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Ortom’s Ceaseless Diatribes Against Atiku: A Call for Restraint

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By Terry T Waya

It has become necessary for me as a mutual friend of His Excellency Atiku Abubakar, Wazirin Adamawa and Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, to intervene and correct some misleading insinuations peddled in recent media outbursts.

I wish to begin by stating that I have stood by Governor Samuel Ortom through all his political challenges beginning from his unfair treatment in the hands of the PDP landlords which forced his defection to the APC. I was one of the stakeholders who paved the path to his crossover to the APC where he was instantly rewarded with the gubernatorial ticket of the Party. In the course of his successful campaign to be Governor, I learnt my modest financial, moral and security support.

Sometime last year, my friend and associate of several years, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar Wazirin Adamawa informed me that he needed to meet with my Governor, to sort out some issues that seemed to brew tensions between them as well as to seek his support in the PDP Presidential Primaries. I swung into action and got the Governor’s consent for us to proceed to Makurdi on a Sunday. I led a delegation of political leaders, who accompanied the Waziri to the People’s House in Makurdi where in spite of initial misgivings, the Governor hosted us very well.

Since then, Alhaji Atiku has always sought my counsel in every matter involving him and my Governor.

Shortly after the PDP primaries with Atiku emerging victorious, I was mandated to engage Governor Ortom for the purpose of peace, reconciliation and cooperation.

Several meetings were held in the pursuit of the above goals despite incessant attacks on the Former Vice president. I even engaged close members of his family, who advised that he should embrace peace to which he agreed.

To my greatest worry, the hostility became aggravated with the supporters of both parties and sometimes the principals themselves exchanging words.

I was once again brought in to help broker a meeting between the two leaders. When I approached Governor Ortom, he gave a condition which must be fulfilled before he could come to the roundtable. The condition was that Atiku must talk to him like he has been doing with the four other Governors. The Waziri agreed to the meeting after speaking with Governor Ortom, and they both agreed to meet upon the return of the Governor from one of his numerous trips abroad.

However, Governor Ortom backed out of the scheduled meeting because of comments by Atiku in Kaduna to the effect that Governor confided in him that Tiv people steal cows from his farm. I totally understand Governor Ortom’s anxiety given that this accusation is coming against the background that he had earlier called Tiv people drunkards.

Governor Ortom after yet another intervention from me demanded an apology from the former VP. Despite his age and status, Atiku bent over backwards and apologised.

I was still in the process of getting my two friends back together when matters took an ugly bend. Governor Ortom had gone to the residence of the PDP National Chairman Dr Iyorchia Ayu and rained expletives on him in the presence of Senator Gabriel Suswam. In that shocking encounter, Ortom called Ayu unprintable names like Fulani slave, corrupt politician, etc.

At this point, my appeal to Atiku to meet with Ortom led to Atiku seeking guarantees from me that such a meeting will not result in physical harm to himself, and neither should it become a platform to profile his race. Atiku also said the meeting must take place in my house.
My attention was later drawn to a video clip in which Governor Ortom openly disparaged the former VP and vowed “never to be a slave of the Fulani”.

This statement is to say the least reckless and does grievous harm to our behind the scene efforts to achieve reconciliation .

I can say with confidence that Atiku Abubakar in spite of the hostility still has a special fondness for Governor Ortom, and is still open for dialogue.

As the man caught up in the middle of this crossfire, I can say with confidence that there is nothing personal, neither are there any fundamental issues that cannot be amicably resolved. I know for a fact that both personalities are united in the common goal of winning the 2023 elections. There is therefore, no need to continue along the path of venomous attacks. As a senior stakeholder, who hails from Benue State, I shall continue to positively engage with my Governor and would not stop from telling him to refrain from being externally influenced to burn bridges he may need for himself and his people in the near future.

