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This Despicable Delegate Inducement Must Stop For Nigeria’s Sake!

Until now, many had thought that the selling of votes is the vocation of illiterate Nigerian masses who don’t know better. Delegates to the recently conducted, and ongoing primaries have put a lie to this. With the recently amended Electoral Act which removed statutory delegates, only the college of elected delegates matters in the primaries and to aspirants. These delegates consist of three party members from each of the 774 LGAs with each state and the FCT presenting a representative of persons living with disabilities. This followed the enactment of the Electoral Act.

The Electoral Act 2022 drastically cut down on the number of delegates to elect party candidates for various offices by taking out the statutory delegates. In the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), only about 811 delegates are needed to elect the presidential candidate while in the All Progressives Congress (APC), the number is about 2,320 delegates. Given this arrangement and their superdelegates’ status, it’s expected that these party chieftains will be a self-respecting bunch patriotic enough to uphold the enlightened self-interest of citizens. It, therefore, beggars belief that they will act in the same manner or be worse than very poor and ignorant masses who sell their votes for as little as a thousand naira. Unfortunately, whereas these sell their future, compromised delegates sell their country. That’s to show how egregious their sellout is. These are people who should present to the Nigerian electorate candidates with vision, intellect, charisma, and character to stir the ship of state in the right direction.

This will be the first time under this Republic which commenced in 1999 that all the ‘statutory delegates’ comprising public officials (from the president to governor to council chairmen as well as federal and state lawmakers and political appointees) will be watching their party primaries on television. Naija News, therefore, expected rectitude, patriotism, and integrity from those privileged enough to provide Nigerians with options to choose from in the next general election. While the received wisdom is that the aspirants are the ones inducing the delegates with dollars, the APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu recently spoke up where he disclosed that it was the other way round! Speaking about the development, the ruling party boss said, “for now, there is no law against aspirants taking the campaign to delegates. I don’t have evidence that aspirants are sharing money to delegates. To me, it’s the delegates that are selling their conscience, which is not proper.

“Our delegates should know that anybody sharing money to them can’t be the right candidate for the party. He doesn’t mean well for the country. I don’t have a solution for the problem,” added the APC National Chairman. Naija News does not agree that he lacks powers to correct the unconscionable corruption of the electoral process of the country. What happened to the humongous influence he wields as party chairman, who until he got to that exalted office was a ranking senator and a former governor?

Critical stakeholders must not allow this scotch-earth subversion of democracy. Never in the history of Nigeria has party primaries become such a mercantile affair. So bad is the situation that politicians unabashedly require restitution from induced delegates who failed to live up to their own end of the bargain. The son of a former vice president made headlines for demanding a refund from delegates he accused of not voting for him after each of them collected N2million from him in his bid for a House of Reps ticket. That he got only two votes for all his troubles shows that he was outspent by his rivals.

It was also in the news that Ondo Central Senator, Ayo Akinyelure, retrieved the vehicles given to Chief Segun Adegoke, a member of PDP Board of Trustees and that of Mr Wole Akindiose, a former PDP Chairman in Ondo East and National delegate to the forthcoming convention of the party. Dissatisfied with the outcome of the primary won by Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) despite the money and vehicles purportedly doled out, the Chairman of the Senate’s Ethics Committee reportedly demanded his vehicles back from the leaders.

Former lawmaker, Senator Shehu Sani shared the story of a House of Reps aspirant who went about Kaduna with hunters and vigilante members to collect a refund of the money he paid to delegates before the primary and has so far collected N100 million after losing the party’s primary election in his constituency. Sani himself, who opted not to financially induce the delegates, got only two votes in the PDP governorship primaries in Kaduna State. This regrettably is a testament to what determined the voting pattern of the delegates.

Ahead of this weekend’s presidential primaries where the stakes are way higher, a national daily reported today that delegates to the national convention of the two major parties have already raked in N124bn from sundry presidential aspirants. So widespread was the malpractice that former President Goodluck Jonathan would say, “these whole primaries going on across the country is a mess. This is not a standard practice. We cannot use the process to elect the president, governors, senators, and House of Representatives members, and others. The process is already failed, which is not good for the country. We pray that good people should come. I hope that what happened this year, 2022 will not happen again in this country.”

