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The Atiku Abubakar Support Group has called on supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate nationwide to be vigilant ahead of the 2019 presidential election.




The National Coordinator of group, Dr. Nath Iduma challenged members to ensure that Atiku wins convincingly in all polling units, saying that the ruling party would rig the election at any slightest opportunity.

This is coming on the heels of similar call by the National Youth Leader of the PDP, Mr. Udeh Okoye, who charged the support groups to dominate the Social Media and counter the All Progressives Congress (APC) propaganda against Atiku.

The duo made the call on Thursday in Abuja during an interactive session by a coalition of support groups with the theme: Turning the popularity of Atiku/Obi into Electoral Success.

While addressing the coalition, Iduma explained that Atiku Abubakar and his running mate, Mr. Peter Obi are successful businessmen and intend to govern the country with businesslike approach. He stated that Nigeria will succeed when governance is run like business.

Iduma said, “Atiku and Obi came together by providence and they are tested persons. I believe that if we have people that can run government as they run business, then that government is going to succeed.

“In Yola, Atiku has several investments and when both of them come together, the problem of unemployment will be handled. Both of them who are business minded people will run businesslike government. Unless we win this election with massive votes, it is likely they are going to rig us out”.

The coordinator of the group challenged PDP and its presidential candidate to invest massively in the youth, even as he reminded the coalition that Atiku pledged to allocate 40% of positions to the youths, urging them to work hard and grab the opportunity.

“It is high time that the party and candidates invested in the youths. They are the ones to go down into every part of the country to canvass for votes and protect our votes,” he said.

Adding his voice, the National Youth leader of the PDP, Ude-Okoye urged the youths to occupy the social media space, confront the propaganda narratives of the APC and highlight the values of the PDP presidential candidate.

Ude-Okoye said, “We have to divide ourselves into two and confront the attackers and the promoters. One group must be attacking the APC, telling how the APC has destroyed the country while the second group will be promoting the achievements of Atiku and Obi.

“Our product, Atiku, is a good market, so we have to sell him to Nigerians. Larger number of voters are not in the social media but their influencers are in the social media. We should influence our people who have registered to get their PVCs.

“We also need to influence voters who are in the villages to get Android phones so that they can join the discuss. Atiku is an employer but we have a President who have a stunted business, it does not grow, it does not reduce.

“A president who has failed to protect the lives and properties of his people has failed”.

Also speaking at the event, the chairman of the Atiku Care Foundation, Ambassador Aliyu Abbas, said that with Atiku, citizens cannot continue to suffer hunger and starvation.

“Atiku Abubakar is not only a politician but an international businessman, an educationist, a farmer and a philanthropist”.

Also, the National Convener of of the coalition of Atiku the four largest support groups, Ike Bishop Okoronkwo said that the groups have mobilised over 10 million youths across the country for Atiku.

He added that before the 2019 general elections, the groups will mobilise about 20 million voters across the 774 local governments for the PDP presidential candidate.


Lawmakers of the Ondo State House of Assembly have raised the alarm over "concluded plans" by the impeached Speaker, Honourable Bamidele Oloyelogun, to pass the reordered budget forwarded to the Assembly by Rotimi Akeredolu, Governor of Ondo State.

 Impeached Ondo Assembly Speaker Bamidele Oloyelogun, Deputy Speaker Iroju Ogundeju with other lawmakers at a press conference in Akure, recently.



 in a statement issued on Thursday, and obtained by SaharaReporters, Honourable Gbenga Araoyinbo, the embattled Majority Leader of the Assembly, alleged that the reordered budget was designed to cover up some "shady dealings" of the Akeredolu and his government. 

The 18 members of the House of Assembly that constituted the group that impeached the Speaker, and his Deputy, Honourable Iroju Ogundeji on Friday said the passage of the reordered budget will be "unconstitutional".

Fatai Olotu, Chairman of the Committee on Information of the Ondo State House of Assembly, had said the two main principals of the Assembly were removed due to their "gross incompetence".

