What started as a trickle has now turned into a gale. The crisis within Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is now full blown as the Senate President, three governors, National Publicity Secretary, nearly all members of the legislature in the north-central State of Kwara have joined 52 other lawmakers in the National Assembly who left the party for the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Resigning on Tuesday, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, twitted: “I wish to inform Nigerians that, after extensive consultations, I have decided to take my leave of the All Progressives Congress (APC).”
Saraki In a later statement he personally signed, said, “This is not a decision that I have made lightly. If anything at all, I have tarried for so long and did all that was humanly possible, even in the face of great provocation, ridicule and flagrant persecution, to give opportunity for peace, reconciliation and harmonious existence.
“Perhaps, more significantly, I am mindful of the fact that I carry on my shoulder a great responsibility for thousands of my supporters, political associates and friends, who have trusted in my leadership and have attached their political fortunes to mine. However, it is after an extensive consultation with all the important stakeholders that we have come to this difficult but inevitable decision to pitch our political tent elsewhere; where we could enjoy greater sense of belonging and where the interests of the greatest number of our Nigerians would be best served.
“While I take full responsibility for this decision, I will like to emphasise that it is a decision that has been inescapably imposed on me by certain elements and forces within the APC who have ensured that the minimum conditions for peace, cooperation, inclusion and a general sense of belonging did not exist.
“They have done everything to ensure that the basic rules of party administration, which should promote harmonious relations among the various elements within the party were blatantly disregarded. All governance principles which were required for a healthy functioning of the party and the government were deliberately violated or undermined”.
While revealing the party he is moving to, the Senate President, said “Today, I start as I return to the party where I began my political journey, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“When we left the PDP to join the then nascent coalition of All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2014, we left in a quest for justice, equity and inclusion; the fundamental principles on which the PDP was originally built but which it had deviated from. We were attracted to the APC by its promise of change. We fought hard along with others and defeated the PDP.
“In retrospect, it is now evident that the PDP has learnt more from its defeat than the APC has learnt from its victory. The PDP that we return to is now a party that has learnt its lessons the hard way and have realized that no member of the party should be taken for granted; a party that has realized that inclusion, justice and equity are basic precondition for peace; a party that has realized that never again can the people of Nigeria be taken for granted.
“I am excited by the new efforts, which seeks to build the reborn PDP on the core principles of promoting democratic values; internal democracy; accountability; inclusion and national competitiveness; genuine commitment to restructuring and devolution of powers; and an abiding belief in zoning of political and elective offices as an inevitable strategy for managing our rich diversity as a people of one great indivisible nation called Nigeria”.
Saraki’s political son, Abdulfatah Ahmed, who is governor of Kwara State and the spokesman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Agbo Terkula also joined him in dumping the APC.
The governor said in a statement by his media aide, Muyideen Akorede, “Following due consultations with the people and in response to calls by major stakeholder groups in the state, Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed today defected to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), having realized that the All Progressive Congress (APC) can longer serve as a platform for achieving the aspirations and expectations of his people.”
The Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly and 23 other lawmakers were to follow in the immediate steps of Governor Abdulfatah. TheSpeaker, Dr. Ali Ahmad led 23 members of the Kwara State House of Assembly out of 24 to the PDP.
He expressed regrets for joining the APC in 2014. Ahmad, a former member of the House of Representatives, defected to APC in 2014 alongside 36 other members of the lower chamber of the National Assembly.
The member representing Ojomu/Balogun Constituency of Offa Local Government Area, Mr. Saheed Popoola, chose to stay back in APC.
The Speaker said: “All the honorable members — except one — have finally changed party to the PDP.
“This is permitted by the proviso to Section 109 (1) (g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Today, as I and other members of the Kwara State Assembly dump the APC for good, I heaved a sigh of relief.
“In 2014, I was terribly sad leaving PDP reluctantly with 36 other members of the House of Representatives.
“Today, I am the happiest leaving the APC for good. I wish I was never a member of the party.”
A major surprise among watchers of the polity was the resignation of Nigeria’s ambassador to South Africa, Ahmed Ibeto, who also defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Ibeto reportedly submitted his letter of resignation at the ministry of external affairs in Abuja.
Ibeto, who was deputy governor of Niger state for eight years, was said to have arrived Nigeria from Pretoria on Sunday, to commence preparations for the 2019 election.
He is reportedly planning to formalise his return to the PDP at Ibeto, his village, before joining the governorship race in Niger.
The National Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Bolaji Abdulahi was not left out of the gale of defections.
Abdulahi, a close associate of the Senate President Bukola Saraki made his intention known on Wednesday via a statement he released on his official twitter handle.
He said, “In view of recent political developments in the country and within the All Progressives Congress (APC), I have decided to resign my position as the National Publicity Secretary as well as my membership of the party with effect from today”.
In his statement on Wednesday, the former minister of Sports, lamented thus, “In the last few days, I have had to endure the flagrant usurpation of my role as the spokesman of the party in a manner that I consider unbefitting of a ruling party and inconsistent with my ethical standards.”