This newspaper regrets that the sterling standard set by the citizen who rejected N5,000 cash-for-vote bribe during the last governorship election in Anambra state meant nothing to these greedy delegates. If Eunice Ngozi Onuegbusi, an ordinary citizen from Ukwulu in Dunukofia local government area of Anambra state, can be upright enough to refuse to sell her conscience for N5,000, more is definitely expected of party bigwigs elected to represent particular demographics in a primary election.

Having collected the politicians’ Greek gifts, what right do compromise delegates have to demand good governance and accountability from these persons if they eventually make it to public offices? After forcing the hands of Nigerians to vote for moneybags who will be quick to recoup their “investments” upon gaining power, the delegates must ask themselves how the country can make progress.

Naija News demands that Nigerians be patriotic and stop raping the country at the slightest opportunity. Since some persons cannot help but put pecuniary interest over the country, the anti-graft agencies must step in to ensure that this highly deleterious practice is not allowed to continue. Just as we condemned the princely sums for which the APC nomination and expression of interest forms were sold, the monetization of Nigeria’s political process remains an ill-wind that blows nobody any good. To this extent, we agree with the APC Chairman that aspirants who are inducing delegates do not mean well for Nigeria.

As such, the EFCC and ICPC have their work clearly cut out for them and must get cracking. They can start by going after the failed aspirants who are openly asking delegates to return objects of inducement given to them prior to the primaries. Owing to this growing malaise in Nigeria’s political process, Naija News is calling for an enabling law for independent candidates to stand for elections. That way, decent and credible Nigerians can offer to serve in public offices without being compromised or exploited by filthy lucre-loving party delegates. This is more so as the amount of money needed to buy the conscience of these greedy delegates can defray general election expenditures

This article was originally published on Nigeria News

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Ubi Franklin Loses APC House Of Assembly Ticket

Entertainment personality, Ubi Franklin has failed to clinch the House of Assembly ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Naija News reports that Ubi lost the chance to represent Yakurr constituency 1 in the state assembly at the party’s primary held in Uber on Thursday.

The talent and music executive polled 12 votes to come second in the keenly contested election.

Ubi lost to Cyril Omini, the Special Adviser on security to Governor Ben Ayade, who scored 17 votes. Ubi Ubi Itam, another hopeful, came third with 11 votes.

The music executive is also the Special Adviser on tourism to Governor Ayade.

Recall that the 36-year old had drawn reactions on social media when he announced that he will be seeking for an elective position in the 2023 general elections.

This article was originally published on Nigeria News

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Ex-Sokoto Deputy Gov, Aliyu Wins APC Governorship Ticket

Ex-Sokoto Deputy Gov, Aliyu Wins APC Governorship Ticket

Former Sokoto State Deputy Governor, Ahmed Aliyu, has been declared the winner of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary in the State.

Naija News understands that the immediate past Secretary of the Police Trust Fund won massively at the exercise which started on Thursday, May 26 and ended today.

Six aspirants contested for the party’s ticket but Aliyu swept the poll with a total of 1,080 votes out of 1,182 votes.

The Election Committee Chairman, Aliyu Kyari, said Senator Ibrahim Gobir scored 36 votes, Faruk Malami-Yabo 27 votes, and former Minister of Transport, Yusuf Suleiman, 16 votes while 23 were invalid votes.

Kyari listed other aspirants as Abubakar Abdullahi 1 vote and Sen. Umar Gada, 0 vote.

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party has lost the membership of former Deputy Governor of Sokoto State, Barrister Mukhtar Shehu Shagari.

Naija News understands that Shagari had in March 2022, declared his intention to contest the state governorship seat on the platform of the PDP.

Shagari, however, in a statement dated Wednesday, May 25, announced his resignation from PDP, stating betrayal as his reason for withdrawing from the party.

He laid the blame on the State Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, accusing him of not keeping to his words.

He said: “I wish to bring to your notice that I, Mukhtar Shehu Shagari have from today ceased to be a member of the Peoples Democratic Party.”

