The Forum of Nigerian Leaders and Elders has picked holes in the outcome of the February 23 presidential election, insisting that President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory is illegitimate.
While it reviewed major developments leading to the election, the management of the electoral process, the conduct and announced outcome of the election, the Forum said the poll was fraught with irregularities.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) immediately fired back, saying the Forum’s position was irrelevant after Nigerians had spoken at the polls.
The Forum had, in the run-up to the general elections, endorsed the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, “on account of his understanding of the critical needs of the country at this time”.
In a communiqué issued at the end of a summit in Abuja on February 4, three weeks before the presidential and National Assembly elections, and read by the spokesman for Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, the group emphasised that it adopted Atiku as consensus candidate for President “as he has demonstrated the deep understanding of the critical needs of the country at this time and possesses the capacity to proffer clear solutions in that respect.”
But presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, in a statement at that time, dismissed the position of the Forum, saying that the PDP was only hiding in the “bunker of ethnicity” to avoid its inevitable defeat.
In a post-presidential election statement, yesterday, by the Forum, endorsed by Chief E K Clark (PANDEF leader); Chief Ayo Adebanjo (Afenifere leader); Prof Ango Abdullahi (Northern Elders Forum); Chief John Nwodo (President General Ohanaeze, and Dr Pogu Bitrus (Middle Belt Forum), it urged Atiku to “exhaust the entire democratic process by challenging the results in the courts as provided for in the Constitution.”
“The Forum commends the statesmanship and commitment to the democratic process of the PDP candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, GCON, Wazirin Adamawa, to exhaust the entire democratic process by challenging the results in the courts as provided for in the constitution. We see his decision as patriotic, responsible and ultimately the highest contribution to the democratic system. Some other person would by now be soaking ‘baboons and dogs in blood”, the statement said.
It observed that the elections revealed massive irregularities and outright abuse of the electoral laws, the rules and regulations of INEC as well as the failure of security forces to remain neutral and operate within the highest standards of their calling.
“The Peace Accord was ridiculed by deliberate and open abuse of organs of the state, the denial of rights of many citizens to vote and blatant abuse of all the commitments made by the administration. To decline to challenge obviously fictional figures, failures to respect key elements of the electoral process such as use of Smart Card Readers and preventing agents and observers access to all processes is to condone the massive setback which this election represents for the country”, the statement said.
“The outcome of the elections were clearly premeditated in the refusal of the President to sign the Electoral Act and the orchestrated suspension of Justice Walter Onoghen as the CJN shortly before the composition of Electoral Tribunals.
“The Forum calls on the judiciary to uphold the highest standards of integrity and commitment to its hallowed role by doing justice to the appeals that will come before it knowing that the eyes of the world would be on them .We are aware that attempts are being made to demoralize and intimidate the judiciary to remove a conducive context for litigations. We remind the judiciary that it is the last defence of our democratic process.
“We appeal to all Nigerians to continue to show faith in the democratic process and remain law-abiding as we await the decisions of the judiciary on a matter that will ultimately determine the quality of our democratic process and the nature of the nation we all call our own.
“We recall that in endorsing the candidature of Atiku for the election ,we did anchor our support on identifying a candidate among many good candidates we interacted with who can retool Nigeria to move on the path of development as a true federal entity ,the pattern of voting in areas where there were semi- free elections showed an overwhelming endorsements of our position by popular votes. And the polls results have shown further a badly divided polity that needs a unifier and not a divisive person as a leader.
“We insist Nigerians must stand firm and ensure that they are governed by a legitimate leadership.”
Reacting to the Forum’s position, last night, the APC, in a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to its National Chairman, Mr Simon Ebegbulem, said Buhari had the confidence of the people and it did not really matter what some factional leaders of a group said.
“We will not like to join issues with this Forum because President Muhammadu Buhari has won and there is no doubt that majority of Nigerians have spoken their minds at the ballot. This is time for fence mending and not time to respond to such issues. But we just want to make it clear that the election was free, fair and credible. And we are glad international observers have attested to it. You will also recall that a faction of the groups in this so-called Forum had earlier endorsed the President”, the statement said.
“Some of these people predicted doom before the election but God, in his infinite mercy, proved them wrong.
“President Buhari has the confidence of Nigerians and he will continue to enjoy the support of Nigerians for another four years and beyond”.
Buhari Presides Over Virtual FEC Meeting
President Muhammadu Buhari is currently presiding over a virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the State House, Abuja.
The meeting, which started at 09:02 GMT has the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, as well as some Ministers in attendance.
Ministers present in the hall include those of Justice, Aviation, Finance, Information and Culture, Environment, Water Resources, Defence and Works.
All other Ministers are attending form their various offices in the nation’s capital city, Abuja.
The meeting is expected to consider issues surrounding how the nation can mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 and how to enhance the livelihood of Nigerians in the midst of the pandemic.
Senate Okays Buhari’s $5.513bn Loan Request
The Senate on Tuesday approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s $5.513 billion external loan request to finance the revised 2020 budget.
The approval followed the presentation and consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Senator Clifford Odia (Edo Central) by the upper chamber.
Buhari had, in his letter of request, said the $5.513 billion external loan is to enable the Federal Government fund the 2020 revised budget.
