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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned what it called a fresh plot by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) “to secretly create 30,000 illegal polling units in compromised areas” to boost the chances of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 general elections.


The party said part of the plot is to create the additional polling units in remote areas to facilitate the exercise.

In a statement issued yesterday by the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party said Nigerians know what to do at the appropriate time.


“We are aware of series of clandestine meetings between compromised officials of the commission and certain agents of the Presidency and APC, where the plot to sneak in the 30, 000 illegal polling units in some remote areas and through which they plan to allocate votes to President Buhari and the APC were perfected.


“Our investigation shows that this is part of the grand design by the commission under Professor Mahmood Yakubu to rig the 2019 general elections in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari.


“Having realized that Nigerians have completely rejected them because of their manifold failures in governance, the Presidency and the APC are now employing all manners of dirty antics to create ways to rig the polls and foist President Buhari back on Nigerians.


“The PDP cautions INEC not to set the nation on fire by its overt conspiratory tendencies. Professor Yakubu should heed wise counsel and immediately perish the thoughts of using such polling units or dividing the nation along ethnic lines in the 2019 general elections, as such would be stiffly resisted.


“We invite INEC to note that every Nigerian has seen the handwriting on the wall regarding the general rejection of President Buhari and the APC well ahead of the elections. We all know where the tide is flowing and Nigerians are not ready to, and will never accept any results that do not reflect that reality.


“We urge Nigerians to remain vigilant and monitor all processes to ensure that INEC and the APC do not, at any point in the process, manipulate the 2019 general election and subvert the will of the people,” the statement read in part.

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Former President Jacob Zuma is seen in the dock at the High Court in Durban on today


Durban, South Africa (CNN)South Africa's ex-President Jacob Zuma appeared in a Durban court today to face multiple corruption charges relating to a billion-dollar arms deal in the late 1990s.

It's a dramatic U-turn for Zuma, who just weeks ago held the highest office in the land. He resigned on February 14, forced out by the leadership of the ruling African National Congress, his own party.

Thousands of people turned out to support Zuma as he arrived at the high court for his first hearing. They had been asked not to wear ANC colors, but many wore wraps and T-shirts with the former president's image.


After a brief preliminary hearing, the judge adjourned court proceedings to June 8.

Despite its brevity, the hearing was notable in a continent where leaders -- former or current -- don't generally face the law.

Andrew Feinstein, a former ANC member of parliament, has long accused Zuma of corruption. "But the question is, can Zuma keep himself out of court using legal machinations?" he asked.

Up until his Durban court appearance, Zuma's legal team had been successful in doing just that with a series of mostly procedural maneuvers.

In court Friday, his defense team said it would challenge the decision to prosecute. 

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There was excitement in Enugu yesterday as Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi formally handed over N5 million cheque each to 118 autonomous communities that have so far fulfilled the requirements for the release of the fund, as the first tranche of the N10 million earmarked for every community in the state to execute development projects of their choice.


The 118 autonomous communities that received their cheques, according to the Commissioner for Rural Development, Hon. Gab Onuzulike, were among the 450 communities approved by the Enugu State Executive Council that have opened accounts with designated banks.


He added that the remaining communities would receive theirs as soon as they open bank accounts and send the details to the Ministry of Chieftaincy Matters/Rural Development.


Ugwuanyi while presenting the cheques to the traditional rulers and the President Generals of Town Unions in the communities, stated that the decision was in line with his administration’s resolve to empower each autonomous community in the state with the sum of N10 million to carry out projects that would address their “peculiar and immediate development needs.”


The governor added that the government decided that the choice of the projects and their execution were left “entirely” to the discretion and at the disposal of the stakeholders of each individual community.

He said: “This was in fulfillment of our promise to promote participatory democracy and extensive rural development in the state as well as the involvement of all local communities in the implementation of government policies and programmes.”


Ugwuanyi, who disclosed that the exercise was the first time in the history of the state, explained that the projects to be executed by the communities are different from those being done in various communities by his administration through the Community Development Project (CDP), the World Bank-assisted Community and Social Development Project (CSDP) as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


According to him, “to march words with action, the State Executive Council on the 22nd of November 2017, approved the release of the sum of N2.25 billion to cover the first tranche of N5 million to be given to every community in the state so as to enable them commence work on their self-chosen projects. The communities were also asked to open bank accounts for the lodgment of the said funds.”


While thanking the communities that received the cheques for their support and eagerness to participate in “this historic scheme,” Ugwuanyi expressed explicit confidence that they will utilize the funds for the identified purposes for the improvement of the socio-economic conditions of their people, reassuring that his administration will not relent in its development efforts until the fruits of good governance are felt in every community in Enugu State.


