NIGERIA'S general election will not be postponed past March 28, National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, told AFP (Agence France-Presse) on Monday, after he successfully lobbied for a poll delay because of Boko Haram violence.
"Those dates will not be shifted again," Dasuki said when asked if the polls, initially scheduled for February 14, could be pushed back further. 

Dasuki urged election officials to postpone the vote on the grounds that the military could not provide nationwide election security because all available resources were being deployed to the northeast to fight Boko Haram.
His justification for the delay was widely criticised, in part because the military is not primarily responsible for election security in Nigeria.

Troops have only been called in when police and civil defence units have needed reinforcements.

In the interview, Dasuki suggested the main motivation for the delay was the need to assure safe voting in the northeast states where Boko Haram is most active and controls significant territory: Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

The opposition and some observers said the poll was delayed to allow more time for President Goodluck Jonathan to revive his campaign, which was facing a tough challenge from ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. 

But Dasuki insisted there was no political motive underlying his call for a delay. 

"It's not everybody who does things for selfish reasons. Some of us have a conscience," he said. 

He said the postponement could easily help the opposition All Progressives Congress, because improved security could boost turnout in the northeast, an APC stronghold. 

The NSA said he believed the new military cooperation agreed two weeks between Nigeria and its neighbours -- Cameroon, Chad and Niger -- will prove decisive against Boko Haram. 

Nigeria's military has its own largely failed to contain the uprising over the last six years.  

 

• May 29 handover date sacrosanct, says President
• Ex-Head of State insists polls hold on March 28
• U.S, Braithwaite, others differ over decision
• PDP group wants 100% PVCs distribution


ALMOST 48 hours after the polls shift announcement, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday okayed the decision but pledged that the May 29 handover date was still sacrosanct.

In the same vein the All Progressives Congress(APC) presidential candidate Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari yesterday endorsed the shift but urged the authorities to ensure the March 28 rescheduled date for the general elections remain sacrosanct.

Meanwhile knocks and kudos have continued to trail the decision as the United States, the Conference of Political Parties (CNPP) and other human rights groups have condemned the postponement.

However, a member of the 2014 National Conference and founder of the defunct National Advance Party (NAP), Dr. Tunji Braithwaite has rejected the international community’s pontification over election shift, saying that the exercise was shifted in the best interest of the country, “therefore it is unacceptable for any foreign nation to dictate or meddle into our internal affairs.”

But the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) and the Minister of State for Power, Mohammed Wakil have okayed the shift and called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to address issues leading to the postponement.
In a related development, the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation declared yesterday that only a hundred per cent distribution of the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) to all registered eligible voters before the March 28 Presidential election could ensure a free, fair and credible polls. In a statement yesterday by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, he said that Jonathan was “strongly reaffirming” that May 29 is, has been, and would remain sacrosanct. 

According to the statement: “The President appeals to all stakeholders to accept the adjustment of the election dates by INEC in good faith, as the electoral body has a responsibility to conduct credible elections in which every Nigerian of voting age is afforded the opportunity to exercise their civic right without any form of hindrance.

“President Jonathan believes that this is not a time to trade blames or make statements that may overheat the polity, but a time to show understanding and support the electoral commission to conduct the elections successfully.
“It is the President’s understanding that INEC’s decision ought not to generate acrimony since it acted within its powers under the law and in consultation with all relevant stakeholders. 

“He calls on the international community, civil society and the electorate to continue to support the administration’s commitment to a free, fair, credible, and non-violent electoral process.”

Addressing journalists yesterday at his campaign headquarters in Abuja, Buhari said the postponement has exposed the intents of the PDP not to allow elections to hold based on the fear of suffering heavy defeat at the polls.

In his address entitled: “We must remain calm but resolute,” Buhari urged his teeming supporters not to be tempted into taking actions that could further endanger the democratic process. 

Lamenting the pressures exerted on the INEC by the authorities, he maintained that the electoral umpire has played its “last card” since it is left with no option but conduct elections as specified by the constitution.

Flanked by chieftains of the party, he maintained that the APC would no longer tolerate any further interference in the electoral process.

The U.S in a statement by the Secretary of State, John Kerry said: “The U.S is deeply disappointed by the decision to postpone Nigeria’s presidential election, which had been scheduled for February 14.

