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Saturday, 16 February 2019

Atiku Receives Phone Call From US Secretary Of State Over Nigeria's Election

Barely 48 hours after the former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, called the Nigerian President and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Muhammadu Buhari, on phone to wish Nigeria and Nigerians well ahead of tomorrow’s general elections, the United States’ secretary of state, Michael Pompeo, has equally put through a call to the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar.
He affirmed the international community’s commitment to free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.
Atiku made the disclosure on his twitter handle on Friday. According to him, “Earlier today I received a call from US Secretary of State, @SecPompeo, who reaffirmed the international community’s commitment to free and fair elections in Nigeria.”

Atiku added, “Wishing you all a peaceful elections, wherever you are. God bless Nigeria.”
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WHY WE POSTPONED THE ELECTION, By INEC

There is anger in the land. Nigerians are asking why the same mistakes will be repeated from 2011 to 2015 and now 2019. How can we institutions in Nigeria can't learn from past mistakes and simply make things better? Why?

After a confusion-packed meeting which lasted about eight hours on Friday night, the Independent National Commission (INEC) in the early morning of Saturday announced postponement of the general elections.

The Presidential and National Assembly elections will now come up on
Saturday, 23rd February 2019 while the governorship and state Assembly election will now hold on 9th March, 2019.

INEC had earlier scheduled today 16th February 2019 for the presidential and National Assembly, while the State elections were scheduled for 2nd March, 2019 before this latest decision by the commission.

INEC hinged the postponement of the elections on logistic challenges.

INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and the National Commissioners met with some observer for hours before reaching the decision.

The announcement came barely few hours to the elections.

Announcing the decision, INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said it was a difficult decision to take. He however, said INEC will be meeting with stakeholders by 2pm today (Saturday).

He said: “The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) met on Friday 15th February 2019 and reviewed its preparations for the 2019 General Elections scheduled for Saturday, 16’h February 2019 and Saturday, 2nd March 2019.

“Following a careful review of the implementation of its logistics and operational plan and the determination to conduct free, fair and credible elections, the Commission came to the conclusion that proceeding with the elections as scheduled is no longer feasible.
“Consequently, the Commission has decided to reschedule the Presidential and National Assembly Elections to Saturday, 23” February 2019. Furthermore, the Govemorship, State House of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Elections is rescheduled to Saturday 9‘h March 2019. This will afford the Commission the opportunity to address identified challenges in order to maintain the quality of our elections.

“This was a difficult decision for the Commission to take, but necessary for the successful delivery of the elections and the consolidation of our democracy.

“The Commission will meet key stakeholders to update them on this development at 2pm. on Saturday, l6lh February 2019 at the Abuja International Conference Centre.”
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Atiku Reacts To Postponement Of Presidential Election

Remain peaceful in the face of this provocation, this is the message of the Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar as he reacts to the postponement of the elections by INEC.

In a statement he personally signed, Atiku said the postponed was orchestrated by the President Muhammad Buhari administration.

He, however, urged Nigerians not to be disillusioned but to come out and vote on the rescheduled date.

Atiku's full statement below:

"Dear citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
As you know, the Independent National Electoral Commission has announced a postponement of the elections until 23 February and 9 March respectively.

The Buhari administration has had more than enough time and money to prepare for these elections and the Nigerian people were poised and ready to perform their civic responsibility by voting in the elections earlier scheduled for Saturday, 16 February, 2019.

This postponement is obviously a case of the hand of Esau but the voice of Jacob. By instigating this postponement, the Buhari administration hopes to disenfranchise the Nigerian electorate in order to ensure that turn out is low on the rescheduled date. Nigerians must frustrate their plans by coming out in even greater numbers on Saturday, 23 February and Saturday, 9 March respectively.

Knowing that the Nigerian people are determined to reject them, they are desperate and will do anything in their power to avoid their rejection by the Nigerian people.

Their plan is to provoke the public, hoping for a negative reaction, and then use that as an excuse for further anti-democratic acts.

As such, I call on all Nigerians to be patient. We have tolerated the maladministration of this government for four years. We can extend our tolerance a few more days and give them our verdict via our votes.

Maintain the peace and be law abiding. Do not react to this provocation with anger, violence or any action that might be exploited by those who do not want this election to hold. Remain calm. We will overcome this. You can postpone an election, but you cannot postpone destiny.

Please come out to vote on Saturday, 23 February and Saturday, 9 March respectively. Frustrate those who do not want this election to hold by coming out in very large numbers. That is the best antidote to their plans.

May God bless you and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria."
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Buhari Campaign Faults Postponement Of Election

The Buhari Presidential Campaign Council has faulted the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the presidential and National Assembly elections.

“We condemn and deprecate this tardiness of the electoral umpire in the strongest terms possible.”

The council’s position was contained in a statement by its spokesman, Mr Festus Keyamo, on Saturday.

He said President Muhammadu Buhari had cooperated fully with INEC “by ensuring everything it demanded to conduct free and fair elections were promptly made available to it.”

He described the postponement as a disappointment to the ruling All Progressives Congress and its supporters across the country.