Perhaps, the biggest high profile defector because of his speculated ambition is Governor Aminu Tambuwal of the Northwest State of Sokoto. In his defection speech, Tambuwal spoke at length while berating his former party.
“Let me at this juncture state emphatically that I return to the PDP with a clear conscience today, because the party has learnt some bitter lessons and noted what mistakes it must avoid in the future. It is now a repositioned and forward looking political party to which I now pledge loyalty, in my resolve to contribute towards improving the lives of Nigerians and expanding opportunities for the youths”, Tambuwal said.
He added, “Now, almost four years into what ought to be a new order as desired and elected by Nigerians, the nation is unfortunately going through the most difficult and precarious times, since the Civil war; with ethno, religious and regional distrust at its highest ebb.
“This development had often been blamed on political opponents. Meanwhile, there are issues of brazen inequity and capacity and questionable distribution of appointments/projects. This is in addition to lack of statesmanship in responding to national issues, among other things that are for aggravating the anomaly.
“In line with the best traditions in any major political decision, especially by a serving elected Governor, I have painstakingly consulted far and wide, on whether the present political platform is a viable vehicle for achieving the aspiration of our people.
“It is because I am convinced that no nation can thrive while there is inequity and bad governance; because I am saddened by the fact that lethargy, incompetence and sustained denial of obvious leadership missteps have become the major raw materials with which the Nigerian State is being run today; because I am unwilling to be part of frightful conspiracy against the cohesion of the Nigerian State, Nigeria youths and peoples; because I am unable to feel at ease in the face of a progressively divided nation and, above all, because I am totally unable to reconcile myself to a national leadership that offers no redeeming moral beacons that I am here with you today; to announce withdrawal of my membership of the All Progressives Congress and return to the People’s Democratic Party.”
The gale of defections not withstanding, the ruling party continues to maintain that it would not lose sleep over the losses, insisting that its dominance of the National Assembly was intact.
Adams Oshiomhole who is the Chairman of APC on Wednesday accused the defecting Senate President of being dishonorable by choosing to walk away with the Senate Presidency portfolio, leaving speculations that there could be moves to impeach the Senate President.
Oshiomhole said, “But whatever is the reason, we can decamp from party but we can’t decamp from Nigeria.
“The only thing is that there are other consequential issues that every man or woman of honour who had taken such decisions would be expected to follow through.
“I mean, you should not collect a crown that belongs to a family and wear it on behalf of the family if for your personal reasons which he has enumerated that he has gone to another family.
“It is just a matter of honour to leave the crown in the house that the crown belongs to.
“As it stands even now, APC is still the largest party in the Senate. We have 53 senators, that is much more than PDP or APGA has.”
Nigerian government chases tax dodgers abroad. New policy targets foreign assets
The President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has unveiled a new system to ensure that all taxes on foreign assets of Nigerians due the federal government are remitted to the government’s coffers.
The move, the government believes, will strengthen efforts against money laundering and tax evasion.
The new system is captured in a new Executive Order tagged, ‘Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularisation Scheme (VOARS).’
The Executive Order (008) takes effect from October 8, the day it was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to Buhari’s media aide, Garba Shehu, by the new order, Nigerian taxpayers who hold offshore assets and income are expected to, within a period of 12 months, declare voluntarily those assets and pay taxes on them.
“When they do this, they should expect to derive certain specified benefits,” Shehu said in a statement Wednesday.
He also said that according to the order, “any taxpayer who truthfully and voluntarily complies with the conditions of the scheme, pays a one-time levy of 35 percent on the total offshore assets or pays all outstanding taxes, penalties and interest after forensic audit of their offshore assets and income shall obtain immunity from prosecution for tax offenses and offences related to offshore assets, among others.
“Equally, failure of any defaulting taxpayer to take advantage of this scheme shall, at the expiration of the scheme result in investigation and enforcement procedures concerning offshore assets anywhere in the world pursuant to information now readily available through automatic exchange of information between Nigeria and foreign countries.”
He said in accordance with the new order, the federal government, through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, will set up a VOARS in Switzerland for all categories of taxpayers who have defaulted in the declaration of their offshore assets, payment of taxes due and collectible subject to the fulfillment of the terms and conditions as stipulated in the order, or any other subsequent complementary regulations that follow.
To avoid the abuse of this process, he said, the federal government makes clear that the “scheme is open to all persons, entities, and their intermediaries holding offshore assets and are in default of their tax obligations in any way, including those who are not already under investigation by law enforcement agencies in Nigeria or any other country and have not been charged with any crimes including theft of public funds or obtaining offshore assets through corrupt practices.”
In signing the order, Shehu said Buhari noted that under Nigerian law, every citizen has the duty to declare his or her income and assets and pay taxes on them but regretted that this, in most instances, had not been the case.
“The sad reality is that efforts to recover these taxes from defaulters through litigation are often frustrated by the complications caused by the change in the character and nature of such assets, insufficient financial intelligence, long delays in courts, among several other reasons,” the presidential aide said.
