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Banker abducted after attempting to expose Mrs Ngozi Ekeoma on subsidy fraud



Ngozi Ekeoma
A former banker, Chukwuemeka Ekwunife, who was billed to continue his evidence on how a businesswoman and oil marketer, one Mrs. Ngozi Ekeoma used him to steal millions of Naira from the Federal government of Nigeria using subsidy scheme, was on Friday abducted.
Ekwunife was allegedly abducted by plain clothed gunmen a few metres away from an Ikeja Special Offences Court, Lagos where he was billed to give evidence in a criminal matter against him.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had arraigned Ekwunife and Structured Energy Limited for stealing a total sum of N168.5m from several companies on an 8 count charge.
The anti-graft agency had alleged that the defendant stole the money in tranches of N19m, N9m, N85m, N25m, and N6.5m sometimes in August, October and November 2014 from the complaint, Nepal Oil and Gas limited.
But at Friday hearing, the defendant was whisked away by gunmen while attempting to photocopy documents he had intended to tender before the court as evidence against Mrs. Ekeoma, The Managing Director of Nepal Oil and Gas.
However, when the case was called yesterday, the Defence Counsel, Mr. Eubena Amedie told the court that the defendant has been abducted by gunmen, who later identified themselves as police officers at the Intelligence Response Team.
Amedie, who appeared worried, told Justice Sherifat Solebo that his client was earlier present in court to continue his trial and tender some vital documents for his defence.
The Defence lawyer said, “My lord, some of the documents from Liberia which we had promised to tender before the court today arrived on Wednesday and the rest came in late on Thursday evening.
“We came with some original certificates too but on our way to this court, the defendant was abducted by gunmen, on plain clothes, who later identified themselves as policemen from Intelligence Response Team.
“I came to the court with the defendant today so we could tender these documents but he was abducted at GRA Ikeja, Opposite Diamond Bank, where we had gone to make photocopies.
“I then pleaded with them to bring him to court to complete his evidence and after the proceedings, they could take him back but the refused. So as it stands now, the defendant is absent and today’s proceedings have been frustrated as a result of this action”.
Justice Solebo thereafter ordered that the EFCC lawyers should go with the Defence Counsel to the station where the defendant is being held and confirm the report.
“Go and verify if the defendant is there and find out why he was taken away. I want us to verify the facts so I can put it on record. This matter is hereby stood down,” the judge ordered.
The matter was stood down for more than thirty minutes to enable the EFCC lawyers to verify the facts.
When hearing on the matter resumed, the EFCC lawyers confirmed that the facts were true but the Defence Counsel told the court that the police officers refused to show the alleged petition that led to his arrest.
Amedie said, “At least the prosecuting Counsel has confirmed my client’s abduction. The policemen even refused to show the petition that warranted his arrest. And the only person who could have written a petition against him is Nepal Oil and Gas.”
The judge, however, blamed the EFCC for allowing Nepal Oil and Gas to petition a defendant who is standing trial and already giving evidence in defence before the court.
Justice Solebo also humorously advised the Defence Counsel to be careful before he also gets abducted since he is still holding the original copies of the documents to be tendered.
Meanwhile, earlier in his defence,  Ekwunife had informed the court of his intentions to bring supporting documents to prove how Mrs. Ngozi Ekeoma, owner of Nepal Oil and Gas Limited, used him to facilitate false documentations in Liberia in order to obtain money from the FG through subsidy scheme.
Ekwunife, while led in evidence by his lawyer, said that he helped Mrs. Ekeoma register several companies in Liberia to enable her to carry out various importation of petroleum products particularly Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), under the petroleum scheme fund (subsidy scheme) with the FG.
The former banker, who was formerly a Credit Relationship Manager of Sterling Bank, said he resigned from the bank in 2014 after Mrs. Ekeoma pleaded with him to join her business and help her provide credit facilities for her companies.
He said: “I met the Managing Director of Nepal Oil and Gas limited, Ngozi Ekeoma in 2010 while I was working with Sterling Bank as a Credit Relationship Manager. Mrs. Ekeoma was a customer of the bank and so she came to me to help her provide credit facilities to various companies that she introduced to the bank.
“She introduced companies as Nepal Oil and Gas Limited, Dell Energy Limited, Carnival Energy Oil and Gas Limited.
“So I provided credit facilities for these companies that enabled her to carry out various importations of PMS through subsidy scheme with the FG.
“This relationship lasted for four years. And in 2014, I voluntarily resigned from Sterling Bank after she pleaded earnestly with me to join her business.
“So I left my job in the bank to work for her in a contractor/staff arrangement.
“I helped her set up various companies like Structured Energy Resources Limited, Dexter Oil Limited, Ritrak Supply and Trading Limited, Gulf Trading and Shipping Limited – all registered in Liberia.
“These companies were used at various times to carry out trading and documentations related to subsidy by the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We produced supporting documents like Bill of Laden, the recertification of products, the certificate of quality and certificate of Origin.
“These documentations were done outside the shores of Nigeria and used for trades that never happened in Nigeria. The documentation were done in Liberia for trades that were not live (feasible).
“For instance, Mrs. Ekeoma, in her stock of trade, would arrange documentations to convert dual purpose kerosene to aviation fuel.
“What I mean is that where dual purpose kerosene was supposed to be sold to households, Mrs. Ekeoma would instruct us (Myself, Ugochukwu Onwuegbunam, Alexander Uwaezuoke to facilitate and get documentations that the products are jet fuel.
 “We would facilitate the documentation and sell the product as Jet fuel to aviation airlines.
“We used these documentations to carry out fraudulent activities by using documents formulated outside the country to perform trade in Nigeria that were not suppose to happen,” he said.
The judge, however, adjourned the matter till 21 and 22 October for a continuation of trial.
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Cracks On Ikeja City Mall Building Spurs Fear Of Collapse



