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Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Press Statement: Senator Saraki officially leaves ruling party APC


I wish to inform Nigerians that, after extensive consultations, I have decided to take my leave of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

This is not a decision that I have made lightly. If anything at all, I have tarried for so long and did all that was humanly possible, even in the face of great provocation, ridicule and flagrant persecution, to give opportunity for peace, reconciliation and harmonious existence. 

Perhaps, more significantly, I am mindful of the fact that I carry on my shoulder a great responsibility for thousands of my supporters, political associates and friends, who have trusted in my leadership and have attached their political fortunes to mine. However, it is after an extensive consultation with all the important stakeholders that we have come to this difficult but inevitable decision to pitch our political tent elsewhere; where we could enjoy greater sense of belonging and where the interests of the greatest number of our Nigerians would be best served. 

While I take full responsibility for this decision, I will like to emphasise that it is a decision that has been inescapably imposed on me by certain elements and forces within the APC who have ensured that the minimum conditions for peace, cooperation, inclusion and a general sense of belonging did not exist. 

They have done everything to ensure that the basic rules of party administration, which should promote harmonious relations among the various elements within the party were blatantly disregarded. All governance principles which were required for a healthy functioning of the party and the government were deliberately violated or undermined. And all entreaties for justice, equity and fairness as basic precondition for peace and unity, not only within the party, but also the country at large, were simply ignored, or employed as additional pretext for further exclusion. 

The experience of my people and associates in the past three years is that they have suffered alienation and have been treated as outsiders in their own party. Thus, many have become disaffected and disenchanted. At the same time, opportunities to seek redress and correct these anomalies were deliberately blocked as a government-within-a-government had formed an impregnable wall and left in the cold, everyone else who was not recognized as “one of us”. This is why my people, like all self-respecting people would do, decided to seek accommodation elsewhere. 

I have had the privilege to lead the Nigerian legislature in the past three years as the President of the Senate and the Chairman of the National Assembly. The framers of our constitution envisage a degree of benign tension among the three arms of government if the principle of checks and balances must continue to serve as the building block of our democracy. In my role as the head of the legislature, and a leader of the party, I have ensured that this necessary tension did not escalate at any time in such a way that it could encumber Executive function or correspondingly, undermine the independence of the legislature. Over the years, I have made great efforts in the overall interest of the country, and in spite of my personal predicament, to manage situations that would otherwise have resulted in unsavoury consequences for the government and the administration. My colleagues in the Senate will bear testimony to this. 

However, what we have seen is a situation whereby every dissent from the legislature was framed as an affront on the executive or as part of an agenda to undermine the government itself. The populist notion of anti-corruption became a ready weapon for silencing any form of dissent and for framing even principled objection as “corruption fighting back”. Persistent onslaught against the legislature and open incitement of the people against their own representatives became a default argument in defence of any short-coming of the government in a manner that betrays all too easily, a certain contempt for the Constitution itself or even the democracy that it is meant to serve. 

Unfortunately, the self-serving gulf that has been created between the leadership of the two critical arms of government based on distrust and mutual suspicion has made any form of constructive engagement impossible. Therefore, anything short of a slavish surrender in a way that reduces the legislature to a mere rubber stamp would not have been sufficient in procuring the kind of rapprochement that was desired in the interest of all. But I have no doubt in my mind, that to surrender this way is to be complicit in the subversion of the institution that remains the very bastion of our democracy. I am a democrat. And I believe that anyone who lays even the most basic claim to being a democrat will not accept peace on those terms; which seeks to compromise the very basis of our existence as the parliament of the people. 

The recent weeks have witnessed a rather unusual attempts to engage with some of these most critical issues at stake. Unfortunately, the discord has been allowed to fester unaddressed for too long, with dire consequences for the ultimate objective of delivering the common good and achieving peace and unity in our country. Any hope of reconciliation at this point was therefore very slim indeed. Most of the horses had bolted from the stable. 

The emergence of a new national party executives a few weeks ago held out some hopes, however slender. The new party chairman has swung into action and did his best alongside some of the Governors of APC and His Excellency, the Vice President. I thank them for all their great efforts to save the day and achieve reconciliation. Even though I thought these efforts were coming late in the day, but seeing the genuine commitment of these gentlemen, I began to think that perhaps it was still possible to reconsider the situation. 

However, as I have realized all along, there are some others in the party leadership hierarchy, who did not think dialogue was the way forward and therefore chose to play the fifth columnists. These individuals went to work and ensured that they scuttled the great efforts and the good intentions of these aforementioned leaders of the party. Perhaps, had these divisive forces not thrown the cogs in the wheel at the last minutes, and in a manner that made it impossible to sustain any trust in the process, the story today would have been different. 