He, therefore, warned INEC against bowing to the purported pressure of the opposition which he said was not ready for the elections. He claimed that projections have predicted a defeat of the opposition.

“We do hope that INEC will remain neutral and impartial in this process as the rumour mill is agog with the suggestion that this postponement has been orchestrated in collusion with the main opposition,” he alleged.

Keyamo appealed to Nigerians to be patient, calm and resolute despite what he called the temporary setback.

“Let us not give anyone the opportunity to plunge this nation into a crisis, which is what they earnestly desire,” he advised.
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How Buhari's Desperation Caused Postponement Of Election - Opposition Parties

The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has claimed that the desperation of President Muhammadu Buhari and his men to win the presidential election, by all means, was responsible for the last minute postponement of the election.
“In their bid to once again foist an unpopular government on Nigerians, they threw caution to the winds and started setting electoral materials on fire in states that are well known to be strongholds of opposition."

The coalition’s spokesman, Imo Ugochinyere, made the allegation in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja on Saturday morning.

“These acts of sabotage, no doubt, ruined the preparations of the Independent National Electoral Commission for the elections.

“We have raised the alarm many times that agents of the government were working hard to ensure that elections are not held or are declared inconclusive in areas they know that the All Progressives Congress will never win. We have been vindicated.

We blame the international embarrassment this last minute postponement has caused the nation on the President, the desperate leaders of his party, APC, and the nation’s security agencies who failed woefully in their duties to protect electoral materials and INEC offices from attacks by these enemies of the nation.”
Ugochinyere added that with the postponement, “President Buhari’s judgement day with the people has just been shifted.”

He, however, said the INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, displayed courage by shifting the election.

He said the postponement averted what he could have resulted to “national bloodshed because we are aware that APC wanted to proceed with election after compromising distribution and destroying materials in over 15 states.”
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INEC Is A Big Disappointment - Situation Room

The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has expressed concern over reports of delay in the distribution of election materials in several parts of the country by the Independent National Electoral Commission, which has now led to the postponement of the general elections.

It regretted that the reports reaching it indicated inadequacy in the deployment of materials for the polls.

Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre and Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, Clement Nwankwo, stated these in a statement in Abuja in the early hours of Saturday.

He said, “Against the background of assurances given by INEC on its preparedness, this current situation comes to us as a disappointment.

“Situation Room calls on INEC to be upfront, truthful and transparent with the Nigerian people with respect to the challenges they are facing that may affect the polls.

“The Situation Room wishes to state categorically that any assessment or decision by INEC regarding the polls or challenges with materials must be made with respect to the whole country and not in any way focused on some parts of the country.

Any suggestion that the election be held in a staggered manner will be totally unacceptable and would be a recipe for a disastrous election. INEC owes it to Nigerians to provide clear explanation on why we are having conversations about deployment of materials in this late hour.


“The credibility of election depends not just on the efficiency of INEC to manage its processes but also in its ability to communicate honestly with the stakeholders.

“We call on all stakeholders especially the political parties to approach any challenge this process throws up with patriotism and commitment to peaceful and legal resolution of conflicts.”
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Friday, 15 February 2019

Nollywood Entertainers, Others Endorse Atiku For President

Nigerian entertainers, under the umbrella of the Creative Industry Group, have endorsed the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, and the party’s Lagos State governorship candidate, Jimi Agbaje.

The convener of the group, Felix Duke, said that after a thorough assessment of the presidential candidates and their plans for the creative industry, they concluded that Atiku is the right man.

He said, “We appeal to our colleagues in the music, film, literary and fashion industries to vote for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. For many years, the creative sector has been ignored by past governments but the sector remains the number one job provider for youths of the country.”

Also, a veteran filmmaker, Zeb Ejiro, said he felt the industry should support Atiku when he signified his interest in ruling Nigeria.
He said, “Nollywood used to be the second most productive industry in the world but things have changed now. If Buhari rules the country for another four years, the industry will vanish.”

He also said Jimi Agbaje was the right person for the creative industry and to govern Lagos State.

Other members of the group include Paul Play Dairo, Ruggedman, Emeka Ossai, Chico Ejiro, Righteous Man and many more.
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PDP To Get Live Results As APC Did In 2015... APC Complains

*PDP to deploy 40 Million for votes tabulation 
With a plan to collate results of tomorrow’s presidential election, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday set the stage for a dispute – the Federal Government has claimed.

The opposition party said it had put in place a Parallel Voting Tabulation (PVT) system to collate results. It is deploying 40 million of its members for the job.

But the All Progressives Congress (APC) said it was all a plot to rig the election.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the authority for the collation and announcement of results, but parties and election observers are also free to collate live results. So, many are wondering why the APC is complaining about the same thing they did in 2015.

Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed said the PDP was planning to create chaos by creating a parallel electoral umpire.

The Minister claimed that the opposition resorted to the tactic, having realised that it could not win free, fair and peaceful elections. He spoke in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, after an interactive session with retirees and pensioners.

Mohammed added that the alarm “is in line with the warning we have been issuing all along, that the PDP, jittery at the fate that is about to befall it and desperate to grab power at all costs, will seek to scuttle the elections, failing which it will work to discredit the results”.

