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Babachir, Dogara Convene APC Northern Christian Leaders’ Meeting, Resolve to Vote against Tinubu, Shettima

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*Babachir: The PVC and our prayers will be our weapons, we will massively deploy them in 2023

*Dogara: Tinubu, party made fatal error of judgment on Muslim-Muslim ticket

Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal and the former Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, led a meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Northern Christian Leaders in Abuja yesterday, where it was resolved that Christians should vote against the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the ruling party in the 2023 presidential election.

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Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the party picked Senator Kashim Shettima, the former governor of Borno State, who’s also a Muslim, as his running mate for the 2023 presidential election, a development that continues to elicit outrage from APC’s Christians stakeholders.
Speaking at the forum tagged, “APC Northern Christians Political Summit, Abuja 2022”, with the theme, “Righteousness Exalts a Nation, But Sin is a Reproach to Any People”, Babachir alleged that there was an agenda to politically, religiously and economically suppress and oppress Northern Christians, but assured that such agenda would be resisted.
He said Northern Christians were ready to battle the politics of exclusion and oppression, but open to discussions with anyone who wants to engage with them in good faith.

Babachir stressed that northern Christians’ opposition to Muslim-Muslim ticket had some historical basis, adding that there were times in the past when Christians produced the Deputy Governors in Kebbi, Niger and Kaduna States, “and now it is wholly Muslim-Muslim tickets in most places.”
The former SGF said it was worth noting that all these were happening in the APC-controlled states, stressing that they were threatening to do likewise in Gombe, Kogi and Adamawa states.

Lawal said the proof of its anti-Christian agenda was that APC had completely eliminated Northern Christians from its National Working Committee (NWC) and the National Executive Council (NEC), noting that all their protestations as party members have been completely ignored by the leadership.
He emphasised that as members of APC, they have the right to continue to express their indignation at these happenings and would not give up until they secure the justice that is due them.

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Lawal states: “The main purpose of this historical narrative is to let you know that for the APC, a Muslim-Muslim ticket has been a long-term political strategy and not a one-off decision. Thus, all this talk of competence as the reason for the choice of the Muslim VP is balderdash and diversionary. This is a calculated anti-Christian exclusion agenda that is being implemented.

“One might ask: why is the APC itself mute about our rejection of this Muslim-Muslim ticket? And why has none of the other perpetrators of this crisis reached out to Christians for a dialogue? Why are they instead hiring fake Bishops and taking church groups to further embarrass the Church? Why are they embarking on a vicious media war against CAN and the Church instead of seeking reconciliation? Truly, things are not adding up.
“So why are Christians, Northern Nigerian Christians in particular against the Muslim-Muslim ticket? I will try to enumerate just a few more reasons in addition to the ones I have already enumerated above.”

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Babachir stated categorically that they see the Muslim-Muslim ticket as an assent to the current and continuing educational, economic and political marginalisation of Northern Christians.
He noted that Christians all over the country see the Muslim-Muslim ticket as a deliberate and premeditated attempt to introduce and firmly entrench religion into the politics of this country.

“One might ask: why is the APC itself mute about our rejection of this Muslim-Muslim ticket? And why has none of the other perpetrators of this crisis reached out to Christians for a dialogue? Why are they instead hiring fake Bishops and taking church groups to further embarrass the Church? Why are they embarking on a vicious media war against CAN and the Church instead of seeking reconciliation? Truly, things are not adding up.
“So why are Christians, Northern Nigerian Christians in particular against the Muslim-Muslim ticket? I will try to enumerate just a few more reasons in addition to the ones I have already enumerated above.”

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Babachir stated categorically that they see the Muslim-Muslim ticket as an assent to the current and continuing educational, economic and political marginalisation of Northern Christians.
He noted that Christians all over the country see the Muslim-Muslim ticket as a deliberate and premeditated attempt to introduce and firmly entrench religion into the politics of this country.

“For how do they expect Christians to keep silent when a Northern state governor publicly states that they pressured Tinubu to get a Northern Muslim VP because they did not believe him to be a good Muslim? Is the VP going to be the National Deputy Imam?
“How do they expect us to keep silent when another Northern state governor goes to Osun State and urges them to vote for someone just because he is a Muslim? Was he there for the election campaign or ‘dawah’? What can be a better example of religion in politics than demonstrated by these governors?
“Clearly, there is an agenda to politically, religiously, and economically suppress and oppress the Northern Christian. But we are up to the task. We will protect ourselves. The PVC and our prayers will be our weapons of choice and we will massively deploy them in 2023.”