However, the components of the external loan, which is to enable the Federal Government execute its priority projects and for projects to support state governments in stimulating their economy, which has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, was stood down by the Senate due to lack of requisite details.
A lender for the Federal Government’s priority projects as approved by the Senate is the African Development Bank (AfDB) – $125million to strengthen healthcare system and improve response to COVID-19 and $23 million for financing smallholder farmers to mitigate food security impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Others are $600million from the Islamic Development Bank to support response to challenges posed by COVID-19 and $500 million from the African Export-Import Bank to provide critical medical supplies to combat COVID-19.
Also, the Senate passed the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) of the Federal Government.
President Muhammadu Buhari had last Thursday, in a letter, urged the upper chamber to consider and approve the 2020-2022 MTEF/FSP.
The Senate approved the recommendation of the Senator Solomon Adeola-led Senate Committee on Finance that the price of crude oil put at $25 per barrel by the Federal Government, be increased to $28 per barrel.
The upper chamber also approved that the proposed daily oil production benchmark of 1.9 million barrel per day be reduced to 1.8mbd.
The Senate also backed the proposed exchange rate, which was moved by the Federal Government from N306 to one dollar to N360 per dollar.
This development invariably shows that the Senate has thrown its weight behind the devaluation of the naira.
However, other critical parameters like the exchange rate of N360 to a US dollar, 14.43 inflation growth rate and 4.42 GDPgrowth rate were retained.
Other assumptions retained are N5.09 trillion Federal Governmnet’s revenue, N10.51 trillion, N4.95 trillion fiscal deficit and N4.17 trillion new borrowings (including foreign and domestic borrowing).
Others are N398.5 billion as statutory transfers, N2.68 trillion for debt service, N272.9 billion as sinking fund and N536.7 billion for Pension and gratuities.
The Senate also retained other components of the proposal in the MTEF/FSP includingN10.51 trillion as total expenditure, N4.93 trillion as total recurrent, N2.83 trillion for personnel cost and N2.23 trillion for capital expenditure.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Adeola in his report, said the increase in the oil price benchmark from the proposed $25 to $28 was as a result of the recent upward trend of the price of crude oil in the international market.
According to him, the price oil per barrel is now $38 with a very strong indication that the price will rise to $40 or $45 per barrel.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in his remarks after the passage of the MTEF/FSP, urged the Senate Committee on Privatisation to laise with the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) in ensuring that the projected N260billion from proceeds of privatised agencies are realised and used to fund critical projects in the revised 2020 budget.
He faulted some special accounts being operated by the executive particularly the Natural Resources Development Accounts.
According to him, such accounts at this time of scarcity of funds, are not all necessary.
“Keeping monies in Natural Resources Development Accounts is more of waste than serving critical purposes,” he said.
He thereafter adjourned sitting to next week Tuesday for consideration and possible passage of the revised N10.509 trillion 2020 budget.
However, the intention of the Federal Government to borrow Euro 995million from the Export-Import Bank of Brazil to support Green Imperative and enhance the mechanisation of agriculture and agro-processing in the country, was put in abeyance by the upper chamber.
Also, the ongoing negotiation by the Federal Government with the World Bank for between $500million – $750 million for COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus Programme to support state-level efforts to protect livelihoods, ensure food security and stimulate economic activities, has not been approved.
Additionally, $500 – $750 million also being negotiated with the World Bank for State Fiscal Transparency and Sustainability Programme to provide fiscal support to the States was not approved.
The Committee said that it would consider the proposals when it gets requisite details on what the loans would be used for from the Minister of Finance, Budget National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed.
Nigeria Records 416 New Cases Of COVID-19 As FG Eases Lockdown
416 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Nigeria on Monday, June 1, 2020, despite the FG lifting some measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus in Nigeria.
The Federal and some state governments have been easing some COVID-19 restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the virus.
Yesterday, the Federal Government on Monday lifted the ban on religious gatherings across the country.
This was disclosed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, at the daily media briefing in Abuja.
“The PTF submitted its recommendations and the PRESIDENT has approved the following for implementation over the next four weeks spanning 2nd – 29th June, 2020, subject to review-:
“Cautious advance into the Second Phase of the national response to COVID-19; application of science and data to guide the targeting of areas of on-going high transmission of COVID-19 in the country;
“Mobilisation of all resources at State and Local Government levels to create public awareness on COVID 19 and improve compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions within communities; sustenance of key non-pharmaceutical interventions that would apply nationwide and include: ban of gatherings of more than 20 people outside of a workplace;
“Relaxation of restriction on places of Worship based on guidelines issued by the PTF and protocols agreed by state governments.”
Despite this, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nigeria is still on the rise.
According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), 192 cases were recorded in Lagos, 41 in Edo, 33 in Rivers, 30 in Kaduna, 23 in Kwara, 18 in Nasarawa, 17 in Borno, 14 in FCT, 10 in Oyo, 7 in Katsina, 5 in Abia, 5 in Delta, 4 in Adamawa, 4 in Kano, 3 in Imo, 3 in Ondo, 2 in Benue, 2 in Ogun and 1 in Niger state.
In total, Nigeria has recorded 10578 cases of COVID-19. 3122 patients have been discharged from various Isolation centers across the country, while 299 deaths have been recorded.
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