Thursday, April 14, 2011

Why ACN – CPC talks collapsed, FULL DETAILS

ABUJA—ACTION Congress of Nigeria, ACN, yesterday, formally pulled out of alliance talks on presenting a joint candidate with the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, for this weekend’s presidential elections.

From left: ACN spokesman, Alhaji Lai Muhammed; National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande; and National Secretary, Senator Lawali Shuaibu at the news briefing on the failure of discussions on alliance with CPC in Abuja, yesterday. Photo:Gbemiga Olamikan

The breakdown in the talks followed the refusal of CPC Vice-Presidential candidate, Pastor Tunde Bakare, to sign a post-dated letter of resignation that would have enabled the ACN place its nominee for the post after the election.

Despite their initial hesitations, ACN chieftains under pressure from their national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had reconciled themselves to advance the CPC presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, as the joint presidential candidate of the two parties at the late night talks that commenced on Tuesday.

A pledge by CPC representatives at the meeting to resume the talks at 10.00 a.m. yesterday was not fulfilled leaving many ACN chieftains livid.

ACN govs under pressure

ACN Governors who had been under tremendous pressure from President Goodluck Jonathan, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, were even more enraged that they were being scorned by Buhari while President Jonathan was on his part seriously courting them through telephone calls and emissaries including traditional rulers.

CPC National Chairman, Prince Tony Momoh, while regretting the breakdown of the talks told Vanguard that Bakare was entitled to exercise his right to freedom of association.

The talks as exclusively reported by Vanguard had been brokered by two former heads of state from the North and a former Vice-President, all of them with strong attachment to the ruling PDP.

Vanguard gathered that former Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and erstwhile National Security Adviser, Gen. Aliyu Gusau had, Monday, made contact with Tinubu as to the possibility of forging an alliance with ACN against the PDP.

It was learnt that Tinubu had immediately relayed the request to the national caucus of the ACN that also met in Abuja, Monday. Majority of the caucus members were said to be against it on the basis of what they claimed were past disappointments from Buhari. The persistent pleas from Tinubu and Chief Tom Ikimi to give Buhari another opportunity, however, paved the way.

Ribadu’s mature response

Among those present at the Monday ACN caucus meeting was the party’s presidential candidate, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu. Party insiders informed Vanguard that Ribadu responded to the matter of stepping down very maturely.

One source said: “He was very mature in the way he took it. He said that everyone was aware that he was less than eight months in politics and that Buhari has been involved for some time and that he was willing to learn more. But then, he went on to lay down his plans and compared them with Buhari’s and by the time he finished everybody clapped for him.”

Following Monday’s national caucus meeting, it was resolved that the ACN would dispatch a team of negotiators including governors to meet with the emissaries from Buhari. The ACN caucus was firm that Buhari must be present in person at the meeting which was scheduled to hold at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

It was expected that after the meeting with Buhari the ACN negotiation team would report back to the ACN national caucus at 4 p.m. same day which would give its final approval on the issue.

While Buhari met with his emissaries at about that time in Abuja, he was according to one source, not inclined to a face-to-face meeting with the negotiating team from the ACN.

His decision not to engage the ACN chieftains in a face to face meeting enraged many party officials who were already raising doubts on the worth of the talks with Buhari. At about the same time, Tuesday, ACN gubernatorial candidates from across the country who were in Abuja for a scheduled parley with the party officials also met where the issue of adopting Buhari as a joint candidate of the two parties was discussed.

A party source privy to the deliberation told Vanguard: “All but one of the northern gubernatorial candidates are opposed to the alliance.”

Meanwhile seeing the determination of the ACN to confront him on the issue, Buhari it was learnt requested for the meeting to be deferred till 9 p.m. on Tuesday. ACN national caucus members yielded to him. But by that time enthusiasm on Buhari had started to wane. Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State who was part of the team expected to meet with Buhari indeed left Abuja that afternoon.