“Political interference with the INEC is unacceptable, and it is critical that the government not use security concerns as a pretext for impeding the democratic process. 

“The international community will be watching closely as the Nigerian government prepares for elections on the newly scheduled dates. The U.S underscores the importance of ensuring that there are no further delays.

“As I reaffirmed when I visited Lagos last month, we support a free, transparent, and credible electoral process in Nigeria and renew our calls on all candidates, their supporters, and Nigerian citizens to maintain calm and reject election-related violence.”

Besides, a concerned Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon disclosed in a statement made in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he is visiting, and released in New York yesterday that he had to speak with President Jonathan on the day the polls were postponed.

What is said to have baffled White House and the U.S State Department is the role reportedly played by some top security agency officials in Nigeria to twist the hands of the INEC leadership.

Similarly, the Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans, (CANAN) also expressed concerns that the military authorities who were supposed to be apolitical were beginning to be used to play political games.

In a statement by the Secretariat of CANAN, the group said that while it was not going to be partisan, it was worried that security agencies could be allowed to blackmail and rubbish INEC’s independence. 

Reacting on the statement by the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry expressed ‘deep’ disappointment by the decision to postpone Nigeria’s presidential election, which had been scheduled for February 14. 

Braithwaite said that the decision to shift the polls “is purely our affairs and in our national interest to get our priorities right.

“It would allow us to address foundational issues that are affecting the country. It is regrettable that all the institutions that ought to have made democracy strong and viable in the country are weak except the media.”

He noted that the judiciary, the INEC and others, which are, supposed to be viable institutions, are already weakened.”

Reiterating the need to set up a transition government, he said that except Nigeria went back to the drawing board, any election, would throw the country into unprecedented crisis “The U.S and other world powers knows this fact and it is imperative of them to allow us resolve our issues in a manner that would not jeopardise the unity of the nation.”

A statement by CNPP’s National Publicity Secretary, Osita Okechukwu noted: “CNPP has no better definition of the blackmail submission of the security chiefs that they cannot secure the managers of the general elections, if the INEC insist on holding the elections in February, but as Away Without Leave (AWOL), since less than 10% of the country’s local government areas is under the control of the Boko Haram insurgents.

“We are at a loss the mileage the security chiefs will cover between now and March28 to crush the Boko Haram, which warranted the shift of the February polls, or will the poll be shifted again, if the insurgent rages?’’

Going further the statement posited: “CNPP is making this assertion, based on our phobia of possible truncation of our fledgling democracy; for we witnessed first hand how our member political parties, some of whom have no candidate for any parliamentary bid or governorship were manipulated and compromised by the presidency to support poll elongation.

"We however commend the 21 Resident Electoral Commissioners and 12 political parties that opposed poll-tenure- elongation and pray that there is no further elongation: they should take solace on the truism that postponement of examinations cannot assist an indolent student."

Finally, the statement proclaimed, “we wish once again to appeal to President Jonathan to place the collective interest of our dear country above personal political survival; for whatever happens he should thank his stars for ruling this country for six years.”

In the same vein, the Coalition of Registered Political Parties (CRPP) yesterday condemned the shift, describing the action as a set-back on Nigeria’s democracy.

The CRPP in an emergency meeting in Benin City, Edo State capital, said that it believed the INEC might have been blackmailed into taking such decision because according to it, Nigerians were ready for election.

It wondered how security chiefs suddenly believed there would be relative peace for election in six weeks “when they could not guarantee security for the past five years” and therefore called for their removal.

A statement signed by its Chairman, Samson Isibor and Secretary, Charles Aguebor reads in part: “We condemn and reject in its entirety the postponement of the February 14 and February 28, 2014 election by six weeks and the reasons given are unacceptable.

“CRPP also denounce the role of the security chiefs in collusion with the Presidency and the PDP. We therefore call for their immediate resignation or be removed by the National Assembly for being a tool to truncate our nascent democracy so as to pave the way for military autocracy. We will never accept that.”

In a statement by the PDP Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, it said: “The INEC chairman had cited an advisory from security forces that they were unable to provide adequate security for the election at the earlier scheduled dates due to the on-going anti-insurgency operations in the northeast part of the country.”

Prof. Jega also said that this advisory was reinforced at the Council of State meeting on Thursday by the National Security Adviser and all the armed services and intelligence chief, who according to him stated that they needed at least six weeks within which to conclude a major military operation against the insurgents in the northeast, and that during the operation, the military would be concentrating its attention on the theatre of operations such that they might not be able to provide the traditional support they rendered to the Police and other agencies during elections.