"The latest manifestation of this desperation was revealed at a news conference by the PDP on Wednesday, during which the party said it would set up a parallel electoral body, under the tag of Parallel Voting Tabulation (PVT) system.

“The PDP said clearly that PVT is a tool that will determine whether or not it accepts the results of the elections. Now, this is anarchy.

“Yes, it is standard practice for political parties to have their own monitoring systems during elections. What is not standard is to set up a pseudo electoral commission and imbue it with the power to collate and announce results. That’s precisely what the PDP is doing under the guise of PVT. And this is totally unacceptable..."

The PDP’s campaign spokesman and chairman of its Strategy Committee, Osita Chidoka, speaking at a news conference in Abuja, described PVT as a “scientifically proven and a best-practice technique” designed to keep umpires on their toes.

Chidoka, specifically said the PDP would be transmitting the results as certified by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) officers at the polling units.

“The PDP has pivoted from recruiting first-time polling agents to recruiting high quality, educated individuals, whose maturity and experience will help them manage and mitigate against challenges on election day,” Chidoka said.
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See The States Where Atiku, Buhari Will Have Serious Battle

This coming Saturday, February 16, Nigerians will troop out to elect a new President that will pilot the affairs of the nation for another four years. The battle is obviously between Buhari and Atiku.

Of the 72 presidential candidates that are eligible to contest the election, both men are generally believed to be the front runners. How will the winner emerge?
The contest is arguably between the two leading parties, the APC and the PDP. It is therefore no surprise that a number of registered parties have adopted either Buhari or Atiku as their presidential candidate for the February 16 poll.

Investigations carried out by The Punch across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, on Saturday showed Buhari in control of about 11 states, while about 10 other states are said to be the strongholds of Atiku.

The battleground, from all indications, would be in 15 states including the FCT, where the two contestants are expected to slug it out. The survey shows that whoever wins in each of these states will, most likely, coast home to victory.

The states are Kaduna, Niger, Kwara. Plateau, Kogi, Benue, Adamawa, Ondo, Oyo, Osun, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Gombe and the FCT.

Oyo 
As things stand today in Oyo State, apart from the APC and PDP, three other political parties making headway are the Zenith Labour Party, African Democratic Congress and Action Democratic Party. The body language of leaders of the three parties suggests their supporters will vote for Atiku, leaving the bulk of Buhari’s votes to come from the ruling APC.

Though it is too early to emphatically predict who wins here, analysts say the candidate of the PDP is a man to beat because of Buhari’s waning influence among the citizens.

A renowned political scientist at the University of Ibadan, Prof. Osisioma Nwolise, said, “My opinion on where the pendulum swings or the direction of people’s votes does not matter. What we must know is that both Buhari and Atiku are Nigerians from the northern extraction.”

The Coordinator, Atiku Presidential Campaign Council, Dr. Nureni Adeniran said, “Atiku will surely defeat Buhari during the forthcoming presidential election in Oyo State because the situation is more deplorable in the state where the APC has been in charge for about eight years and has symbolically told the good people of Oyo that their suffering will continue under an APC government.”

But the APC spokesman, Dr AbdulAzeez Olatunde, said Buhari was destined to coast home to victory because “Oyo State is lucky to have above 20,000 N-Power beneficiaries out of a total 500,000 N-Power beneficiaries in Nigeria who were selected without any sentiment nor any political affiliation. Our pupils are part of the one million school pupils in Nigeria that are fed daily in public schools without forgetting their chefs who are also about 3,000.”

Ondo 
The PDP is said to be taking advantage of the leadership crisis rocking the APC in the state.

The crisis, which started after Governor Rotimi Akeredolu emerged as the candidate of the APC in the governorship primary that took place on September 3, 2016, has led to the emergence of factions in the party and may affect the result of the presidential election in the state.

Although all the factions claim to be working for the return of Buhari, it was gathered that the candidates for the state and national assembly elections were personally working for themselves without the support of the governor or the party.

The governor was, however, alleged to be funding the candidates of the Action Alliance in the Ondo South and North Senatorial Districts, Dr Tunji Abayomi and Dr Olatunji Felder, respectively.

It was learnt that a number of people from the state were not happy with the Federal Government-controlled APC on the ground that the state had not felt the presence of the Federal Government in the last three and a half years. So, many who supported Buhari in 2015 had reportedly made a U-turn, calling for the change of the government.

A political analyst, Mr Waheed Olawande, said, “There is a saying that a house that is divided against itself would collapse. There is a need for the APC to go to the poll in unity if they (members) really like Buhari to win the election. The crisis can’t take them anywhere.”

The state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Banji Okunomo, said the whole state was for the candidate of the PDP, Atiku.

However, the state Chairman of the APC in the state, Mr Ade Adetimehin, said the party would win the election. “You can see the number of the people that trooped out to welcome Mr President when he came for the rally. This is to tell you how acceptable the President is to our people. We are winning the election,” he added.

Kaduna 
Kaduna was a PDP state from 1999 to 2015 when Buhari and Nasir el-Rufai, respectively, won the presidential and governorship elections in the state.