This article was originally published on Nigeria News

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FirstBank Bounces Back To Its Leadership Position, Delivers A Fantastic Performance In 2021

Firstbank CEO

As financial market analysts continue to digest the 2021 financial results of the FirstBank Limited, which they say reflect the return of the banking conglomerate to its leadership position, Festus Akanbi writes that the regime of strong fundamentals which the robust performance represents is in tandem with the ongoing restructuring being midwifed by the current board and management of the company

The Nigerian investing community was held spellbound earlier in the week when FBN Holdings Plc released its much-awaited 2021 financial statements to the public, showing a stellar performance, especially in its banking subsidiary, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, which is said to be indicative of its strong recovery from its hitherto dwindling financial position.

Banking and capital market analysts, in their immediate reactions, said the impressive results signpost a regime of strong fundamentals after a period of restructuring by the leadership of its current management and board.

The Scorecard.

 To mitigate the effect of the low-interest rate on investment securities and revenue generation, the bank was said to have intensified deposit mobilisation and funding strategy to support enhanced loan growth at optimised rates leading to a 5.7% increase in interest expense to N140.8 billion as against N133.2 billion in December 2020.

During the period, non-interest revenue grew by 96.1% to N364.6 billion as against N185.9 billion in the preceding year on the back of increased fees and commission income, treasury activities, and other operating income.

According to a report by Nairametrics, in its bid to further enhance its revenue generation capacity, First Pension Custodian Limited, a subsidiary of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, entered into a definitive agreement with Access Bank Plc for the planned acquisition of the entire share capital of Access Pension Fund Custodian Limited held by Access Bank Plc. This, according to the management of the bank will further boost its market share in the industry, aid revenue diversification, and support annuity income.

The bank says it will continue to create quality loans with a focus on retail lending driven by technology as it continues to grow non-interest income to further diversify revenue.

To show for the relentless efforts of the board and management of the bank, deposits from customers increased by 19.5% y-o-y to N5.9 trillion (Dec 2020: N4.9 trillion) reaffirming the bank’s strong market access and robust funding base.

A statement from the bank said, “Our investment in agent banking, digitalisation, and deployment of digital platforms which our customers have adopted, improved customer penetration and deepened our solid retail franchise. This continues to provide us with access to stable funding, reducing our cost of fund ratio to 2.1% (Dec 2020: 2.3%) while supporting the float of our current and savings account at 91.2% (First Bank of Nigeria).”

In the same vein, total assets grew 16.2% y-o-y to N8.9trillion as against N7.7trillion in 2020, driven by a 30.0% y-o-y increase in customer loans and 26.3% increase y-o-y in investment securities. Cash and balances with Central Banks, loans to banks & customers, and investment securities constitute 87.2% of total assets (Dec 2020: 83.4%).

“With a cleaner balance sheet and resilient earnings-generating capacity, FirstBank (Nigeria) was able to accrete capital buffers from organic earnings. Hence, despite the increase in loans and advances, Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) remained steady, marginally increasing to 17.4% (Dec 2020: 17.0%),” the report said.

Meanwhile, the audited report for the group indicated an impressive double-digit growth in the top line and the bottom line. Gross earnings rose from N590.66 billion in 2020 to N757.30 billion in 2021. Profit before tax doubled by 99.1 per cent to N166.66 billion in 2021 as against N83.7 billion in 2020. Profit after tax grew by 68.4 per cent from N75.6 billion to N151.079 billion. Earnings per share thus increased from N2.45 in 2021 to N4.17 in 2021.

Its balance sheet also gives cause for joy to its stakeholders as its total assets rose from N7.69 trillion in 2020 to N8.93 trillion in 2021. Customers’ deposits grew to N5.85 trillion in 2021 as against N4.9 trillion in 2020. Loans and advances to customers also improved from N2.21 trillion to N2.88 trillion. With total liabilities rising from N6.92 trillion to N8.05 trillion, shareholders’ funds increased from N765.17 billion in 2020 to N879.86 billion in 2021.