On his part, Dogara said the adoption of a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket by APC was capable of leading Nigeria to disintegration like Yugoslavia.
He said the opposition of Northern Christians to all Muslim ticket should not be understood to be objecting to Muslims or that they don’t want Tinubu to be president, “neither is it about Senator Kashim Shettima. It is about what is right and what is wrong, it is about justice, fairness and equity.”

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Dogara continued: “It is about Nigeria; its diversity and how it can be harnessed in an inclusive manner for the greater good of all of us. Be that as it may, some of us really wanted Asiwaju to be president because he has sacrificed much for our party, the APC and for what he represents to so many people. So, our position cannot be against Muslims or Islam. That fact cannot be denied in any way.”

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“For how do they expect Christians to keep silent when a Northern state governor publicly states that they pressured Tinubu to get a Northern Muslim VP because they did not believe him to be a good Muslim? Is the VP going to be the National Deputy Imam?
“How do they expect us to keep silent when another Northern state governor goes to Osun State and urges them to vote for someone just because he is a Muslim? Was he there for the election campaign or ‘dawah’? What can be a better example of religion in politics than demonstrated by these governors?
“Clearly, there is an agenda to politically, religiously, and economically suppress and oppress the Northern Christian. But we are up to the task. We will protect ourselves. The PVC and our prayers will be our weapons of choice and we will massively deploy them in 2023.”

On his part, Dogara said the adoption of a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket by APC was capable of leading Nigeria to disintegration like Yugoslavia.
He said the opposition of Northern Christians to all Muslim ticket should not be understood to be objecting to Muslims or that they don’t want Tinubu to be president, “neither is it about Senator Kashim Shettima. It is about what is right and what is wrong, it is about justice, fairness and equity.”

Dogara continued: “It is about Nigeria; its diversity and how it can be harnessed in an inclusive manner for the greater good of all of us. Be that as it may, some of us really wanted Asiwaju to be president because he has sacrificed much for our party, the APC and for what he represents to so many people. So, our position cannot be against Muslims or Islam. That fact cannot be denied in any way.”

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Ganduje absent as APC inaugurates Ondo gov screening panel

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The ruling All Progressives Congress has sworn in a seven-man committee to oversee the screening of the 16 governorship aspirants who bought the N50m nomination forms to participate in the April 20 primary election in Ondo State.

The inauguration, which took place on Friday at the national headquarters of the APC in Abuja, had some members of the National Working Committee in attendance.

The party’s National Chairman, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje and the National Secretary, Ajibola Basiru, were, however, absent at the oath-taking event administered by the Deputy National Organising Secretary of the APC, Nze Chidi Duru.

The screening committee is headed by a former Deputy Governor of Gombe State, Joshua Lidani, while a former member of the House of Representatives, Bimbo Daramola, was sworn in as his Secretary.

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Other members of the committee include Pastor Jones Erue, Chief Second Bakor, Magaret Duru, Prof. Chukwudi Ledirick and Abdul Balogun.

All the officials were asked to take the oath together along with another five-man Screening Appeal Committee which has the senator representing Kogi Central, Oseni Yakubu, as the chairman.

Other members of the appeal committee include Emmanuel Ekeh, Pious Idele and Ibrahim Magaji Dosara.

Addressing journalists after the oath-taking ceremony, Duru explained that the screening of aspirants before every primary election is in line with the Constitution of the party.

He said, “You are chosen to partake in the exercise of the 16 aspirants who purchased the forms from Ondo State. We believe you will conduct it with due diligence, discipline and, also course, fairness that the work demands. Unfortunately, I don’t envy you because it was meant to be a two-day exercise. But an additional day was added to the Eid-el-Fitr holiday. So we had to compress the two days into one, which means that you will work round the clock to complete the exercise within the timeframe that we projected.

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“We are also looking to basket each aspirant into certain categories to enable the work to be flawless and reasonably organised. It is also important to stress that the work of the Appeal Committee starts immediately after the screening concludes their own. We at the secretariat will also help the midwife with most of the things you require and hand them over to the Appeal Committee. Then you can go on with the clearance. The work is intertwined.

“If there is any request or support you need, we will be more willing to render such support. All the files of the aspirants will be made available for you to look at and scrutinise to make your point. I am happy to tell you that the committee at this point stands inaugurated and I wish you the very best of luck.”

Ganduje and Basiru were also absent from the oath-taking of a seven-man committee to oversee the screening of the 12 governorship aspirants who bought the N50m nomination forms to participate in the February 17 primary election in Edo State which took place in February.

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PDP gives Wike’s ally, Rep Chinda important assignment

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Kingsley Chinda, a member of the House of Representatives representing Obio/Akpor Constituency of Rivers State has been appointed as the Chairman, of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Local Government Congress Electoral Committee for Ondo, ahead of Saturday’s governorship primaries.