Major cracks on the walls of the Ikeja City Mall has sparked off fears of collapse.

A report by TheNewsOfThePeople, observed that some patches on the building were fixed some months back. However, recent checks revealed that fresh cracks were all over and visible to all.

The building that host the popular Shoprite and other top stores may have put lives of several people that visit the mall in danger if necessary intervention is not carried out as the state physical planning authority is yet to take necessary action.

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Concerned citizens that sent photos of the collapsing parts implored necessary state authority and the management of the mall to swing into action to forestall any disaster.

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Nigerians Lament Worsening Electricity Supply As Yuletide Approaches



Electricity Suppl

*Customers Allege Overbilling, Discos Using Generator For Operation

*Ensuring Better Supply Work In Progress -EKEDC

Lukmon Akintola,


Electricity is the backbone of most third world economy reliant on the manufacturing industries. As such, its importance cannot be overstated.

A lack of adequate supply has thus led to a near-collapse of Nigeria’s manufacturing industry, with several major companies including Dunlop Tyres, shutting down operations and relocating to neighbouring countries such as Ghana, Togo, and the Republic of Benin.

This is not to say that there have not been efforts at revamping the sector. Years back, the use of electricity in Nigeria was governed by the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA).

In the heat of NEPA’s disappointments, the organisation which represented Nigeria in the West African power pool garnered unpleasant monikers including ‘Never Expect Power Again’ and ‘Never Expect Power Always’. That was how bad NEPA’s services were.

However, following years of massive investment to better the sector, and with power outage and unreliable services still a recurring decimal, NEPA was rested.

The failure of the organisation announced the arrival of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), a firm many subsequently tagged a mere nomenclature change from the defunct NEPA.

Failed attempts at rebranding the government-owned electricity organisation coupled with billions of Naira down the drain eventually saw the enactment of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005, which led to the unbundling of the national power utility company into six generation companies and 12 distribution outfits to cover the whole of Nigeria. The unbundling also set the pace for the privatisation of the sector, something many thought was going to be the solution to the incessant power problems in the country.

The divestiture of the federal government from PHCN in 2013 and the privitisation of the sector was supposed to mark a new phase in electricity distribution in Nigeria via electricity generating companies such as Afam Power Plc, Egbin Power Plc, Kainji Hydro-Electric Plc, Sapele Power Plc, Ughelli Power Plc, and Shiroro Hydro-Electric Plc.

Local Electric Distribution Companies (LEDC), such as Benin Electricity Distribution Company, Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, Eko Electricity Distribution Company, Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, and Kano Electricity Distribution Company were supposed to distribute the energy generated.

Other distribution companies that were to ensure that the country was well covered included Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company, Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, and Yola Electricity Distribution Company.

Ordinarily, the existence of the aforementioned number of power generation and distribution companies in a country should guarantee better services to consumers. However, there has been very little light in the proverbial tunnel, as lamentations concerning inadequate supply, overbilling, overzealous distribution staff continues nationwide despite continued publications of newly installed and commissioned electrical equipment by distribution companies.