A quick analysis of the performance shows a progressive trajectory that has portrayed First Bank as an organisation that has recovered from past episodic challenges that led to a change of baton at its board level.

Analysts are quick to point at the recent restructuring exercise in the organisation as the launchpad for the excellent balance sheet operations which translated into a 30.3 per cent rise in its gross earnings, while total assets and customer deposits rose by 15.9 per cent and 19.5 per cent respectively.

The audited report also confirmed Mr. Femi Otedola as the largest individual shareholder of the group, with total direct and indirect shareholdings of 7.57 per cent.

Fall in NPLs, Boost to Profitability

For a bank that was almost brought to its knees by the burden of non-performing loans, it came as a great relief to both the shareholders and the regulatory authorities that for the first time in a long while, First Bank’s NPLs came down to 6.1 per cent, significant progress for the bank when compared to other Tier 1 banks and the regulatory threshold of 5.0per cent.

Analysts also attributed the significant fall in the NPL rates from 40 in 2016 to 6.5 per cent in 2021, to a new culture of corporate governance currently in place in the group and which has successfully revamped the company’s risk management capabilities.

According to the bank, the recent turnaround and improvement in the non-performing loans have been a major boost in FirstBank’s quest to improve profitability and reinforce its leadership in the financial services industry in Nigeria.

Analysts said with the impressive results for its 2021 operations, the board and management of FBN have proven to the investing community that the company is ready to take its leadership role in the nation’s banking sector and that the years of locusts have been put behind the institution.

 

A Transition to Sustained Growth

In their view, First Bank, with these impressive results has demonstrated the fact that is transitioning into a sustained growth phase and delivering performance commensurate with the size of its business capabilities of its people.

And for the shareholders of the company, it was a harvest time with N12.56 billion set aside as divided, about 8.3 percent of the total net earnings recorded in 2021.

A capital market analyst, Mr. David Edobor explained that the major transformation in First Bank, as evident in its mouth-watering performance should be attributed to the doggedness and determination of the new leadership of the bank. His view was corroborated by a source from the company who explained that the performance was driven by a relentless focus on the needs of customers and improving the competitiveness of the bank’s offerings.

“We have sharpened our “Go to Market” approach to better leverage the opportunities which our large scale provides, in addition to becoming more relevant to our clients by improving our value propositions.”

Over the years, FirstBank has been able to grow customer accounts from about 10 million in 2015 to over 36 million (including digital wallets). It also became the second-largest issuer of cards in Africa with over 11.8million issued cards, onboard over 18.6 million active customers on First Bank digital banking platforms.

 

New Hands, New Culture of Excellence

Market watchers said although some of the impressive figures represented the performance of the bank before the coming of the current leadership, analysts said the good news coming from the organisation will greatly challenge the incumbent board and management to push the frontier of excellent performance in the company.

It would be recalled that the bank was able to stabilise after a leadership tussle at the board level. However, with the triumph of Adeduntan and his return to his post, the foremost bank has been recording stellar performances.

Part of the changes was the emergence of the chairman of Geregu Power Plc, Femi Otedola as the highest single shareholder of the company.

An elated Chief Executive Officer of First Bank, the banking arm of the holding company, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, described the success of the commercial banking business as the beginning of the transition into a sustained growth phase.

He said, “Following years of strategic restructuring of the Bank’s balance sheet and operations, the Commercial Banking business is beginning to transition into a sustained growth phase delivering performance commensurate to the size of our business and capabilities of our people. Profit before tax is up 77.9%, gross earnings 30.3%, total assets 15.9%, and customer deposits up 19.5%.”

This performance, according to him, was driven by a relentless focus on the needs of customers and improving the competitiveness of the bank’s offerings. “We have sharpened our ‘Go To Market’ approach to better leverage the opportunities which our large scale provides in addition to becoming more relevant to our clients by improving our value propositions.

“This performance is also in line with the Bank’s Quantum Profitability Leap agenda which seeks to ensure that we fully maximise the revenue-generating capacity of our business to boost the bottom line and fulfil the expectations of all stakeholders in the business,” Adeduntan stated.

