Five die at Buhari’s campaign in Taraba
No fewer than five persons died on Thursday during a stampede at the Jolly Nyame Stadium in Jalingo, the Taraba State capital during the presidential rally of the All Progressives Congress.
An eyewitness, Tanko Yusuf, told one of our correspondents that the stampede happened as President Muhammadu Buhari was entering the stadium and the party’s supporters, who were locked outside, were trying to catch a glimpse of the President.
He stated, “I was standing at the popular stand of the stadium when suddenly I saw some people going down and being trampled upon by a mammoth crowd who forced their way into the stadium as the President’s convoy was making its way into the arena.
“I can’t confirm how many people were killed in the stampede, but many people were rushed into an ambulance and other security vehicles after the incident.”
Although the state Police Commissioner, Mr David Akinremi, and the Police Public Relations Officer of the Command, David Misal, did not respond to calls to their phones, the Public Relations Officer of the state Specialist Hospital, Mrs Dorcas Philemon, told journalists that five corpses were brought to the hospital.
“Five corpses believed to be supporters of the All Progressives Congress were brought to the hospital and deposited at the morgue,” she said.
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Buhari at the rally in Jalingo promised to complete the Mambilla hydropower project, if re-elected.
“The Mambilla Power Project will bring development to your state and the country as it will generate enough electricity for you to do businesses and improve your living standard. I will complete it if you re-elect me for another term,” he said.
Buhari said he would tackle poverty and make sure Taraba farmers had access to fertiliser at a subsidised rate.
National Chairman of the APC, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, described Buhari as the only honest man among the presidential candidates and urged the people of Taraba to vote for him.
The APC governorship candidate in the state, Sani Danladi, called on Taraba people to vote for Buhari on February 16.
The President, according to a statement by his media aide, Garba Shehu, expressed sadness over the death of the APC supporters.
Buhari was quoted as saying, “I always feel very sad and distressed when ordinary Nigerians who love me and our party because of what we stand for and have done, make personal sacrifices by taking the pains to show their support, end their lives tragically.”
President Buhari called for restraint on the part of his supporters to avoid such incidents at the campaign venues.
“I want them to stay alive and witness the dividends of purposeful governance that the APC administration will unfold when they renew our mandate,” he said.
Following the deaths, the All Progressives Congress, through its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-onilu, said it was deeply pained by the loss.
The statement read, “Our great party is deeply pained by this painful loss. We pray for the dearly departed and express our deep condolences to their family members, loved ones and the good people of Taraba State.
“We also pray for the speedy and full recovery of our dear supporters who suffered injuries in the sad incident caused by overcrowding.”
The party promised to ensure improved crowd control to avoid a recurrence.
Responding to the tragedy, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, in a statement by his media aide, Paul Ibe, also said he was sad over the tragedy.
He said, “All Nigerian lives matter whether they are of the APC, PDP or any other party.”
Atiku also prayed for strength and comfort for the affected families and for God to grant the deceased eternal rest.
Presidential election 2019: The men, math, and momentum
Nigeria’s Presidential election is nine days away. Thirty one candidates are on the ballot. Arms are twisted and people hounded daily. Money splurged hourly. Mean utterances spewed per second. Blatant and brutish lies told regularly. That’s what Nigerian politicians and their foot soldiers do, with relish. Everybody wants to control the Giant of Africa from Abuja. We are promised regal walks in El Dorado where there will be no more pain and suffering. These men and women have vowed to bring heaven in collision with the earth at a cloying intersection where Nigerians will all be happy forever-after.
Out of the 31, however, only two stand out and strong. They are sitting President Muhammadu Buhari, and arch-challenger, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. They are both Fulani. They are both cow business owners. And they are both fervent Muslims. The hoopla about Islamisation has suddenly simmered. It’s no longer a convincing concoction. The noise about Buhari as the arrowhead of rampaging herdsmen has whittled down. It is no longer a believable fable. Buhari holds the broom for the APC; Atiku takes cover under the umbrella. One of these men will win next week’s election.
The 70-year-old Atiku is a stupendously rich man. Many close to the Turaki of Adamawa tell us he is a good and generous human being, and I believe them. Atiku was the VP from 1999 to 2007. In the annals of Nigerian political history, he was literally in the forefront of many economic policy decisions in the country. Ironically, without one conviction, the man from Adamawa is perceived a ruthlessly corrupt man; and he is unable to shake off this perception. And perception is everything. That is Atiku’s Achilles heels in this election.
Buhari standing at over six feet is a bony, bold, venturous, and venturesome retired army general. The former platoon leader, former military governor, former head of sumptuous petroleum parastatals, and former military Head of State and Commander-In-Chief of Nigerian Armed Forces is globally adjudged a man of unquestionable integrity who loathes corruption. Buhari moves the minds of many Nigerians who believe that he is a walking, living truth, rock-solid sincerity, a tower of integrity and decency, and the tonic and analeptic a sick nation like Nigeria needs at this time.
