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Abakaliki Shutdown as Obi storms Ebonyi

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*Promises New Nigeria where lives would be secured

As the Labour Party (LP) Presidential campaign trail moved to Ebonyi State, yesterday, the busy Afikpo road, Ogoja road, Udensi round about and Ezza Road were all deserted as shop owners and traders in their thousands went to welcome the party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi.

Obi, who arrived Abakaliki at about 2:30 pm, with his running mate, Ahmed Datti, were received by chieftains of the party.

The LP presidential candidate who was at Grand Arena to meet with the party faithfuls , assured the people of a new Nigeria where lives and properties would be secured.

Obi assured the party faithfuls that he would restored Nigerian’s lost glory, if voted into power, saying he should be held responsible if his administration fails to impact positively on the lives and economy of the nation.

Why addressing a mammoth crowd in PA Oruta Township Stadium, in Abakaliki, he appealed to voters to trust him with their mandate, and that they will not regret their decisions.

The LP Presidential Candidate also added that his administration would ensure that his policies and programmes would favour the youths to end the sufferings Nigerians are facing under the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government.

He urge the people not to vote for those contesting based on religion, tribe and turn but focus on competence, credibility and performance in various sphere of influence in the presidential election.

He said: “This year’s election is not going to be about religion; let’s not allow them to divide us again. It is nobody’s turn, but your turn to take back your country.

“Am contesting this election as an Igbo man who is most qualified. People want to be president but they have not told you who they are . I will change this country; hold me responsible. This is a great country and there’s no reason we are to be suffering. We don’t want those who are stealing our money.

“Anybody that gives you, money take it. It’s your money. Take the money and reject them. I was the governor of Anambra State and I never owned anybody. I left N75 billion naira.

“We want you to vote for human being. We want to take care of mama, papa and pikin. Hold me responsible, let’s build a new Nigeria. This my government will be for everyone; Mama papa, pikin.”

He noted that some money-bag politicians in the country have been using religion and tribe especially during elections to divide the country.

Mammoth crowd at Pa Ngele Oruta Township Stadium

Obi said “this year’s election should not be on tribe, no tribal brain is cheaper. Every tribe is suffering, there is insurgency in the North, there is insecurity in the North. Katsina is not secured neither Maiduguari is secured . We don’t want that any longer, this is what they use to divide us.

“This year’s election will not be based on religion. Let nobody deceive you on religion because that is what is used to deceive us.

“Let no one divide us again by religion, we don’t want that division any more and let no one tell you it is my turn, it is nobody turn. It is your turn to take back your country.

“This year’s election must be based on character that we can trust. I am not contesting this election as an Igbo man or an Easterner. I am contesting this election as a Nigerian who is the most qualified”.

In his part, the former Minister of state for Health, Mr. Fidelis Nwankwo during the campaign Rally said only Peter Obi will fix the food, fuel and Naria scarcities that is wrecking havoc on Nigerians.

According to Nwankwo, the country is in dare need of a young man that has capacity and vision to transform the country.

Okowa Restates Govt’s Commitment to Empower Deltans

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By Amarachi Okechukwu

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has reiterated the commitment of his administration to empower Deltans to be productive and self-reliant.

Okowa said this, Tuesday, at the convocation of 173 graduands of the third batch of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC, Skills Academy at PTI Conference Centre, Warri, Delta State.

At the event during which DESOPADEC issued business starter packs to the 173 graduands with additional N200,000 for each person to further support them in setting up, Okowa urged the graduands to go into the business world with focus and gritty determination to succeed.

The governor’s Chief of Staff, Ovie Agas, who represented him, said: “Senator Okowa was elected on the mantra of prosperity for all and one of his cardinal programmes is human capital development. The public service cannot absorb all our graduates and, as good parents, we will not allow our children to be roaming the streets in search of jobs. That is why we established the Jobs and Wealth Creation Office.

“I have seen many empowerment programmes, but that of DESOPADEC is exceptional. The management is highly focused and committed and the graduates are well-trained and courteous.”

Earlier in an address, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of DESOPADEC, Bashorun Askia Ogieh, who had mentored the graduands in a Business Development Seminar a day before the graduation, charged them to pursue success in their various fields.

Ogieh said: “I am excited that, once again, we have succeeded in re-skilling, upskilling, equipping and empowering a good number of our young persons to pursue a life of productive engagement, financial independence and self-worth.”

“The objective of DESOPADEC Skills Academy draws from an important cardinal programme of Governor Okowa which is human capacity development.

“This realisation gave birth to DESOPADEC Skills Academy, which we have now institutionalised to reinforce the impact of the state government on the youth of our mandate communities.