One thing that will likely work in favour of the President over his main challenger is the fact that Kaduna has remained home to Buhari since he was ousted as the Head of State in August, 1985. Residents, especially the Muslim folks, who form the majority of the voters in the state, have held him in high esteem since then.

The bulk of Buhari’s votes will come from areas such as Rigasa, Tudun-wada, Kawo, Zaria and other parts of the northern zone of the state. The folks in this area are said to literally worship and see him as ‘Mai gaskiya’ (a transparent fellow).

But the PDP standard bearer (Atiku) is said to be popular in the southern part of the state, which is predominantly inhabited by Christians. This area is considered the stronghold of the PDP. He is expected to get bloc votes there and share the votes from the central zone with the President.

The President will reportedly pay for his inability to manage the crisis that forced some notable grass root politicians (members) out of the APC. Among those that exited the party is Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi. These defectors will expectedly team up with some political heavyweights such as the former Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of the PDP, Senator Ahmed Makarfi; former Vice-President Namadi Sambo; and a former governor of the state, Ramallan Yero. These politicians will prove that they are in charge of the state.

Also, members of the Shi’ite movement, whose leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, and wife, Zeenat, have been in incarceration since 2015, following their clash with the military, would want to prove a point. Though, they have never voted since 1999, it was gathered they had obtained their PVCs to vote out Buhari and Governor Nasir El-Rufai this time round.

Gombe 
Gombe State will be a straight fight between Buhari and Atiku. Members of the ruling PDP in the state are upbeat about the prospects of retaining power as they argue that the outgoing Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo has given a good account of himself.

However, the state APC chairman, Nitte Amangal, told The Punch, “This election will be a walkover for President Buhari and the APC in Gombe. The signs are there for everyone to see. First, five aspirants, who contested the governorship in the PDP, are today with us. A serving senator just joined us. And to crown it all, the outgoing governor has failed woefully in terms of performance; people are eager for a change. Look at the crowd which came out to welcome Buhari. Gombe is for APC from top to bottom.”

The state Chairman of the PDP, Joel Jagafa, however, dismissed the claims by the APC leader. He said those who left the PDP to join the APC were either people who had lost political value or those who had skeletons in their cupboards and were afraid of being probed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

He said, “As a party, the PDP has provided leadership for Gombe for about 16 years now; we are here and going stronger every day. Come to Gombe, see the wonders the PDP has performed. Our members who defected, which the APC is celebrating today, are people who lost in our primaries.”

A Gombe-based independent analyst, Mr Segun Awoleye, said, “It will not be out of place to say this will be a very close race. I dare say regional sentiments and the incumbency factor may work in favour of Atiku and the PDP.” He predicted 55/45 per cent for Atiku and Buhari, respectively.

FCT 
As political alliances shift among politicians in the FCT, there are chances that the over one million votes in the seat of power may be shared by Buhari and Atiku.

The sole senator representing the FCT in the Senate, Philip Aduda, is seeking to retain his seat in the Senate and is rallying support for his party and its candidate, Atiku.

On the other hand, the Minister of the FCT, Mohammed Bello, is rallying support for the APC and its candidate.

Analysts see the presidential election results standing at 50/50.

Kwara 
Buhari may score more votes than Atiku in Kwara in the presidential poll going by the current rigorous campaign in the state on the need to change the managers of the state’s affairs. But the PDP leaders are not leaving anything to chance with their campaign that power must change hands at the centre in order to have a buoyant economy.

The APC’s change mantra, which has been coined into a campaign slogan ‘O to gee’ (Enough is enough) seems to have resonated well with many people in the state.

Today, the voting ratio of the people is predicted as 55 per cent to 45 per cent in favour of the APC candidate.

Each of the two parties is expected to win one senatorial seat. The North senatorial seat will be decided by the traditional rulers who are still very influential in their respective domains.

The state APC Publicity Secretary, Folaranmi Aro, said the voters were excited about the change slogan of the party.

“Wherever we went, people received us with enthusiasm and our slogan, ‘O to gee’, has sunk into the minds of the people. They are happy about the social programmes being executed by President Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo. We are sure that they will vote for the APC,” Aro said.

But the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Tunde Ashaolu, said the people were hungry and therefore had fallen for the party’s campaign issue of reviving the economy of the country as promised by the presidential candidate of the party, Atiku.

Ashaolu stated, “The people are going to vote for the PDP presidential candidate because our candidate is a soft sell to the people of Kwara State. They know him that he will deliver on his promises. Nigerians need good governance and our candidate will do it.”

A public affairs analyst, Taiwo Otitolaye, said all eyes would be on the two leading contenders, adding that the electorate would decide the winner of the election through their votes.

Kogi 
One week to the presidential election, the likely voting pattern in the confluence state of Kogi is gradually unfolding. Out of the 91 political parties registered by INEC to participate in the election, only the APC and the PDP are visibly on the ground for the presidential election.

Interestingly, analysts are of the view that the outcome of the election will be largely decided by the level of the acceptance of the Governor Yahaya Bello-led administration by the people. That may not look good for Buhari.

The rating of the APC in the state has reportedly dropped significantly following Bello’s unpopular policies and reported neglect of some areas. For instance, he has embarked on prolonged civil service reforms, which led to many losing their jobs while those remaining groan under a backlog of unpaid salaries running to several months.