For me, I leave all that behind me. Today, I start as I return to the party where I began my political journey, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

When we left the PDP to join the then nascent coalition of All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2014, we left in a quest for justice, equity and inclusion; the fundamental principles on which the PDP was originally built but which it had deviated from. We were attracted to the APC by its promise of change. We fought hard along with others and defeated the PDP. 

In retrospect, it is now evident that the PDP has learnt more from its defeat than the APC has learnt from its victory. The PDP that we return to is now a party that has learnt its lessons the hard way and have realized that no member of the party should be taken for granted; a party that has realized that inclusion, justice and equity are basic precondition for peace; a party that has realized that never again can the people of Nigeria be taken for granted. 

I am excited by the new efforts, which seeks to build the reborn PDP on the core principles of promoting democratic values; internal democracy; accountability; inclusion and national competitiveness; genuine commitment to restructuring and devolution of powers; and an abiding belief in zoning of political and elective offices as an inevitable strategy for managing our rich diversity as a people of one great indivisible nation called Nigeria. 

What we have all agreed is that a deep commitment to these ideals were not only a demonstration of our patriotism but also a matter of enlightened self-interest, believing that our very survival as political elites of this country will depend on our ability to earn the trust of our people and in making them believe that, more than anything else, we are committed to serving the people. 

What the experience of the last three years have taught us is that the most important task that we face as a country is how to reunite our people. Never before had so many people in so many parts of our country felt so alienated from their Nigerianness. Therefore, we understand that the greatest task before us is to reunite the county and give everyone a sense of belonging regardless of region or religion.

Every Nigerian must have an instinctive confidence that he or she will be treated with justice and equity in any part of the country regardless of the language they speak or how they worship God. This is the great task that trumps all. Unless we are able to achieve this, all other claim to progress no matter how defined, would remain unsustainable.

This is the task that I am committing myself to and I believe that it is in this PDP, that I will have the opportunity to play my part.  It is my hope that the APC will respect the choice that I have made as my democratic right, and understand that even though we will now occupy a different political space, we do not necessarily become enemies unto one another. 

Thank you.

Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, CON
President of the Senate.

Monday, 23 July 2018

CAF backs Pinnick in Nigerian row as government calls emergency talks

By Andrew Warsaw

The political in-fighting plaguing Nigerian football has taken another twist with the man ousted as head of the national federation (NFF) being personally endorsed by his confederation.
Last week, the resumption of Nigeria’s domestic league was postponed indefinitely amid a leadership crisis that has caused total gridlock with a FIFA ban imminent.
Earlier this month, Chris Giwa, founder of a rival faction in the NFF, seized control insisting he was elected president in a disputed vote back in August 2014 following a court rulingHowever, FIFA recognises Amaju Pinnick (pictured) as the Federation’s chief and Gianni Infantino has warned the Nigerian authorities to expect a ban if they do not comply with the regulations over government inference.

Pinnick also has the backing of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) having just been named CAF’s first vice president to replace Ghana’s Kwesi Nyantakyi who was forced to step down over alleged bribery.

At a weekend symposium in Morocco to examine the poor displays of African teams at the World Cup, Pinnick was singled out for praise by CAF’s Third Vice President, Fouzi Lekja, who paid glowing tribute to Pinnick’s administration skills, saying his wealth of experience would help African football’s development.
“African football is lucky to have somebody as knowledgeable as Pinnick as one of its administrators and I hope he will bring the industry he has demonstrated in his FIFA duties to us,” said Lekja. “He is indeed worthy of his position as Africa’s number two football administrator.”
Meanwhile Nigeria’s Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, has summoned an emergency meeting of stakeholders for a round-table summit to discuss the leadership crisis that has factionalised the NFF.

The letter acknowledged that the implementation of the Supreme Court ruling had thrown up a number of challenges for the administration of NFF in terms of who was the legal president of NFF amid “genuine concern for long term development of the sport of football in Nigeria.”