However, in a statement issued on Thursday, and obtained by SaharaReporters, Honourable Gbenga Araoyinbo, the embattled Majority Leader of the Assembly, alleged that the reordered budget was designed to cover up some "shady dealings" of the Akeredolu and his government.

Araoyinbo alleged that the reordered budget is also one of the reasons the two principal officers — Oloyelogun and Ogundeji — were impeached.

"It has come to our attention that the impeached Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly will be passing what is unconstitutionally known as a reordered budget today. We wish to state that the request for the passage of this Bill is one of the major reasons why we chose to remove and suspend the former leadership of the House on Friday, 9th November, 2018," hey said.

"Rt Hon Oleyeloogun had informed us that the Governor was desirous of passing the bill into law as quickly as possible under a procedure unknown to our Standing Rules, indeed, unknown to any known law of our state or Nigeria.

"By this Bill, the government seeks to cover the many shady and unappropriated approvals and spendings which are in excess of what is authorized by the budget. In the instant case, there are so many cases of moving funds from one head of expenditure to fund another head to the detriment of the expectations of our dear people of Ondo State, and there are so many cases of unjustified spendings particularly under some ministries that are under the purview of persons who are dear to the heart of the Governor.

"There are many curious and inexplicable expenditures, particularly under the Government House and Protocols, while important heads of expenditure specifically designed to ameliorate one hardship or the other for our people would have their allotted funds moved into heads that are only important to Mr Governor and his hangers- on."

He added that the appropriation bill calls for deep scrutiny, particularly when it was not subjected to known rules of the parliament, including the constitutional provisions as regards financial bills.
According to Araoyinbo, in many instances, the governor had attempted to "bribe" the lawmakers to ensure all bills forwarded to the House quickly passed into law.


The statement continued: "Oleyeloogun, acting in cohorts with the Governor and some other House leaders, insisted that we could not ask for the Year's Budget Performance and could definitely not hold a Public Hearing even to enquire from affected ministries why they chose to either overspend or the Budget or Finance Commissioners why they condoned so much illegality by allowing virements ab initio.

"We were informed that the Governor would rather simply give us some hush money, while they would employ what they called 'Oku Oru" system by which they would just generate some papers to appear as if the bill had gone through a normal process. We refused and demanded that the right thing must be done.

"We have been made to know that the Governor has compelled the Staff of the House of Assembly, in spite of the present danger, to sit with the impeached speaker and his fellow companions (who do not form a quorum) on the highway to infamy and pass this illegal contraption of a bill into law!

"We want the general public to know that a bill of such importance was moved from the first to the second readings and committed to the Committee in one single sitting on Monday and is ready to be passed into law only three days later! How thorough could they have been?"

He asked investors partnering with the Akeredolu-led government to apply caution.
"We wish to state that as unacceptable as this is, it is still a tad better than the earlier proposed 'Oku Oru' system developed and perfected by the leadership of Oleyeloogun whereby bills are passed, resolutions are given clandestinely for the use of Mr Governor. Please note that our law provides that financial bills shall be passed by only two-third majority of members of the House. Any financial bill that does not enjoy this consent must of necessity be null and void.

"Let the whole world know and indeed every investor who brings their money into this cesspool being manned and supervised by the Governor of Ondo State, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu know that they do so at their own risk," the statement read.

The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has suspended three lawmakers for allegedly spearheading the campaign to change the leadership of the Anambra State House of Assembly.





The Chairman of the party in Anambra, Chief Norbert Obi, made the announcement at a news conference in Awka on Thursday.

The suspended members are Mr Ikem Uzoezie, Mr Harford Osekke and Mr Victor Okoye, representing, Aguata 1, Awka South 2 and Anambra West State Constituencies, respectively.

Obi, who urged the aggrieved and warring members of the party to sheath their swords to avoid escalation, described the trio as ring leaders of the attempted impeachment saga.

“Granted the fact that we had problems during the just- concluded party primaries in the state, it is not enough to pull the party down the more when the party has set up a reconciliation committee.

“It is therefore, the position of the party that all aggrieved members should sheath their swords as failure to do so will amount to setting our own house on fire.

