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12092018 - APC PRIMARIES: Gov kick against conditions for consensus candidate

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vanguardnews @vanguardnews @vanguardnews Vanguard, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2018 —41 NEWS HOTLINES 018773962, 08052867058 TRADER MONI—Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (2nd right); accompanied by Governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ben Ayade (right), during the inauguration of Trader Moni Programme at Watt Market in Calabar, Cross River State, yesterday. APC Govs kick against conditions for consensus candidature Continues from Page 5 have gone shopping for pliable “consensuscandidates. Party sources said the move by a few of the governors, especially in the North- West and North-East, was another tricky method of imposing candidates. “When they say consensus, we know what they mean. We have been in the system for long, and it was very easy for us to see through them. What some of them are calling consensus is intimidation by another name. They intimidate others out of the race in order to pave the way for their preferred candidates, and then they label it a consensus. NAIRAWATCH What manner of consensus do you do with less than half of the aspirants and other stakeholders in attendance? The new APC leadership will not accept such imposition through the back door,” a top party source told Vanguard. Party moves to halt imposition As a way of halting imposition of candidates, the national leadership of the party has outlined conditions to be met by its state chapters before adopting consensus as an option in its forthcoming congresses and primary elections. The party in a Naira appreciates to N363.07/$ in I&E window By Elizabeth Adegbesan THE Naira, yesterday, appreciated to N363.07 per dollar in the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window even as the volume of dollars traded dropped by 62 percent. Data from FMDQ showed that the indicative exchange rate for the window dropped to N363.07 per dollar yesterday from N363.11 per dollar on Monday, indicating four kobo appreciation of the naira. The volume of dollars traded on the window yesterday declined by 62 percent to 0.61 million from 6.83 million on Monday. statement by its acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, said though consensus remained a constitutional option, it could only be a last resort where only one person has purchased the nomination and expression of interest forms. The statement read: “The attention of the All Progressives Congress, APC, has been drawn to announcements of consensus candidates for elective positions in some states. “It is, therefore, pertinent to make some clarifications to enlighten party faithful on the procedure for nominating candidates. “While consensus is provided for by the party’s constitution, the option is conditional. Consensus does not foreclose direct or indirect primaries for all elective positions as contained in the resolution of the 6th meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee, NEC. “Again, consensus will apply when no other aspirant signifies interest (i.e., through the purchase of nomination forms) for the position in question.” Subtle threat However, in what looked like a subtle threat to the party, some of the governors were said to have recently complained of lack of funds to prosecute direct primaries, saying the party might have to look for alternative sources of funding the direct primaries. Vanguard, however, learned that the party was unperturbed by the subtle threats, as it would deploy a chunk of the money generated from the sale of nomination and expression of interest forms for that purpose. Why nomination fees are high Oshiomhole, yesterday, opened up on the reasons for what had been decried as the high nomination fees to be paid by aspirants. The presidential nomination forms were set at N45 million, governorship at N22.5 million and senatorial forms at N7 million. Receiving a delegation of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, who came with a cheque of N56.8 million to support Buhari, Oshiomhole said the fees were set to generate funds to enable the party conduct direct primaries. While observing the generosity of the rice farmers, he said President Buhari observed that the fees were high but noted that the President was mollified after he explained to him the reason. “Our President protested that the fee we are charging for our Presidential form was too high, that it is beyond his income. We said well, there were real causes we intend to incur in conducting transparent primaries across the country and we have to pay for it. But I told him that sir, you have many admirers who will contribute the money,” Oshiomhole said. Receiving the cheque of N56.8 million, Comrade Oshiomhole observed that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its presidential aspirants were jittery ahead of the 2019 general election, given the support for Buhari by 12.2million rice farmers across the country who are registered voters. The rice farmers were led on the visit by the governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, who is the grand patron of the association and its National President, Aminu Goronyo. Goronyo explained that their contribution was in appreciation of the over N100 billion loan facilities President Buhari’s administration provided for the farmers. Governor Bagudu who commended the efforts made so far by the present government to encourage rice farming in Nigeria, said the efforts had yielded fruit, turning many of the farmers millionaires. Oshiomhole mocks PDP into Speaking at the event, Comrade Oshiomhole mocked the PDP, saying the party is jealous of the support being enjoyed by President Buhari across the country. He said: “Our opponents are jittery. When some faceless people contributed money for one of the aspirants of PDP, he looked at them and said I have enough to buy all of you; he cried a little bit just for effect. “Not a word was spoken in the media about the morality or the legality or illegality of it. I thought the media would ask what the morality of those who have nothing giving to the rich is. When our own President, who does not have, and some people decided to raise money to buy his form, suddenly it became an issue that why should people buy nomination forms for aspirants? “But let me say that we need Nigerians who are committed to policy stability and who believe in a candidate to raise funds not only for the form but the mass mobilization. We need money for direct primaries — Oshiomhole "In the case of our President, he will even need more money because our party’s decision is that we have to organize direct primaries and we need money. But I am glad it is the confidence Nigerians have in the leadership of our President that different groups are contributing money for his campaign.” Oshiomhole, who alleged how the PDP-led administration gave Nigerians poisonous rice, narrated: “One of the scandals that we had had to deal with when I was governor, was when I had the honour to preside over a meeting of the governors and the former Customs Comptroller-General was lamenting to us how people they granted waiver to import rice exceeded the quota they were given and imported more rice into the country, and he claimed that they defrauded the Federal Government about N22 billion in waivers. ‘’We saw PDP ministers lamenting that the rice in our markets were expired products and I asked, who elected them to lament? They allowed this expired rice into the country; they proceeded to grant them waivers, they exceeded the waivers they were given. ‘’Even former President Jonathan lamented they must recover the excess money from those farmers.”

42 — VANGUARD, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2018 Ayade's Second Term: Stormy rivers to cross No governor in the history of Cross River State has received the kind of endorsements that Governor Ben Ayade has received for a second term. Widows, workers and women groups have openly endorsed him. However, no governor in the history of the state has also been so embattled and challenged in a bid for a second term. By Emmanuel Una The opposition to Governor Ben Ayade comes from far and near. Within his political party, the People's Democratic Party, PDP, party elders appalled by the fear that the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, could win the state were last month compelled to address an open letter to the national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus to find a replacement for the governor or the party could risk losing the state for the first time. The stakeholders in a petition to Secondus alleged among others that Ayade had in three years rubbished the legacy of former PDP governors and enthroned a regime of visionless leadership and at the same time, decimated the party in the state. The allegations by the PDP elders articulated in the petition anchored by John Offiong and Bassey Ekpo who are backed by some PDP elders, find resonance in the opposition to the governor from the opposition and even some former allies of the governor who have drifted from him. It is perhaps on account of the deep malaise within the PDP that Ayade is often among the first PDP governors mentioned as one of those likely to defect to the APC. However, the APC in the state is not one that is likely to be a comfortable home for the professor turned politician. Indeed, one of his close friends, Senator John Enoh left the party on account of the perceived failures of the Ayade administration to the APC. Enoh is now mounting a challenge against his former friend. “Our beloved state is facing the worst form of misrule since its creation on 27th May 1967 from the then Eastern Region,” Enoh, who had some stints in the House of Representatives before crossing over to the Senate in 2015 said last Wednesday. Interestingly, Enoh like several chieftains of the PDP has crossed over to the APC on whose platform he is now mounting his challenge against his former political ally and friend. “We are at a point where all socio-economic indicators are getting dangerously adrift amidst the huge potentials our state is endowed with,” the senator added at his colourful declaration. Enoh pointed to the Obudu Ranch