“What we are doing is work in progress. As it is now, we published all we have done in three daily newspapers recently. We have commissioned almost 100 projects, and these are very viable ones. We published these projects in The Punch, Thisday and we also published in Vanguard Newspapers. These are projects across different areas of our franchise towards making electricity supply better for our customers.

“A lot of people do not know that the entire FESTAC sits on an underground cable system that had been done many years ago. That is why when they have faults in such areas, it takes time for us to locate the fault. Recently, we took delivery of a fault locator which we recently brought into the country to reduce the downtime in trying to figure out what is wrong underground. The fault locator is already in place, and we are working round the clock to fix some of those faults. Keep in mind that before we came on board before the investors came on, some of these equipment and cables were already old. So, we are changing fuses, changing transformers, and changing underground cables. These are things that we are doing to make sure that things work out.

“For those who are still experiencing downtimes, we appreciate their concerns and pains. Thankfully, we are also customers like you, so there is no way we can live in a different world. If I live in my franchise area, if electricity is poor, it will get to affect me. You don’t get to see a particular house in any area that they say that man works at EKEDC that is why he has electricity while we don’t. So, we understand what people are going through and we are working on it,” AGM/Head, Media, and Communications at Eko Electricity Distribution Plc, Sulaiman Aledeh, said while explaining to Saturday INDEPENDENT efforts by the EKEDC to better supply to consumer patronising the Discos.

Indeed, there have been several allegations against distribution companies. However, one which remains prominent is the use of generators in their office, while consumers are compelled to pay outrageous bills.

There have been posers as to why consumers are made to pay for unsupplied utility when the distribution companies are aware that there is no supply, hence they resort to using generators, an action which contravenes the rules and regulations of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

A staff of Ikeja Electric Distribution Company, who spoke with Saturday INDEPENDENT under the condition of anonymity revealed that: “The only time we use generators for is our tumper. The tumper is an equipment that we normally carry when we are on the field because no house or community will ever allow you to connect your equipment to their meter. When we want to detect faults from underground cables, we use our generator to power the tumper to determine where the fault is. That is the only time we use generators, we don’t use generators at all at Ikeja Electric. No Discos is allowed to use a generator to power anything in the office. If we are using generator what are we telling our customers?”

However, when our reporter visited the Adekoya Estate, Ogba office of Ikeja Electric Distribution Company, he spotted generators being used to power some equipment.

Asked how Ikeja Electric operates when there is no supply, and he revealed that they wait till they can detect the fault. He went on to state that if there is a system collapse they get information from the transmission who will, in turn, give them a time frame of when supply would be restored. On how they power their electronic payment platforms, he revealed that most customers don’t pay at their offices anymore, as they now use agents across the network.

According to him, the Ikeja Electric doesn’t encourage people to pay at their office anymore except when they are resolving issues.

Informed that there is a POS at the office of Ikeja Electric, he said that it is a self-operated payment platform, adding that they know it would sound funny to tell people to go and pay at an agent’s office which is far from their house when they can easily pay at the office close to their house.

In Lagos State, the duo of Ikeja Electric (IKEDC) and Eko Electric Distribution Company (EKEDC), are at the forefront of power distribution and blames taking for poor services.

Indeed, there have been several complaints about the services of these distribution companies from consumers who continuously lament crazy services and bills they have had to pay for years.

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In a chat with Saturday INDEPENDENT, Sadiq Umar, who resides in the Ibeju Lekki axis of Lagos State narrated how his friend who recently moved into his property located at Onosa, Ibeju Lekki opted not to have anything to do with the EKEDC, when urged to register his house for electricity.

According to Umar, the friend had told him that the tales of trouble associated with crazy bills and epileptic supply was too much for him to handle. To escape the burden of such punishment, he opted to go the way of solar energy, installing three panels on his roof. Aided by his generator, Umar said his friend has never regretted his decision.

Oladimeji Akindele narrated how shocked he was to see the EKEDC cash office located at Elemoro in Ibeju Lekki, Local Government being powered by a generator when he visited the place. Speaking on the development with Saturday INDEPENDENT, he wondered why consumers were being made to pay bills while the distribution company had not supplied.

Saturday INDEPENDENT visited the Elemoro office of EKEDC and spotted a generator running the minimal appliances such as payment machines, POS machines, and fan being used at the office. The staff in charge of receiving cash from customers looked embarrassed when asked by our reporter why the office was running on generators, and consumers were being mandated to pay for the supply they did not consume or face disconnection.