“This announcement has not come without the attendant cost of time and great expense to our party and candidates nationwide. However, on account of the reasons adduced by the security forces and INEC, we believe that this shift, which is still within the constitutionally allowed period, can be accommodated.

“The thoughts and prayers of PDP members nationwide and indeed all well-meaning Nigerians remain with our security agencies as they confront this enormous challenge at this critical period.

“However, while we understand and appreciate the security reasons given by INEC for the rescheduling of the elections, we hold Jega to his promise when he said, ‘as for us in INEC, we’ll endeavor to use the period of the extension to keep on perfecting our systems and processes for conducting the best elections in Nigeria’s history. In particular, we believe that we will resolve all outstanding issues in relation to non-collection of PVCs which agitate the minds of Nigerians.’

“This is especially as the INEC chairman himself acknowledged that only 45, 829, 808 representing 66.58 per cent of the total number of registered voters have received their PVCs.

“INEC itself has confirmed that as at last week, well over two million voter cards were either not yet delivered to INEC by its contractors, lost or stolen.

“We demand that INEC should look inwards and thoroughly investigate the apparent involvement of some of its personnel including ad-hoc staff on the issue of the lopsided distribution of the PVCs. INEC must also use this period to attend to our earlier call to address the issue of denial of PVCs to non-indigenes in select states.

“For instance, we are aware that in Borno State, 90 per cent of the PVCs were handed over to state government officials, who distributed them by proxy contrary to laid-down procedures. 

“Also, in Owerri North Local Government of Imo State, the LGA of our National Woman Leader, only newly registered voters have received their PVCs. 

“Citizens with old voters’ cards have not had any replaced and this scenario abounds in other places.

“We do hope that INEC will use the period to ensure that all identified irregularities are eliminated to guarantee that registered voters across the country receive their PVCs urgently.

“Also, INEC ahead of the polls should adequately demonstrate to Nigerians the application and practicability of card readers to the allotted time for vote.

“For the avoidance of doubt, we state clearly that the postponement neither confers advantage on our party and our candidates, nor can it ever be described as a set back to our democracy. The ultimate issue in this regard is the conduct of free, fair and credible elections.

“Lastly, we restate that the PDP position on these issues remains our commitment to the sustenance of free, fair and credible elections, which is one of the greatest legacies of President Jonathan.

“At this historic period in our national life, let nobody irresponsibly politicise what is clearly a practical and administrative decision that affects everyone and all parties equally. At this present time, Nigeria needs men of history and not hysteria.” 

Director of Media and Publicity of the PDP Presidential Campaigns Organisation, Femi Fani-Kayode, at a news conference in Abuja yesterday also urged the INEC to accelerate efforts in training it’s permanent and ad-hoc staff for the conduct of the polls.

Fani-Kayode stated that the six weeks extension period would be utilised by the PDP to sell its candidates for all elections including that of the president.

The PDP expressed its readiness to collaborate with the APC in the business of sensitising party supporters to collect their PVCs.

Wakil in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Olawale Rasheed in Maiduguri, explained that going ahead with the polls would have amounted to a great error. 

Nigeria cited security concerns in postponed ballot — but incumbent Goodluck Jonathan stands to benefit most from it.

 

Supporters of incumbent Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan at a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) election campaign rally in Yenagoa, Nigeria on Feb. 6, 2015.

 

When Nigeria’s government first floated the idea of postponing upcoming presidential elections last month due to concerns about the country’s readiness, the proposal was widely derided as a cynical political ploy. Incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, once considered a shoo-in, was facing an unexpectedly strong campaign from former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari. An Afro barometer poll released on Jan. 27 indicated that the two were neck-and-neck. Delaying the election, pro-Jonathan pundits suggested, would give the president more time to make his case for why he should remain at the wheel. Opponents said it would enable his People’s Democratic Party, facing its first defeat after 15 years in power, to dig deeper into a sizable war chest—and state coffers—to outspend Jonathan’s rival.