“Accordingly, we have not only trained our graduates in different skills but also in various aspects of entrepreneurship, self and business development.”

FG Installs Powerplant to address Inadequate Electricity In Ebonyi

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By Iduma Simon

The Federal Government has completed the installation of a 50MVA Electricity power plant to address the electricity challenges of Ishielu Local Government Area and other local Government areas within the corridor to Afikpo.

Governor David Nweze Umahi announced this while addressing supporters at the APC Local Government Rally in Ezillo, Ishielu, Tuesday.

The Governor clarified that the powerplant would also supply power to other Communities and Local Government Areas bordering Ishielu.

Governor Umahi while announcing that President Muhammadu Buhari has awarded contract for the construction of plant for manufacture of limestone granules in Okpoto, maintained that his administration had constructed hundreds of kilometres of roads on concrete pavement including the Nkalagu flyover for Ishielu people within the last seven years.

He charged the people to redouble their solidarity to the Candidature of Right Honourable Francis Nwifuru as Governor and other Candidates of APC in the forthcoming general elections.

The Wife of the Governor, Mrs. Rachel Umahi, appealed to Ishielu people to vote the Governorship Candidate and other Candidates of APC for the continuity of Divine Mandate in the State.

The Governorship Candidate of the APC, Hon Francis Nwifuru assured that he would resuscitate the Nkalagu Cement factory if elected in the March Guber poll.

Mr Nwifuru also pledged to revolutionize Agriculture and put the State Rice Farm in Ezillo to uptimum use.

While assuring of food sufficiency through practical Agriculture, Nwifuru said under his regime, the food silos in Ezillo would be filled to capacity to save for the rainy day.

The Director General of the Divine Mandate Campaign Council, Chief Austin Umahi, the Director General Women Wing, Mrs Catherine Ogbu and the State APC Chairman enjoined the people to endeavour to convert their massive mobilization to the rally to electoral victory for APC in the elections.

The Executive Chairman of Ishielu Local Government Area, Mr. Obinna John Onwe, Chief Ben Okah, Mrs. Chinwe Okah, Chief Ali Ogbuzuru, Mrs. Queendaline Nwigwe, Dr. Henry Alo, Dr. Stephen Odoh, Julius Nwokpor appreciated the Governor for his massive love for the people, assuring that they would work assiduously to return the Council to APC in the general elections.

The Candidate of APC for Ebonyi Central Senatorial District, Chief Ken Eze and the Candidate for Ezza North/Ishielu Federal Constituency, Mrs Nora Alo solicited the people to vote for them in the February election, assuring that they would repay the the solidarity through effective representation at the National Assembly.

El-Rufai’s Bombshell: Certain People In Aso Rock Working To Ensure Tinubu’s Defeat

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By Iduma Simon

Barely a week after the All Progressives Congress Presidential candidate, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, raised the alarm that the Naira Design and fuel scarcity were part of an ochestrated plot to undermine him in the forthcoming general elections, Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El- Rufai has spoken in similar vein.

Speaking on Wednesday on a Channels TV monitored programme, Sunrise Daily, Governor Nasir El-Rufai declared that certain individuals whose favoured candidate lost out in the APC presidential convention where Senator Tinubu emerged are in league to supplant the APC presidential candidate in February 25 presidential election.

The governor said those individual elements are hiding behind President Muhammadu Buhari’s desire to do what he thinks is right.

He said: ”I believe there are elements in the Villa that want us to lose the election because they didn’t get their way; they had their candidate. Their candidate did not win the primaries.

“They are trying to get us to lose the election, and they are hiding behind the president’s desire to do what he thinks is right. I will give two examples: this petroleum subsidy, which is costing the country trillions of Naira, was something that we all agreed would be removed. In fact, I had a discussion with the president and showed him why it had to go. Because how can you have a capital budget of N200b for federal roads and then spend N2 Trillion on petroleum subsidy? This was a conversation I had with the president in 2021 when the subsidy thing started rising. He was convinced. We left. It changed. Everyone in the government agreed, and it changed.

“The second example I will give is this currency redesign. You have to understand the president. People are blaming the Governor of the Central Bank for the currency redesign, but No. You have to go back and look at the first outing of Buhari as president. He did this; the Buhari, Idiagbon regime changed our currency and did it in secrecy with a view to catching those that are stashing away illicit funds. It is a very good intention. The president has his right. But doing it at this time within the allotted time does not make any political or economic sense.”

We’re in talks, I may work with Peter Obi, Kwankwaso – Atiku

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By Iduma Simon

Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Atiku Abubakar, has hinted on a possibility of working with the candidates of the New Nigerian People Party, NNPP, Rabiu Kwankwaso and Labour Party’s Peter Obi in the February 25 presidential election.