Reacting to the use of generators in EKEDC, Aledeh revealed that he is not aware of any generator in his office. He went on to say that if indeed there was a generator at EKEDC’s office then: “The situation tells me that those people are very objective, they have not singled out their facility and say we must give uninterrupted power supply to this place. It means that whatever the people are going through in that locality, they are not immune from it. In places like Lekki, Ajah, Victoria Garden City, Ikoyi, some parts of Surulere and all those areas where some of those projects have been completed, we know that we have good systems running. I am looking at it objectively if someone is running a generator, it is a systemic thing, and that is why I said earlier that when these people came to take over six years ago, it wasn’t like that was when the cables were placed underground in FESTAC. We are talking about cables that were placed underground when FESTAC was being built in 1977. From that time till now, we still have those old cables, but trust me, if you go around those areas you will find out that we are doing all of these things I told you. We bought the fault locator, you can go round and see that they have started using it. These are some of the things that have been happening in those areas.”

These complaints are however neither limited to EKEDC nor Ikeja Electric. A report titled “How AEDC’s Delayed Response To Complaints Frustrates Customers, Robs Them Of Time, Money” credited to ‘The ICIR’, an investigative online platform detailed the suffering of the average consumer in the hands of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company.

According to the report, customer complaints in Abuja borders majorly on inconsistent supply, excessive billing, and a long wait for meter supply.

Enyoanwan, who runs a mini-supermarket directly opposite the AEDC Customer Complaint Unit (CCU), narrated how 13-hours after supply was interrupted it had not been restored in her area. Interestingly, she pays N8, 000 monthly for the estimated consumption of electricity in her stall.

“In this shop, I don’t have any other electrical appliances apart from this fridge, yet I get a bill of N8, 000 monthly. I wish this estimated billing thing can be resolved. I want to apply again for a meter but it’s like wasting my time.”

The ICIR report also detailed how another woman who uses a meter spends between N 1,000 and N2500 monthly on electricity for her saloon. Such is the disparity between a meter-using consumer and an estimated consumer.

In June, at a town hall meeting organised by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), in collaboration with the McArthur Foundation with the aim of providing a platform for dialogue and constructive engagement among all stakeholders and to proffer solution to the challenge in the sector brought to fore agonies of consumers in areas of group disconnection, insensitivity and the rudeness of staff of the Discos to consumers.

Consumers at the meeting wasted no time in accusing the officials of the IKEDC of incompetence, insincerity, daylight robbery among other excesses in the presence of right groups and regulators.

Mr. Lawal Babatunde, who resides in Odozi Street, Ojodu, Lagos State narrated how a bill of N 26 million was brought to them after six months of being in darkness, and despite the fact the transformer serving the street and 10 others had been removed months back, wondering how the bill was incurred.

If you think that his case is shocking, Tunde Aina’s experience would shock you more. At the Town Hall meeting, Aina who attended from Ikorodu, Lagos State sought to know how 300 houses in a locality could be given the same estimated bill for five years.

While Town Hall meetings with Discos continue to hold at intervals, the fact that the distribution companies appear to walk away from these meetings without any plan to follow up on the agreed modalities and resolution have raised questions regarding other options for consumers to seek redress over these anomalies.

There have also been questions about what the law says about the excesses of distribution companies.

In 2018, while speaking at a Town Hall meeting on electricity distribution in Bwari, Abuja, the Director-General, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), Babatunde Irukera, said any electricity distribution company that abuses the right of consumers violates the law.

Irukera, who frowned at group disconnection, a syndrome popular with Discos stated that if electricity consumers who pay for their bills are disconnected alongside those who do not, the rights of those paying would have been violated.

Interestingly, very few prosecutions have been heard since the privatisation of the distribution companies, as marketers freely dare customers telling them to disconnect from the company if they feel that they are not being well serviced.

 “I complained about my bills to my marketer who I expected to reason with me because there was hardly supply in my area, I was shocked when she told me that I should disconnect from the Discos if I felt that their services were not good enough. I was shocked because I understood the implication of a consumer disconnecting from the Discos. If we all decide to do that, she would have no job because the company will shut down, but apparently, she lacked the foresight to know that. Oga, you have a generator, you can stay on your generator,” Olanrewaju Shokunbi, an Ibadan, Oyo State-based resident told our reporter.

