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War in PDP: Wike bombs Atiku, Ayu, Tambuwal, Saraki

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The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) grew from bad to worse yesterday after Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike declared that the party was arrogant and scaring Nigerians with its mishandling of its own internal affairs.

“You are making Nigerians to be afraid. If you say Nigerians are not happy with APC and then you don’t want to do the right things because of that…with what you are doing, you are scaring Nigerians,” Wike said, berating several party leaders for bringing the PDP this low ahead of the 2023 elections.

He dared the party to sanction him if it could.

But the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, branded Wike’s statement uncharitable and warned him to steer clear of fighting a non-existent war.

A separate criticism of Wike came from the spokesman of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, Charles Aniagwu, who said the Rivers State governor had no moral right to accuse Atiku of not respecting the PDP zoning arrangement, having rejected the party’s zoning formula in Rivers State himself in the run up to the 2015 governorship election.

The development in the PDP drew a sneer from the campaign council of the All Progressives Congress’ (APC’s) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

It called Atiku the divider-in-chief of the PDP for what it perceived as his inability to resolve the crisis.

Wike, who had served notice of his plan to ‘say it all’ about the PDP infighting, told newsmen in Port Harcourt yesterday that Atiku and Ayu were not helping the fortunes of the party ahead of the 2023 polls.

He recalled how in 2014 the former vice president, former Senate President Bukola Saraki and Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal rebuffed the then President Goodluck Jonathan and ruined his chances for reelection

The Rivers State governor, who spent about two hours in a live media chat at Government House, Port Harcourt on the PDP crisis, insisted that the refusal of Atiku and Ayu to fulfill their promises had portrayed them as untrustworthy characters in the eyes of Nigerians.

He said: “The constitution of our party provides that there shall be zoning of party and elective offices. It is clear; not ambiguous. But people will always try to manipulate the system to suit them.

“They slant stories in such a way as to deceive the public. The founding fathers knew the complexity of this country. They did it in such a way as not to have problems.”

The governor recalled various meetings held by Southern governors and their resolution that power must shift to the South, but lamented that while the APC though in power adhered to the rotational principle in the spirit of the country’s unity, the PDP arrogantly rejected zoning.

He said PDP having boxed itself into a corner, it was being hunted by the singular decision and must be restructured to give the South a sense of belonging.

He claimed that shortly after Atiku emerged as the party’s flag bearer, the former VP visited him and told him that Ayu must quit as chairman with a view to addressing the structural imbalance in the party.

Ayu himself, he said, promised before his election as chairman to resign in the event that a northerner was picked as presidential candidate.

The governor also said that during the London meeting his team had with Atiku, the PDP presidential candidate vowed to ensure the exit of Ayu and pleaded with them to give him a week to work out the modalities.

He, however, said they were surprised that Atiku treated them with disrespect when, instead of giving them feedback, went to an event and announced that any attempt to remove Ayu would cause a constitutional crisis in the party.

Continuing, he said: “The founding fathers of our party never made a mistake; they knew the complexity of this country and therefore they arranged it in such a way we did not have problems in our party.

“People should not forget history. It may not be favourable to you but for the sake of the society and the country, you must remember. In 2014, there was this issue of the presidential candidate of the party. Jonathan emerged as the presidential candidate.

“You also remembered that many people walked out of that convention. People like the candidate of our party today, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Aminu Tambuwal was one of them, the former Senate President, Saraki, was one of them. They all walked out saying that the presidency must come to the north.

“Of course President Jonathan, a sitting president, did everything to talk to them to come back to the party. Jonathan was rebuffed as a sitting President. I even remember there was a time he travelled to London to see Atiku; he rebuffed Jonathan, who was a sitting President.

 “We decided to remain in the party. You heard when the former Niger State Governor Aliyu Babangida came out and said they all agreed to work against the candidate of our party.

“But what is important is that some members of our party played anti-party activities because they believed that the presidential candidate should come from the north.”

‘Why current structure in PDP cannot stand’

Wike said the current power sharing in the PDP could not stand in view of its lopsidedness.

“We have had our primary and the presidential candidate emerged. But before the candidate emerged, there was the issue of where the chairmanship would go, because in our party, the chairman comes from south and the candidate comes from north or vice versa.