By 9 p.m. on Tuesday evening as they waited for Buhari some party hardliners began to canvass strong conditions for adopting Buhari. They were particularly moved by intelligence reports that the CPC may not be able to even finance the payment of its agents during the weekend presidential poll.

Buhari shifts meeting

Buhari meanwhile had again shifted the meeting to 10.00 p.m. where he was expected to come along with five other officials of the party. The ACN team was also to be represented by a team of six officials.

By 10.30 p.m. the ACN officials including Asiwaju Tinubu, Alhaji Yusuf Alli, Senator Lawan Shuaibu, former Governor Segun Osoba, former Governor Niyi Adebayo, Dr. Muiz Banire and Dr. Garba Abari departed for the meeting.

The mediators, Gen. Babangida, Atiku, Gusau and erstwhile Inspector General of Police, MD Yusuf were on hand to receive them. Buhari, however, was not available. He came some time before midnight.

He came along with Pastor Bakare, Prince Tony Momoh, the national chairman of the CPC and Alhaji Sule Hamman, the erstwhile director general of The Buhari Organisation, TBO.

The ACN team was quick to present its conditions for an offer and that was a post dated letter of resignation from Pastor Bakare as Vice-President and the adoption of reforms in the polity. While they muttered over the matter of reforms, eyes allegedly shifted on Bakare for his agreement on the issue of resignation. Bakare, it was learnt stonewalled on the issue.

Giving reasons for the collapse of the talks, one of the state governors from the South West zone, told Vanguard categorically: “The conditions for an alliance are very simple and straight forward under any circumstance. It is about weighing the possibilities in anyprospect and building on it. That is the real essence of an alliance in the first place.”

No alliance with CPC—Akande
In his statement, Akande said: “The Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, wishes to inform all its teeming supporters as well as all Nigerians that there is no alliance between the party and the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, ahead of Saturday’s presidential election.

“While it is true that representatives of both parties have engaged in talks aimed at forging an alliance that could dislodge the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the clueless party that has frittered away the huge opportunities that could have transformed our great country in the past 12 years, we regret to announce that such talks have not led to any alliance.

“We as party that believes in democratic values have, therefore, decided that in the overall interest of the parties involved, our democracy as well as our country, it is better for each of the parties to go into the presidential election on its own platform. If at the end of the election on Saturday there is no clear winner we will make a decision on which way to go, in the overriding interest of all Nigerians.”

Bakare has right to express own opinion—Momoh
While reacting to the breakdown of talks with the ACN and why Pastor Tunde Bakare refused to sign a post dated resignation letter, Prince Momoh, National Chairman of the CPC said: “He (Bakare) has a right to express his own opinion.

“He has a right to freedom of expression and freedom to associate. Both the CPC and ACN were interested in the alliance. As far as I am concerned, it was an individual that expressed his own opinion on the issue and he has the right to express it.”

On the possibility of the CPC forging an alliance with any other political party before the presidential polls, the former Minister of Information said “anything can still happen.”

Alliance against Jonathan will fail — Clark
Elder statesman of the Ijaw nation, Chief Edwin Clark, yesterday, waved aside the purported plans by leading opposition parties in the country to form a common front against the PDP in Saturday’s presidential election, stressing that any unwholesome alliance against the political aspiration of President Goodluck Jonathan not based on the overall interest of the electorate would flop.

Clark who stated this in a statement in Abuja, equally urged politicians to eschew regional and religious sentiments capable of inciting disaffection among Nigerians, just as he canvassed for more support towards ensuring that the ‘one man one vote’ doctrine of the present administration was not truncated at the alter of mediocrity.

Via Vanguardngr,com

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Revealed: INEC's vendors! What really went wrong...

N0642011ATTAHIRU-JEGA.jpg - N0642011ATTAHIRU-JEGA.jpg

Prof. Attahiru Jega, INEC Chairman

The identities of the six firms and their facilitators contracted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to print ballot papers, result sheets and other sensitive materials for the 2011 general election were Tuesday unravelled by THISDAY.

