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JUST IN: Former Kwara Governor Abdulfatai, Jega, Pat Utomi, Duke, Create New Political Party ‘RNP’

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Ahead of the 2023 general elections prominent Nigerians have established a third force, Rescue Nigeria Project, RNP, to give Nigerians alternative platform to the All Progressives Congress, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

Founders of RNP include former governor of Kwara state, Ahmed Abdulfatai, Prof. Pat Utomi, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, former Governor of Cross River state, Donald Duke,

Senator Lee Maeba, Usman Bugaje, Prof. Attahiru Jega, Amb. Nkoyo Toyo, Yomi Awoniyi, Dr. Rose Idi Danladi, Dr. Sadiq Gombe among others.

Delivering his keynote address, Abdulfatai lamented the state of the nation, noting that the high level of nepotism and lack of inclusiveness have given rise to agitations by different ethnic groups.

He recalled that in 2015, Nigerians embraced change, adding that today, “that change appears to be what we didn’t expect, as insecurity has taken over the nation.”

He said, “It is based on this that we decided to set up this Rescue Nigeria Project. We want to salvage this country and see how we can fix the mess. We want to set a template and key criteria leaders must have before they can attain any political position.

“Despite the great opportunities of the past, Nigeria has failed to live up to the dreams of its founding fathers and the hopes of successive generations of its citizens.

“Perhaps, at no other time have these failings become more apparent than in the past decade or so.

“In 2015, Nigerians overwhelmingly embraced the promise of change. These hopes have not only been dashed, but they have arguably turned out to be the worst political statements ever to be made in this country. Nigeria today appears set to fulfill all the prophesies of doom.”

He further noted that “Unprecedented nepotism and political exclusion have left the country more divided than ever as evident in the various separatists agitation that are threatening the corporate existence of the country itself.”

Also speaking, Adeniran noted that there is disaster at hand, hence the move to rescue the nation.

He said: “You only rescue when there is disaster and when you fail to rescue during disaster, it is more dangerous.

“We have a disaster in our hands and we need to rescue the country. We need to look back and see how we get here. We know where Nigeria was before now. We know the task is not going to be easy, but we have to determine how to rescue the nation.”

In his opening remarks, the RNP national coordinator, Usman Bugaje, explained that the Rescue Nigeria Project was founded on the premise that the challenges bedeviling the country were largely derived from poor leadership.

Chiding the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government Bugaje said, “when you reduce the problems of this country to what they are, ultimately, it all comes to leadership.

“We have been unable to exit the leadership conundrum precisely because the leadership recruitment mechanism in our political parties is so flawed that, except for accidents, they are incapable of producing competent leaders with the requisite knowledge, discipline and commitment to make a difference. We are living with, or better still, groaning under the consequences of this folly.

“What this means is that any attempt to rescue this country from its troubles must first rescue it from the current leadership recruitment mechanism that seems to leverage on money and connection or ethnic sentiments and no premium on knowledge or competence.

“The challenge is how to introduce a set of criteria or better still re-calibrate the recruitment mechanism in our political parties to prioritize knowledge, competence and character. The deepening crises in the political parties is all the more reason this re-calibration is necessary.

“We must change the conversation about leadership. The first thing we should want to know about our President is not which part of country he or she comes from, rather how competent is he or she? What is the content of his policy document? What is his team made up of?

“We also seek to ensure a seismic shift from the politics of big men to the politics of big ideas. The empty politics of big men have not taken us anywhere but down the drain. We simply can’t continue this way.”

RNP’s vision is “to reconcile and re-unite our country, win and deploy political power for the purpose of nation building and national development, achieving prosperity for all, and the protection of life and dignity of every Nigerian citizen.”

This is even as the mission is “to reconcile, re-unite, mobilize the nation to build a critical mass of citizens capable of driving real and effective transformation, to translate the mass movement into a strong power base within an inclusive and responsive political framework.”

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Buhari Swears in Two INEC National Commissioners

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President Muhammadu Buhari has sworn in two National Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The swearing-in took place on Monday at the Conference Hall of the First Lady’s office at the State House, Abuja, before the official launch of the eNaira and 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day emblem.