“Be that as it may, the three ring leaders of the attempted impeachment saga, namely Ikem Uzoezie, Harford Osseke and Victor Okoye are hereby suspended from the party, pending when they will appear before the disciplinary committee of the party,” he said.

It will be recalled that the house on Nov. 13 impeached its Speaker, Hon. Rita Mmaduagwu, and elected Uzoezie as the new speaker.

Mmaduagwu has since dismissed her purported impeachment as illegal and invalid, insisting that she remained the speaker of the house.


NAN

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC ) has condemned  threat by the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), to sack workers if the new national minimum wage of N30,000 is implemented.





Mr Ayuba Wabba, NLC President, in a statement issued on Thursday in Abuja, said the threat was not new.

Wabba was reacting to the statement made by the Chairman of NGF, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, governor of Zamfara,  threatening to sack workers on the account of the new national minimum wage of N30, 000.

He said that the process of negotiation by the tripartite social partners for a new  wage has ended and a new National Minimum Wage of N30,000 agreed upon by government, labour and employers in the private sector.

According to Wabba, the threat to sack workers is not new in the struggle for review of  national minimum wage.

“Therefore, the current one by the governor of Zamfara cannot be used to intimidate labour.
“The consequences of workers retrenchment are too grievous for any political office holder truly elected by the people to contemplate.
 
“ Few political office holders are bent on enslaving Nigerian workers with peanuts mislabeled as salaries.
“We urge such elected public officials to subject their humongous salaries and allowances, reputed to be among the highest in the world to public perusal.

“Pro rata with the minimum wage they want to force down the throats of Nigerian workers, ‘’he said.
Wabba  urged each of the state governor to go to their respective state and inform workers on their individual position on the new national minimum wage of N30, 000.

The NLC president further urged workers to remain steadfast and firm on their rights to decent wages and improved living conditions.

“To the oppressors, we have only one answer for you, we will never sleep on our rights.
“We hereby reiterate our directive to Nigerian workers to vote out any politician or political party that refuses to pay the new national minimum wage of N30, 000.

“We shall continue to consolidate our efforts to strengthen already existing platforms and structures to give teeth to our resolve to vote out anti-labour governors and politicians in the forthcoming 2019 general election, ‘’Wabba said.

He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to speedily present to the National Assembly the bill on the National Minimum Wage for appropriate amendment and implementation.

“It would interest Nigerians to know that the new national minimum wage of N30,000 was a product of intense and robust negotiations at the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiation Committee that lasted for one year.

“ At the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiation Committee, state governments were represented by six states, one state from each of the six geo-political zones.

NAN

Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says the commission will not fail the nation in the conduct of 2019 general elections.
   INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu



Mr Yakubu made this promise while speaking at the 6th Anniversary Lecture and Investiture into the Realnews Hall of Fame held in Lagos on Thursday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event was tagged: “Political Transitions and Africa’s Economic Development: Preparations for Nigeria’s 2019 General Elections.”

According to Mr Yakubu, the commission is not unaware that the conduct of 2019 elections is a tough task, but INEC is determined to leave no stone unturned to conduct free, fair and credible elections.

He said that INEC was deeply committed to democratic elections that would contribute to political stability and consolidation of democracy. which would propel the nation to greater economic prosperity.
Mr Yakubu said: “It is true that political stability is a prerequisite for economic growth and development. It is also true that no economy flourishes in a situation of uncertainty.

“Nations cannot develop if they are unstable. We have seen nations and cities destroyed by unacceptable electoral outcomes.

“Democratic transition through periodic and credible elections is the best way to ensure certainty that will guarantee and sustain political stability.

“We will never ever fail the nation. Our commitment is that we will never give Nigerians excuses.
“The commission has embarked on diligent preparations to ensure that the 2019 general elections is credible and meets the goals of election integrity.”
Mr Yakubu said there could be no peaceful or sustainable political transition and consequential economic and other benefits to citizens without credible and peaceful elections through a transparent and inclusive electoral process.

To achieve this goal, the INEC chairman called on all stakeholders — governments, election administrators, security agencies, civil society groups, the media, political parties, candidates and their supporters — to play their roles.