President Buhari is optimistic that the new scheme will help to facilitate the expedient regularisation of offshore assets connected to Nigeria and lead to “a new expanded tax base for the federal government, and also fund the Nigeria Infrastructure Fund in Switzerland,” he said.
Stealing victory. Cameroon inches toward long-drawn post-election crisis. Who cares?
Cameroon appears headed for a long-drawn crisis with President Paul Biya’s government dismissing an opposition victory claim in the latest presidential elections.
Biya’s governing Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) has termed the opposition acts as a manoeuvre to compromise peace and tranquillity in the country.
The Cameroon Renaissance Movement’s (CRM) candidate, Prof Maurice Kamto, Monday said he had won the vote, sending his supporters into street celebrations.
“I have received a clear mandate from the Cameroonian people which I will firmly defend right to the end and I want the national and international community to bear witness to this historic event that has ushered in a democratic political change in our country,” Prof Kamto said.
However, CPDM Secretary-General Jean Nkuete told a press conference in Yaoundé late Monday that the party was surprised and worried by the declaration which showed disregard for the rules of democracy and institutions.
“We express our surprise, our indignation and worry in the face of such irresponsible declaration that has no foundation. They are doing this in a bid to cause an uprising of the population to defend an imaginary victory,” he said.
No official results have been released yet from the election, in which eight candidates challenged longtime President Paul Biya.
Nkuete accused Kamto of breaking the law by announcing that he won the election.
Kamto is not the only candidate claiming victory. Cabral Libii of the opposition Universe Party announced he is leading the vote count.
Opposition candidate Garga Haman of the Alliance for Democracy and Development says two candidates want to create social unrest to oust President Paul Biya, who has led Cameroon for 36 years.
“Those two candidates are in a hurry to go to Etoudi [to be president]. Not yet my dear friends, not yet. Let us wait for the decision of the constitutional council. There is no reason to go on to the streets. Do not exploit the mentality of the youths,” he said.
Despite the turmoil, Biya, one of Africa’s longest serving leaders, is expected to win in the face of a deeply divided opposition.
In the midst of the crisis, Cameroon’s long time allies and former colonial master, France, seems comfortable observing from the stands. Many believe the latter’s interests, especially security of the country’s international business concerns, are at the centre of its diplomatic posturing on the matter of the Cameroons.
Another Rwandan opposition party leader ‘disappears’. Why it matters
The jailed vice president of Rwanda’s opposition FDU-Inkingi party escaped from prison on Sunday, according to the country’s correctional service.
Boniface Twagirimana was missing from a routine headcount at the prison Monday, local media reported, quoting a Rwanda Correctional Service spokesperson. The spokesperson said that Twagirimana and another prisoner had managed to escape by jumping over the complex’s fence and said that an investigation had been launched.
But members of the FDU — an unregistered political party — are calling “foul play” and fear that Twagirimana’s life could be in danger.
In a statement released Monday, the FDU party questioned how Twagirimana could have escaped out of a high security prison he had been transferred to only five days prior and called on the Rwandan government for answers.
“This information…leaves us to believe that there could be foul play by Rwandan security services,” the statement said.
“We call on the Rwandan government to inform the family, the party FDU-Inkingi and the general prison about the circumstances of the disappearance of Twagirimana. Mr Twagirimana was in the custody of the state which is accountable for his safety,” it added.
In September 2017, Twagirimana and eight other FDU party members were arrested on charges of forming an armed group and seeking to overthrow the government, charges Twagirimana denies.
The FDU members were placed in a Kigali jail where their party leader, Victoire Ingabire, was serving out a sentence for charges related to comments she made about the country’s 1994 genocide and collaborating with a “terrorist organization.”
Ingabire has long said her sentence was a result of her work as a prominent government critic and that the charges effectively criminalized her freedom of expression. International organizations such as Amnesty International and a 2017 African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights ruling have supported those views.
Last month, Ingabire was granted a presidential pardon by Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and was released from jail after serving eight years of her 15-year sentence.
Immediately after she was freed, she called on the Rwandan government to open the country’s political landscape to the opposition and asked them to free all other political prisoners, including Twagirimana and other members of her political party.
On October 3, Twagirimana was moved from Kigali’s Mageragere prison to Mpanga prison, in the country’s southern Nyanza District. The authorities did not inform Twagirimana’s family that he was being transferred or give any explanation for the move, according to Twagirimana’s wife.
Rwanda’s National Police and Rwanda’s Correctional Service have not immediately responded to CNN’s request for comment.
Twagirimana is not the first FDU member to go missing.
In May 2017, party member Jean Damascene Habarugira disappeared after he was called to meet an official responsible for the security of his locality. A few days later, Habarugira’s family were called to collect his body from a local hospital.
Twagirimana denounced Habarugira’s murder as an assassination. In a statement, the FDU said that Habarugira was “assassinated in cold blood” because of his opposition to the local authority’s agricultural policies and concerns over police brutality.
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