For instance, in Lokoja, the state capital, voters are sharply divided along the traditional residents and the settlers.

Senatorial analysis puts Kogi East as having 52 per cent of the total voting capacity with nine local government areas. The people from this area are said to be unhappy with their neglect even though the incumbent governor rode to power on the death of their illustrious son, Abubakar Audu, just when he was to be declared the governor-elect.

In the West, history shows that the people have always leaned towards the PDP. The PDP structure, which temporarily collapsed into the APC in the 2015 election to support James Faleke, the then running mate to the late Audu, has since returned to base after the return of Faleke to Lagos.

Analysts believe that in the presidential poll, the PDP might narrowly carry the day.

Anambra 
In Anambra State, while the masses seem to be rooting for Atiku, the All Progressives Grand Alliance has shown tacit commitment to the Buhari’s re-election bid.

The state governor, Willie Obiano, recently hailed Buhari for the infrastructure he brought to Anambra State since 2015, including the completion of the mausoleum of the first President of Nigeria, the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe; work on the second Niger Bridge and road rehabilitation in the state as well as the South-East generally.

Obiano is also reported to have described the endorsement of Atiku and his running mate, Peter Obi, by the Chief Nnia Nwodo-led Ohanaeze Ndigbo as “idiotic”.

To still show his support for Buhari, the governor, in a meeting with the Lagos branch of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo said Buhari had a “strong feeling” to give the South- East an additional state. Many are of the view that the governor’s support would be to the advantage of Buhari in the presidential election.

However, a church leader, Sunday Ezenwa, said, “The governor is just an individual. He has only one vote and he can’t tell us where to vote.”

But the Anambra Central Zonal Publicity Secretary of the APC, Arinze Igboeli, told The Punch that Buhari would garner over 45 per cent of the votes in the February 16 presidential election in Anambra State.

Igboeli, who hinged his assertion on the 2017 governorship election in the state where the APC came second in the poll said, “Many political bigwigs, such as the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige; Senator Andy Uba, Dr Tony Nwoye and Sylvester Okonkwo are working tirelessly to deliver the state to the APC in the election.”

The spokesperson for the PDP in the state, Okoli Akirika, however, said Atiku would sweep the presidential poll in the state. “All political indices irresistibly point to a resounding victory for Atiku Abubakar. The vice-presidential candidate of the party is from Anambra State and he has not only political goodwill but also electoral value,” he said.

Plateau 
Political observers in Plateau State are predicting that the outcome of the 2019 election may not be different from the results of the 2015 presidential poll in which the PDP candidate won with over 120,000 votes margin in the state.

The National President of Omo Oodua community, an umbrella body of the Yoruba living in the 19 northern states and Abuja, Chief Toye Ogunsuyi, told SUNDAY PUNCH in Jos on Friday, “I have studied both candidates from a non-partisan perspective and come to the conclusion that it is true that both the PDP and the APC presidential candidates have their followers in Plateau but I can tell you that Atiku has a greater appeal to the people than Buhari.”

Ogunsuyi’s position tallies with the position of the Chairman, Media and Publicity Committee of the PDP Campaign Council, Mr Yiljap Abraham, who told SUNDAY PUNCH that Plateau belonged to the PDP.

The state APC thinks otherwise. The Plateau State Secretary of the party, Mr Bashir Sati, said Buhari would defy every prediction to emerge victorious given his acceptability in the state.

Benue 
Benue State, since the present political dispensation, has been one of the strongholds of the PDP. The state has since 1999 been controlled by the PDP until 2015 when the wind of change blew off the PDP umbrella and enthroned the APC.

But the PDP is gradually picking up the pieces of the umbrella and restoring its lost glory. The event that brought the party back to power in Benue was the defection of the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.

Ortom elected on the platform of the APC had lashed on the herdsmen’s several attacks on the state to return to his former party, the PDP, to join forces with the former President of the Senate, David Mark; an erstwhile Minister of Interior, Abba Moro; and a former governor of the state, Gabriel Suswam.

The forces will be contending with Senator George Akume, the only big name in the APC, to turn the table against Buhari whose popularity has dwindled with his government’s seeming nonchalant attitude towards the herdsmen’s attacks on the people of the state.

But both the former Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, and the state APC Publicity Secretary, James Ornguga, said the PDP should not celebrate yet, insisting that the APC could spring surprises that would jolt the PDP.

Tsav said, “You know that Ortom has employed all the powers at his disposal to demonise the APC in Benue. With the way the party was battered, no one expected to see people attending Buhari’s campaign rally. But with the crowd that attended the rally at the Aper Aku Stadium, it has shown that Buhari could win in Benue.”

Ornguga said unknown to the ruling PDP in the state, the APC had gone to all the nooks and crannies of the state to explain to the people that the Ortom-led PDP only changed the narrative of the killings in the state.

“Buhari has a brighter chance to win the presidential election; you can see the crowd at the presidential campaign rally yesterday, (Wednesday), despite all the terrible things the PDP government has done to vilify the party,” he said.

The Publicity Secretary of the PDP in the state, Bemgba Iortyom, said, “Can you wait until the campaign tomorrow and there, you will judge. Right now, I don’t want to comment.”