“The intention of the founding fathers was to allow for inclusiveness, for everybody to participate in the hierarchy of decision making. As it is today, three major persons make decisions for the party. One is the national chairman, the presidential candidate or the President, if you are in power, and then the Director-General of the campaign.”

 ‘Southern governors agreed that power must shift to South’

He accused some PDP governors from the South of betraying the collective decision that power must shift to the south.

His words: “We from the South, before now we had met and said the presidency must come to the south. The APC and PDP met.

“When this idea was mooted, they met and agreed that the conveners of these meetings would be the Governor of Ondo, Akeredolu, the Governor of Ebonyi, Umahi and the Governor of Delta, Okowa. They became the chief conveners of the Southern Governors Forum.

“The first meeting was held in Asaba. It was agreed that President Muhammadu Buhari, coming from the north had done eight years and therefore, the next should come from the South. The next meeting was held in Lagos and it was stated clearly that this is what they must pursue.

“The final meeting was held in Enugu. I don’t want to make certain statements made by some governors at that meeting. I remember that one of the governors said how will I tell my children that I cannot be president because I do not come from a particular section of the country?

“At the appropriate time, I will let you know the governor. We said that Secondus was already rounding off his term and could not go back since the presidency was coming to the South. It was not a personal thing.

“We went to the party and there were arguments and counter arguments. I was even surprised at the behavior of some of the governors who were even the conveners of the forum.

“Luckily the party set up a committee. At that committee, the governor of Benue State, Ortom, was the chairman of the zoning committee. They cleverly came up with the idea that only party offices should be zoned, not elective offices.

“Some people believed they are more intelligent than others. Some of us said that this at the end of the day would cause crisis for us. The chairmanship was now zoned to the north and that was why no southerner contested the position.

“When we lost election in 2015, the party sat down, formed a committee under Ekweremadu. The committee came out and said we should zone the presidency to the North. That was why in the 2018 convention, there was nobody from the South who contested that position.

“All the presidential aspirants came from the North, and everybody would remember we gave Atiku all the support. No state contributed more than Rivers.

“Those of them who claim they are highly connected and that they are the founding fathers of the party, now said there should be no zoning of the presidential ticket, leave it open, let the best candidate emerge, because they thought they had the number.”

‘How Ayu manipulated Atiku’s emergence’

The Rivers governor accused Ayu of working in tandem with Atiku to make him win the PDP presidential primary.

He said: “We have jettisoned our constitution knowing that we are laying a foundation, a seed of discord in future. But before the primary, Ayu emerged as the chairman. I stand to challenge anybody. Ayu kept thanking me and promising to unite the party. They started selling forms and people bought forms and said there was no need to zone. I saw fraud and manipulation.

“But some of us came out to say we wanted to run. The only thing I can tell you today is I feel pained that I don’t have the opportunity to fight bandits and oil theft (if I had been elected as president). The two things I told myself I was going to do was to take on insecurity head-on and the issue of oil theft affecting our economy today. But it is God that gives power.

“We campaigned seriously. They were shocked at the modus of our campaign. There were meetings upon meetings. A whole national chairman threatened some of the presidential candidates at that time that if Wike won he was going to resign.

“In fact, he was calling aspirants to withdraw for Atiku Abubakar. Bala Mohammed is there. Saraki is there. Tambuwal is there. Meetings were called. ‘You must withdraw if not we will lose, Wik will win.’

“This is the national chairman of a party who is supposed to be the chief umpire. Even at the primary, that was why we started the primary very late. Meetings were going on, asking people to step down. Some top retired generals were involved. Some of the meetings were held in their houses.

“But even in the committee for the convention, when we met in Benue Governor’s Lodge with the national working committee, I told the National Chairman that the people he was fronting for as chairmen of the committees were all supporters of Atiku Abubakar. He said no.

“I told him we didn’t want the party to be in crisis and challenged him to do the right thing so that at the end of the day all of us would be happy. We are opposition party not the ruling party and we must conduct ourselves in such a way to avoid internal crisis.

“But there was nothing Ayu didn’t do: manipulation of delegates list. Unfortunately for them, the numbers were not adding up. There was nothing they didn’t do to ensure Wike did not emerge. We went to the convention.

“You remember I spoke last. When I came out to speak, there was danger. The ovation was thunderous. It became a problem for them. I was highly disappointed by the former Senate President (David Mark). It had never happened in the history of elections. In fact, when you are speaking, whatever thing you want to do, you say it at that point.

