
He said Nigerians had come to a time where, “We must live out sentiments and safe Nigeria by looking at individuals, who can lead with the fear of God, provide gainful employment for the Youth.”
While observing that Obi surpassed all other candidates by age and capacity, he assured them that he would do the right things for the country hence “we all must give him the support to unite Nigeria and solve insecurity challenges in the country.”
Ortom, who openly threw his weight behind Obi, said among the top three contender, the former Anambra State governor remained outstanding hence he believed that the he would be able to root out insecurity and unite the country.
“They remain committed to the development of the country and that is why I have chosen to support them. If you make an analysis of the three front runners you will discover that Peter Obi’s quality is outstanding.
Did you see any other person insulting Peter Obi? Obi will do the right thing for Nigeria.
“He will provide security and make sure we sleep with our two eyes closed. This thing is not about party. I am not in labour party but I am working for Peter Obi. You know I am also contesting election and I have others who are also contesting and for easy coordination vote for us in the party we are.
“You can imaging the highest position Ahmed Datti attained in this country. He is a senator but you can see he has two universities. He is a young man, who is sound and willing to add more values to Obi’s value when they are elected,” he said.
In his remarks via live screening, Obi assured the thousands of people who trooped out to the meeting that he would revamp the economy, provide jobs and infrastructure, as well as tackle insecurity in the country.
Makurdi High Court Bars PDP From Expelling Ortom
A Benue State High Court has issued an order of interim injunction, restraining the PDP, its NWC, NEC or its National Officers (elected or appointed) from expelling the governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom.
Justice A.I Itoyonyiman issued the order on Thursday following a Suit with number MHC/46/2023, which was brought before the court on Wednesday, February 16th, 2023.
In the suit, Ortom is the Plaintiff/Applicant while Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were first and second Defendant/ Respondents respectively.
The court, upon hearing the Affidavit of Hon. Abraham Kwaghngu, Politician, Nigerian Citizen of Governor’s Office, Benue State Government House, Makurdi, Benue State, sworn to and filed at the High Court Registry, Makurdi on 15th February, 2023 made the following order:
“Restraining the 1″ Defendant/Respondent either by itself or its National Working Committee and/or it National Executive Council and/or its National officers (elected or appointed) and/or its North- Central Zonal Executive Officers (elected or appointed) and/or its Benue State Officers (elected or appointed) and/or its Guma Local Government Area Officers (elected or appointed) and/or its Nzorov Council Ward Officers (elected or appointed) or any of its other organs or officials (anyhow so called) from expelling, suspending or levying any other punishment on the Plaintiff/Applicant pending the determination of the Motion on Notice for Interlocutory Injunction.
“An interim order of injunction is also made restraining the 2nd Defendant/Respondent either by itself or any of its Officials/Officers/Directors/Departmental or other Heads/any other officer by whatever name called from receiving and/or acting upon any communication made by the 1st Defendant/Respondent seeking to disqualify from contesting or seeking not to be placed on the ballot paper the name of the Plaintiff/Applicant as the 1st Defendant’s candidate for the Benue North West Senatorial District in the 2023 general election pending the determination of the Motion on Notice for Interlocutory Injunction.
“An order of interim injunction is made restraining the 2nd or Defendant/Respondent either by itself any of its Officials/Officers/Directors/Departmental or other Heads/any other officer by whatever name called from refusing for whatever reason to place the name of the Plaintiff/Applicant on the ballot to contest the Benue North West Senatorial election slated for February 25th, 2023 or any other rescheduled dated pending the determination of the Motion on Notice for Interlocutory Injunction”.
Governor Ortom had earlier approached the court with the following demands: “An Order of interim injunction restraining the 1st Defendant/Respondent either by itself, or its National Working Committee, and/or its National Executive Council, and/or its National Officers (elected or appointed), and/or its North-Central Zonal Executive Officers (elected or appointed), and/or its Benue State officers (elected or appointed), and/or its Nzorov Council Ward Officers (elected or appointed), or any of its other organs or officials (anyhow so called) from expelling, suspending or levying any other punishment on the Plaintiff/Applicant, pending the determination of the Motion on Notice for Interlocutory Injunction.
“An Order of interim injunction restraining the 2nd Defendant/Respondent either by itself or any of its Officials/Officers/Directors/Departmental or other Heads/any other officer by whatever name called, from receiving and or acting upon any communication made by the 1 Defendant/Respondent seeking to disqualify from contesting or seeking not to be placed on the ballot paper the name of the Plaintiff/Applicant as the 1st Defendant’s candidate for the Benue North West Senatorial District in the 2023 general elections, pending the determination of the Motion on Notice for Interlocutory Injunction.
“An Order of interim injunction restraining the 2nd Defendant/Respondent either by itself or any of its Officials/Officers/Directors/Departmental or other Heads/any other officer by whatever name called, from refusing for whatever reason to place the name of the Plaintiff/Applicant on the ballot, to contest the Benue North West Senatorial election, slated for 25th February, 2023 or any other rescheduled dated, pending the determination of the Motion on Notice for Interlocutory Injunction.”
The matter has been slated for hearing on the 24th of February, 2023.
Speaking too, in Abuja, yesterday, the Abia State Governor, Ikpeazu, hinted that the agitation of the embittered G-5 governors of the PDP, was beyond the forthcoming general election.