Edo 
Edo State was one of the PDP’s strongholds until the coming of Adams Oshiomhole. The former Nigeria Labour Congress leader, who contested the governorship poll on the platform of the Action Congress in 2007, only realised ambition to rule the state a year later after the Election Petitions Tribunal nullified the PDP’s Oserheimen Osunbor’s election.

Thereafter, the AC, which metamorphosed into Action Congress of Nigeria and later the All Progressives Congress, took full control of the state for nearly seven years. But the opposition PDP, which currently has five seats in the state House of Assembly, changed the story during the 2015 elections when it won the presidential election, two of the three senatorial seats and five of the nine House of Representatives seats.

Ever since the state can no longer be regarded as a full APC state. In fact, there have always been claims and counterclaims about who truly owns the state between the two leading parties.

In recent times, the PDP has claimed APC members have defected to the party during their campaigns.

And the APC has also claimed to have received thousands of PDP defectors.

Speaking on this issue, spokesman for the PDP in the state, Chris Nehikhare, said they would not only win Saturday’s presidential poll but also improve on their 2015 showing.

“We will win more this time round. We lost one senatorial seat (in 2015) but this time round we are going to win all the seats.

“We won five of the nine House of Representatives seats then, but this time we believe we will win more than five seats.”

The chairman of the APC in the state, Anslem Ojezua, said his party was ready to win the presidential poll.

He said, “We are much stronger now and our opponents are weaker.”

A political analyst, Anthony Ogbeide, is of the opinion that both parties have an equal chance to win the presidential poll in the state.

He said, “Many seem to be tired of the ruling APC. They (voters) would want a change and they have their reasons. The unabated killings by suspected herdsmen, the lopsided appointments by President Muhammadu Buhari, the high cost of living, unemployment and so on, are some of the reasons. “However, you cannot totally give it to the PDP. As a person, the credibility of President Buhari is still much more intact. No one has faulted his integrity. That could work in his favour.

“Secondly, some are of the opinion that giving ticket to Atiku Abubakar was PDP’s greatest undoing. Perhaps it would have been better if the party had picked another candidate.”

Akwa Ibom 
The PDP’s dominance in Akwa Ibom State since 1999 has come under threat following the defection of former governor Godswill Akpabio to the APC.

For now, neither Muhammadu Buhari nor Atiku Abubakar can lay claim to the state as his stronghold.

A political analyst in the state, Mike Etim, says Akpabio remains the strongman of Akwa Ibom politics, having been a commissioner and governor, in spite of the attempts by the ruling PDP to unpopularise him.

According to him, the senator’s contribution to the development of the state cannot be ignored. He believes Buhari can ride on Akpabio’s popularity in the state to win.

The APC Campaign spokesman Eseme Eyiboh said the party was poised to take over the state. He said the APC would win the presidential poll convincingly.

He said, “The number of people who have defected from the PDP to the APC include former commissioners. The election will not be determined by the number of billboards.”

Our correspondent could not reach the PDP’s spokesman in the state Ini Enemobong for comments as of the time of filing this report.

However, a member of the party, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Governor Udom Emmanuel’s achievements would guarantee victory for Atiku Abubakar.

Osun 
The presidential poll in the state will be a fierce contest between the ruling APC and the opposition PDP, judging by the performances of both parties in the governorship poll last year.

APC’s Adegboyega Oyetola and PDP’s Ademola Adeleke both finished neck and neck in the September 22, 2018 poll. It took the support of the Social Democratic Party for the APC to win the runoff five days later.

Buhari will definitely enjoy the support of the state government.

The defection of a former Deputy Governor of the state Iyiola Omisore is an advantage to Buhari. But the Chairman of the Coalition of United Political Parties, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who is a former governor of the state, and other opposition party leaders are working for Atiku.

Atiku’s wife, Titi, is from the state and this could help the PDP.

The Legal Adviser of the PDP in the South-West, Mr Kanmi Ajibola, who is based in the state, said Atiku would win the election in the state. He said Nigerians, including Osun residents, were tired of the APC government and would not hesitate to vote out Buhari due to increasing insecurity and poverty in the country.

Spokesman for the APC in the state, Mr Kunle Oyatomi, told one of our correspondents that Buhari would win the election.

He said corruption was the order of the day during the PDP regime and that Buhari had done a lot to reposition the country.

Prof Bolaji Omitola of the Department of Political Science, Osun State University, told The Punch, “ It will be a close race considering how the big two parties performed during the governorship poll. But when you look at political alignment and realignment that happened after that, I will give it to Buhari.”

Niger 
The Secretary of the APC in the state, Mohammed Liman, insists Buhari will win the presidential election in the state.

Liman said, “Based on what Buhari has done in the last three years of his administration, his records are there to speak for him, he will win.”

He added, “His administration has fixed roads across the state. They include Lambata-Bida road, Mokwa-Jebba road and Mokwa-Tegina-Pandogari-Kaduna road.”

The secretary said Buhari made it possible for farmers to have access to Anchor Borrowers in the state. He said, “Based on that, Nigerlites will give him 100 per cent vote.”