Interestingly, there are several unpleasant realities staring electricity consumers in the face, as distribution companies have turned them into cash cows. A source in one of the distribution companies who spoke with Saturday INDEPENDENT after being assured of speaking under the condition of anonymity revealed that the distribution grid is bad, and can hardly take the supply of electricity to consumers for more than five hours at a time. According to him, any Discos which supplies for more than five hours at a time risk the possibility of shutting down the grid. According to him, this is why it is difficult for all communities in a town to have light at the same time.

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Our source also revealed that unlike in the days of NEPA when it was a government-regulated affair and they still consider the people, the situation is now different, as the individual distribution companies only seek to make a profit. According to him, they would settle at nothing to do this even if it means bleeding the consumer dry, and this is why when there is no supply, your bill is still high.

Explaining that downtimes in energy supply don’t necessarily mean a reduction in bill, Aledeh said: “when light is restored, the first thing people do is that they switched on so many appliances at once. We have started giving enlightenment; we have printed some to make people know the kind of gadgets that they can use that power can be conserved considerably. If you have not had power for sometimes, when the supply is restored, the first thing that people do is that they want to iron, they want to put on the pumping machine, and this affects your consumption. If you ask any expert, they will tell you. What those who already know do is that they put these things on once at a time. Remember these are heavy equipment. It is when they bring the light that someone wants to iron everything he or she has. They forget that the consumption has actually been imputed, but again when you don’t have electricity for long a while, if you have a prepaid meter, once you go back to your meter, you find out that it consumes more. Abdulahi put on the pumping machine, quickly come and do this, and do that. That is what affects a lot of people. Again, my training since joining EKEDC has shown that it is not how big your house is that determines your bill. Somebody living in a one-bedroom apartment may consume more energy than you living in a three-bedroom apartment. There is every tendency that whatever electrical gadget they are using is way more than what you who lives in a three-bedroom apartment is using. For you, there is every tendency that because you are married, you will be using a gas cooker and not a hot plate. The energy that hot plate consumes is way out of the reach of most of these people. So, they have hot plate, electric iron, the same person may even have not the split unit air conditioner, but the window unit air conditioner because he is living in a small apartment, and that takes more energy than the split unit which in today’s modern world are done in a way that its energy saving. That is the problem with a lot of people. They tell you that yours is three-bedroom, and mine is just one bedroom, but get into that apartment and you will be amazed. But that is not a reason for them not to complain. We always do what we call load inventory even though some of these people will hide some of the equipment, and that is why our people come unannounced so that they can also see what they are using. There is a place on the Island where someone was recently arrested. He comes out when it’s dark, and puts his wire somewhere start doing his wielding job. Trust me, that thing that you see that man doing there, he is not tapping my energy if I don’t live in your area, but people in that area will pay for his consumption. You will think that your meter is just moving, no it is already being bypassed.”

On what the EKEDC is doing to correct such a situation, Aledeh said that the whistleblowing platform which they have created is paying off in so many other areas. People who report this kind of situation realise after arresting people involve their energy consumption reduces.

“People steal energy, if you buy energy for three thousand Naira, and you get the value of one thousand Naira, it means something is happening somewhere. Sometimes, you look at it and say maybe it is not reading from your meter, but no someone has taken it. So, the bottom line is that it is not about the size of the house, but about the equipment, the person is using. It is also how this person also operates on this equipment even when there has been no supply in these places over time. And like I said, when you also notice something unusual, you should also report.”

A staff of FCCPC, who would not want her name in print, told Saturday INDEPENDENT the role of the commission in conflicting resolution.

According to her, “Apart from the Town Hall meeting that you know about, the agency addresses issues involving people with complaints. The Town Hall meeting is just for public enlightenment, it is also used to harvest information and know what the issues are. When we address consumer complaints, we just advise, no matter the sector, be it aviation, electricity or whatever. We just advise that you complain to your service provider first. The Town Hall meeting is for the complainant and the disco as the case may be to meet face to face in our presence, and get their issues out there for the discos to resolve them. When this doesn’t happen, they are advised to come to the council. If you go to the discos and you don’t get feedback that you think is fair, then you escalate to the council. We do our investigation to ensure that issues are properly addressed. We resolve complaints in every sector including electricity.”

On the possibility that the council will support consumers who seek redress in court, our source said: “If you independently decide to go to court, we won’t stop you, we would willingly give you our findings that you think can help your case in court. You just request it formally and we give it to you.”

Our source was also informed that in the case where the Discos or company involved fails to implement the redress gotten for the individual by the council, they have internal compliant measures to compel them to comply.

