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Nigeria: Umahi’s Defection, Wike’s Reaction, Lawal’s ‘Jumbo Pay’ Advice Top Political Stories Last Week

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Governor Umahi’s defection was made official on Tuesday following days of speculations.

The defection of David Umahi, the Ebonyi State governor, from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), was unarguably the major highlight of the political scene last week.

His defection, which was made official on Tuesday following days of speculations, generated so many reactions, which even got controversial at some point.

At an event in Abakaliki, to mark his defection, the National Caretaker Chairperson of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Governor of Yobe State, Mala Buni, handed over the APC flag, broom, and the party card to Mr Umahi as a symbol of his joining the party.

Mr Umahi who said he had no regrets leaving the PDP, explained that he moved to the APC because of “injustice” meted out to the South East by the PDP.

This excuse did not sit well with some members of the PDP as both governors and lawmakers took turns to condemn the governor for his comments.

First was the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike who said Mr Umahi’s real reason for defecting was because of the latter’s ambition to be the APC’s presidential candidate in 2023.

He said committed members of PDP were not surprised that Mr Umahi defected to the APC, “which he has for a while been fraternising with.”

But in a swift reaction, Mr Umahi said he never sought the PDP presidential ticket and will not. He described Mr Wike as a dictator whose actions are “destroying” the PDP. He also warned Mr Wike to desist from attacking him “as it would be very dangerous if both of them continue attacking each other.”

Next was former Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, who said Mr Umahi stopped being a member of the PDP long before his defection.

Members of the National Assembly were not left out as the Ebonyi State caucus dumped Mr Umahi, and announced their decision to remain in the PDP. They said it was unfair for the governor to accuse the PDP of injustice.

In a similar development, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP dissolved the Ebonyi State Executive Committee of the party – which is headed by Governor David Umahi’s younger brother, Austin Umahi.

This is even as it said would not be blackmailed by Mr Umahi.

The APC, too, dissolved the executives of its Ebonyi State chapter over the refusal of the state executive committee to “withdraw court cases as directed by the 8th resumed meeting of the APC National Executive Committee (NEC) and submit to internal party resolution mechanisms initiated by the CECPC.”

“A 15-member caretaker committee has subsequently been appointed by the APC CECPC to manage the Party’s affairs and carry out the planned membership registration, update, and revalidation exercise in Ebonyi State,” the Buni-led interim management informed members.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has since commended the governor for joining the APC describing it “as a bold move driven purely by principle rather than opportunistic motives.”

From the National Assembly

And from the legislature, Senate President Ahmad Lawan came down on Nigerians who have criticised the lawmakers, especially the pay they receive.

Mr Lawan said Nigerians should ignore the ‘jumbo’ pay they recieve and focus on the work that the lawmakers do. Nigerians should demand value for money because what is being allocated to the National Assembly is inadequate, he said on Friday.

This comes on the heels of calls to the National Assembly for transparency in its annual budget – which has been kept secret for years, save for 2017.

Mr Lawan did not stop there, he also enjoined Nigerians who feel unsatisfied with the service of the current set of lawmakers to vote them (the lawmakers) out in 2023 and replace them with new ones.

He also announced that the National Assembly will pass the 2021 budget of N13.08 trillion by the second week of December.

Meanwhile, the Senate spokesperson, Ajibola Basiru, denied claims that lawmakers hoarded relief items meant for distribution to Nigerians in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The senator, who was reacting to a related allegation, said lawmakers never received any ‘COVID-19 palliatives’ from President Muhammadu Buhari or the federal government, at all, “for onward distribution to their constituents”.

While some lawmakers urged the federal government to rethink its planned social media bill currently before the National Assembly and chart a different course that would yield a better result.

Ekiti senator, Biodun Olujimi, said a blanket ban on social media would be counterproductive as it would stifle information access.

At a time when other countries were investing heavily to make the internet more accessible especially for education during the pandemic, Nigeria should be pushing for a better way to manage social media, she added.

The lower chamber of the National Assembly was not without drama as a security detail of Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila shot dead an unarmed newspaper vendor.

Mr Gbajabiamila acknowledged the murder, named the detail and vowed to ensure his prosecution. He also pledged to assist the family of the victim.

In other news…

Thepresident vowed to do whatever it takes to ensure that there is no repeat of EndSARS protests in Nigeria again.

He reassured that the federal government would continue to dialogue with relevant “stakeholders” in ensuring a peaceful and harmonious socio-economic environment across the country.

He made this vow the same day he failed to show up for a scheduled meeting with leaders of the South-south geo-political zone in Port Harcourt.

Governors of the six South-south states, as well as traditional and religious leaders, had converged at the venue when Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State broke the news that the presidential delegation which includes ministers had cancelled their trip due to “an emergency security meeting.”

Angered by the president’s last-minute decision to ditch the meeting, the leaders of the zone demanded a public apology from the federal government. They expressed displeasure with the development, describing it as disrespectful to the people of the region and called for an immediate public apology from the Presidency.

The presidency has since issued an apology. The president’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, in a statement said the cancellation was not out of disrespect.

Talking about the office of the president, the former Ekiti governor, Ayodele Fayose, announced within the week that his next target in life “is to become Nigeria’s president or a cleric.”

“My popularity, courageous spirit, unique contributions to the uplift of Ekiti State and other remarkable contributions to lifting different categories of people with no hope of becoming anything in life across the country were enough credentials to make me become Nigeria’s president,” he said.

He also said one of the most memorable days in his life was when he was ‘illegally’ removed from office. He, however, said he has forgiven those that betrayed him.

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