A political analyst in the state, Paul Kolo, told one of our correspondents that Buhari would win in the state because the opposition PDP seemed to have given up hope.

Kolo said, “The way the PDP is going about their campaign does not show that they are serious. They are campaigning as if they have been defeated already, they are not giving the ruling party any challenge.”

Also, former Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Jonathan Vasta, tipped Buhari to win convincingly in the state.

Vasta, a former spokesman for the APC in the state, told The Punch that the poor in the state would vote for Buhari.

But the spokesman for the PDP’s campaign team in the state, Mohammed Yahaya, said Atiku would beat Buhari in the state.

Yahaya said, “In Niger State Atiku will have 75 per cent of the total votes cast while Buhari will get 25 per cent. This is because the Buhari government has done nothing in the state to deserve our votes.

“The roads he claimed to have completed are still in sorry state.”

A Minna-based businessman, Isah Kuta, said since the Northern Elders’ Forum and Northern Youths Stakeholders’ Forum had endorsed Atiku, voters in Niger would vote for him.

He said, “Buhari does not have the mental capacity to lead the country. He has failed because the nation has not seen any meaningful change.”

Kuta said apart from the Boko Haram insurgency, kidnapping and banditry are common in the country. “It is better to try Atiku,” he said.
Adamawa 
In Adamawa State, where the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, hails from, the presidential poll will be a tough race between him and President Buhari. Atiku has his political structure in the state having contested and won the governorship election in the state in 1999 before former President Olusegun Obasanjo picked him to be his running mate. Analysts believe that Atiku will enjoy homeboy advantage in his own state.

But Buhari, whose party is in control of the state with Governor Mohammed Bindow at the helm of affairs, will definitely make the presidential election a tough contest for the former vice president.

With the array of political appointees and party chieftains in the state, the APC candidate will seek to hand over a surprise defeat to Atiku but the support of the former vice president’s kinsmen; years of political experience and horse-trading may make it a tough job for the incumbent.
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Monday, 11 February 2019

THE GOOD GODDESS OF GOOD LUCK

Emo and Yaweh were so excited about travelling to the city with their mother that morning that they hastened to finish their chores. Their journey to the city had been postponed countless times because of insufficient funds, inadequate time and unpreparedness amongst others.

Emo, the first twin, had worn his favourite clothes, a flowery blue shirt, a pair of black jean trousers and a pair of brown leather sandals which their mother had bought for them in the city as a birthday gift and was already sitting on their big, black, travel bag outside the raffia gate waiting for their mother, Mrs Chidimma to finish dressing up so they could travel when Mrs Chidimma called him. He rushed inside the hut to where his mother was seated on a wooden chair. She had worn a native attire and was tying a scarf when the thirteen year old came in.

"Yes mother", he said beaming with smiles.
"Ehmm...I forgot to tell you to pack the little groundnut I harvested in the farm yesterday. So please, pull off your clothes and rush to the farm. Once you're back, we'll leave for the city".
Emo's happy countenance instantly changed to that of an angry man. He was so bitter about going on an errand after he was dressed and ready to leave the village.
"Mother, send Yahweh now, he has not dressed up yet", he said eyeing his brother who was about to wear his own pair of trousers.
"I saw him before I called for you so hurry up and let's..." The thirteen year old walked out on his mother. He was highly infuriated so he went into his lair,  the storehouse, to sulk. His mother called him severally but he refused to answer.
"I'll go mother!", Yahweh shouted as he watched his brother disappear to the storehouse.

Quickly, he pulled off his trouser, rushed to the storehouse, collected a big, empty sack and took off to the farm without complain. He was happy that he'd finally gotten the opportunity to announce to his friends that he'll be going to spend the long vacation in the city. He had been trying to figure out a lie to tell his mother so he can go and tell his friends about his journey when this opportunity presented itself. Therefore, he embraced it without ado.

On his way to the farm, he saw a deflated ball that was cast away and was playing it as he went along the lonely path. In a twinkling of an eye, Yaweh saw himself being carried into a black Lexus jeep that was packed not so far away. He recognized the King's subject and began to apologize to them to please let him go. Usually, anytime the King's subjects carried a Child in that manner, the child gets a good number of the strokes of the cane for throwing stones close to the palace or for being disobedient to the guards. Yaweh and his friends had played close to the palace the previous day and in the process, one of them had mistakenly thrown a stone at one of the guards. The guard had shouted after them to stop but they had taken different directions in haste to run for their dear lives. Therefore, he thought the guard had come for him. The King's messengers did  not utter a word as Yahweh pleaded on. Their silence made him all the more afraid.
"Is he the one?", the King asked his young son immediately the black Lexus jeep pulled up in the palace. Yahweh was shaking already with fear as he prayed quickly for a miracle to take place.

The king, his son and subjects were standing beside a black Highlander when the guards and Yahweh arrived. The young prince had described Emo and the location of his house to the guards but they had brought his brother instead. They were approaching the raffia gate when they saw him coming out from the said house. They followed him quietly until they got to a narrow path and then they caught him. Had the guards called on him to come, he wouldn't have come because the children of Amah village feared the King's guards even more than their own parents because of the whip. Emo and his brother, Yaweh were identical twins but the small dark spot close to Yaweh's right eye made it easy for people to identify them.

