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04 Feb

Leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers state on Wednesday requested a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari to address the party's state of affairs and its political fortunes in the state.

A high-level delegation led by the APC governorship candidate for Rivers state, Dr. Dakuku Peterside made the request during a meeting with the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun at the party's National Secretariat in Abuja.

At the meeting, Odigie-Oyegun expressed shock over the Supreme Court's decision on the Rivers State governorship election. He assured that the party national leadership will give necessary support to ensure successes in subsequent elections in the state.

Odigie-Oyegun: "The APC National leadership has not neglected party leaders and supporters in Rivers State. The state has always been in the front burner of discussion and decision in the party.There is obviously something fundamentally wrong in Rivers state which needs to be investigated and addressed.

"Your visit have had a sober effect on me. This meeting will kickstart urgent actions to address what went wrong.
"As of today, there a attempts being made by INEC to bar us from elections in Anambra and other states. We must address these issues. I still find the judgement on the Rivers State governorship election totally astonishing. There is something fundamentally wrong in the Judiciary.

"We have lost very important resource-rich states to the PDP. No matter how crude oil prices have fallen, it is still the most important revenue earner for the country.

"I will take up your request to facilitate a meeting with the President. We will do that as soon as possible and also make it clear that there are problems which as a party, we must address.

Speaking on behalf of the delegation, Dr. Dakuku Peterside said: "It will interest you to know that many of our members, supporters and sympathisers are still at a loss to see us work as orphans. We have a herculean task explaining to them that we actually form government at the centre. It is like, we lost the elections. To an overwhelming majority of them, the only indication that we might be part of government at the federal level is because our leader and Director General of the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign which led to a people's revolution that defeated the former ruling party, and former Governor of the State, Rt. Hon. Chubuike Rotimi Amaechi is a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

"The concerns of our members are re-enforced by the fact that more than eight months after APC has formed government at the Federal Level, notable PDP chieftains and members who spent State resources to work assiduously against us (APC) are still occupying strategic federal government positions, dispensing patronages to PDP members to the disadvantage and chagrin of APC members.

Peterside reported that as a result of the unflinching support party leaders and members gave President Buhari and the APC, they have been exposed to undue attacks and hatred and internal discriminations.

He said: "We are called all sorts of names including being branded as traitors and almost live like outcast in our communities and environments...Even today, we are not out of danger as we a killed, molested, maimed and insulted".

Peterside also reported that security infrastructures that were skewed against the APC before and during the 2015 elections are still working against and frustrating APC activities in the state. "The partisanship against us was and is still enormous." he said.

He said the Independent National Electoral Commission is structured to 'disfavour' the APC. "It (INEC) was put in place by the leadership of the last administration to perpetually protect its interest. We are all witnesses to how some of these actors found it convenient to annul results which were favourable to APC but upheld all those favourable to PDP under the same circumstances in the recently concluded governorship election in Bayelsa State. Meanwhile, politically speaking Rivers and Bayelsa States are in the same sub-zone of the South South geo-political zone. What has been put in place is to marginalise us and our members feel nothing is being done to change these structures to, atleast, give us a fighting chance in neutrality.

On the Rivers State rerun elections scheduled for March 19, 2016, Peterside stated: "The issues of the re-run elections are paramount in our mind. We have 22 seats in a House of 32-man membership. Winning all 22 seats will give us 23 seats and that will enable us produce the  Speaker of the House. Also, that number is more than the proverbial two-third. Furthermore, there are 12 House of Representatives seats and all 3 Senatorial Seats to be contested for.

"Presently, the Party does not have a two-third majority in any of the Chambers of the National Assembly...Now the opportunity to up the Party's numbers in these Chambers has come and we expect that the Party will do all that it takes to win all 12 House of Representatives and 3 Senate Seats. Even if this may not give it the needed two-thirds but it wil make the Party to have a robust majority such that it won't struggle to have its programmes and plans that require parliamentary inputs to be easily implemented to achieve its set goals and core mandate.