“When everybody had spoken for them to commence, a whole chairman of the national convention planning committee said there was an announcement. It had never happened anywhere. People were thinking it was for security reasons. But he gave the microphone back to Tambuwal to come again and speak after everybody had spoken to say he wanted to withdraw. He now went ahead to say people should vote for Atiku Abubakar.

“At that point, if not for the love of the party, that convention wouldn’t have held. There would have been crisis at that convention. But we decided to go ahead for peace to reign. We decided to avoid anything that would cause problem. I would have said the convention would not hold, and if heaven was going to come down, we would have allowed heaven to come down that day.

“After you had done all you had done, you now went to Tambuwal to say he was the hero of the convention. A national chairman? We thought it was over and there would be reconciliation.”

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Pelumi Nubi: Pioneering Adventure from London to Lagos

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In a world of 195 countries, the name Pelumi Nubi stands out. At the youthful age of 27, she had already set foot in 77 of them, spanning six continents. But it wasn’t until January 24th that Nubi embarked on a journey that would etch her name in the annals of history as the first Black woman to travel from London to Lagos by road.

Setting out from London, Pelumi Nubi, a UK-based Nigerian global traveler and content creator, embarked on a monumental adventure fueled by a desire to inspire others and showcase the beauty of Africa. Her journey spanning over two months.

The route was ambitious, stretching from England to France, then down to Spain and Morocco. From there, Nubi navigated the treacherous terrain of the West Sahara desert before crossing into Mauritania, Senegal, and a host of West African countries, including The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Ghana, Togo, and Benin, not just passing through each city, pelumi ensures she spend a couple of days showcasing the food, tourist attraction and hospitality of Africans

However, the road was not without its challenges. Pelumi encountered obstacles such as a 24-hour hold at the Liberian border and being denied entry to Sierra Leone. In Ivory Coast, she faced a terrifying accident that damaged her car. Yet, undeterred by these setbacks, she pressed on, fueled by determination and the unwavering belief in her mission.

After covering a staggering 10,000 kilometers (over 6,200 miles) in her trusty purple Peugeot 107, affectionately named « lumi, » Nubi finally arrived at her ultimate destination – the vibrant city of Lagos, Nigeria. Her journey was not only a testament to her resilience but also a celebration of African diversity and unity.

In recognition of her remarkable feat, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, honored Pelumi Nubi by naming her as a Lagos Tourism Ambassador. Additionally, she was presented with a house and a branded LAGRIDE vehicle, bearing the custom number plate « NUBI 9JA. »

But perhaps the most poignant moment came when Nubi decided to part ways with her beloved travel companion, lumi. Donating the car to the Lagos State Museum, she expressed her hope that it would inspire others to seek adventure and explore the world.

Pelumi Nubi’s journey from London to Lagos is more than just a road trip; it’s a testament to the human spirit’s boundless capacity for adventure and exploration. Through her bravery and determination, she has not only made history but also inspired countless others to embark on their own journeys of discovery. As she continues to blaze trails and push boundaries, Pelumi Nubi remains a beacon of inspiration for adventurers and dreamers around the world.

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AIR PEACE LAUNCHES LAGOS-LONDON FLIGHT SERVICES: A MILESTONE FOR NIGERIAN AVIATION

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Nigerians are celebrating a significant milestone in the aviation sector as Air Peace announces the commencement of its Lagos-London flight services. Allen Onyema, the Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, revealed that the airline has already sold out tickets for these flights until September, reflecting the overwhelming demand for this new route.

 

The inauguration of the Lagos-London flights on March 30 marked a historic moment for Air Peace, Nigeria’s flag carrier. Speaking in an interview with Arise TV, Onyema expressed his optimism for the future of the airline, emphasizing its plans to expand its fleet to over 60 aircraft.

 

From the moment Air Peace published its fares, the response has been remarkable. The inaugural flight sold out within days, with bookings stretching all the way to September. Despite the challenges faced in the last 48 hours, including negotiations with Gatwick Airport over security deposits, the airline remains steadfast in its commitment to providing exceptional service.

 

Onyema raised pertinent questions regarding the disparity in security deposit requirements between Nigerian airlines and foreign carriers operating in Nigeria. He questioned whether British Airways and Virgin Atlantic pay similar amounts to Nigerian airports and highlighted the need for fair treatment and transparency in international aviation regulations.

