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Rivers APC Guber Candidate, Tonye Cole skipped NYSC, omits degrees in nomination forms

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The gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, Tonye Cole, is in trouble for skipping the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, the NEXT EDITION has found out.

Sources close to the stylish businessman-turned-politician said he is struggling to get the NYSC to help him out with the problem.

The Lagos-based billionaire emerged APC’s gubernatorial candidate for 2019 during the party’s primary in Port Harcourt on October 1.

Lawal Isa, Chairman, Rivers State APC Governorship Primary Election Committee, had said Mr. Cole got 3,329 votes to beat other aspirants.

According to him, Dawari George, a former aide to Rotimi Amaechi, scored 491 votes to come a distant second.
Dumo Lulu-Briggs, another business mogul who stood the election, secured 38 votes while a serving Senator, Magnus Abe, got a single vote.

Mr. Abe was the only person who voted for himself in the primary that was attended by no fewer than 4000 delegates.

But weeks after the primary was conducted and won, Mr. Cole is yet to name his running mate, situation observers blamed on the fear he might be disqualified after all.

This newspaper found out Mr. Cole deliberately omitted his tertiary education qualifications in the nomination forms he submitted to his party and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Under academic records, Mr. Cole indicated he attended Corona School, Victoria Island, Lagos from 1973-1978 and King’s College, Lagos, between 1978 -1983.

This shows in spite of his rich educational background, he only filed his primary school leaving certificate and the ordinary level West African Examination Council General Certificate of Education he obtained in June 1983 from the King’s College.

Apart from the WASCE, Mr. Cole also attached a testimonial from King’s College which showed he was born on January 11, 1967, and had attended the institution from Form One to Five.

With registration number 4107, he was a member of Mckee Wright House as well as the Literary and Debating Club.
The principal of the school at the time, Olapeju Oladele, indicated he held no leadership position but indicated he had a promising career.

“He has very strong personality traits and was well-behaved,” under behavioural traits.

However, under general remarks, Mr. Oladele wrote, “Patrick was a very promising student who has high potential to succeed in his chosen career.”

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Based on his WASC attached to his nomination forms, Mr. Cole had credit (4) in English Language, good (3) in Geography, credit (4) in Economic and credit (6) in Mathematics.
Others include Physics – pass (7), Biology – credit (5), Art –credit (5) and Technical Drawing –pass (7).

With only WASC and a testimonial from King’s College attached to his forms, it seemed Mr. Cole, for some undisclosed reasons, deliberately omitted his degrees as contained in his public profiles.

While he failed to indicate his tertiary education qualifications, the APC candidate sumptuously showcased the training he has attended across the globe and the many papers he has presented and positions he has occupied.

But findings by this newspaper showed Mr. Cole went straight to King’s School, Ely, Cambridgeshire, the United Kingdom after he left King’s College, Lagos at age 16.

He is also said to be an alumnus of the University of Lagos and Universidade de Brasilia, Brazil, where he was graduated with merit honours in Architecture.

Curiously, information regarding his tertiary education and the record of his compulsory NYSC participation are all absent in the document he filed with his party and INEC.

Given his family background and the age he completed his primary and secondary education, it is very clear Mr. Cole got his first degree before he was 23.

The one-year service, organised by NYSC is compulsory for all Nigerians who graduate from universities or equivalent institutions at less than 30 years of age.

Apart from being a prerequisite for obtaining government and private sector jobs in Nigeria, the NYSC Act prescribes punishment for anyone who absconds from the scheme or forges its certificates.

For instance, eligible persons, who skipped the scheme, are liable to be sentenced to 12 months imprisonment and/or N2, 000 fine, based on Section 13 of the NYSC law.

 

In Section 13 (3) of the Act, a three-year jail term or option of N5,000 fine is prescribed for anyone who contravenes the provisions of the law.

Subsection 4 of the same section also criminalises giving false information or illegally obtaining the agency’s certificate.

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It provides for up to a three-year jail term for such offenders.

NEXT EDITION made several attempts within the last two weeks to speak with Mr. Cole on the issue but failed.
The APC chieftain would not pick calls or respond to text messages from this newspaper.

However, when contacted, on one of his allies, Tonye Princewill, said Mr. Cole could not speak on the issue because the party was yet to set up a campaign structure for the 2019 polls.

All of Mr. Cole’s public profiles show he had tertiary education in Nigeria and in Brazil but none indicates the dates of his graduation.