"There is no gainsaying that Rivers State occupies a strategic political position in the politics of Nigeria.l

The delegation amongst others requested that: 
the APC National Leadership undertake a massive funds drive to finance the forthcoming re-runs in Rivers state; 
the restructuring of the Presidential Amnesty Programme by making sure that the current leadership and managers of the programme understood the political connotation of its implementation; 
urgent replacement of all agents and heads of agencies that the immediate-past federal government administration used to frustrate the Change Revolution;
Purge of vestiges of and sympathisers for the immediate-past federal government administration in the leadership of Security agencies, especially in the Police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
That political appointments in all Federal government Ministries, Departments and Agencies including ambassadorial positions be made to reflect the current realities of a change of government.
A meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari to convey to him messages from families of the nearly 100 APC supporters killed and others maimed and or have completely lost their means of livelihood for supprting President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC. The meeting will also afford the Rivers delegation an opportunity to confer with President Buhari and proffer solutions to the challenges and issues.

The delegation comprised: APC governorship candidate for Rivers state, Dr. Dakuku Peterside and running mate, Hon. Asita Honourable; Rivers state APC Chairman, Chief (Dr.) Davies Ibiamu Ikanya; member of the APC Board of Trustees (BoT), Dr. Sam Sam Jaja; Senator Magnus Abe and several Rivers state aspirants and Rivers state APC stalwarts.

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03 Feb

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday assured the European Union (EU) that his administration was doing its best to protect the fundamental human rights of persons in the theatre of war against Boko Haram.

A statement issued in Abuja by the president’s, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said Buhari stated this while addressing a special session of the EU Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

The president said that his government shared the EU’s commitment to peace and security, respect for human rights, democracy and good governance, equality and tolerance as ways of developing prosperous and strong societies.

``For our part, we have updated our rules of engagement in fighting terrorism and pay very close attention during operations to the treatment of captured terrorists, civilians caught up in the conflict and in general, safeguarding property.

``Our aim is to use minimum force necessary in our fight against terrorists,’’ Buhari assured members of the parliament and the EU Commission.

The president also spoke of Nigeria's concerns about the Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States collectively endorsed by the Economic Community of West African States.

He said Nigeria had yet to sign the agreement because pertinent technical issues raised by the Federal Government had not been satisfactorily addressed.

``Giving due consideration to the mismatch of the two regions (Europe-ECOWAS) in terms of technology and manufacturing experience, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and Associated Trade Unions raised concerns over the negative impact of the agreement on Nigeria’s industrialisation programme.

``Nigeria is working towards addressing her own side of the issues.

``I, therefore, urge our European Union partners to also address our own concerns to allow for an Economic Partnership Agreement that is mutually beneficial and can contribute to the prosperity of our people, in the context of our shared values and interest at promoting cordial bilateral trade relations,’’ he said.

The president also sought greater support from the EU for Nigeria's efforts to curb the theft of its crude oil and corruption in its oil and gas sector.

According to him, Nigeria is facing the challenges of oil-theft and illegal bunkering in the Niger Delta as well as recovery of illicit funds.

The president, therefore, solicited the cooperation of the European Parliament to support the efforts aimed at stemming these vices.

``Our attempt to restore security, curb corruption and fight crime will result not only in improving social stability in Nigeria but will re-open the doors for full economic relations with Europe and the rest of the world.

``Those who wish to invest in our country have immense opportunities and we intend to guarantee the security of people and investments brought to Nigeria,’’ he said.

He assured the parliament that Nigeria would collaborate with EU to address illegal migration to Europe.

According to the president, Nigeria is making concerted efforts to address the push-factor that propels migration, especially from Nigeria, as both destination and transit country.

"In this year’s budget, the government has provided for over 500,000 graduate employments in the teaching profession alone.

``We are equally collaborating with the states and local governments, to strengthen skills acquisition centres in order to train the teeming youth in various vocational skills so that they can be self-employed, and eventually, become employers of labour.’’

Buhari also said that his administration was making efforts to diversify the economy and give impetus to agriculture and solid minerals exploitation to create wealth and jobs.

He said Nigeria welcomed the outcome of the Valletta EU-Africa Summit on Migration, including the launching of 1.8 billion euros Emergency Trust Fund to address the root causes of migration from Africa to Europe.

He said Nigeria would work with the countries of the Sahel and Central Africa to submit to the Board of the Emergency Trust Fund, its identified projects for funding in due course.

The president said Nigeria was the first African country to sign the Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility on March 12, 2015.

He said the step was a demonstration of the positive spirit of Nigeria’s cooperation with the EU in the field of migration and development.

``It is in the light of this understanding that I wish to propose the reciprocal visa waivers for holders of Nigerian Diplomatic and Official Passports attending official Meetings and Conferences in Europe,’’ the president said. 

(NAN)

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