While Discos continue to eradicate supposed teething problems, there might still be hope for a better day for the consumer, as some Discos have upped their game revamping their customer care and social media platforms, while also replacing bad equipment.

When Saturday INDEPENDENT put a call to the EKEDC customer care, Halima, who spoke with our reporter, was efficient in responding to posers directed at her, seeking better ways to serve.

Though the Promised Land as relating to power distribution in Nigeria might still be far away, a ray of light still shines due to the hard work of Discos staff such as EKEDC’S Iyiola, Ezichi, Yinusa Haleemah, Adejuyigbe, Uzor, Ahmed and the many others in several other Discos.

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Kogi and Bayelsa 2019 Governorship Election: Foretelling the Outcome



Democracy is earning the power to govern through free, fair and credible elections. Nigeria is a democratic state, but the leadership recruitment process is largely undemocratic. Material and financial inducements determines victory, the security agencies are political, and the umpire lacks the capacity and will to conduct credible polls. Public sovereignty is departing the ballot for court as the 2019 general elections produced about a thousand petitions. Subjecting almost every electoral victory to judicial confirmation is making voting lose its essence. Like every human, judges are prone to errors as much as they have preference. Hence, their verdicts can’t always be a true reflection of the peoples will. Several mandates have been mistakenly or deliberately upturned. Parties and candidates must strive to end their contests at the polls, instead of the court.

Nigerians hope for this as the people of Kogi and Bayelsa state elect governor on 16 November, 2019. Over 40 parties fielded candidates, but the contest is a two horse race between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). APC’s David Lyon is slugging it out with PDP’s Duoye Diri in Bayelsa state. In Kogi, PDP’s Musa Wada and SDP’s Natasha Akpoti is challenging incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello of the APC. On the sideline, PDP’s Dino Melaye is facing APC’s Smart Adeyemi in the Kogi-West senatorial rerun. This piece foretells the outcome of the elections.

Bayelsa State

Bayelsa is a riverine, less populated state of about 2.5 million persons, eight local governments, and 923,182 registered voters. Unfavorable judicial pronouncements have practically make winning an unattainable height for APC in Bayelsa state. The party’s deputy governorship candidate, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, was disqualified on November 12 for providing false information in his nomination form. On November 14, the court invalidated David Lyon’s candidacy on account that the governorship primary that produced him was improperly conducted. APC miraculously got a stay of execution at the Court of Appeal few hours after Justice Jane Inyang of Bayelsa High Court gave the ruling.

Is Nigeria’s legal system so flexible that appellants can get a stay of execution the same day judgment is delivered? Did the trial judge err by granting reliefs not sought by Heineken Lokpobiri, the plaintiff who originally prayed to be declared candidate?

In any case, APC is back on the ballot and the poll won’t be a walkover for PDP. The former made an impressive performance in the last general elections and may increase the beat. From scoring a meagre 5,000 votes in the 2015 presidential poll, APC garnered over 118,000 votes in 2019. While one may argue that the party got more votes because a Bayelsa indigene wasn’t on the ballot, as in 2015, the progression is a testament that APC is making waves in Bayelsa.

Ethno-regional balance of power would earn PDP votes. The party’s primary generated resentment, but drastic measures were taken to address the impasse. Diri and the immediate past speaker of the state assembly, Tony Isenah hails from Kolokuma Opokuma. Agitations were rife that the region cannot produce governor and speaker, while Southern Ijaw, the second largest voting population, held no key position. To calm frayed nerves, Governor Seriake Dickson and other PDP leaders forced Isenah out for Monday Obolo. The move has brightened PDP’s chance in Southern Ijaw, the APC candidate’s homeland.

A major setback for the PDP is intra-party crisis. Governor Dickson backed Duoye Diri, against the wish of ex-president Goodluck Jonathan and other bigwigs. Diri’s candidature was actualized through the Restoration Group, the dominant PDP faction in the state controlled by Dickson. Diri pulled 561 votes, while Jonathan’s preferred candidate, Timi Alaibe, scored 365 votes in the primary. Efforts to make Dickson concede the deputy governorship ticket to Alaibe’s faction failed. This made several PDP stalwarts decamp to APC and other parties. Gabriel Jonah, the incumbent deputy governor’s younger brother led the Otita Force group out of the PDP to APC. Some of the defectors have returned and PDP also won some APC decampees.