They were Tip3, a Spanish company represented by Hashim Dikko, and Graphic Inline (Gi) with Sanni Lamido as proxy.
Also on the list were Kalamazoo, represented by Dick Jackson, a Nigerian-Briton married to a lady from Kano; Aero-vote represented by one Yerima; and SanFrano, a German/Polish company represented by Sanni Musa.
The sixth company that benefited from the printing contract was VI Solutions, sponsored by Yahaya Sani.
SanFrano, according to investigation, was the firm that went to China to print the papers but failed to deliver on time for the April 2 elections.

The six contractors received over N13 billion for the printing of the 75 million ballot papers and result sheets for each of the elections. The contracts were awarded to the companies by INEC in late February this year, according to investigation.
Going by the terms of the contract, each of the companies was expected to print 75 million ballot papers and result sheets for the elections in respect of the National Assembly, presidential, governorship and state assembly elections. The number of registered voters is 73 million.

THISDAY gathered that 75 million copies for the main presidential election and another 75 million copies for a run-off, totalling 150 millon were authorised by Jega and awarded to Tip3 Company, the Spanish firm.
It was also leant that the Nigerian partners of Tip3, having assessed the volume of work involved in their contract, made representation to the commission that given the time constraint, they could not guarantee timely delivery of the job, but INEC was said to have urged them on.

THISDAY investigation also showed that the Spanish firm being naïve about the importance of the job, went ahead to print the run-off election papers first and returned the job on the main election to INEC on March 23 with the excuse that it could no longer handle it.

Sources at the commission also revealed that the trio of Jega, his chief of staff, who also doubles as a consultant, Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu, and an unnamed senior Presidency official took charge of the award of the contracts for the printing of 200 million copies of the ballot papers and result sheets.

According to the source, INEC in December 2010 set up four committees to traverse the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Lithuania, South Africa, Asia and the United Arab Emirate (UAE) to search for suitable printers.

Jega, as chairman of the committee ‘A’, visited the United States and Canada, with Prof. Lai Olurode and U.F. Usman as members of his committee.

It was further gathered that Mr. Nuru Yukubu, chairman of committee ‘B’, visited England and Ireland, with Mrs. G.N. Nwafor, Dr. Oniyangi, Col. M. K Hammanga, D. I. Anumba as members of the committee.
The third committee had Mr. Philip Umeadi, Mrs. T. Iremiren and K.N. Ukeagu as members and visited Germany, France, Poland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Lithuania, while the fourth committee headed by Dr. Ishmael Igbani visited South Africa, Asia and UAE. Members of the committee included Dr. Chris Iyimoga, Prince Solomon Soyebi and Mrs. Amina Yusuf.

THISDAY gathered that trouble started when the four committees returned from their overseas assessment tour of facilities of printers of security materials and raised another committee headed by the INEC National Commissioner in Charge of Logistics, Col. M. K Hammanga, to harmonise the reports.

The harmonisation committee, in its report, recommended that the ballot papers, result sheets and other sensitive materials be printed in Germany, France and Poland.
The committee also recommended that US should be excluded because of distance, while England was also rejected because of high cost of printing there.

It also rejected South Africa because of the 2007 general election experience which led to the delay, as some of the sensitive election papers were still on ground during the poll.

The Hammanga committee subsequently shortlisted 21 companies and the list was submitted to Jega.
It was discovered that to the utter surprise of the committee members, INEC dumped the shortlisted companies.
“Since then, the issues on the award of the contracts for the printing of the ballot papers, the result sheets and other sensitive election materials was shrouded in secrecy. The files relating to the contracts were always kept in the office of the INEC chairman,” the source said.

Graphic Inline, one of the firms that mistakenly went ahead to produce the ballot papers for the re-run elections, told INEC afterwards that its next delivery for the ballot papers would be April 12.
This development, THISDAY learnt, accounted for the firm’s failure to meet the deadline and forced INEC to re-award it to another firm, V.I. Solutions.

Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan Tuesday expressed his continued support and confidence in Jega, saying he was optimistic that he would do a good job and get the desired free and fair elections in the country this time around.
Contrary to speculations that he had lost confidence in Jega, Jonathan said he would have initiated the process for his removal from office if he had the slightest doubt that he was no longer capable of delivering the elections according to the expectations of Nigerians.

He spoke at a photo exhibition by George Esiri, a photo journalist, on his campaign trail titled: “The People’s President” at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja, where he assured Nigerians that there was no cause for alarm as they would not be disappointed.

To him, the decision of the electoral body was the best in the circumstances, adding that if they had gone ahead with the exercise, result sheets would have arrived centres very late at night which would have raised other issues and concerns.
He also asked Nigerians to see the postponement as a demonstration that the electoral body wanted to get things done the right way so that it would be obvious to all that the exercise was open and credible.

“You know that of course, if he is no longer performing well, I will communicate to the National Assembly to terminate his appointment. Until I do that, I am fully in his support and I know that he will do well,’’ he said.

The president acknowledged that going for the same election at a later date was a sacrifice all Nigerians have to make to sustain democracy in spite of the cost to those who, like him, travelled to exercise their franchise before it was cancelled.

Via: ThisDay.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

JEGA postpones National Assembly elections

At around 12:30 AM Nigerian Time, Professor Attahiru Jega, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the body responsible for conducting elections in Nigeria, addressed the Nation. He announced that the elections would have to be postponed till Monday, the 4th of April, 2011.

The reason? Election materials, in particular, the EC8 form/result sheet, that is used to record the results of elections at the polling units arrived the country late and could not get to polling centers on time. He said the Vendors hired by INEC was to blame for this. The vendors had constanstly promised INEC that the election materials would arrive 5:30 pm yesterday evening but only got into the country at 9 am, this morning. The vendors blamed the delay on the Natural disasters in Japan, the scarcity of Boeing 747s for hire etc.

Various reactions have followed this postponement. The Lagos state governor, Babatunde Fashola, has said that he would not postpone secondary school exams scheduled for monday. This could lead to chaos as secondary schools are mainly used as polling units.

The Akwa Ibom Governor has also said his people should kick against the postponement of elections.

The President is yet to speak. He is en route Abuja from his hometown in Otuoke, Bayelsa.

This could degenerate into an electoral crisis if the President doesnt intervene and bring the governors and INEC chairman, Jega, into agreement.

What do you think?

Nigerian Presidential candidate remanded in prison for issuing dud cheques

The presidential candidate of the United National Party for Development, Mrs. Ebiti Ndok, may miss the presidential election as she has been remanded in the Maximum Security Prison, Keffi, Nasarawa State, for issuing dud cheques to two hotels in Abuja.

The court ordered that she should be remanded till April 19, 2011.

Ndok was arraigned by the police before a Chief Magistrate's Court, Karu, Abuja on Thursday for issuing a N1,050,000 bounced cheque to Onnyx Hotel and Apartment, Abuja, where she lodged between November 20, 2010 and January 27, 2011 when she was evicted by the hotel management.

She allegedly issued another dud cheque to Hilton Suites, Abuja, for the sum of N500,000.

The candidate had lodged at the Onnyx Hotel and issued the cheque, which turned out to be dud, when the hotel took it to the bank.

A source at the hotel said that the police searched for Ndok for two months before they arrested her on Tuesday and arraigned her on Thursday.

The Federal Capital Territory Police Public Relations Officer, Moshood Jimoh, confirmed to SATURDAY PUNCH that Ndok was arrested and arraigned in court for issuing dud cheques, an action he said was a criminal offence in the Penal Code.

He said, I can confirm that Ndok was arrested and charged to court for committing a criminal offence; that is, issuing dud cheques. The court has, however, remanded her in prison custody.