The new National Commissioners are Prof. Muhammad Sani Kallah (Katsina State) and Prof. Kunle Cornelius Ajayi (Ekiti State).

The duo are part of the six INEC commissioners cleared by the Senate in July this year.

President Buhari had on September 15, 2021, sworn in three of the cleared National Commissioners.

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Aggrieved Benue Pensioners Task Ortom On 33 Months Arrears

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Coalition of Aggrieved Pensioners in Benue State has called on the state government to direct the payment of their outstanding pensions and gratuities.

The union made this appeal, yesterday, in a rejoinder signed by its Chairman, Akosu Orban, and Secretary, Mac Mtsur, and made available to The Guardian in Makurdi.

Recently, the pensioners had protested against the non-payment of over 32 and 34 entitlements owed state and local council pensioners, even as they disclosed that they lost over 500 members to economic crunch.

But he state government had said it had agreement with the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) leaders, who are part of the Local Government Joint Account, and had been paying N700 million to pensioners in the state monthly.

Acting Press Secretary to the Governor, Nathaniel Ikyur, said out of this amount, N300 million was paid to the local council pensioners and N400 million to state pensioners.

He added: “This mode of payment has been in effect in the last six months and government intends to continue with it until we are able to stabilise the payment system.”

The aggrieved retirees, in the statement, wondered how N700 million would be released by the state government monthly as claimed by the governor, yet the number of months owed them kept rising.

Chairman of the forum intimated that out of the 33 months pension owed pensioners, only six months was inherited from the previous administration.

RELATEDLY, Ortom has raised the alarm over sharp practices at the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), where a wage bill of primary school teachers is padded.

Ortom, who expressed this at a meeting with local council chairmen, SUBEB among others, yesterday, at the New Banquet Hall of Benue Peoples House Makurdi, said, with the continuous hike in wage bills, the dead seemed to be coming to life to receive salaries.

The governor, who vowed to take decisive steps to end padding of salaries, gave the local council chairmen one month to unmask the cartel behind the padding.

If proper checks are carried out with the involvement of council chairmen, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), leakages and other unwholesome activities would be stopped to give room for more recruitment.

According to him, since the decision to engage 2,000 teachers in primary schools was sacrosanct, his government would do everything possible to block financial leakages in the sector to guarantee expected goal.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Kenneth Achabo, presented a report on audited accounts of the 23 local councils from 2015 to 2019.

Ortom described the report as a novel initiative and stressed the need for those in positions of trust to keep financial records straight, to support auditors with facts and figures to do their job.

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Buhari Departs Abuja For Investment Summit In Riyadh

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President Muhammadu Buhari has departed Abuja for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to participate in the investment conference organised by the Future Investment Initiative Institute.

The presidential aircraft conveying the president and few members of his entourage took-off from the presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja at about 4.10 p.m.

A statement issued by Malam Garba Shehu, the president’s spokesman, on Monday said the president would be joined at the 5th edition of the flagship investment event by business executives from Nigeria, bankers, captains of industry and energy experts to discuss issues on the future of investments across the globe.

He said: ”The three-day event, with the theme, Investment in Humanity, which will host global executives and asset managers, will deliberate on progress and prosperity with energy; true final frontiers in investments; science in action; and impact of climate change on communities among others.”

According to Shehu, the president will perform the lesser Hajj in Madinah and Makkah before returning to the country on Friday.

Those accompaning the president on the trip include the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; Minister of Communications; Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb. Zubairu Dada.

Others are the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva; Director General of National Intelligence Agency, Amb. Ahmed Rufai, and Managing Director of Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, Uche Orji.

Some of the invitees from the private sector include Alhaji Mohammed Indimi, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Tope Shonubi, Wale Tinubu, Alhaji Abdul Samad Rabiu, Hassan Usman, Omoboyode Olusanya, Abubakar Suleiman, Herbert Wigwe, Leo Stan Ekeh, Alan Seinfield and Alhaji Dahiru Mangal.

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