Contact the writer of this story at moc.llabtoofdlrowedisni@wahsraw.werdna

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

VIDEO: FG unveils new national carrier Nigeria Air logo at London airshow

The federal government through the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, Wednesday revealed the branding and livery for a new national flag carrier, Nigeria Air, due to be launched at the end of this year.
Sirika disclosed this at a press conference at the Farnborough Air Show in London, UK.
Sirika, in a statement by the Ministry’s Deputy Director, Media & Public Affairs, Mr. James Odaudu, in Abuja, noted that: 

“The ‘unveiling’ was attended by a cross section of the international press, Nigerian dignitaries, stakeholders, aircraft manufacturers, prospective investors and a Nigerian government delegation including S. Zakari, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation; Senator Adamu Aliero, Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation; and Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, Chairperson, House Committee on Aviation, and included a short film showing an aircraft with the new Nigeria Air livery. 
Short film at the event: 
According to him, “I am very pleased to tell you that we are finally on track to launching a new national flag carrier for our country: Nigeria Air.

“We are all fully committed to fulfilling the campaign promise made by our President, Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.  We are aiming to launch Nigeria Air by the end of this year.”
He said: “Following extensive market research, the branding of our new airline, Nigeria Air, demonstrates a true flag carrier of our nation, soaring through the skies in the shape of our nation’s eagle.”

He informed the audience that the branding and naming of the new national carrier comes on the back of a social media campaign undertaken under the auspices of the Ministry of Transportation (Aviation) which invited Nigerian youths; and students for their input and creativity to come up with a name for the new Nigerian flag carrier.
“The Facebook page and websitenameyourairlinenigeria engaged over 400,000 people up until the deadline for submissions, which was on 25th June 2018,” he said.

He added that: “Detailed and extensive market research was commissioned by the Ministry of Transportation (Aviation), which involved focus groups across Nigeria and over 100 interviews with aviation stakeholders and professionals, politicians, Nigerian business owners, students and a broad spectrum of people across Nigeria.

“The research concluded that Nigeria is a proud nation with diverse populace, a strong cultural heritage and a people that are hungry for a unifying national flag carrier.

“The Ministry of Transportation (Aviation) is also currently running an aviation road map that includes airport concessions, Aerotropolis, an aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Centre, agro allied terminals, the national carrier and an aircraft leasing company.”

Sirika observed that: “The Nigerian Government will support the launch of the new flag carrier with viability gap funding, in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement to deliver a national flag carrier, guided by the international ICAO standards, that will stand the IOSA audit from the start, and lead to a fast IATA membership for international operation.”

He explained that the unveiling of the airline at the Farnborough International Airshow was cognisant of the fact that being the largest congregation of global aviation industry players, the event affords the best opportunity to market the airline to prospective investors and register it in the minds of all stakeholders ahead of its formal launch billed to take place in Abuja before the end of the year.

He said: “I want to personally thank our transaction advisers, led by AMG, and the special task force, who have worked diligently to achieve the results so far and overcome the challenges involved. We obtained the Certificate of Compliance from the Nigerian Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) two weeks ago and can now go into the investor search.

“I am confident that we will have a well-run national flag carrier, a global player, compliant to international safety standards, one which has the customer at its heart. We hope to establish an airline that communicates the essence of our beautiful country, an airline we can all be proud of.”

He however assured Nigerians and the international community that the government had learnt a lot of lessons from the experience of the defunct Nigeria Airways, and now determined not to repeat the mistakes that led to its demise. This, he said, informed the decision to take the Public Private Partnership (PPP) approach.

Friday, 13 July 2018

See how 'Trump Baby' welcomes US President to London amidst protests

'Trump baby' blimp welcomes president to London

'Trump baby' blimp hovers over London's parliament amid protests of his visit

PHOTO: A six-meter high cartoon baby blimp of President Donald Trump is flown as a protest against his visit, in Parliament Square in London, July 13, 2018.PlayMatt Dunham/AP
WATCH 'Trump baby' blimp welcomes president to London
With its straw-blond hair, questionable face tan and unmistakably out-of-proportion hands, a blimp intended to depict President Donald Trump as a screaming baby flew outside the Parliament building in London Friday.
Protesters accompanied the "Trump baby" balloon, with signs railing against Trump’s policies on topics including immigration, race relations, women and climate change

“This is what people need to be doing — to come together in their communities to organize and work out how to stand against right-wing populism and xenophobia that we’re seeing not just in the U.S. but in Europe,” organizer Kevin Smith told The Associated Press.
PHOTO: A six-meter high cartoon baby blimp of President Donald Trump is flown as a protest against his visit, in Parliament Square in London, July 13, 2018.Matt Dunham/AP
A six-meter high cartoon baby blimp of President Donald Trump is flown as a protest against his visit, in Parliament Square in London, July 13, 2018.more +
Smith is part of the Stop Trump Coalitionand one of the 16 people behind the balloon.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Amaju Pinnick appointed by CAF as new 1st Vice President following NFF crisis

The Confederation of African Football, CAF, on Thursday appointed the embattled president of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, as the new Vice President of the body.