NEXT EDITION could not also extract any record of where he served in any of such profiles, some of which have been edited recently.

Attempts to speak with the NYSC spokesperson, Adenike Adeyemi, failed as her line was unreachable and text message to her phone was not replied.

But a senior staff of the scheme, who could not be named because he is not authorised to speak on the matter said the NYSC has no record Mr. Cole served or was offered an exemption.

On July 7, Premium Times newspaper published a report to indict the former Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, of skipping the NYSC scheme.

The newspaper also accused Mrs. Adeosun of forging an exemption certificate many years after graduation in a well-researched exclusive report.

The report showed the minister was born in March 1967 and graduated from the Polytechnic of East London in 1989, at the age of 22.

Having graduated at 22, it was obligatory for Mrs Adeosun to participate in the one-year national service, to qualify for any job in Nigeria.
After months of silence, denial and blame-game, the minister was forced to resign her appointment on September 14.

But it is not only Mrs. Adeosun who skipped the NYSC programme.
The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, also failed to participate in the scheme despite graduating from the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU) at age 25.

His failure to make the scheme caused his party, the APC to disqualify him from its gubernatorial primary election. (Next Edition)

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SANWO-OLU INAUGURATES CABINET, CHARGES MEMBERS ON SERVICE DELIVERY

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Commissioners

…Commissioners, Special Advisers Get Portfolios

All roads led to Alausa – the seat of Lagos State Government – on Tuesday for an August occasion.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu constituted the state’s Executive Council, with the swearing in of 35 cabinet members who took the oath as Commissioners and Special Advisers.

The event, held at Adeyemi Bero Hall in the Secretariat, was witnessed by the leaders and members of All Progressives Congress (APC) from all Local Government Areas and Local Council Development Areas in the state.

Also at the event included the Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, First Lady, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Folashade Jaji, Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mr. Tayo Ayinde, his deputy, Mr. Gboyega Soyannwo, and Head of Service, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola.

At exactly 12:18pm, Mrs. Yemisi Ogunlola of the Ministry of Justice administered the oath on the appointees, signaling the official take-off of their tenure.

The cabinet, Sanwo-Olu observed, was unique in leadership qualities and gender diversity, adding that its members were selected through a rigorous process based on their track records in service delivery in their respective fields.

The Governor charged them to bring their years of leadership and administrative experience to bear in handling affairs of the state, stressing that the people of Lagos could not wait any longer to benefit from his administration’s programmes.

He said: “It is with pride that I congratulate the new Commissioners and Special Advisers on your well-deserved appointments. It is a testament to your capacity, your accomplishments and your track record of hard work, commitment, dedication and professionalism in your private and public endeavours.

“Today, all of you are inducted into a singular administration, unique in its diversity – both of heritage and of creed – made up of technical and politically skilled men and women who understand the challenges of our State, grasp the grand vision of our administration, and are sensitive to the yearnings of our citizens, whom we must ultimately serve.”

Sanwo-Olu said the ultimate goal of his administration was to ensure Lagos remained the top destination for business, work and living in Africa, reiterating his government’s commitment to build on the foundation laid by his predecessors through Lagos Development Blueprint initiated by the government of APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

The Governor charged the appointees on innovation, commitment and exemplary leadership in the assigned roles, while also advising them to be prepared for the challenges ahead and be ready to pay any price for the development of Lagos.

He said: “Great opportunities for employment and wealth creation can only be realised sustainably if we are able to enhance governance with creativity, innovation and technology, while embracing collaboration with the private sector and continual dialogue and partnership with all relevant stakeholders.

“This is the task we have been called upon to undertake in the next four years on behalf of our people who are relying on us to support their dreams and aspirations. I charge you all to show commitment, diligence and exemplary leadership as the necessary virtues needed to achieve the greatness we desire for our State and to deliver the prosperity our people deserve.”

Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Folashade Jaji, described the event as “a major milestone” in the history of political development in Lagos.

She said the choice of the cabinet appointees was a testimony to the determination of the Sanwo-Olu administration to tackle the challenges facing the state and build a prosperous society.

She presented the cabinet members to the public and urged them to keep their focus on service delivery.

Giving a vote of assurance on behalf of the cabinet members, the Commissioner for Water Resources and Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, said the team would foster unity of purpose and dedication to enable the Governor realise his vision.

