Wednesday, 21 January 2015
Tuesday, 20 January 2015
Monday, 19 January 2015
I’m fit, PDP is desperate, says Buhari
The Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Maj. General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has denied media reports that he is terminally ill.
But shortly after he made the denial in Abuja on Sunday, the Peoples Democratic Party challenged him to take a brisk walk or jog round a stadium if, indeed, he was hale and hearty.
Some newspapers and on-line publications (The Punch not inclusive) had in their Sunday editions, published that the former military ruler was to be flown out of the country for medical attention.
Buhari told journalists that the report on his state of health was orchestrated by some individuals not only to gain undue political advantage but to divert public attention from corruption which had assumed the front burner of national discourse.
He said, “There were reports that I was to jet out for medical check-up yesterday (Saturday) but here I am. I was in Nasarawa and Benue states yesterday (Saturday) and tomorrow (today), I will be in two states.
“The day after tomorrow (Tuesday), I will be in two more states. I sincerely don’t know how they got the impression that I was sick. I had a cold but it did not stop me from going through my schedule.”
Buhari added that a medical document purportedly confirming his alleged poor state of health was fake.
The APC presidential candidate said, “The Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital said the documents are forged.
“This desperation is beyond my comprehension. The issue we are letting Nigerians know is that there has been much corruption in this country in the last 16 years. The Peoples Democratic Party has literally destroyed this country.”
When asked to make a categorical statement on his health, Buhari jokingly asked the reporter, “How old are you, 50 years? I can tell you that if we go to the field, you will not stay as long as I would.”
The APC candidate also used the occasion to debunk allegations that his tenure at the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund was riddled with corruption.
He said that the PTF was investigated and the report presented to the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, who recently confirmed it.
Buhari said, “That one has been cleared. There was no fraud in the PTF. Gen. Obasanjo recently answered that question; he confirmed that there was an investigation and the report was brought to him and there was nothing on the ground as far as my management and chairmanship of the PTF were concerned.
“The person who did the investigation as President cleared me.”
The former military ruler also spoke on the controversy surrounding his educational qualification, saying he was surprised that it was coming up now.
He said, “I have contested three times under the same rules set by INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) where there is a basic educational qualification you must have.
“I was allowed to contest all these elections because my certificate was in order and there were individuals that wrote to the United States War College and the college answered them and they were published in the newspapers.
“So, I really don’t understand this desperation or misinformation that is being passed around. They will do nobody any good because our minds are being taken away from the serious issues of corruption and incompetence by the PDP.”
Commenting on the state of the economy, the APC candidate said despite repeated denials by the Federal Government, “the truth remains that Nigeria is broke.”
Buhari said, “How many states could pay their workers’ salaries? In December, many families went hungry during Christmas because states did not pay the salaries of their workers. So why should they be talking about an individual’s health instead of paying salaries.”
Also, the APC in a statement by the Directorate of Media and Publicity of its Presidential Campaign Organisation accused the PDP of circulating a fake medical report on Buhari’s health.
It said it was ludicrous for the PDP to throw caution to the wind in its “shameless” effort to the pull wool over the eyes of Nigerians who are yearning for a change of guard at the federal level.
The directorate called on Nigerians to the errors on the letterhead conveying the medical report, which wrongly identifies the institution as Ahmadu Bello Teaching Hospital instead of Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital.
The statement partly read, “The attention of the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation has been brought to the circulation of a fake medical record of Gen, Buhari.
“We are able to track the circulation of the post on a social media platform and we know that the information emanated from the Facebook handle of one of Governor Ayo Fayose’s aides.
“It is noteworthy that the authorities at ABUTH have given a clean bill on Gen. Buhari’s health status.
“It is also noteworthy for Nigerians to understand that the PDP will stop at nothing to cast aspersion on the person of Gen. Buhari.
“We knew that the PDP would become unbridled at a point in its desperation to avert the defeat coming its way in the countdown to the February 14 presidential election, but to anticipate that the PDP would go as dirty as spreading falsehood on an individual’s state of health could not have been imaginable.
“What is important is that Nigerians know today that our country is not healthy. They know that the PDP has driven the country to a near state of comatose.”
But the PDP said instead of denying the report, Buhari should jog round a stadium to prove to Nigerians that he was healthy enough to rule the country.
The party, at a news conference in Abuja by the Director of Media and Publicity of its Presidential Campaign Organisation Femi Fani-Kayode, said the rumour that the former Head of State was suffering from prostrate cancer was worrisome.
The PCO said that it was incumbent on everyone to pray for Buhari if the rumour was indeed true.
It added, “The rumour that he is suffering from prostrate cancer is exceptionally worrying and it is incumbent upon each and everyone of us to pray for him if this rumour is true.
“We are constrained to urge him to prove to the Nigerian people that he really is as fit as a fiddle, as the spokesman of his PCO has said, by taking a brisk walk or even jogging around the perimeter of the stadium before any of his rallies.
“If he can do that, it will go a long way to allay the fears of many.”
Asked if the PDP was in possession of any medical report indicating that Buhari was suffering from any terminal ailment, Fani-Kayode said no.
He said that the days of hiding things like a presidential candidate’s health status from the public were long over.Copyright PUNCH.