Pinnick replaces Ghanaian Football Federation President Kwesi Nyantaki, who stepped down after corruption allegations last month.
His appointment comes amid a renewed leadership tussle within the NFF.

A ruling by Federal High Court sitting in Jos, the Plateau State capital, has ordered Chris Giwa, to take over the Glass House.
Giwa had earlier been banned from all football related matters by both FIFA and CAF.  

The letter of appointment which was signed by CAF General Secretary Amr Fahmy and dated July 5, 2018. According to the CAF Scribe, Amaju’s promotion was necessitated by the resignation of the first Vice President, Kwesi Nyantaky who was also the President of Ghana Football Association. The letter of appointment reads thus: 

‘’Following the resignation of the 1st Vice President, Mr Kwesi Nyantaky, CAF President, after consulting the members of the Emergency Committee, appointed Mr Amaju Melvin Pinnick as 1st Vice President. This decision is immediately applicable, in accordance with article 27 para 2 of the Statutes, which will be ratified by the Executive Committee in its session scheduled on the 27 ad 28 September 2018. We thank you for kindly taking note’’. 

The letter was signed by Secretary General of CAF, Amr Fahmy. By this appointment, Amaju Pinnick has become the most powerful football administrator in West Africa and second most powerful in Africa. Before now, Amaju was also appointed president of two high profile committees of the body. 

The embattled NFF boss oversees the Africa Cup of Nations committee which will see him in charge of the organization of all nations cup tournaments. 

Former CAF President Issa Hayatou chaired the last AFCON committee. Pinnick also holds the leadership baton of the Media committee of the continental football body. 

He is also a member of the Organising Committee of the World Cup and has been in charge of many World Cup matches ongoing in Russia. Following the disquiet in the Nigerian football house, Amaju had ignored all pleas not to talk about it.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018



In his Oath of Office, taken on May 29, 2015 President Muhammadu Buhari said, “The Federal Executive under my watch will not seek to encroach on the duties and functions of the Legislative and Judicial arms of government. The law enforcing authorities will be charged to operate within the Constitution.”

Three years down the line, this solemn vow seems to have been kept in the breach as the Presidency, the Federal Executive in Nigeria  has obviously disregarded and discountenanced with impunity any ruling or judgment of court which appears not to suit its purpose. 
(Watch Video) 
In a country where the Rule of Law is highly esteemed or given any regard at all, adherence to court rulings should not be about an individual’s feelings, whims and caprices, rather deference and absolute obedience to one of the fulcrums of our democracy and maintenance of the sanctity of the courts should be the order of the day.

It is in this regard that I hope that the President Muhammadu Buhari led Executive of the Federal Government of Nigeria will give regard to, comply with and without fail, obey the latest court order/ruling delivered by Hon. Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu on the bail of the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki and other court rulings, orders and judgments seeking compliance by the Executive of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

I must emphatically point out that the failure of the Executive of Federal Government to allow Col. Dasuki enjoy bail which has been granted to him severally (six now in total) is a danger to our nascent democracy and those of us who are ministers in the temple of justice ought to cry out before we are buried in the sands of impunity. 

Take note that if Dasuki who is part of the few power elite could be treated with such impunity, then there is no such guarantee that other Nigerians/clients who are granted reprieve by the courts to the dissatisfaction of the government will be allowed their liberty as granted by the courts.

Therefore, if the Executive of the Federal Government of Nigeria fails to honour the bail order by Justice Ojukwu within Seven (7) Days of fulfilment of the bail Condition as stipulated by the court, I appeal to the Nigeria Bar Association to boycott the courts and urge the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to resign his position in the circumstance.

But let me also put on record without equivocation that should the NBA fail to see this threat to democracy and heed my appeal, I will proceed to boycott the courts and galvanize like minds in this regard to show that Nigeria is not a Banana Republic where the Government can pick and choose which Court order to obey or disobey. 

The efficacy of court rulings is in their applications by all parties irrespective of how they feel about such orders. The Executive of the Federal Government of Nigeria cannot be allowed to cherry pick which judgment to obey. 

It is an irony that the Executive recently finds it expedient to obey the Judgment of the Supreme Court on the Nigerian Football Federation after a long hesitation but not on Dasuki.

We should all know that if the Executive is allowed to decide which orders it will obey, it will totally endanger the authority of the judiciary as an arm of Government which can put the Executive in check and it offers little or no hope to citizens that their fundamental human rights can be guaranteed.

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