Atiku made this known in an 15-minute interview with BBC Hausa service yesterday, these include: What I’ll do differently to put Nigeria’s economy on right path — Atiku

The PDP presidential flag bearer stated this after meeting with the duo to support his ambition in the forthcoming election.

According to Atiku, both Obi and Kwankwaso are not a threat to his chances of winning at the February 25 poll.

He said, “Although, I see no threat in any of them but we are in talks, and the discussion might yield a positive result that will see one of them coming.”

On the lingering PDP crisis, Atiku said each party has its internal crisis and theirs will not be an exemption but they are looking to solve every difference in no distant time.

Atiku said, “Each party has its internal crisis, we are still talking with them. Most are neither in PDP nor in other parties and definitely that will not make us lose the election because we are okay with the election preparations for now.

“Election now is not like in the past when a governor will dictate who to vote for, election today is in the hands of the voters,” he added.

Obi to Universities: ‘Give students one-week holiday to go and vote’

 

By Victoria Aliyogbe

The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, has said over three million Nigerian students who are eligible to vote in the forthcoming presidential election should not be disenfranchised.

He made this statement yesterday during a meeting with observers from the European Union, Election Observation Mission (EU-EOM).

He said about 3.5 million students may not be able to vote if at least one week holiday is not given to enable them to return to their area of registration.

He said: “I am sure the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will do the right thing. I am sure the universities will give them the break to go and vote. It is important because it is about their future this election is about these young people and I’m sure they will allow them to go and vote. We will continue to mention it to them as we go along.”

The LP candidate also expressed concern about the inability of some Nigerians in a few states, particularly in Lagos State, to collect their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs). He said: “For me now, what is important is ensuring that people collect their PVCs. There are some areas where people are still complaining that they are being denied their PVCs for one reason or the other. INEC must give them attention.

“I must give INEC credit for extending the date for the collection of PVC but again I urge them to ensure that people collect their PVC. This election is very important to Nigerians. It is an existential election. We want all those that have registered to participate.”

The National Chairman of the Labour Party, Barrister Julius Abure said the youth has a stake in the coming election they are the ones that bear the brunt of maladministration. He said: “When the voter registration was ongoing, most of the university students were at home and they did their registration at home.

“Right now they are in school and if they remain in school during the election, it means they will be denied the opportunity to vote. So we are asking that a one-week break should be given as a holiday to enable them to go and vote. You would have excluded them, if they have their PVC and are not in the place where they can use it to vote.”

“Generally, the country is insecure. We want the security to improve before and during the election because if security is not guaranteed we may have a situation were legitimate voters may be afraid to come out on the election days to vote.

“So, there must be assurances that security will be beefed up. So we need the security agencies, the commander in chief to continously give the assurances that security will be guaranteed on that day.

“And the security agencies themselves because we have had situations where the security agencies are being used to rig election or create an enabling environment for elections to be manipulated or in some cases facilitate vote buying.”

Judge withdraws from suit  challenging NDDC board

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By Amarachi Okechukwu

Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court sitting in Warri, Delta State has recused himself from the suit before he challenged the composition of the new board of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.

Justice Abang in the suit by Prince Emmanuel Okotie-Eboh, son of Nigeria’s first Finance Minister, Festus Okotie-Eboh, and others said since he is from the Niger Delta, he would want the matter be reassigned to a judge preferably that is not from the region. He, thereafter, instructed that the file be sent to the Chief Judge for reassignment .

The plaintiffs, Okotie-Eboh and others, had on behalf of indigenes and members of oil and gas producing communities of Itsekiri ethnic extraction in Delta State sought the court to, among others, restrain the new board of the NDDC from implementing the budget of the commission.

Their counsel, Robinson Ariyo at the resumed hearing in the matter, yesterday, told the court that the matter before it was ripe for hearing.

BVAS not compromised, exposed over voting in Osun – INEC

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By Iduma Simon

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Resident Electoral Commissioner for Osun State, Dr Mutiu Agboke has revealed that it was the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machine that exposed that there was over voting in the Osun 2022 gubernatorial election.

This is as Agboke also debunked insinuations that the BVAS was used for voting.

This latest reaction is coming on the heels of the judgment of the Osun guber election petitions tribunal on Friday which established that there was over voting during the Osun 2022 guber poll.

While noting that the BVAS machine was only used for voter accreditation, the Osun INEC boss noted that the inadequacies identified will make the vote of the people of Osun count during the general elections.

Agboke made this known during a visit to Oba Abdulrosheed Adewale Akanbi, the Oluwo of Iwo on Tuesday.

According to him, “Some people did deliberately bypass the BVAS verification due to corrupt politicians and the connivance of INEC adhoc staff.