"No, this is his twin", he replied.
Just then one of the King's subject whispered something in his left ear.
"My son, they are waiting for us, we can't delay any longer. Since this is his twin, there won't be so much difference between them so let's just go."
"Okay father", the young prince replied. "But he needs a change of raiment, father". Yaweh couldn't contain his joy. He prostrated thrice on the floor to show his appreciation to the King.

Yahweh was given a very beautiful apparel to wear and soon they were on their way to the airport. Emo was a bosom friend to the King's son and the King's son had wanted his friend to go with him to New York to spend the holiday but the guards had mistaken his brother for him.

Meanwhile, Mrs Chidimma was about to go out to look for Yaweh when the King's subjects met her at the gate. They gave her a note from the king and some money. Mrs Chidimma was overjoyed after reading the note that she began to shout and dance. Emo who had been sulking ever since came out from his lair upon hearing the joyous noise his mother was making. His mother handed him the note without uttering a word and continued to dance and sing aloud.

"Chineke mu o-oo! It would have been m-me-mee o-oo-ooo!", Emo cried.

The unavoidable truth is that we've made this statement at one point in our lives. We've at a time cried, " if I had known...", " how I wish...", among so many other regretful statements. Nevertheless, once beaten, twice shy should be our motto thereafter.

The goddess of good luck is too busy to waste her golden time with men that are slow, lazy and fearful. She doesn't play with her time at all. She rarely visits but when she does she's too impatient to wait for a sluggard.

Just like Emo, we've missed so many worthwhile opportunities just because it's not what we expected, it's not our agreement with some persons, it's not what suits or befits our personality, it didn't come when we wanted it and several other reasons.

Most a times that life changing opportunity we've spent every fleeting second and every single dime waiting for comes in simple, unexpected ways. It doesn't come 'big' as we expect. Perhaps, that breakthrough, that change, that transformation we've been praying and fasting for lies in this small opportunities we neglect. Remember that Emo was still going to travel with his mother that same day on his return from the farm but just because he had worn his best clothes, his best..., he missed it. We think we're too good in risk management that we forget that to even breath is a risk itself! Yes! We breath several harmful chemicals into our system yet we survive it so why don't we take the bull by the horn and damn the risk? Why don't we face it and be happy for once? Why don't we break out of our self protective shells and enjoy this short life?

This golden opportunity might be the gold in the mire but we quickly run to embrace the new iron. It might disguise itself and come as a man wearing clean rags but we neglect it and kiss the  man in suit with a dirty and tattered underclothes!
I'm sure that we don't want to cry like Emo. Let's learn to make the best out of every opportunity and out of every situation we find ourselves. By so doing, doors that have been constructed for us by this good goddess of good luck in unexpected places get to open for us. And with less difficulty too!

Let's learn to do small things. Let's learn to soil our hands in earth even after we've applied moisturizers on her hands. Let's learn to inhale and swallow with joy too, the odorous smell of the stagnant water for when the good goddess comes suddenly, she'll perfume and sanitize it and transform it into our best place and even our solitude if we so please!

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Sunday, 10 February 2019

NSUKKA-USA INC FINANCIAL AID AND ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE AWARD- 2018

  

 NSUKKA-USA INC FINANCIAL AID AND ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE AWARD- 2018

NSUKKA-USA INC FINANCIAL AID AND ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE AWARD-  2018

PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT!
2018/2019 NSUKKAUSA INC FINANCIAL AID AND ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE AWARD TO UNN UNDERGRADUATES
NsukkaUSA Inc. is a socio-cultural organization comprising Nsukka citizens living in the United States of America. Part of her continuous socio-economic empowerment program is the award of Financial Aid and Academic Excellence to students from any of the 7 L.G.A.’s namely, Igbo-Etiti, Igbo-Eze North, Igbo-Eze South, Isi-Uzo, Nsukka, Udenu and Uzo-Uwani, whose department of study is at the Nsukka campus of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
ELIGIBILITY
The awards are for students who meet all of the following criteria:
(a) Students enrolled at the University of Nigeria in degree programs at Nsukka campus only and who are in the final year of their study during the 2018/2019 session.
(b) Students whose town of origin is any of the above named 7 Local Government Areas.
(C) Students who have UNN DOMAIN e-mail address for use in the application process for access to download the printable Application Form
(D) Students who are of excellent academic standing with verifiable CGPA.
HOW TO APPLY:
Eligible candidates should send a mail to “nsukkausa.unn@gmail.com” requesting for the form, stating their Full names, Department, Registration no. ,Local Government Area, Town & Phone number.
Upon completion of an Online form, a form will be mailed to the candidate to download and print. Completed application form and enclosures shall be addressed to the Award Co-ordinator and submitted in the designated box at the General Office of the Department of Geology.
NOTE: The Application Form is free. Only e-mail enquiries are advised.
DEADLINE:
Online e-mail requests for Application Form shall end by 22nd February, 2019, while completed application form and the enclosures shall be returned to the Award Committee not later than 30th February, 2019, or as may be stated on the Application Form.

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