Recurring conflict of interest broke the cordial relationship between Dickson and his godfather, Jonathan. The latter wants to keep calling the shot, but the former feels he has come of age. Dickson is having his way as the party structure is firmly under his control. Many allege the Jonathans are working against PDP’s victory. Ex-first lady Patience reportedly attend an APC rally and the husband visited President Buhari within the same period. Politics is an interest driven game, hence it is not impossible, but most unlikely that Jonathan would support APC. This is premised on the manner the party has disparaged him since he lost power in 2015.

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Every governor wants to install a successor and Dickson is no exemption. He is striving to enthrone Diri to protect himself from probe and prosecution. Bayelsa’s development is incommensurable with the federal allocation and internal revenue Dickson has accrued. His government spent mammoth funds on less impactful schemes. For instance, the Bayelsa International Cargo Airport was constructed at a prodigious rate, while the population is lacking basic amenities.

Ex-governor Timipre Sylva’s appointment as Minister of State for Petroleum has energized APC in Bayelsa. Sylva hopes to raise his political clout by capturing the state. Poised to bring honey out of the rock, Sylva will use federal might and fund for APC, but the party will not sail through. The 2019 Ameachi-Rivers scenario would most-likely occur. Sylva would predictably incapacitate PDP bigwigs, flood the state with armed officers, and do all legally and illegally possible to enthrone APC. Yet the party would lose. PDP is more formidable despite the intra-party crisis and shortcomings of the Dickson administration. Duoye Diri (PDP) would win the election.

Kogi State

‘Your Excellency’ is a title Nigerian elites admire, and do all possible to acquire. Struggle for the coveted position of governor has made Kogi the violence capital of Nigeria lately. The 2019 governorship poll will go down in history as the fiercest in the state. Yahaya Bello (APC) and Musa Wada (PDP) are not aiming for second and Natasha Akpoti (SDP) is waxing strong. They are campaigning aggressively, spewing unfulfillable promises, and going all out to win the heart of the 1,646,350 registered voters.

Kogi APC had a good outing in the 2019 general election. The party won two of the state’s three senatorial seats, and seven out of the nine House of Representative seats. While this is a pointer that APC is on course for victory, it may lose the governorship election for fielding an unpopular candidate. Bello’s track record shows he’s not deserving of governorship or any other position. He is bereft of ideas, non-tolerant, arrogant, and violent. His address during campaigns are basically hate speeches and threats, rather than a presentation of his scorecard and manifesto.

Another minus for Bello is his style of governance. He ruled Kogi like a conquered territory. His mindset is too shallow to accommodate opposite views and criticisms. You either agree with him or be hounded. He has, at different times, been embroiled in conflict with the labor union, university staffs, and the state’s Chief Judge. Bello also has issues with his former deputy, Elder Simon Achuba. He withheld Achuba’s allowances and honoraria, and influenced his unconstitutional removal from office.

A major impediment to Bello’s reelection is the non-payment of salaries in the civil service, salary-dependent state. Bello has no tenable excuse for owing as he accrued over N300 billion internally generated revenue and federal allocation within 38 months of his administration. Yet workers were unpaid and no landmark project has been commissioned. The state is enmeshed in poverty, unemployment, insecurity and underdevelopment.

Sadly, the funds that should have been used to better Kogites lot would be apparently used for vote-buying. Federal government has aided the practice by releasing N10 billion project-executed repayment fund to Bello three days to the election. It’s upsetting Buhari’s anti-corruption centered government released the fund at a time it would most certainly be used for election purposes.

Vote-buying shouldn’t be aiding poor performing politicians to victory, but most Nigerians are descendants of Esau, the biblical character who sold his birthright for a plate of porridge. Pecuniary gain makes many praise-sing and reelect failed governments. Kogi people won’t act different. Many would vote the poor performing governor after receiving peanuts. Vote-buying is not a one party affair. PDP also induce voters and will do so again in Kogi.

Ethnic politics reigns supreme in Kogi. The population often deliver bulk votes to their tribesmen, irrespective of party. Igala tribe has numerical advantage and principally determines who carry the day. In 1999, Abubakar Audu won the governorship election under the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, defeating PDP which had better structures at the time. Igala people are domiciled in Kogi East and constitutes over half of the state’s voting population. PDP’s Wada and the APC deputy governorship candidate, Edwin Onoja are Igala natives.