Responding on behalf of the Igwes and the town unions’ Presidents-General, the Chairman of Enugu State Council of Traditional Rulers, Ambassador Lawrence Agubuzu thanked the governor for the “innovative, unique, socio-economic and new developmental strategy for Enugu State,” saying that they are happy to have him as a governor.


The Caretaker Committee Chairman of the town unions, Hon. Paully Eze, had described the release of the fund as a pleasant surprise, saying that the governor has wiped away the tears of the people in so many communities, who he said had never experienced any development project in their areas.


He maintained that the grassroots development programme would ensure that government presence is registered in all the over 450 autonomous communities in the state, commending the governor for his passion for the wellbeing of the people.

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Ethiopia has declared a state of emergency, a day after the country's prime minister abruptly resigned.


The measure was announced on Friday by the Council of Ministers, the Ethiopian government's cabinet, according to state broadcaster EBC.


Local media said the measure is effective as of Friday, but it was not immediately clear how long it would last.


Quoting an unnamed source "close to the government", the Addis Standard newspaper reported that the Council was debating whether to make the measure span three or six months.


In August 2017, Ethiopia lifted a 10-month state of emergency imposed after hundreds of people were killed in anti-government protests demanding wider political freedoms.


Ethiopia's Oromo and Amhara people - who make up about 61 percent of the country's population - have staged mass demonstrations since 2015 demanding greater political inclusion and an end to human rights abuses.


Jawar Mohammed, an Oromo rights activist and head of the Oromia Media Network, said the state of emergency declaration was "unnecessary, unhelpful and unwise".


"The best way to ensure stability at this time is not to declare state of emergency that was tested and failed," Mohammed wrote on Facebook earlier on Friday.


Felix Horne, a Human Rights Watch researcher on Ethiopia, said during the last state of emergency - the first in 25 years - more than 20,000 people were arrested.


"Those released speak about how it has only angered them further. It didn't work then, what does [the government] hope to achieve now?" Horne wrote on Twitter.


Political uncertainty

Hailemariam, who has sat at the helm of the Ethiopian government since 2012, announced on Thursday he would be stepping down as prime minister and head of the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition.


He cited ongoing "unrest and a political crisis" in the country as major factors in his resignation, which he described as "vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy".


Hailemariam said he will stay on as prime minister in a caretaker capacity, until the EPRDF and the country's parliament accept his resignation and name a replacement.


The executive committees of both the EPRDF and his own party within the coalition, the Southern Ethiopian People's Democratic Movement, have so far accepted his decision to step down.


Tsedale Lemma, editor-in-chief of Addis Standard, said there has been a political struggle within the ruling party since the death of former prime minister, Meles Zenawi, in 2012.


Appointing a new prime minister from within the Oromo community would be "a conciliatory gesture", Lemma said.


But whomever replaces Hailemariam, she said Ethiopia "needs a very serious political surgery to heal it from its structural [disfunction]", which would include dismantling repressive laws and strengthening the independence of the judiciary.


Mulatu Gemechu, deputy secretary of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, said earlier on Friday that Ethiopia needs a new political system after years of unrest.


"Ethiopians now need a government that respects their rights, not one that keeps beating and killing them," he told Reuters news agency.

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South East leaders of the All Progressives Congress on Monday met with President Muhamamdu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Led by the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu,  he disclosed to  State House correspondents that the purpose of the meeting was to intimate the President of the decision reached at a meeting of the party chiefs on December 31.

He said, “The APC leadership in the South East met on December 31 last year and endorsed the President for a second term.

“We have come today to reaffirm that and to assure Mr. President that the party is working very hard to win future elections.”

The minister said Buhari was happy especially considering the calibre of members of the delegation.

He added, “He was very happy because you can see the calibre of people in this delegation, a very high-powered delegation.

“We have former leaders of the National Assembly at the highest level, Senate President, Speaker, House of Representatives, former heads of government at the state level, one governor or represented by the deputy governor because the governor is out of the country, all the ministers from the South East, serving members in the National Assembly both in the Senate and House of Representatives, former members of the National Assembly and very important members in the party.

“We have our National Vice Chairman in the South East, members of the National Working Committee and National Executive Committee all present.

“So the President was very happy that such a delegation thought it fit to come and visit him.”

 

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The Nigerian government has just announced a public vote on a bill designed to take away the freedoms of Nigerian people. And if we don’t act now and vote against it before the 14th December, when the public hearing finishes, it could be too late.

The government has tried to make it sound like this ‘NGO bill’ is just about restricting the freedom of NGOs. But a quick Google search shows the public outrage this bill has already caused. It will have devastating effects on Nigerians - which is why they’re trying to pass it as quickly as possible, before too many people take action to stop it.