FirstBank engages in the business of commercial banking and has many subsidiaries that focus on international commercial banking, trusteeship, capital markets, pension fund custodianship, mortgage financing, insurance brokerage, and management of SMIEIS fund investments, small-scale banking, and bureau de change activities.

This article was originally published on Nigeria News

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South-East Killings Aimed At Scuttling Peter Obi’s Presidential Ambition – IPOB

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has accused Fulanis of killing northerners residing in the Southeast to scuttle the chance of Peter Obi becoming Nigeria’s next president.

The pro-Biafra group made the accusation in a statement released by its spokesperson, Emma Powerful.

According to the group, the killings in the region is aimed at raising hatred against Peter Obi and Ndigbo.

The statement reads partly: “Fulani should stop trying to create enmity between the Hausas and Igbos where non exist. Again the problem and confusion they are perpetrating in the country will hunt them down in the near future. Fulani people are given ID cards by the Nigerian military to reside in the military barracks in the eastern region and use same as a staging ground to commit all manner of heinous crimes. We state categorically that these Fulani terrorists murdered this Hausa woman and her children in Agulu, Anambra State.

“The Fulani were doing this to arouse hatred against Peter Obi who is making high waves to succeed Buhari in 2023. Their aim is to make northern voters hate Peter Obi by believing that northerners are being killed by his brothers. Fulani are wicked and remain wicked and nothing good comes out from them.

“Nigeria military is harbouring Fulani terrorists in their barracks and giving them ID cards for identification. These terrorists were transferred into our territory for the war they have planned to levy against our people.

“IPOB is waiting for Fulani terrorists and their supporters, the Nigerian military. Nigerian military knows it won’t declare war against us because what we are fighting for is purely recognised in the international law and African Union law. So, they have devised another means of fighting the war against us by supporting terrorists and jihadists to fight our people and do their bidding for them.”

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Ex-chief Of Air Staff, Abubakar Emerges Bauchi APC Governorship Candidate

The immediate past Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar has emerged as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bauchi State.

Naija News reports that the former military chief polled the highest votes to win the party’s governorship primary held on Thursday at the Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi State.

According to the APC electoral committee chairman, Abubakar polled 370 votes to clinch the party’s ticket.

The Senator representing Bauchi Central in the National Assembly, Halliru Jika, polled 278 votes to place second.

Coming third is Mura Manu, who polled 269 votes, while Musa Babayo had 70 votes; and Mahmud Maijama’a secured eight votes.

Recall that Abubakar served as chief of air staff from 2015 to January 2021 when President Muhammadu Buhari replaced him and other service chiefs.

The president later appointed him as Nigeria’s ambassador to Chad. He has resigned from that appointment.

Meanwhile, former President Goodluck Jonathan has been cleared to contest the 2023 presidential election.

Justice Isa Hamma Dashen of the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa cleared Jonathan in a ruling on Friday.

The presiding judge ruled that the former President is eligible to contest the 2023 presidency.

He also held that Jonathan’s right to vie for the office of president again cannot be stopped by any retroactive law.

This article was originally published on Nigeria News

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Ubi Franklin Reportedly Escapes As Cultists Allegedly Threaten Him

Ubi Franklin

Nigerian music executive, Ubi Ofem, popularly known as Ubi Franklin, reportedly ran for his life after an alleged threat at gun point during the primary election of the Cross River State House of Assembly, Yakurr Constituency 1.

Ubi Franklin lost to Cyril Omni, the Special Adviser on Security to the Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade.

Mr Omini secured 17 votes, while Mr Franklin garnered 12 Votes and another contestant Ubi Ubi Itam received 11 votes.

Meanwhile, eye witnesses who spoke exclusively to Instagram blogger Cutie Juls said when Mr Ubi Franklin arrived at the venue, some boys believed to be cultists approached him and asked him to leave or be prepared for anything that will happen.

According to the source, the election which was marred by chaos and violence caused Ubi Franklin to leave the venue of the election.

It was also alleged that the returning officer was made to sign the returning sheet under duress and the APC officials in the constituency are currently holding a meeting which is likely to see an annulment of the results as they believe the election wasn’t free and fair.