Outside of Nigeria, many who keep close watch on Nigerian politics believe this election will favour the incumbent president. Alex Thurston is Assistant Professor of Teaching in the African Studies Programme at the Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He wrote these words about the election in his opinion I read recently: “He is often tagged as an aloof, slow-moving executive with a narrow and insular coterie of advisers, and he has fallen short of the promises that won him the presidency four years ago… Buhari is still the favourite because of his party’s continued strength in its strongholds in northern and southwestern Nigeria, along with the considerable advantages of incumbency and some specific liabilities of Abubakar”. Thurston must be a good student of basic mathematics. Politics is a game of numbers; not anger. It is about mathematics, not mouthedness. The mathematics of the coming elections as it stands today is clearly in favour of Buhari.
Buhari’s extreme supporters do not have reason
Nigerians are avoidably facing some serious socio-economic and security challenges. But those worst hit—the poorest of the poor—seem not to understand the source of their issues neither do they ever think that their situations could be anything better. This brings to mind, the third serious issue with Nigerians —religion. Most Nigerians seem to be at the extreme points of the two dominant religious influences: Christianity and Islam. In expression of their faith, Nigerians seem to be insulated from all logic and realism.
The number of terribly poor Nigerians has risen sharply, overtaking other hitherto most vulnerable countries like India and Pakistan. But it is funny that the most affected people do not see any problem with that. According to a recent survey by the UNICEF, the largest clusters of poorest Nigerians can be found in the states of Nigeria’s North-East and North-West. These people are so poor that they live below half a dollar per day. And they earn their living by depending on the nearest person for their survival.
Nigeria’s North also owns the largest portion of the country’s share of global insecurity. Between 2015 and January 2019, no fewer than 32, 000 people have been reportedly killed by the combined forces of Boko Haram and herdsmen. And the number consists of 95 per cent Northern peasants.
Latest report by the International Organisation for Migration says there is an upsurge in violent attacks in crisis-ravaged North-East Nigeria since 2015. Between November 2019 and January, 2019, 59,200 people were displaced in that particular region.
When these people are displaced, they find ‘refuge’ in the worst places to be: Internally Displaced Persons’ camps. The IDPs are not in any way living any good life because of widespread corruption in the ranks of the military and other officials who are in charge of their well-being. There have been reports of how the authorities stole the reprieve meant for the displaced persons. Items donated to the IDPs by good-spirited individuals and international humanitarian agencies find their way into the open market where they are sold for the gain of government officials. On Monday, the IDPs protested neglect.
Onnoghen: FG and denial game
The judiciary, globally, is seen as the last hope of the common man.
However, the reverse is the case under the watch of the All Progressives Congress-led administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. An uncovered plot to arrest a serving Chief Justice Of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, as well as even taking the CJN to court is an affront on the judicial arm of government. Who is cheating who?
Therefore, we call on the National Assembly and the international community to come to our rescue.
CSO demands payment of ex-John Holt employee’s terminal benefits
A civil society organisation, Basic Rights Enlightenment Foundation, has issued a seven-day ultimatum to John Holt Plc to pay the terminal benefits and gratuity of its former employee, Mr Kode Ayodele.
Ayodele, a refrigeration and air conditioning technician, was disengaged by the company in 2015 after serving for 23 years and John Holt has allegedly refused to pay his retirement benefits.
The Secretary-General, BREF, Ikechukwu Maduike, in a letter to the management of the company dated February 4, 2019, demanded the payment of N1.5m, being the balance and accrued interest of Ayodele’s retirement benefits.
The lawyer criticised John Holt for paying just N600,000 from the total of N1.7m due to Ayodele after he was retired, accusing the firm of “sitting on his entitlement and pension for four years.”
The letter read in part, “The computation of Mr Kode Ayodele’s entitlement due to him when he was retired was N1.7m. You have so far, sequel to his earlier demands, paid him a total sum of N600,000, which leaves a balance of N1.1m still unpaid.
“Your last payment to him was in 2017 and you have since withheld his retirement benefits and have wilfully neglected, failed and/or refused to pay him same.
“This is absurd, if not duplicitous. We do not want to conclude that someone or some persons at John Holt are doing some shady deals with Mr Kode Ayodele’s retirement benefit.
“We are constrained to demand that you use your good offices to cause the immediate payment of Ayodele’s retirement benefit of N1.5m, which comprises the unpaid balance of his retirement benefit and the interest that has accrued on the said money over the period of two years.”
The CSO, which offers free legal services to indigent Nigerians in the Federal Capital Territory, vowed to take legal action against John Holt if it failed to meet its demands.
It added, “Further note that the above demands must be complied with within seven days of the receipt of this letter. Should you fail to comply, you will be opening other doors for us to seek redress on behalf of Mr Kode Ayodele, and we shall do so without further recourse to you.”
Our correspondent had in November 2019 reported the delay in the payment of Ayodele’s gratuity.
The Chief Executive Officer, John Holt, Chris Ezeh, had promised to address the issue, but almost four months later, the pledge has not been fulfilled.