This ‘NGO’ bill will keep Nigerians from freely sharing their opinions, holding open discussion forums or organising people to protest. The effects of this bill will be far wider than just on NGOs: this bill will shrink the freedoms of Nigerians and allow the government to control them.

Angry Nigerians took to the street to protest the regulation bill that is about to be passed unto NGOs; says its absurd and a breach of basic human rights and needs.

“The people in power are trying to rush this bill through, in order to quickly silence us. Don’t let them, said Amnesty.


Twitter Users have also taken up their weapon of words to dissect the loopholes behind the bill and why the senate behind it, should focus on providing light to the nation instead.

#NGOBill's multiple registration requirement would discourage young Nigerians like herself who engage in philantrophic work with little resources from continuing to do so. -Dr. @Sandiechukwu

#NGORegulationBill doesn't serve any purpose. - Hon. Abdul Oro



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Amaechi made the assertion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of the Future Awards Africa held at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos last Saturday.

He said the youths are not ready yet to embrace a corrupt-free society because they were wrongly orientated by those who were using them for their interest. He said:

The problem with Nigerian youth is that they just want to take over from the elite but they are not ready to embrace change, they don’t want reform. They say that the roles being played by the elite are not satisfactory, but they must be ready to upset the leaders of this country through their ingenuity.

For example, during our days of activism, we engage government over unfavourable policies and we get headlong even during the military administration.

Now, student union presidents want a vehicle and a driver to be driving him about to attend meetings; during our time, which dares have a car, we all struggle on the street.

He advised Nigerian youth to rise to the fight against corruption. He said:

I will advise the youth to fight against corruption with all their energy instead of giving tacit support to those they think are their benefactors. During our time in the student union struggles, we rose against impunity and organised protests; but what happens today, the government of the day announces the money siphoned but the youth keep quiet.

Such astronomic stolen amount government announced wouldn’t have happened during our time, all the street would have been filled with youths protesting and seeing that the culprits were punished. Today, we have some of our youths dancing behind the corrupt politicians for a pot of meal that will not last long thereby mortgaging their future.

Amaechi said that Nigerian youth should stand up to the reality of life by asking questions from leaders on how they manage the economy and the commonwealth of Nigeria. He wrote:

Nigerian youth should start asking questions from leaders, including me, about what we are doing with our resources. It’s time to reject those that put us in this. We should all desist from pulling our country down through corruption. But unfortunately, the youth are not interested in that, all what they want is how to look good.

Maybe they looked at me wearing designer shoes, what they will notice is that designer and how they can get it. That is not supposed to be. During my time as a student union leader, I had only two pairs of clothes. But now the value system is wrong and the youth are copying wrong leadership model.

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Kenya's resistance has delayed the ceremony to swear in its pioneer Raila Odinga as a parallel president after a dubious survey it boycotted, the gathering said Sunday. 


The National Super Alliance (NASA) had wanted to introduce Odinga on Tuesday - Kenya's Freedom Day. The veteran lawmaker had hauled out of the national decision won by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

 

The party said the decision to put back the swearing-in ceremony and launch of a new People's Assembly to a later date was made "following extensive internal consultations and engagement".

Kenya's attorney general has said holding the alternative inauguration would amount to "treason" -- a crime punishable by death -- although Kenya has not executed anyone for 30 years.

 

NASA said in a statement Sunday: "We are aware that this will be a disappointment to the people of Kenya who was eagerly waiting for this occasion.

"We wish to assure them that our resolve has not changed. Specifically, we wish to reiterate that any national dialogue must have electoral justice on the agenda. We are not interested in sharing illegitimate dictatorial power."

 

Odinga's pledge that he would be inaugurated as president -- made on the same day as Kenyatta's swearing-in ceremony -- was a source of concern for many observers, who feared it could rekindle tensions after months of divisions over the polling process.

The election chaos goes back to an August 8 vote that was annulled in September over "irregularities and illegalities".

 

Odinga boycotted the October 26 re-run saying the electoral commission had not made fundamental reforms to make the contest fair.

Kenyatta went on to win 98 percent of the vote -- but on a turnout of only 39 percent. The result was validated by the Supreme Court after two petitions seeking to overturn it were dismissed.

At least 58 people have died during violent clashes since the August vote, and the country is still deeply split.

 

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Buhari has arrived in Kano State for a 2 days Officila visit to the state. The people of Kano State hosted  a large receptive parade on his behalf, from the airport to his destination. The preparation to receive President Buhari has taken nothing less than a week of intensive  combing of the states and gathering enough cheer-leaders who share in the President's Vision.

Twitter is on its usual rambling, on whether or not the President would commission anything in Kano State like President Goodluck Jonathan supposingly did or not.


Some people have proven to be loyal fans to the President and have taken to their twitter handle to promote the President good image with the #PMB hashtag.