“The Electoral Act, 2020, envisaged that there may be over voting and the BVAS exposed the fraud. We are going to beam our searchlights on our adhoc staff.”

Agboke urged the monarch to prevail on his subjects to collect their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs).

He also disclosed that there were about 13,000 PVCs that were left uncollected in Iwo Local Government.

“The traditional institution is one of the pillars of success for INEC, so we need to pay homage.

“We have been carrying the message to the traditional rulers to help inform their subjects to collect their PVCs because no PVC, no vote.

“Oluwo should assist INEC to talk to politicians because elections are not all about war. Nobody will be declared winner except candidates who are voted for,” he said.

Agboke, who also warned that INEC adhoc staff who connived with politicians to bypass the BVAS accreditation during the general elections would be dealt with, urged the electorates to be cautious and report any case of infraction.

“People should open their eyes very well on election day and incase of any infraction, INEC should be contacted. Any adhoc staff who sabotages the process will go to jail,” he warned.

In his response, Oba Akanbi counselled the INEC to beam its searchlight on their adhoc staff.

While recommending punishment for any errant adhoc staff, Oba Akanbi urged Agboke to warn his staff against sabotaging the electoral process.

“Let us punish any INEC official found wanting and aiding and abetting rigging. They should be loyal to this country because Nigeria will be better,” he said.

POS operator beaten to pulp for withdrawing twice at ATM Stand in Ebonyi

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*As Scarcity of Naira hits the State

By  Victoria Aliyogbe

One Abraham, a Point of Sales operator has been beaten to pulp for withdrawing twice from an ATM machine.

The incident occured on Tuesday, Monday 31st, 2023 at one of the Atm stands in Abakaliki.

According to the POS operator, he withdrew once and was about to withdraw the second time with another ATM card, when others who quened behind him noticed and pounced on him.

Stating  “ I went to the ATM yesterday to withdraw money, so I can go back to my POS stand, the crowd were too much at the ATM.

“So I decided to withdraw twice with different ATM so that I will have enough cash to dispense when I get to my POS stand. Unfortunately when I tried to slot in my card, the people bounced on me and beat me mercilessly. ”

” They beat me because they was no much money in the ATM to be dispensed. ”

He maintained that the huge quene at ATM stands and the stress in getting new naira notes have made POS Operators increased their charges across the State.

According to information gathered by The Voice, POS Operators now charge N100 for every N1,000 and N1,000 for every N10,000 withdrawn or transferred to another account.

According to David, a POS operator he said he charges charges  N400 for N5000. Stating “the maximum amount of money I allow customers to withdraw is N10,000. I do this so that I can be able to have enough money for the day”

Also, Chioma, another POS agent said the scarcity of money has not been good on her and she collects N500 and N1,000 on withdrawals for N5000, and N10,000 respectively

She said, “these banks are not ready to give us new notes and that is why the scarcity of money continue.

According to Mr Chibuzor, a customer he said I withdrew N10,000 from a POS operator in Presco, and I paid N1,000

Speaking with another operator, Mr Abraham he said, “ I went to the ATM yesterday to withdraw money so I can go back to my POS stand but people were too much at the ATM and I was even beaten by some people because I used two cards to withdraw money, they beat me because there is no enough money been dispensed by the ATM”

Meanwhile, customers crowded ATMs across the city , waiting and expecting new currency, and those who were impatient looked for POS operators to make urgent withdrawal.

Commercial Banks will accept old notes after deadline – CBN Governor

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By Victoria Aliyogbe

The Governor of the Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele, has said commercial banks will still accept the old Naira notes after its expiration on 10 February 2023

Mr Emefiele announced this on Tuesday while appearing before the ad hoc committee set up by the House of Representatives looking into the implementation of the policy, although he did not state how long the expired notes would be accepted by the banks.

The CBN governor said he agrees with section 20(3) of the CBN Act, which provides that commercial banks must accept old notes after a deadline.

The Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila had accused the CBN governor of breaching Section 20 of the CBN Act which according to him, mandates commercial banks to accept old notes even after its expiration.

He said “After the expiration date, such naira notes changed will no longer be legal tender but it also says that even five months, three months, or two months after, even in June, all the old notes presented to the bank shall be redeemed by the bank,”

In his speech, Mr Emefiele agreed with the lawmakers on Section 20 of the CBN Act said “the law which says even after the old currency has lost its legal tender status that we are mandated to collect these money. And I stand with the House of Reps on this.

He also said “But if you have your money that you have not been able to send to the bank we will certainly give you the opportunity to bring them back into the CBN to redeem it. Either you pay it to your bank account or you want to do an exchange—we will give you. You will not lose your money. This is the assurance I give to Nigerians.”

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