Thursday, 15 January 2015
INEC dismisses staff over PVC theft, absenteetism
The Independent National Electoral Commission has dismissed two of its officers for alleged burglary and theft of Permanent Voter Cards in its Patani Local Government Area office of Delta state.
This information was contained in the commission’s bulletin released in Abuja on Thursday.
The dismissed officers are: Mr. Collins Omofoma (SGL 09 Officer) and Mr. Onome Avbunudiogba (SGL 07 Officer).
Also, the Commission said it has terminated the appointment of Mrs Obi Chinwoke Ugochi, an Administrative Officer II (SGL 08) for alleged absence from duty without leave. Mrs Ugochi is of the Commission’s Anambra State office.
According to two Decision Extracts dated January 8, 2015 and signed by the Director (Commission’s Secretariat), Ishiaku Gali, the dismissal and termination of the three staff followed the commission’s meeting held on Thursday, January 8, 2015.
Jonathan, Buhari disagree on 2011 post-poll crisis, sign pact
President Goodluck Jonathan said on Wednesday that the post- election violence that erupted in some northern states in 2011 was not caused by electoral malpractices.
Many including 10 members of the National Youth Service Corps died in the violence that erupted after the 2011 presidential poll.
The President, who spoke in Abuja at an election sensitisation workshop on non-violence ahead of the 2015 general elections, said the fear to accept defeat was responsible for the violence.
A former Head of State and the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, who also spoke at the event, reiterated the need for the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct credible poll as a panacea to post-election violence this year.
He recounted his experience of having to resort to court to challenge the outcome of the presidential elections in which he was a candidate in 2003, 2007 and 2011.
But Jonathan disagreed with Buhari on the cause of the post-election violence, insisting that election malpractices were not necessarily the cause of post-election violence.
He, therefore, charged the next National Assembly to look into the nation’s laws with a view to amending them in order to give room to parties with substantial popularity to be part of government formed by the party which polled the highest votes.
He said, “If you look at the 2011 election, we approached it better and I’m quite pleased that a number of civil society activists are here; a lot of observers are here and they did mention that the 2011 election was much better any election conducted by the country . We thank Prof. Attahiru Jega and his team.
“But even then at the end of the election there was violence in some parts of the country. In Kano, properties were destroyed, residential homes were burnt down, and business premises were burnt down. In Bauchi State, 10 young corpers that were involved in the election were slaughtered. Then we asked what led to this level of violence? The violence came when election result was being announced.
“INEC had announced results at every polling unit. The violence didn’t come up in the middle of the election. The results collated had already been announced. But as we are approaching towards the end, it was clear that maybe a candidate was likely to win and violence erupted in Kano and in Bauchi.
“We cannot say there were malpractices to favour the candidate that won because in Kano we got 16 per cent, in Bauchi I got 15 per cent of the votes – those were the least. Even in states where we got 80 per cent or more than 50 per cent, even in opposition states, there was no violence.
“So you see what leads to violence sometimes is not necessarily electoral malpractices but some other causes of violence.”
The President, who said a total of about N10bn had been paid to compensate victims of the 2011 post-election violence, again charged INEC to ensure that no eligible Nigerian was disenfranchised in the forthcoming elections.
He said failure to ensure that every Nigeria voted in the forthcoming polls was a recipe for violence.
The President said, “A number of Nigerians are complaining that they don’t have permanent voter card, what INEC calls the PVC.
“If some people don’t have permanent voter card, the assumption is that, from the beginning, INEC wants to rig election and there is the tendency for those kinds of people to go violent.
“I have been mentioning this to the INEC chairman that you must make sure that every Nigerian votes. If INEC is unable to make sure that every Nigerian votes, that is a recipe for violence.”
At the workshop where a former Secretary-General of the United Nation, Kofi Annan, was a special guest of honour and chaired by a former Secretary-General of Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the presidential candidates in the forthcoming poll signed a five-point accord for peace ahead of the general elections.
Buhari said when Nigeria returned to democracy “16 years ago, we hoped that the developed countries which went through the painful processes of stabilising their system, should learn from them rather than insisting to make the same mistake.”
He said the speeches by speakers at the event were only anchored on hope as his past experience about elections in the country had been nasty.
He recounted how his party competent agents were able to show how he was programmed to lose 40 per cent and 26 per cent respectively in two northern states in 2011.
He said, “They (the agents) compared the results against the INEC register and they put it in the computer garbage in garbage out. What came out is that the presidential candidate of that party was programmed to lose 40 per cent of its scores and when it was done in another state it was 26 per cent.”
Recalling that the cases he filed to challenge the outcome of the three presidential elections all ended at the Supreme Court, he said he spent 13 months in court in 2003, 18 months in 2007 and nine months in 2011.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, also gave an undertaking that it would not be partisan in conducting the general elections, adding that all candidates would be given a level playing field.
Anan said that Nigeria faced a critical test in the 2015 elections, apart from the barbaric Boko Haram insurgency and the falling oil price and its impact on the economy.
He stated that the success of the elections was crucial to the future of the nation and Africa, noting that chaotic elections would send a bad signal out at this crucial time.
Anan therefore challenged the stakeholders to ensure fair, free and peaceful elections, stressing that the success of the polls was not the sole responsibility of INEC.
According to him, political parties, their candidates and supporters all share responsibilities for ensuring free, fair and peaceful elections.