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Winners Get Glo Festival of Joy Promo Prizes in Onitsha

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Several lucky and loyal Glo subscribers in Onitsha, Anambra State, were on Tuesday presented with various prizes, including a brand new car in the company’s ongoing Festival of Joy promo.
The car was won by a 30-year-old Construction Technician, Chukwuemeka Chikezie. Many other Nigerians also went home with different prizes such as power generating sets, sewing machines and rechargeable fans.
Chikezie, who was impaired in his left arm from a job related accident he had in 2019, disclosed that when he was called the previous day following the draws, he was working on a project in Enugu, far away from his Onitsha base. Despite that, he found it difficult that he could become an instant car winner just like that.
Till he got the keys to the car on Wednesday at an elaborate ceremony held at the Gloworld premises at Conoil station, Onitsha Bridgehead, Chikezie was hesitant to believe he had become a car owner.
“If anyone had told me yesterday that I would be a car owner today, I would never have believed”, he said, adding that “I love the Glo network very well and I have always depended on it for my calls and data needs”.
Hon. (Mrs) Beverly Ikpeazu-Nkemdiche, representing Onitsha South 2 Constituency, Anambra State House of Assembly, disclosed that her first number upon returning to Nigeria some years ago, was a Glo number. She commended Globacom for its support to its subscribers through the life changing prizes in the promo.
Representative of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), Mr Ezelue Nnamdi, said the Commission was happy with Globacom for its transparency in the conduct of the promo draws and the presentation of prizes to winner.
The Transition Chairman, Onitsha South Local Govt Area, Anambra State, Hon. Emeka Orji, expressed happiness that the event was held within his jurisdiction. He commended Globacom for putting the promo in place.

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We’re Not ‘Officially Aware’ of Anyone Working Against Tinubu’s Victory – FG

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The Federal Government, on Wednesday, said it was not “officially aware” of any entity in the Presidential Villa working against the victory of the All Progressives Congress’ flag bearer, Bola Tinubu. It also said that President, Muhammadu Buhari was neither favouring nor disfavouring any presidential candidate ahead of the February 25 election.

“If there’s anybody who is working against any candidate, we don’t know officially,” the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, told State House Correspondents after this week’s Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by the President at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, alleged that some “elements” in Aso Rock are working against Tinubu’s emergence as President.

El-Rufai, who spoke on a Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, explained that the persons in question were aggrieved that Tinubu defeated their candidate in the June 2022 APC presidential primary.

He cited the naira redesign policy as one of several schemes targeted at the APC presidential candidate, Tinubu, who also made a similar claim a week earlier.

According to El-Rufai, “I believe there are elements in the Villa that want us to lose the election because they didn’t get their way; they had their candidate. Their candidate did not win the primaries.

“They are trying to get us to lose the election, and they are hiding behind the President’s desire to do what he thinks is right. I will give two examples: this petroleum subsidy, which is costing the country trillions of Naira, was something that we all agreed would be removed.

“In fact, I discussed with the President and showed him why it had to go. Because how can you have a capital budget of N200b for federal roads and then spend N2 Trillion on petroleum subsidy? This was a conversation I had with the President in 2021 when the subsidy thing started rising. He was convinced. We left. It changed. Everyone in the government agreed, and it changed.

“The second example I will give is this currency redesign. You have to understand the President. People are blaming the Governor of the Central Bank for the currency redesign, but No. You have to go back and look at the first outing of Buhari as President.

“He did this; the Buhari-Idiagbon regime changed our currency and did it in secrecy with a view to catching those that are stashing away illicit funds. It is a very good intention. The President has his right. But doing it at this time within the allotted time does not make any political or economic sense.”

But fielding a question on the issue on Wednesday, Mohammed argued that the Buhari-led government has been fair to all candidates regardless of party affiliations.

He said, “On a more serious note, one thing I can assure you is that, no matter who, this administration is focused and determined to ensure a free and fair election. And I think this administration, and for that matter now, the most important person in this regard is Mr. President.

“I think he has shown by words and deed that he is committed to a free, fair and credible election. And fair, free and credible elections mean not favouring or disfavouring anybody.

“Everywhere he goes, he makes that very clear, even as recently as Friday, when he was in Daura. He said the same thing. So if there’s anybody who’s working against any candidate, we don’t know officially.”