According to him, the commission has embarked on the consolidation of full biometric voter registration through the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) between April 27 and August 31, among other preparations.

He said that at the end of the exercise, some 14.5 million Nigerians were added to the existing register of about 70 million, and the voters register for the 2019 elections had hit 84.2million.

Mr Yakubu, who called for support of all stakeholders for the collection of PVCs, said that a new approach to the collection would commence early in December and continue until a week to the elections.
According to him, the PVCs of those who registered in 2017 and those who registered in the first and second quarters of 2018 have been printed and delivered to states.

He said that the cards for those who registered in the third quarter of 2018 would be delivered by the end of November, which include all cards for those who applied for intra and interstate transfer and replacements.
Mr Yakubu said there would not be any use of incidence forms, instead, manual register of voters had been redesigned to provide for a box for thumb printing and telephone number of any voter whose biometric was not authenticated by the Smart Card Readers.

According to him, the commission has harmonised accreditation and voting, carried out greater engagement, installation of trackers, enhancement of Smart Card Readers and improved logistics.
Earlier in his remarks, Haroun Adamu, the chairman of the occasion and former chairman, Petroleum Trust Fund, said that social media platforms had been so influential in information dissemination.

“They are the major opinion shapers and are influential. The business model adopted by Realnews is very forward-thinking and can be described as being ahead of the crowd.

“The team must continue to strive to remain dynamic, flexible and willing to adopt as the environment evolves with advances in technology, particularly in artificial intelligence (AI),” Mr Adamu said.

(NAN)



The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to expedite action on the proposed new national Minimum Wage by transmitting it to the National Assembly in good time.

 


Dr Peter Eson-Ozo, NLC General Secretary said this in an interview with newsmen on Monday in Abuja.
 
Eson-Ozo said the Tripartite Committee on the New National Minimum Wage had concluded its meetings and a report of N30, 000 was agreed upon as the new minimum wage for Nigerian workers. NLC: You’ve my backing on planned nationwide protest, strike – Sen. Shehu Sani “The report has been submitted to Mr President and what we expect now from Mr President is to do justice to that report, by quickly raising an executive bill on the new National Minimum Wage. 

“And when that bill gets to the National Assembly, we want to assure Nigerian workers that we will be ready to engage them constructively,’’ he said. 

The NLC General Secretary told NAN that there was no controversy over the agreed amount, as N30, 000 was the agreement reached during the negotiations by members of the committee. 

“We all signed up on the N30, 000, so why should there be any controversy,’’ he said. NAN reports that the Tripartite Committee on the new National Minimum Wage concluded its negotiation process on November 5 and submitted the report to Mr President on November 6. 

Minimum wage: Organised Labour frowns at FG delay tactics, embarks on protest Before then, the Federal Government had offered to pay N24, 000, while the organised labour had agreed with the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to stand on N30, 000 as the new National Minimum Wage. 

Newsmen further reports that President Buhari while receiving the committee report said “In a way, both arguments are valid. 

I want to assure you all that we will immediately put in place the necessary machinery that will close out these open areas. 

Our plan is to transmit the Executive Bill to the National Assembly for passage within the shortest possible time. I am fully committed to having a new National Minimum Wage Act in the very near future,’’ he said.


NAN





Heritage Bank Plc has called on government at all levels and deposit money banks to increase supports in agriculture, as it is the most resilient and important sector of Nigerian economy, despite underwhelming investment in the sector.




The Executive Director of the bank, Jude Monye stated this while delivering a paper, titled, “Bank Experience in Lending to the Real Sector (Agric) of the Economy,” at the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) 2018 Chief Risk Officers Forum Retreat, in Lagos, yesterday.

He disclosed that increased focus on the agriculture sector would contribute to the Job creation objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), as its labour intensive process across the value chain has the potential of creating multiple jobs, create wealth, and increase the sector’s contribution to GDP and foreign exchange earnings.

Meanwhile, Monye stressed that the under-performance of the sector is closely tied; amongst other factors; to poor credit access from banks.