If ethnic voting occurs, Wada would win as Bello hails from the less populated Ebira tribe. Onoja’s influence won’t earn APC majority vote; Igala people would rather be first than play second fiddle. Moreover, Wada’s allies are conversant with the tactics of winning elections in Kogi state, especially Igala land. The PDP candidate is the brother of ex-governor Idris Wada and in-law of ex-governor Ibrahim Idris.

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Bello is hoping to harvest Ebira votes in Kogi Central, but Akpoti is a pain. The budding politician’s fan base is increasing outstandingly. Her supporters are largely women, a crucial and influential arm of the voting population. Akpoti knows she can’t win, but wants to split Bello’s vote in Kogi Central, not minding who her action benefits. Having her way would propel PDP to victory and Bello’s army of thugs won’t watch that happen. They allegedly set her campaign office ablaze and have been harassing her routinely. This misstep is earning Akpoti the popularity she might have joined the race for. It would also earn her sympathy votes, which may be inadequate to make her win, but sufficient to make Bello lose. In case Bello gets injured in Kogi Central (which is most unlikely), he will hope on recovering at Kogi West.

Kogi West Senatorial Rerun

One man’s misfortune is another’s stroke of luck. Dino Melaye’s trouble turned into blessing for Wada when he needs it most. The former’s senatorial mandate was nullified and rerun is holding alongside the governorship election. Melaye who had initially distanced himself from Wada’s campaign, having lost out in the primary, backtracked upon realizing him and Wada must either rise or fall together.

Melaye is facing arch-rival Smart Adeyemi of the APC in an epic rerun. In the nullified February 2019 election, Melaye defeated Adeyemi in six out of the seven local governments constituting Kogi West. He won despite being hounded by the state and federal government, and under a party in opposition at both levels of government.

Melaye is in tune with the masses than Adeyemi and other APC bigwigs in Kogi West. James Faleke’s reconciliation with Bello will not help APC much in the district. Faleke is late Abubakar Audu’s running mate in the 2015 governorship poll. He’s been inactive in the state since he lost the party’s mandate to Bello after Audu’s demise. Bello came second in the party primary.

Faleke is currently a federal lawmaker representing Lagos. He and Adeyemi’s political strength does not match Melaye’s in Kogi West. Melaye has over 100 projects to his credit; a contribution neither Adeyemi, Faleke nor Bello has made to the district. Call it uncivilized, Melaye’s politicking is admired by his people. His comical utterances and songs has won him the hearts of the population who sees other politicians as arrogant and inaccessible.

Melaye is a grassroots politician and popular in Kogi West. He stands a chance as none of the major opposition candidates in the governorship election hails from Kogi West. Based on the prominence of ethnic voting in the state, Melaye would lose if a strong opposition governorship candidate like Bello hails from Kogi West. Favored by these odds, Melaye (PDP) would defeat Adeyemi (APC) in the senatorial rerun election. In the same vein, for governorship, Musa Wada of the PDP would garner more votes than Yahaya Bello of the APC in Kogi West.

Governorship Election Outcome

Bello’s underperformance, misgovernance, dwindling admiration, and the odd-against ethnic voting permutation would deter his win. PDP’s Wada would get bulk ethnic votes in Kogi East. Melaye’s senatorial rerun coincidence would earn Wada majority vote in Kogi West. Natasha Akpoti would split Bello’s bulk vote in Kogi Central. The lowest of Wada’s vote would come from the district, while highest would come from Kogi East.

In a free, fair and credible contest, PDP’s Musa Wada would defeat APC’s Yahaya Bello. But the election is not going to be free; not going to be fair; and not going to be credible. Thugs would disperse voters and smash ballot boxes in Wada’s stronghold. The security agencies won’t arrest disruptors, and would be grossly partisan. Above all, the Independent National Electoral Commission would be ‘remote controlled’ by the ‘powers that be’. Several votes would be cancelled and the election would be declared inconclusive.

Virtually all the election winning indicators point to Wada’s emergence, but the pundit foresees Kogi 2019 governorship election ending with a rerun, and if it does, APC’s Yahaya Bello would ultimately be declared winner.

Note: Foretelling the outcome of an election doesn’t mean the writer has access to one sacred information or the election winning strategy of any candidate. Assessing candidates’ fortes and flaws to foretell election results is a common practice in developed nations. This doesn’t mean the pundits are demeaning the electoral process or influencing election results. Bayelsans and Kogites have already decided who they would vote for, and nothing – not this prediction – can easily change their mind.

By Omoshola Deji.

*Omoshola Deji is a political and public affairs

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