Resort which he said Donald Duke who is from the southern part of the state invested billions of naira to make a world-class tourism facility but has become comatose under Ayade, the Urban Renewal Project started by Duke and sustained by his successor, Senator Liyel Imoke to create good road network in the urban centres and rural areas but has b e c o m e dysfunctional under Ayade. His assertions of poor performance by the Ayade administration are echoed by many who cite the deterioration of the once aesthetic scenery that was Calabar. Potholes that were once a rarity in Calabar, the state capital, are now a common occurrence. Even worse, is the abundance of refuse piles on the streets of the state capital. The opposition to Ayade by some PDP elders is despite the repeated claims of performance by the governor as anchored by several schemes initiated by the three-year administration. The PDP critics, however, dismiss those projects including the Super Highway which President Muhammadu Buhari came down to perform the groundbreaking as comical acts of the governor, if not opportunities by administration officials to swindle funds. Other allegedly highfalutin projects PDP and APC critics of the governor cite include the Deep Sea Port, New City of Callas Vegas, Cally Air (airline), Rice City, Cal pharm factory, Cocoa factory, and a Rice mill. The opposition, however, does not deny the fact that the governor has completed the biggest garment factory in the region, though they whisper about the ownership of the project. The governor’s spokesman, Mr. Christian Ita, however, dismissed the PDP stakeholders saying: ”Can a governor with over 4000 appointees, who like the civil servants are paid salaries even ahead of time, be said to be suppressing the state economy? “Can a governor who has built 12 industries in three years and still counting, including the garment factory that has employed over 3000 workers, mostly women and widows, be said to be suppressing an economy? Ayade should be allowed to cross the bridge and finish his eight years like those from the south and central The APC chieftains are even more vicious in their pointed accusations against the governor who they describe with all manner of negatives. It is no surprise that Hilliard Eta, the national vice-chairman of the APC, South-South said: “Cross River is a low hanging •John Enoh fruit which the APC will pluck and add to Edo State in 2019 because Ayade is a disaster that has inflicted much harm in the state and the people cannot wait to flush him out,” Hilliard Eta, the Deputy Chairman of the APC told Vanguard. Despite his assertions, the prospects of the APC in Cross River are seriously limited by the internal divisions that have made a serious challenge against Ayade a daunting task. The party is divided into three parallel blocs, one led by Pastor Usani Usani, Minister for Niger-Delta Affairs, the other by Mr. Clement Ebri, former governor of the state and the other Senator Enoh. Indeed, there is no serious support for Enoh’s governorship challenge from fellow APC stakeholders many of whom boycotted his campaign flag-off last Wednesday. He is also not expected to get meaningful support from Senator Victor Ndoma- Egba, chairman of the Niger-Delta Development Commission, NDDC, given the bad blood that flowed from the challenge against Ndoma-Egba who he took the Cross River Central Senate seat from. Also working to Ayade’s favour apart from the plethora of endorsements from workers, widows, market women etc., is the issue of zoning. The zoning arrangement is in his favour as many people believe that the northern district of the state from where Ayade •Ben Ayade comes from should serve eight years like the south and central whose kinsmen, Duke and Imoke served eight years each. His regular payment of salaries has endeared him to workers. “Ayade should be allowed to cross the bridge and finish his eight years like those from the south and central and I believe nobody can stop him as we are behind him to ensure he returns in 2019,” Chief Linus Okom, the chairman of the northern Caucus of the PDP told our reporter. Mr. Ita, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor said his boss looks at the bigger picture in the development of the state and not at the smaller picture which people tend to focus on. “He is intent on developing the state and we can see projects like garment factory which is employing thousands of people, the Rice City, the Deep Sea Port, the Rice Mill and many others which have the capacity to transform the economy of the state and we are getting there very soon by having them commissioned.” He said the governor will soon address the potholes and gullies on the roads in the cities and urban centres and also tar rural roads which construction he flagged off two years ago. "People talk about these projects not having timelines for completion but they fail to realise that the state is under heavy debt burden which was incurred by previous governments and even at that, he still pays salaries regularly. It takes only someone with the ingenuity of Ayade to accomplish that,” Ita concluded.

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