This article was originally published on Nigeria News

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Lagos Assembly Speaker, Obasa Grabs APC Ticket Unopposed (Photos)

The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, has grab the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Agege Constituency 1 of the State House of Assembly.

Naija News reports that Obasa was declared winner in the election on Friday after polling the entire 25 votes cast by the delegates at the Iloro, Agege Health Centre venue of the exercise.

The election was monitored by officials of the party and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Addressing jubilant party faithful, loyalists and supporters after the exercise, Obasa described the victory as proof of acceptance by his constituents.

He said he won the primary election because of the belief they have in him as their true and passionate representative.

The Speaker, while thanking the constituents for the trust they have in him, expressed confidence that he would win in the main election so he can continue with the dividends of democracy he had attracted to Agege.

He also expressed hope that the party’s primary election to pick a presidential candidate would favour Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a leading aspirant for the party’s ticket.

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Temi Otedola Tells Fiance, Mr. Eazi The Kind Of Wedding She Wants

Temi Otedola Tells Fiance, Mr. Eazi The Kind Of Wedding She Wants

Temi, the daughter of billionaire Nigerian businessman, Femi Otedola has revealed the kind of wedding she wants when it’s finally time to tie the knot with her lover, Oluwatosin Ajibade aka Mr. Eazi.

According to her, she wants a really private and personal wedding ceremony where she can easily identify the faces at the event.

She added that it would be annoying for her to see unknown faces at her wedding.

Naija News reports she made her desire known during a question and answer session with her fiance, Mr Eazi after he made reference to his sister’s wedding and pointed out that he didn’t know many of those in attendance.

Describing herself as a very private person, Temi Otedola disclosed that if it were entirely up to her, she would just have about five friends and her family in attendance for the wedding.

Though she acknowledged that it could upset some people, they would have to find a way to forgive her.

In her words, “Knowing me, if I’m walking around my wedding and I’m like “I don’t know this person”, that will annoy me. I’m really private. Like even for a birthday party, everyone there I have to rock with you.

“If it were up to me, my wedding will just be family and five friends. Sorry, a lot of you are going to be upset but, it’s gonna be tight.”

 

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Marginal Oil Fields: Court Stops Fed Govt From Issuing Fresh Licenses

Marginal Oil Fields: Court Stops Fed Govt From Issuing Fresh Licenses

A Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital has stopped the Buhari administration from issuing further licenses for marginal oil fields in the Niger Delta pending the determination of a pending suit.

This was confirmed to Naija News on Friday by a public interest and human rights lawyer, Sammy Etuk.

He explained that some Ijaw leaders in 2020 approached the court, praying it to halt licensing of marginal oilfields located in their domains.

But, following setbacks and delays suffered by the suit, the bid winners were announced on June 1, 2021.

Etuk said Justice Isa Dashen on Thursday, granted the injunction in favour of the plaintiffs.

Plaintiff in Suit No: PHC/YEN/CS/81/2020 are Chief Brown Agu (Opu Agu VIII), Mrs Rosemary John-Oduone, President Ijaw Women Connect and Mr Femowei Friend on behalf of themselves and the Ijaw Ethnic Nationality.

Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the Minister of Petroleum Resources and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources are defendants in the suit.

The reliefs sought and granted by the court are that the respondents be restrained from further advertising and receiving bids in respect of the marginal fields.

“The defendants are also restrained from approving licenses in respect of the marginal fields.”

The case has been fixed for June 8 for continuation of hearing and ruling on pending motions before the court.

In the meantime, a coalition of Ijaw groups in a reaction to the development in a statement urged the parties in the shit to obey and comply with the order of court.

“It has come to the attention of this coalition of Ijaw interest groups that following a suit filed by some patriotic Ijaw sons and daughter, the Federal High Court has granted an injunction restraining the Minister of Petroleum/Federal Government from proceeding any further with the award of marginal oil field licenses pending the conclusion of the lawsuit.

“It is our expectation that all citizens and corporate organizations abide by this ruling’’, says the coalition.

This article was originally published on Nigeria News