Other Commissioners sworn in include: Mr. Rabiu Olowo Onaolapo (Finance), Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo (Education), Prof. Akin Abayomi (Health), Dr. Idris Salako (Physical Planning and Urban Development), Mr. Gbenga Omotoso (Information and Strategy), Mrs. Bolaji Dada (Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation), Mr. Lere Odusote (Energy and Natural Resources), Dr. Frederic Oladeinde (Transportation), Mr. Gbolahan Lawal (Agriculture), Moruf Akinderu Fatai (Housing), and Mr. Moyo Onigbanjo, SAN, (Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice).

Also, Commissioners are Mr. Hakeem Fahm (Science and Technology), Mrs. Ajibola Ponnle (Establishment, Training and Pension), Engr. Aramide Adeyoye (Works and Infrastructure), Mr. Segun Dawodu (Youth and Social Development), Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf (Home Affairs), Mrs. Yetunde Arobieke (Local Government and Community Affairs), Mrs. Lola Akande (Commerce and Industry), Mrs. Olufunke Adebolu (Tourism Arts and Culture), and Mr. Sam Egube (Economy Planning and Budget).

The Special Advisers are Dr. Wale Ahmed (Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Relations), Ms Ruth Bisola Olusanya (Agriculture), Princess Aderemi Adebowale

(Civic Engagement), Mr. Afolabi Ayantayo (Political and Legislative Affairs), Mrs. Toke Benson-Awoyinka (Housing), and Joe Igbokwe (Drainage and Water Resources).

Others Advisers are Olatunbosun Alake (Innovation and Technology), Arc. Kabiru Ahmed Abdullahi (Urban Development), Anofi Elegushi (Central Business Districts), Bonu Solomon Saanu (Arts and Culture), Oluwatoyin Fayinka (Transportation), Oladele Ajayi (Commerce and Industry), Tokunbo Wahab (Education), and Solape Hammond (Sustainable Development Goals).

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EFCC SEARCH: NO CAUSE FOR ALARM, SAYS AMBODE

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EFCC Search

Former governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, on Tuesday urged his supporters and the general public to remain calm and law-abiding as there was no cause for alarm.

Ambode, in a statement by his media aide, Mr. Habib Aruna, spoke on the backdrop of a search by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on his Epe Country home and Parkview Ikoyi residence, where the anti-graft agency conducted the exercise without any incident.

He said the Commission, till date, has not opened any direct communication with him on any issue, adding that he was ready and willing to respond if or when they do so.

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The statement reads: “This morning, operatives of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission visited the Epe Country home and Parkview Ikoyi residence of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, former Governor of Lagos State, with warrants to conduct a search. These searches were carried out extensively and at the end of the exercise the operatives left without any incident.

“The former Governor reiterates that the EFCC has till date not had any direct communication with him on any subject matter whatsoever and if or when it occurs he is ready and willing to respond.

“The former governor wishes to assure his supporters and the generality of Lagosians to continue to remain calm and law-abiding as there is no cause for alarm.”

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The former governor reiterated his belief in the rule of law and due process and remains grateful for the opportunity to have served Lagos State diligently and conscientiously.

It would be recalled that Ambode, in an earlier response to allegations by the EFCC that it had frozen certain accounts linked to him, insisted that no account of his contained N9.9bn let alone being frozen by the Commission as those accounts were opened and operated by the Lagos State Government.

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CABINET TO BE INAUGURATED THIS WEEK – SANWO-OLU

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Lagos State Executive Council will be fully inaugurated on Tuesday, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said.

The Governor said he would not delay the swearing-in of Commissioner- and Special Adviser-designates already cleared by the State House of Assembly. He spoke at the weekend while receiving a body of retired top civil servants under the aegis of the Association of Lagos State Retired Heads of Service and Permanent Secretaries (ALARHOSPS).

Sanwo-Olu said that the wheel of governance would be in full gear before the end of the coming week, in fulfillment of his campaign promise to inaugurate his cabinet within 90 days. He added that new Permanent Secretaries would also be sworn in on Monday to complement the activities of Commissioners and Special Advisers.

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He said: “Next week, by God’s grace, we are swearing in all other complements of cabinet and also Permanent Secretaries to have the engine of governance on full swing. At that point, we believe that all the campaign promises we made can come to reality and Lagosians can benefit more from the choice they made at the last election.”

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The cabinet members are expected to be allocated their individual ministries during the inauguration ceremony, scheduled to start at 9am.

The Governor described the body of retired civil servants as “valuable assets” to the state, noting that their actions while in service contributed to the “enviable height” Lagos attained among states in the nation.

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