Situating the anger of the G-5 governors, Ikpeazu said, “Let me say this to us, how I feel about G-5 is that, what we are trying to bring to the fore is beyond 2023 elections. It’s about inclusiveness, it is about what we think is the root and jugular of problems in Nigeria.
“If at a point in my life as a politician and you produced two or three critical officers of my party from one particular geopolitical zone, I will agitate. Even if they come from my zone alone, I will still agitate. This is about how we get everyone on the table. If you exclude people from the northern, western and southern Nigeria, I am also going to protest, everybody must be onboard.”
The Abia State governor maintained that there was need for social mobilisation in order to solve the economy and security problems of the country, stating: “You don’t put the cart before the horse, everybody must be carried along so that the leader can move forward because the problem of Nigeria today is not just security nor economic problem.
“The greatest problem today is lack of cohesion, disunity, mutual respect and suspicious. We must come together because this country belong to all of us under one God and the parameters must be the same. So, this is what it is and G-5 is beyond 2023.”
On his book, Ikpeazu said, “The essence of our being here is to solve problems and my study sojourn in the biochemistry will be in vain if I don’t make any contribution to the body of knowledge. So it was this drive that propelled me to keep at it until I achieved it. When I came over to the flip side of the public service to serve as governor, I thought that would have been a point of divergence and disconnection from my first love – biochemistry.
“but with time I looked at every issue and every problem of biochemistry. In 2013, I had the opportunity to serve as deputy general manager, Abia State Environmental Protection Agency, so as we were managing domestic waste, I also saw a dimension in terms of trying to explain the causes of the diseases we suffered because of the pollutants in the environment.
“So, biochemistry refused to leave me and I had to go back and pick it up. I feel very very fulfilled honestly, because this is a journey that I started over 20 years ago and it’s not been easy at all and to write a book in biochemistry does not leave you too much choice because there are rules, there are principles which you must reflect in your interventions. And so, for me, it is the icing on my cake as an academic. So, I feel fulfilled and very happy,” he concluded.
George Okoh in Makurdi and Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
NNPC Fixes March 21 to Begin Drilling of Oil in Nasarawa
EXCERPT: According to Mele Kyari, initial exploratory activities detected that there was a significant amount of oil in the state.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) on Thursday announced that it will commence the drilling of crude oil in Nasarawa State from March 21, 2023.
Group Chief Executive Officer of the national oil company, Mallam Mele Kyari, who spoke when he visited the Governor of the state, Abdullahi Sule, in Lafia, the state capital.
According to Kyari, initial exploratory activities detected that there was a significant amount of oil in the state, noting that the NNPC was ready to do the necessary work to find the hydrocarbon resources.
“This work must be done very fast because the whole world is walking away from fossil fuels due to the energy transition. The earlier you go to market, the better for you. Otherwise, 10 years from now, no one will agree to put money in the petroleum business unless it comes from your cash flow,” he stated.
He said that the company began work in the state in 2010 and has technically found a petroleum environment in the state.
“We have seen a great potential for finding hydrocarbon in Nasarawa State and to confirm this, we are going to start drilling on March 21.
“We are very optimistic that it would be a successful exercise. It will not end there, once you find oil, you do further works to develop it, not just for the benefit of the community around it but for Nasarawa state and the country,” he said.
Kyari pointed out that the exploration would not be limited to the current location in Obi/Keana location.
“Once we test this prospect, it opens new roads and we have seen other great prospects across many parts of the State. This will herald history and bring value to all of us,” he added.
He thanked the government and people of Nasarawa state for the cooperation and support so far and called for its sustenance.
“Peace and cooperation is essential in oil exploration and we have seen enormous cooperation in this respect. We have seen no danger, no risk to our operation from all stakeholders in our area of operation and we thank them for that,” he added.
Kyari stressed that the company would continue to do its best to bring immediate value to the host community and ultimately to the wider society when oil was found in commercial quantity.
In his remarks, Sule urged the people to sustain the peace in the area and across the state and identified insecurity as a major challenge to oil exploration in the country.
He called on the people of the state to ensure they maintain peace and support the company for the project to succeed and expressed optimism that the drilling of the oil well, named “Ebenyi-A” would be the first in the North Central zone of the country.
Also speaking, the Emir of Lafia, Justice Muhammad Sidi-Bage (rtd), reassured the NNPC of the people’s support.
“On behalf of our people, we want to say that you will find peace. We have been known for being peaceful, kind and loving. You will not have any reason to feel otherwise within the period of your operation in the state,” Sidi-Bage said.
Managing Director, NNPC Energy Services Limited, Sophia Mbakwe, ,in her remarks, said the assurances from the government and stakeholders in Nasarawa state was critical to the operation of the company.
“For the right to operate, we need the cooperation, support and blessing of the governor and the community, and that we have got today.
“The intent is that it’s going to benefit both parties and we want to go there to ensure no harm to people, no harm to the environment and be able to commence drilling as planned on March 21,” she noted.
Executive Director, Frontier Exploration Services of the company, Mr Muktar Zanna, had led a team other executive directors of the company on a visit to various traditional rulers in the area to get their support.
Some of the traditional rulers visited included Alh. Aliyu Dangiwa-Orume, Osuko of Obi; Alh. Abdullahi Agbo, Osana of Keana; Alh. Umar Apeshi, Osoho of Olosoho (Agwatashi), as well as Retired Justice Muhammad Sidi-Bage, Emir of Lafia.
Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja