Nigeria – PDP says overzealous hate campaigns by prominent members hurt party

Premium Times

Olisa Metuh

Olisa Metuh

The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has given insight ​on​ why President Goodluck Jonathan lost ​the ​recent ​presidential ​election to the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Muhammadu Buhari.

The spokesperson for the party, Olisa Metuh, said Monday that the party headquarters was sidelined during the campaigns, and that “overzealous” persons were allowed to run a hate campaign against Mr. Buhari, thereby making the former military ruler more popular.

The PDP campaign was characterized by hate campaigns against Mr. Buhari with little emphasis on the achievement of Mr. Jonathan.

Some of the most horrific attacks against Mr. Buhari came from the president’s wife, Patience, the governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, and the spokesperson for Mr. Jonathan’s campaign team, Femi Fani-Kayode.

Mr. Metuh said, “In 2003 President Obasanjo ran against Odumegwu Ojukwu, while late President Yar’adua also ran against him in 2007.

“If the PDP had run its campaign based on hate speech against the Ikemba Nnewi, he would have won by a landslide in the whole of the South East,” he said.

Campaign funds fraud

Against the backdrop of controversy regarding how campaign funds of the PDP were spent and recent agitations for the members of the party’s National Working Committee, NWC, to resign for leading the party to failure, the NWC reacted by insisting that no money was given to it and that it rather spent its own internally generated funds to sponsor the candidates of the party.

Mr. Metuh, who addressed a press conference at his office on Monday, said the NWC generated over N9 billion from the sales of nomination forms to aspirants and used the money to support candidates of the party.

“We gave the presidential campaign N500 million and also supported our governorship candidates in the states with N100 million each, apart from those running for the state assemblies,” Mr. Metuh said.

The NWC members have been accused of pocketing funds given to them for party campaigns.

News website, Sahara Reporters, reported weekend that several members of the NWC received and pocketed N30 million, refusing to work for the victory of the party.

Mr. Metuh said the NWC was never given any money for the campaigns and denied embezzling such money.

He however admitted that NWC members received the said N30 Million, which he said included their housing, furniture and other allowances that have not been past for the past two years.

“We state clearly that we have not been given any money, rather this NWC generated billions of naira from the sale of forms from where we funded our candidates for governorship and state assembly elections in all the states of the federation in addition to funds released to key leaders including NWC and BoT members to prosecute the campaigns in their various areas,” he said.

Mr. Metuh said the NWC is willing and ready to make its account public in line with the Freedom of Information law.

He also said President Goodluck Jonathan was “directly involved” in the decision to disburse the N30 million funds to the NWC as well as BOT members.

Mr. Metuh accused “fifth columnists” of trying to create crisis in the party with a view to afford elected officials an opportunity to defect from the party in line with a recent Supreme Court ruling.

He said the NWC members were running the party under difficult conditions for over a year with no help from any quarters.

“Where were these people when we lacked funds to run the party for over one year. We could not even buy newspapers or diesel for our generators,” he said.

Crisis over

PDP spokesperson however, said the crisis generated over the use of campaign funds is over following a meeting of all parties concerned Sunday.

He said the meeting, which President Jonathan chaired, succeeded in finding an amicable solution to the problem.
“We are happy to announce that the leader of our party, President Jonathan, the PDP governors and other key stakeholders of our party including governors and legislators-elect are deeply concerned about this development and have intervened to ensure the desired stability in our party,” he said.

Mr. Metuh said with the crisis over, the party is now poised to reclaim the presidency in 2019 and that there are no more talks of any resignation of NWC members.

“There is no crisis in the national leadership of the PDP. The National Working Committee under the Chairmanship of Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu is duly elected and is fully in control of the administration of the party until the expiration of its tenure in March 2016 in line with the provisions of the constitution of our great party.
“We are not only in office, we are in power,” he said.

Mr. Metuh urged all PDP members across the country to close ranks and work together with their leaders at all levels and make themselves partners in progress in the rebuilding the party.

“What we need now is to eschew all personal and private agenda and join forces to reinvent our party for the task ahead,” he said.

South Sudan says it needs to diversify economy away from oil; EU kleptocracy comment

Sudan Tribune

(JUBA) – South Sudanese government said its economy needed urgent diversification to wean it from depending on oil in long term response to the economic crisis, urging its citizens and other stakeholders in the society, including businesses, to embrace farming in all their undertakings.

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A worker walks at the power plant of an oil processing facility at an oilfield in Unity State April 22, 2012 (Reuters)

The European Union in a memo disclosed by the Indian Ocean Newsletter this week said the South Sudan is “deeply entrenched kleptocratic governance”.

It further pointed to the inaction of the government, adding that its leadership has no plans to conduct economic reforms.

“Expenditure is still as high as ever, while there has been a 50% fall in revenue. The state is still devoting 70% of its expenditure on security, representing $210 million a month. In the meantime, oil revenue has fallen by 75% and now brings in only $60 million a month, coupled with $40 million a month in tax revenue,” said the report citing figures provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

But a senior official in the ministry of finance in Juba said the government was working towards diversifying the economy to shift from oil dependence to agriculture, although this overdue and long term plan will not solve the immediate economic crisis.

“Oil is not a long lasting resource. It can deplete. The oil prices are also not fixed. They are not constant. They are subject to changes. So it is a question of risk management; because commodities and prices go up and down,” Under-secretary of ministry of finance, Salvatore Garang Mabiordit, told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.

“They (oil prices) are dependent on the world market, so an over reliance on one single product like oil always poses a risk, so diversification is extremely important,” he said.

He said the leadership was planning to hold an economic symposium involving experts from neighbouring countries to explore ways to economic challenges in South Sudan.

Mabiordit further explained that diversifying the economy of the country would encourage an environment favouring a stable and predictable economic framework that would win investor confidence.

“One of the areas we are looking for support from our partners is developing viable commercial agriculture sector. Clearly, this is an area where the climate, soil and many things play to the advantage of any country in working towards diversification of its economy,” he added.

He further stressed that South Sudan had a lot of potential in diversification of its economy, especially in the area of agriculture and other resources, including untapped minerals and livestock.

The official said the government was also embarking on efforts to improve the management of local revenues by developing and introducing a revenue management system.

The new system, he explained, will help increase local revenues by improving the identification of the existing tax potential and by facilitating the collection of taxes which are difficult to assess, including property taxes.

This, he further said, will ensure the efficiency of the tax administration and lower compliance costs.

Although diversification of the economy has been a policy of president Salva Kiir’s government for many years, it remained unclear as to why this was never effected, leaving the government to solely depend on oil revenues to run the system.

But Mabiordit said the ministry was building its experience in other similar undertakings, assuring that the team employed possesses the necessary expertise both in modern tax administration and highly specialised in the application of information technology.

“What I have always found from our experience is often the issue of predictability, which is even more important than exact terms of how exact taxes would function,” he said.

The IMF said the government in order to make up a budgetary shortfall of $200 million a month, borrow from the central bank to preserve the exchange rate and stem inflation at 6%.

The country’s vice-president, James Wani Igga, toured nations of East African, asking them to participate in an economic conference in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, and involve their experts in strategising on how to remedy the dire economic situation in South Sudan.

(ST)

Burundi – three killed as protests against Nkurunziza continue

BBC

Three protesters have been killed in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, the Red Cross says, as demonstrations against President Pierre Nkuruziza’s re-election bid enter a second week.

The BBC’s Maud Jullien reports from the scene that police fired shots, and she saw two of the bodies being taken away.

Police denied killing the protesters, and said 15 of their officers had been wounded in a grenade attack.

The US’s John Kerry urged Mr Nkurunziza to abandon his re-election bid.

“We are deeply concerned about President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision, which flies directly in the face of the constitution of this country,” the US secretary of state told reporters during a visit to Kenya.