 

The journey to launching the Lagos-London route was not without obstacles. Onyema revealed that it took seven years of perseverance and strategic planning to overcome internal and external challenges. Despite facing setbacks, Air Peace remained determined to provide Nigerians with a world-class travel experience.

 

The overwhelming support from both Nigerian and UK citizens has been instrumental in Air Peace’s success. The airline extends its gratitude to the Nigerian population for their unwavering support and promises to continue making the nation proud.

 

Air Peace made history with its inaugural flight on March 31, as the Boeing 777 aircraft touched down at Gatwick Airport in London. The company has responded to the high demand by increasing seat capacity on the route, further demonstrating its commitment to meeting the needs of travelers.

 

As Nigeria’s aviation industry continues to evolve, it is crucial to recognize the contributions of visionary leaders like Allen Onyema. His dedication to advancing the sector reflects a broader commitment to driving economic growth and prosperity in Nigeria.

 

While challenges persist, including disparities in international aviation regulations, there is hope for a brighter future. With continued support from stakeholders and concerted efforts to address systemic issues, Nigerian aviation can reach new heights of success.

 

In conclusion, the launch of Air Peace’s Lagos-London flights represents a significant achievement for Nigerian aviation and underscores the potential for further growth and development in the sector. As Nigerians, we stand united in celebrating this milestone and look forward to a future of expanded opportunities and connectivity in the skies.

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SENEGAL WITNESSES HISTORIC INAUGURATION: FROM PRISONER TO PRESIDENT IN WEEKS

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In a remarkable turn of events, Senegal has witnessed the inauguration of Bassirou Diomaye Faye as its president, marking the culmination of a swift and dramatic rise for the once well-known opposition. Faye, a left-wing pan-Africanist, assumed office after securing a landslide victory in the March 24 elections, with his reform platform. At just 44 years old, he now holds the record of being the youngest president in Senegal’s history.

Taking the oath of office amidst anticipation and hope, Faye pledged to fulfill his duties as president with unwavering dedication. « Before God and the Senegalese nation, I swear to faithfully fulfill the office of president of the Republic of Senegal, » he declared in Diamniadio, near the capital, Dakar. His commitment extended to upholding the constitution, defending national integrity, and championing African unity.

The transition of power, formalized with outgoing President Macky Sall, signifies a significant moment in Senegal’s political landscape. Faye’s journey to presidency was not without hurdles, notably his recent release from prison less than two weeks before the election, alongside his mentor, Ousmane Sonko, following a political amnesty announced by Sall.

For many Senegalese, Faye’s ascension represents a triumph of democracy and the rule of law, For most Senegalese youth this victory a culmination of a long struggle for democracy and the rule of law… This is a day of celebration for everyone.

The election itself served as a litmus test for Senegal’s democratic stability within West Africa. Months of unrest preceding the polls, fueled by concerns over constitutional term limits and allegations of corruption, underscored the nation’s commitment to democratic principles. Faye’s victory resonated particularly with the youth, who expressed frustration over issues such as unemployment and perceived exploitation by former colonial powers.

In his inaugural address, Faye, affectionately known as Diomaye, reiterated his pledge to combat corruption and implement economic reforms. A practicing Muslim hailing from a modest background, Faye emphasized transparency by publicly disclosing his assets before the election, setting a precedent for accountability in leadership.

The appointment of Ousmane Sonko as prime minister further solidifies Faye’s commitment to inclusive governance and coalition-building. The swift formation of a new government signals a fresh chapter in Senegal’s political landscape, one marked by optimism and aspirations for positive change.

As Africa’s youngest elected president, Faye embodies the hopes and aspirations of a new generation. His rapid ascent from political prisoner to head of state underscores the resilience of Senegal’s democracy and the power of collective determination in shaping the nation’s future.

 

In a gesture of regional solidarity and support, the president of Nigeria, His Excellency President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who serves as the chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), felicitated with the new president. This demonstration of camaraderie highlights the interconnectedness of West African nations and the shared commitment to fostering peace, stability, and prosperity across the region. As Senegal embarks on a new chapter under Faye’s leadership, the congratulatory messages from neighboring states serve as a testament to the significance of this historic moment for the entire continent.

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