Chinda who is also the minority leader of House of Representatives is also a loyalist of former governor of Rivers State and incumbent Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike.

Wike is also from Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency.

Spokesperson for the PDP, Mr Debo Ologunagba, announced the appointment in a statement on Friday in Abuja.

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Ologunagba said that the constitution of the committee was approved by the National Working Committee (NEC) of the party.
re to serve on the local government Congress Electoral Committee to conduct National Delegates Congress for the purpose of electing one national delegate per local government area in Ondo,” he said.

Ologunagba said that the congress would hold at the Collation Center of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in each of the local government areas of the state.

Ologunagba advised all the governorship aspirants, leaders, critical stakeholders and members in Ondo to take note and be guided accordingly.

However, the appointment of a loyalist of Wike for the important assignment will no doubt raise eyebrows among members of the party who have been clamouring that the influence of the FCT Minister in the party should be reduced following what they considered his anti-party activities during the last presidential election and the ongoing battle with his successor in Rivers, Siminalayi Fubara.

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Many PDP members had also blamed Wike for encouraging 27 members of Rivers House of Assembly elected on the platform of PDP to defect to the All Progressives Congress, APC in the wake of his fallout with Fubara and the consequent attempt to impeach the governor.

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Chinda also recently opposed attempt by some lawmakers in the House of Representatives to force out the Damagun led National Working Committee of PD0P who they believed is beholden to Wike.

Wike at a recent reception in Port Harcourt said Chinda is one of those he could have supported to be his successor instead of Fubara.

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Fubara Now PDP Leader in Rivers, Says Odili

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Former governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili, has declared Governor Siminalayi Fubara as the political leader of the state, praising him for defending the interests of the people. Odili stated this at the inauguration of a health facility donated by his foundation to his Ndoni hometown.

Odili’s assertion came as Fubara warned that those currently disrespecting him and his office would someday be disgraced. He added that he would not turn back from his human development projects in the state.

However, former Chief of Staff to incumbent Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, when he was Rivers State governor, Chukwuemeka Woke, slammed those criticising his former principal over the statements he made during a recent media chat about the political situation in the state. Woke spoke during a stakeholders meeting at the Emohua local government council secretariat.

Odili, who served between 1999 and 2007, stated that Fubara, having secured his electoral victory through the ballot and the courts, had become the political leader of the oil-rich South-south state.

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Odili spoke at the commissioning of a Primary Healthcare Centre donated by his PAMO Foundation in Ndoni, his hometown, in Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni Local Government Area.

He emphasised the strategic importance of Rivers State, warning that if the state sneezes, the entire nation catches cold. Odili urged Fubara to act with this awareness in all its decisions.

Assessing Fubara’s performance, Odili commended him for making significant strides in critical sectors within his first year in office, particularly focusing on the well-being of the people.

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He stated that Fubara’s administration was in alignment with President Bola Tinubu’s agenda, especially in the health sector, following the recent launch of the Primary Healthcare Fellows scheme by the federal government.

Odili encouraged the governor to maintain the alignment with the president and his policies to attract federal government’s attention and support to the state.

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Fubara, who also spoke at the occasion, said his administration would continue to protect the interest of Rivers people. He stressed that what detractors thought was for evil against his government, God had turned to good.

The governor stated, “Let me say it here that anyone of you who think you are disrespecting me, you have already dug your pit, you will fall inside it. Our minds are open and we do not wish anybody bad but we expect you to do what is right. For those of you that have decided to take that part you think leads to your destination, safe journey.

“Siminalayi Fubara and his team will continue to take that course that God has given us, we’ll flow in a direction that your resistance won’t matter to us. We will flow in a direction that will lead to our destination and we’ll make our people proud.”

Meanwhile, Woke said instead of those, whom he described as failed politicians in the state, to address the salient issues raised by the FCT minister about their characters, they were diverting attention.

He said Wike’s critics had failed in their antics of blackmail and fruitless ploy to pit him against the president, stressing that their ill-fated attempt to diminish the image of the minister will continue to fail.

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Woke said the critics’ desperate plot to pass through the backdoor into the Tinubu administration had already failed, saying the president is aware of them and their antics.

Woke said, “Our leader, Nyesom Wike, had in a recent media chat where he informed Nigerians on the activities of FCT administration and, of course, arising from a question asked by one of the panellists, he talked about politics in Rivers State.

“Rather than addressing those issues, what we are seeing is name calling, people trying to malign the person of the FCT minister and trying to blackmail him to see whether they can cause any disagreement between and the president, of course, they will not succeed.”

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