‘Defiance’

The Red Cross says 12 people have been killed since protests broke out on 26 April after Mr Nkurunziza was nominated by the ruling CNDD-FDD party as its candidate for the June election.

Under Burundi’s constitution, presidents can only be elected to two terms in office, but Mr Nkurunziza’s allies say his first term does not count as he was appointed by parliament.

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A policeman opens fire in BUjumbura on 4 March 2015
Police opened fire as Mr Nkurunziza faces the biggest protest against his rule

Live updates from Burundi

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The government accuses the protesters of being “insurrectional”, and says Mr Nkurunziza will press ahead with contesting the election.

The protests are the most serious since Mr Nkurunziza took power at the end of a 12-year civil war in 2005.

Our reporter says more than 1,000 people are on the streets of Bujumbura’s Musaga neighbourhood in defiance of a government ban on protests.

The latest clashes started when some demonstrators threw stones and the police responded by firing live rounds, she says.

A soldier stands between demonstrators and riot police facing off in the Musaga district of Bujumbura, Burundi, 4 May 2015
The army has pledged to remain neutral
Riot police chase a demonstrator in Bujumbura, Burundi, Monday, May 4, 2015
Most of the the trouble has been taking place in Musaga district
Police in Bujumbura carry a colleague wounded in clashes through the streets
Police say they suffered casualties after coming under attack
Police in Burundi have made arrests
The protesters have been accused of being “insurrectional”

The army then arrived on the scene, containing the protests, she says.

“I am killed by Nkurunziza,” one demonstrator screamed, as he was taken to hospital with a bullet wound in his shoulder, AFP news agency reports.

On Sunday, army chief of staff General Prime Niyongabo pledged neutrality in the conflict, following a similar declaration a day earlier by Defence Minister General Pontien Gaciyubwenge, our correspondent says.

Many soldiers are thought to be sympathetic towards the protesters, she adds.

South Africa –

Mail and Guardian

The ANCYL has elected new leaders in Limpopo, the first time new officials have been chosen since the league was disbanded in 2013.

The ANC youth league in Limpopo has elected new leadership, the first time since it was disbanded by the mother body in 2013. (Gallo)

The ANC Youth League in Limpopo elected its new leadership at its elective conference held outside Tzaneen at the weekend.

The leaders were elected in the early hours of Monday morning after the congress was initially delayed by branches that were unhappy with the way delegates were elected to attend.

It has been almost two years since the youth league had elected officials following the disbanding of its national and provincial leaders in 2013 by the mother body. Task teams had been put in place to rebuild the league’s structures.

Those elected in Limpopo on Monday were:

  • Chairperson: Vincent Shoba;
  • Deputy chairperson: Thandi Moraka;
  • Secretary: David Che Selane;
  • Deputy secretary: Jimmy Machaka; and
  • Treasurer: Miyelani Chauke

‘Highly contested’
Mosa Chabane, the outgoing provincial task team co-ordinator, wished the new leadership well.

“This congress was highly contested, but delegates expressed the spirit of collegiality and were in unison that the youth league would continue to be central to society.”

On Sunday, the task team said the congress was going ahead despite members having interdicted four branches from attending the organisation’s provincial congress.

The interdict was served on four branches from Sekhukhune by members unhappy with how delegates were elected to attend the congress, the task team’s spokesperson, Onicca Moloi, said at the time.

The four branches had been removed from the congress and the ANC’s legal team was dealing with the matter.

The congress was meant to start on Friday but was moved to Saturday.

The national youth league has yet to hold its national elective congress.

Disbanded
Last year, it scheduled an elective conference but at the last minute changed it to a consultative conference, sparking outrage from some delegates.

The youth league’s national task team was disbanded at the end of the conference and provincial leaders were meant to help prepare for the elective conference.

