As Sowunmi makes case for Atiku

By Dirisu Yakubu

ABUJA—Unlike in 2019 when the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, ceded its Presidential ticket to the North, there is no consensus yet as to which of the zones will produce the party’s flag bearer in the 2023 presidential election. 

This comes against the backdrop of insistence by powerful members of the party on the emergence of president of Southern extraction.

Vanguard reports that Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, his Akwa Ibom State counterpart, Udom Emmanuel, and former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, are some of the PDP chieftains bent on having the leadership of the party look in the direction of the South in 2023.

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It would be recalled that the National Executive Committee, NEC at its 89th meeting in February 2020, constituted a 14-man committee to review reasons the party lost the 2019 Presidential election and was subsequently tasked to recommend to the party how to avert a recurrence  in future elections. 

Although the Bala-Mohammed Committee recommended to the leadership of the party that the presidential ticket be made open to all six geo-political zones; PDP governors from the South are rooting for the zone to produce a candidate that will slug it out with the All Progressives Congress  in 2023.

Vanguard gathered that Governor Wike had been reaching out to other PDP governors from the North on the need to reciprocate the support of the South as demonstrated in the race to the Port Harcourt Presidential convention in 2018. 

The 2018 convention, which produced Atiku as the flag bearer had the Rivers State governor openly rooting for his Sokoto State counterpart, Aminu Tambuwal, who finished second behind Atiku. 

From the moment the former Vice President emerged winner, Wike queued behind him, urging party members to work together in the interest of the party.

A senior aide to the governor who does not want his name in print, told Vanguard in a telephone conversation yesterday that: “Governor Wike was preaching fairness, equity and justice. 

‘’But beyond that, he is making a solid case for the South because in 2023, President Muhammadu Buhari would have completed his second tenure and it does not make sense to push out another Northerner regardless of the party, to succeed him. 

‘’This is why His Excellency wants the party to look at the South because we have leaders with the requisite competence to turn the fortune of this country around.”

Only recently, Atiku was said to have met with Wike on his presidential bid only for the Rivers State governor to tell the Wazirin Adamawa to wait until the leadership of the party took a position on zoning. 

Governor Wike, Vanguard gathered, also urged the former Vice President to be prepared to support a Southern candidate should the leadership of the party decides to go South in 2023. It is not certain if Atiku gave his word on possible support for a southern candidate or not.

An indication that the South is unlikely to settle for anything other than the presidency this time emerged last week when a former Commissioner of Information in Edo State and spokesman of Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organization, Kassim Afegbua, chided the former Vice President’s over his renewed interest in the race and urged him to take a seat in political retirement.

However, in an exclusive chat with Vanguard, Segun Sowunmi, a member of PDP and spokesperson to Atiku, said if the PDP was desirous of winning the Presidency, it should settle for no other candidate but the former Vice President, saying he had the wherewithal and experience required to bail the country out of its current woes.

“Atiku understands how to run and work democracy. Atiku understands how to manage power, Atiku understands and had gone through the rigours of how administrative civil service procedures ought to work and should work. 

‘’Atiku understands how to bring deliberate steps and actions to create big ripple effects that can impact an economy and make life far more abundant for the people. And you must be persuaded by the fact that but for Obasanjo/Atiku years, Nigeria doesn’t seem to have had any major high points on the overall composite assessment of how life has been in the democracy. 

‘’Anybody can claim that he is in charge but the truth of the matter is that some of the players of that era know what the Vice President Atiku Abubakar contributed and brought to the table,” he said.

On calls by Afegbua for Atiku to retire, Sowunmi said the Okpella-born Prince “has been very inconsistent,” saying, “as at the last time I checked, I don’t know whether he is a truly PDP man. It seems Afegbua is always available to do the hatchet job of those who sponsor him.

“When he (Afegbua) came with his agenda to remove Uche Secondus, I was nervous because I wanted a situation where you do not destroy or do more harm to the party in a bid to finish a term that was already about to finish.”

‘’But at last, they care not what the consequences of rhetoric were and all their rhetoric was indicating or suggesting instability in a political party.

“This is the sane man when the party finished everything and chose a candidate in Edo State for the governorship election; he boastfully and publicly worked against the party. Shall I now begin to exchange words with a man who had not been consistently PDP when in the real sense of the word, I have been PDP since the day the party came into existence? 

“In 2018, Afegbua supported the man in Sokoto (Tambuwal) and we beat them resoundingly by the grace of God and by the help of  Nigerian people in Port Harcourt and I can tell you we have the ability in a free, fair and transparent election to beat them even more,” he added.

FG moves to apply Twitter operational conditions to  other platforms

Cairo (EGYPT) — The Federal Government has said it was set to amend its relevant statutes and code to enforce the operational conditions of Twitter in Nigeria on other social media platforms.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this  at a meeting with his counterpart, Egypt Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Dr Amir Talaat, in Cairo yesterday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was on the sidelines of a bilateral discussion with Africa Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) on how Nigeria can access funding to support its growing creative industry.

Mohammed had led some private sector stakeholders involved in Digital Switch Over, DSO, to Afreximbank to assist them on how to source fund to complete the wholly-private sector financially-driven project.

In his interaction with Talaat, the minister disclosed that Nigeria was amending its National Broadcasting Act and Broadcasting Code to ensure that all online platforms operating in the country complied with stipulated conditions.

He said the decision was borne out of the recent development on suspension of Twitter operations in the country and the agreement reached before the suspension was lifted.

“The beauty of the engagement with Twitter is immense. Whatever applies to twitter will apply to all other social media platforms, be it WhatsApp, Facebook or any other.

“That is why we will be having a retreat to amend the NBC Act and the NBC Code to incorporate these new gains we made with the engagement with twitter,” he said.

On the agreement reached with twitter which the minister said would be applicable to other online platforms, he said the microblogging site had agreed to open the Nigerian office within the first quarter of 2022.

He said twitter agreed to appoint a designated country representative within one month of lifting its suspension while its global policy team would also be available to engage directly with the government.

The minister said twitter agreed to meet all regulatory demands, including Companies and Allied Matters Act, Nigeria Communication Commission laws and rules and National Broadcasting Commission Code.

“Twitter has agreed to comply to all payable taxes as they are operating under the Nigerian laws and this they agreed to do within one week of restoring their operations.

“Twitter agreed to immediately work with the Federal Government in the area of code of conduct which is in line with global best practices

“Twitter agreed to immediately enroll Nigerians in its Law Enforcement portals and Partners Support Portal.

“The law enforcement portal will provide dedicated channels for the Nigerian laws enforcement agencies to escalate reports on contents that violate the code of conduct or the national laws.

“Similarly, the partner support portal provides a direct channel for government to engage twitter staff to manage prohibited contents,” he said.

The minister explained to his counterpart that twitter operation was not suspended in Nigerian because they wrote something about president as being carried about in certain quarters.

He said the operation was suspended because twitter had become the platform of choice for those who wanted to destabilise Nigeria and create disunity and heat up the polity.

“We met with a barrage of knocks, we were accused of running authoritarian government, trying to infringe on freedom of press, violating the constitution but we were sure in our mind of what we were doing.

“We were glad that after seven months of serious engagement with twitter, we can say that what we achieved is what the suspension of the operations of twitter was all about,” he said.

Also speaking, the Egyptian minister said his country had similar challenges in the area of dissemination of policies and programmes of government.

He said he was a recent victim of fake news report which was very devastating to him.

To combat the menace, he said a department was established in the office of the Prime Minister to monitor on hourly basis what kind of fake news was being cooked up.

He said government would immediately react to such news by giving the truthful perspective to the issue. (NAN).

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.