On the part of government, he decried that Nigeria’s Agricultural research institutes that are established to drive the sector’s business were underfunded compared to India’s.

The 2018 budget allocates N54bn and N149bn (US$490m) to the agriculture and rural development ministry for recurrent and capital spending respectively.

“Agricultural research institutes have received an average of N28bn (US$90m) annually over the past five years. The comparable figure for India, with six times the population, is closer to US$2bn,” he stated.
He further noted that the economic recovery and growth plan of the government is heavy on Agriculture and MSMEs as key drivers of the economic diversification plan.

Successful implementation of the Government’s Recovery Plan provides significant opportunities for entrepreneurs, investors and financiers – particularly in the Agro-allied Sector,” Monye affirmed.

The Executive Director added that investments in infrastructure (energy and transportation) are supportive of the Agric-led growth.

He explained that to explore options for de-risking and unlocking bank lending to the Agric sector so as to develop and position the sector for increased contribution to the Nigeria’s GDP and revenues, there is need to Continue regulatory driven intervention funds to increase access to credit at single digit rates and long tenors, Improve knowledge of Banks and Bankers on Agric finance and Agricultural Risk Management through focused capacity building and many others.

L-R: Jude Monye, Executive Director, Heritage Bank Plc; Felix Ejinwa, Head, Credit Review and Monitoring, Risk Management, Keystone Bank;  Aliyu Abduhameed, MD/CEO of NIRSAL; Dike Dimiri, Divisional Head, Enterprise Risk Management; Olugbenga Awe, Group Head, Agric Finance & Export; Adelana Ogunjirin, Team Member, Agric Finance & Export and Joyce Omotosho, Ag Group Head, Credit Risk Management, all of Heritage Bank Plc, during the 2018 Chief Risk Officers Forum Retreat organized by the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) in Lagos, yesterday.




Speaking at retreat with theme, “Achieving Economic Diversification for Nigeria via the De-Risking of Lending to the Nigerian Non-oil Sectors, the MD/CEO of NIRSAL, Aliyu Abduhameed, explained that the value chain financing is one of the major problem facing Nigerian agricultural sector.

But, he pointed out that NIRSAL does this by ‘de-risking’ the agricultural financing value chain, building long-term capabilities and institutionalizing agricultural lending through risk sharing with banks, technical capacity building as well as the provision of incentives to encourage bank lending.

According to him, Nigeria is endowed with all the natural resources to thrive in agriculture, but the sector lacks the capital with which to maximally meet the opportunities.

He stated that NIRSAL aims to increase deposit money banks’ lending and other private investment.
Abduhameed disclosed that proposal has been put before the Central Bank of Nigeria for NIRSAL to be recognised as collateral instrument as well as flow instrument, as this would fast track the de-risking of the value chain financing.

Group ED/Agribusiness TGI Group, Farouk Gumel, as one of the panellists, stressed the need to shed more light on banking agriculture rather than de-risking.

He also canvassed for more investments in infrastructure and addressing eco-climate system in the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari departs Abuja Friday for Paris, France to participate in the first edition of the Paris Peace Forum, November 11-13, 2018.





Organised by the French Government and a number of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), the Forum is based on the “simple idea that international cooperation is key to tackling global challenges and ensuring durable peace.”

The Nigerian president will join the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, and other world leaders in discussing contributions towards global peace while underscoring the imperative of collective action.

While in Paris, Mr Buhari will also join other world leaders to commemorate the centenary anniversary of the Armistice signed on November 11, 1918 between the Allied Forces and Germany in the forest of Compiegne in France to end the First World War.

During his visit to Paris, President Buhari will attend a luncheon hosted by President Emmanuel Macron of France in honour of visiting heads of delegations.

Before returning to Abuja, the president and his delegation will have an interactive session with the Nigerian Community in France.

President Buhari will be accompanied to Paris by Governors Aminu Masari, Willie Obiano and Kayode Fayemi of Katsina, Anambra and Ekiti States, respectively.

Others include the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; the National Security Babagana Monguno; and the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Abubakar.

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