The national elective conference is expected to be held in June. –  News24

 

Nigeria – freed Boko Haram abductees talk of ordeal and stonings

Punch

Some of the women and children... on Saturday

Boko Haram fighters killed older boys and men in front of their families before taking women and children into the forest where many died of hunger and disease, freed captives told Reuters on Sunday after they were brought to a refugee camp in Yola, Adamawa State.

The Nigerian army rescued hundreds of women and children last week from the Islamist fighters in Sambisa Forest in a major operation that has turned international attention to the plight of hostages.

After days on the road in pickup trucks, hundreds were released on Sunday into the care of authorities at a refugee camp in Yola, to be fed and treated for injuries. They spoke to reporters for the first time.

“They didn’t allow us to move an inch,” said one of the freed women, Asabe Umaru, describing her captivity. “If you needed the toilet, they followed you. We were kept in one place. We were under bondage.

“We thank God to be alive today. We thank the Nigerian army for saving our lives,” she added.

Two hundred and seventy-five women and children, some with heads or limbs in bandages, arrived in the camp late on Saturday.

Nearly 700 kidnap victims have been freed from the Islamist group’s forest stronghold since Tuesday, with the latest group of 234 women and children liberated on Friday.

“When we saw the soldiers we raised our hands and shouted for help. Boko Haram who were guarding us started stoning us so we would follow them to another hideout, but we refused because we were sure the soldiers would rescue us,” Umaru, a 24 year-old mother of two, told Reuters.

The prisoners suffered malnutrition and disease, she said. “Every day we witnessed the death of one of us and waited for our turn,” Mrs. Umaru added.

Another freed captive, Cecilia Abel, said her husband and first son had been killed in her presence before the militia forced her and her remaining eight children into the forest.

For two weeks before the military arrived she had barely eaten.

“We were fed only ground dry maize in the afternoons. It was not good for human consumption,” she said. “Many of us that were captured died in Sambisa Forest. Even after our rescue about 10 died on our way to this place.”

Amnesty International estimates the insurgents, who are intent on bringing West Africa under Islamist rule, have taken more than 2,000 women and girls captive since the start of 2014. Many have been used as cooks, sex slaves or human shields.

The prisoners freed so far do not appear to include any of more than 200 schoolgirls snatched from school dormitories in Chibok town a year ago, an incident that drew global attention to the six-year-old insurgency.

Umaru said her group of prisoners never came in contact with the missing Chibok girls.

Meanwhile, the 23 Armoured Brigade of the Nigerian Army based in Yola, Adamawa State, has handed over 275 women and children rescued from insurgents in Sambisa Forest to the National Emergency Management Agency for rehabilitation.

The statement quoted the Commander, 23 Armoured Brigade, Col. Aba Popoola, as saying that “on behalf of the Nigerian Army, I want to hand over 275 rescued women and children that we rescued from Sambisa Forest to the National Emergency Management Agency for care and welfare.”

Receiving the rescued persons, the Director-General, NEMA, Sani Sidi, said the rescued women and children needed special attention and that the agency had made all the necessary arrangements with relevant stakeholders for trauma counselling.

Ghuluze noted that the ministry had ensured regular supply of drugs to the clinics.

BBC

Women and children rescued from Boko Haram in Sambisa forest by the Nigeria military arrive by truck at the internally displaced people's camp in Yola on 2 May 2015
The freed women and children travelled for days on pick-up trucks to the Yola camp

Former hostages held by Boko Haram militants in northern Nigeria say some fellow captives were stoned to death as the army approached to rescue them.

The women said Boko Haram fighters started pelting them when they refused to run away as the army came nearer.

A group of nearly 300 women and children was brought out of the vast Sambisa forest to a government camp.

The military says it has rescued more than 700 people in the past week in an offensive against the Islamist group.

The women said several were killed in the stoning, but they did not know how many.

The survivors said that when they were initially captured, the militants had killed men and older boys in front of their families before taking women and children into the forest.

Some were forced into marriage.

They said the Islamists never let them out of their sight – not even when they went to the toilet.

“They didn’t allow us to move an inch,” one of the freed women, Asabe Umaru, told Reuters news agency. “We were kept in one place. We were under bondage.”