Speaking in Ogun State last Wednesday, the APC presidential candidate alleged plans to sabotage the coming election.

Tinubu cited the naira redesign policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the lingering fuel crisis and as part of plots to thwart the polls and his expected victory.

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2023 Elections: INEC Deploys 707,384 Presiding Officers

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The Independent National Electoral Commission will deploy 707,384 presiding officers for the general elections scheduled to commence on February 25.

The commission also said that since electoral education was important, there was a need to infuse it into the National Values Curriculum of primary schools in Nigeria.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, stated these during the public presentation of the Electoral Education Curriculum and Teachers’ Guide for primary schools.

The curriculum which was developed by the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening  – Sustaining Electoral Engagement for Democracy project funded by USAID and FCDO and implemented by National Democratic Institute and IFES, was in partnership with the Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council, INEC (through the Voter Education Department), National Orientation Agency, Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All and academia from across the country.

Okoye said, “We believe that electoral education is important in the goals of our nation. Electoral education is a specialized area and that is why we have this curriculum being infused into the National Values Curriculum in our primary schools.

“For instance, for the 2023 general elections in Nigeria, the commission will deploy a total of 707, 384 presiding officers and assistant presiding officers.

“These presiding officers will be drawn from the crop of young men and women doing their National Youth Service Corps, while the assistant presiding officers will be drawn from students from federal tertiary institutions.

“It is therefore important for us to understand the importance of electoral education in the development of our democracy.

“A national civic education curriculum and teachers’ guide with a specific focus on electoral education will prepare our children for the challenges ahead and also prepare them on how to respect other people’s races and also prepare them to assume leadership in future.”

The President of IFES, Anthony Banbury, said its contribution to the project was to strengthen Nigeria’s electoral process through effective teaching and learning of civic education in primary schools.

“To catch them young, the revised curriculum is a hallmark innovation that will introduce children and youth very early to the concept, processes, ethics, and values of democratic systems and governance.

“It will be essential for the young people’s orientation to initiate a shift from the existing norms. In the long term, it will increase civic participation and knowledge of democratic systems and values, as the children of today become the adults and the voters of tomorrow,” Banbury said.

The Executive Secretary of NERDC, Prof. Ismail Junaidu, said the aim was to strengthen the fabric of the nation’s democracy for sustainable growth and development.

According to him, since the return of democracy in 1999, citizens’ participation in elections and the electoral process had remained an issue of concern.

He also said that a known reason for this was the lack of adequate electoral knowledge.

“Hence, promoting democratic electoral culture and developing civic skills are therefore necessary for well-informed and responsible participation in elections and in the electoral process,” Junaidu said.

He said that the above informed the initiative of the NERDC in collaboration with IFES to develop the Electoral Education Curriculum for primary schools in Nigeria.

According to him, the curriculum, generally, is developed to expose young learners to the rudiments of democracy and inculcate in them the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for active citizens’ participation in the democratic process.

“Specifically, the curriculum is designed to achieve five key objectives, which are to: equip learners with basic knowledge of the concept of democracy, the role of elections in democracy and good governance.

He said the choice of primary school learners was hinged on the core principle of using education as an instrument of socialisation for the young to assume adult roles for the good of society.

“Thus, the teaching of electoral education at this level will ensure that when children reach voting age, they would have already understood the fundamentals of active participation in the political and electoral process,” Junaidu said.

While commending the management of NERDC for the initiative, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, represented by his Senior Technical Assistant, Dr Claris Ujam, said the curriculum had become a dynamic process for sustainable national development.

He said, “Every time, there are changes or developments happening around the world, the school curricula are affected.

“Therefore, the inclusion of concepts and contents of electoral education under Civic Education is in line with the drive under the Ministry’s Education for Change: A Ministerial Strategic Plan.

“This is to enable the acquisition of citizenship values and skills through quality education. The electoral education curricular contents constitute a remarkable step to create positive change in the election landscape and political development.”

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