One woman described how they were fed just one meal a day.

“We were fed only ground dry maize in the afternoons. It was not good for human consumption,” Cecilia Abel told Reuters. This led to malnutrition, disease and death.

“Every day, we witnessed the death of one of us and waited for our turn,” Umaru, a 24-year-old mother of two, told Reuters.

The women and children travelled for three days on pick-up trucks from the vast Sambisa forest where they were rescued, to the camp in the city of Yola.

Through interviews, officials have determined that almost all those rescued are from Gumsuri, a village near the town of Chibok, the Associated Press news agency reports.

It does not appear that any of those released are from the group of nearly 300 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram a year ago in a mass abduction that led to worldwide protests calling for the girls’ release.

Thousands have been killed in northern Nigeria since Boko Haram began its insurgency in 2009 to create an Islamic state.

In February, Nigeria’s military, backed by troops from neighbouring countries, launched a major offensive against the Islamist fighters, recapturing Boko Haram territory taken in the previous year.

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Malawi – Britain may cut aid over Mutharika private jet plan

Malawi 24

Mutharika’s plans to purchase a new presidential jet belittled

By: 

G

Malawi’s major donor country Britain has responded angrily over reported plans by Malawi to purchase a presidential jet for the head of state to avoid airport queues and feared situations of missing flights.

Mutharika’s plans to purchase a new presidential jet belittled

Mutharika contemplating on purchasing a new Presidential jet.

According to an article carried by British press, The Express, the decision of purchasing private jet for the head of state will drain foreign aid, that can affect the country’s economy.

In the article, the press expressed a concern to British tax payers as they are yet to release £400 million to support Malawi.

Malawi government revealed that it will purchase a presidential jet to avoid inconveniences on presidential trips once the economy recovers.

Speaking to local press, Minister of Information Kondwani Nankhumwa said the plan will help to avoid expenses associated with chartering aircrafts for the president.

“In all fairness every country needs a presidential jet for convenient travelling and as government we still think it was a mistake to sell the jet that was bought” said Nankhumwa.

He further added that the President experiences some delays in flight connections that affects his programmes whenever he is on public flights.

President Peter Mutharika’s predecessor Joyce Banda sold the jet Dassaut Falcon 900EX bought during the late Bingu Wa Mutharika government following economic challenges that rocked the country.

– See more at: http://malawi24.com/2015/05/01/mutharikas-plans-to-purchase-a-new-presidential-jet-belittled/#sthash.2x8ib2wB.dpuf

Nigeria – Yakasai says north conspired against Jonathan’s re-election

Punch

North conspired against Jonathan’s re-election — Yak

Chairman, Northern Elders Council, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai

Chairman of the Northern Elders Council, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, tells LEKE BAIYEWU why the North voted against President Goodluck Jonathan in the March 28 presidential election

What is your reaction to the claim that the Peoples Democratic Party lost the last general elections due to some actions and inactions of the leadership of the party?

When I was an active member of the All Peoples Party, the procedure then was for the party to investigate the causes of the failure to be able to establish who is at fault and who is not. Until a party does that, it will remain a mere speculation to say some people did not do what they were supposed to do. If you will look at the number of the people professed to be leaders, they are so many. And if the party fails, it is the collective responsibility of everybody. You cannot single out some individuals to say they are responsible unless you can establish that with concrete evidence.

Your support for President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election gave the impression that you have joined the PDP. Is this true?

I am not in the PDP. I have been supporting the Federal Government and the President’s second term bid but I made it clear all the time that I was not doing so as a member of the PDP. I left my former party, the APP, in 2001 and I wrote the secretary of the party then in March of the same year. In April 2002, I formally announced my withdrawal from partisan politics; that I will no longer be a partisan politician but I will continue to express my opinion on emerging national issues and will continue to relate with Nigerians regardless of their political inclination.

Is it true that the Northern Elders Council you are leading was set up to tackle the Northern Elders Forum over Jonathan’s re-election bid?

The Northern Elders Council is an organisation made up of northerners who believe in a new Nigeria. We were opposed to the stand of the Northern Elders Forum because they were fighting for only the North; they were not fighting for Nigeria. We felt that the way they were dealing with the issue of Jonathan was so sectional that if they were left unchecked, they would harm the unity of this great nation. We do not oppose somebody because we hate him. The fact that they are opposing somebody just because he comes from a particular area or a particular religion is what we do not like.

We have our history. I was a member of the Northern Elements Progressive Union in the First Republic; even before then, during the colonial era I was active. In the Second Republic, I was a member of the National Party of Nigeria, whose motto was ‘One nation one destiny.’ My political history is related to the cause of national unity, and I believe that the unity and the future depend on the people of the country working together in harmony. We are interrelated; we are to complement one another.

While the NEF was opposed to Jonathan’s re-election, the NEC supported him. Was the support also about national unity?

Jonathan was not contesting as a southerner; he was contesting as a Nigerian. They (NEF) were opposed to him because they were northerners and they did not want him to contest. They did not say why they did not want him to contest except that they were northerners and they would not vote for him. In their interviews, they stated clearly that the North would not vote for Jonathan and clearly the North did not vote for Jonathan. It was clear that it was a premeditated action, it was not natural. It was a collaboration between various actors, including some officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, some traditional rulers, some religious leaders and some politicians that incited the people.

While openly the election was not fought based on religion, the voting was guided by and was largely on the basis on religion. People were asked not to vote for people who were non-Muslims. If you go to a mosque and you have an imam asking his congregation not to vote for somebody except somebody of the same religion, then he (the imam) is asking people to vote based on religious sentiment, which should not be the basis of elections. The basis for an election should be on the programmes of the party of the individual contesting; what they promise to do for the people in the country, not about religion. In a country that has roughly 50 per cent Muslims and 50 per cent Christians, it will not augur well for people to vote for a candidate based on his religion. It is not in the interest of the country.

What efforts did NEC make to counter the mobilisation efforts of the opposition in the North?

It is for you to find out. Certainly we supported him (Jonathan) on the national programmes not because he was a Christian.

Now that General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), your brother from the North, has won the presidential election, what will your relationship with him look like?

I do not know him very closely; hence, it will be very difficult for me to judge him as much as possible. I will wait for his actions to enable me assess what he is doing and to be able to have valid judgement.

Do you have any faith in him as the next president of the country?

It depends on his activity. I will wait for his activities. All I know is that he was a military man who overthrew a government duly elected by the people of Nigeria. Now he says he is a born democrat; let us see him in action.

Beyond Buhari, do you see his party, the All Progressives Congress, bringing about the change it promised the electorate?

I do not want to predict anything but I can tell you that the majority of the people who make up the elected public officials of the APC were by this time last year in the PDP. They were not created anew. I want to see what they are going to do that will be different from what they have been doing before. I know they left the party as a result of quarrels, not as a result of any ideological difference between them and others who remained in the PDP.

What efforts are the northern leaders making to come together again after the electioneering seemed to have polarised them?

We are not making any efforts.

Does it mean the NEC will remain in opposition to the NEF even after the elections?

We are not a political party. The political parties will do what they think is right for them to do but we are not a political party.

Will the interest groups in the North also remain divided?

Interest groups are interest groups; they will remain what they are, election or no election.

Would you agree that the North is no more unified as it used to be?

There has never been a unified North. In the North, people are free to pursue whichever opinion they believe in. This was what happened in the First Republic when there were no fewer than 10 political parties. The majority of northerners contested elections on these various platforms and won. So was the Second Republic; there was the NPN, the Great Nigeria Peoples Party, the Peoples Republican Party and the Nigeria’s Peoples Party. Each of them won elections in the North. Therefore, the North has never been one political entity or a political party group. We belong to different political persuasions. And so we will continue to be.