Those calculations will now be put to the test. Late Saturday evening, Nigeria’s independent election commission bowed to pressure and announced that presidential elections, originally scheduled for Feb. 14, would be postponed until March 28. Nigeria’s widely-respected election commission head Attahiru Jega cited security concerns as the reason for the delay, saying that he had been informed that the country’s overstretched military forces would not be able guarantee voters’ safety. “The commission cannot lightly wave off the advice of the nation’s security chiefs,” Jega said at the press conference. “Calling people to exercise their democratic rights in a situation where their security cannot be guaranteed is a most onerous responsibility.”

To be sure, Nigeria’s military is facing a serious threat in the advance of Boko Haram, a 6000-strong Islamist insurgency that has taken control of a wide swath of northeastern Nigeria. In recent weeks the militants have driven entire units from strategic posts, laid waste to multiple villages, launched suicide bomb attacks, and advanced into neighboring Chad and Cameroon.

But in January, Nigerian military spokesman Major General Chris Olukolade assured TIME that the country’s army would be well up to the task of defending its citizens come election time. So what changed? According to Jega’s official statement, the combined heads of Nigeria’s security services indicated that the army was about to launch a major military operation against Boko Haram, and would not be available to provide backing to the police and other agencies during the next six weeks.

Still, some in Nigeria balked at the idea that the country’s entire military force, which had until recently deployed only one brigade during the whole course of the six-year insurgency, would be otherwise engaged on the day of elections. “The government knew of the security situation all along, so to postpone the polls under the pretext of suddenly now concentrating military and other security resources against the insurgency is absolutely untenable,” saysNnamdi Obasi, Nigeria Analyst for the International Crisis Group.

The United States, too, made it clear that it wasn’t buying it. Secretary of State John Kerry said that he was “disappointed” by the postponement, suggesting that the commission was forced to make the decision. “Political interference with the Independent National Electoral Commission is unacceptable,” he said in a statement. “It is critical that the government not use security concerns as a pretext for impeding the democratic process.”

It also raises the question of what happens if the operation fails. The government is “asking for six weeks to deal with an insurgency it had failed to deal with in almost six years,” says Obasi. “What will happen to the national elections if the security situation in the northeast does not improve significantly in those six weeks?”

Obasi says the postponement is pure politics. “Jonathan and his ruling PDP were clearly in deep waters, so desperately needed to buy time and try to regain steam. The timing of the postponement, the untenable reasons advanced for it and particularly the underhand methods by which it was executed, all leave no doubt that it was driven by narrow political interests rather than national security considerations.”

While Buhari made it clear that he believed the postponement to be an underhanded attempt to bolster Jonathan’s chances at the polls, he also called for calm. “Any act of violence can only complicate the security challenges in the country and provide further justification to those who would want to exploit every situation to frustrate the democratic process,” he told supporters at a rally Sunday.

Delaying the vote, he implied with a good dose of bravado, would only make his candidacy more appealing to an electorate tired of Jonathan’s mismanagement and political shenanigans. “If anything, this postponement should strengthen our resolve and commitment to rescue our country from the current economic and social collapse from this desperate band.

If the security situation does improve over the next six weeks, it is likely to have little to do with the efforts of the Nigerian military. Niger’s parliament is set to vote Feb. 9 on sending troops to aid Nigeria in its fight against Boko Haram, and the African Union haspledged an additional 7,500. That influx of troops could help Jonathan’s chances at the polls. The incumbent’s campaign has been dogged by his poor record on security, something that Buhari, a former military dictator with a strong-arm reputation, has used to his advantage. Military successes would reverse Jonathan’s bad record.

But the delay could also backfire spectacularly, allowing Boko Haram more time to launch attacks. The militia has no horse in this race, and has threatened both Jonathan and Buhari. Boko Haram is just betting that as long as the country can’t agree on a leader, it won’t be able to agree on a counter-insurgency policy either.

 

 

 

17th Annual National Convention Communiqué

Miami, Florida August 28, 2014

Ugbajo Itsekiri USA, Incorporated successfully hosted its 17th Annual National Convention at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Miami FL, from Friday August 29 to Sunday August 31, 2014

In pursuant of its objective of bringing together Itsekiris from all walks of life to form a common front, and in continuation of its relentless pursuit of bringing quality life to Itsekiri people and especially the youths, the convention provided a forum for discussing the “Itsekiri Nation” in areas of Health, Education and Communications today.

To read the rest click here.

Aja mo kiaghan:

I hope this second issue of Alawari, Ugbajo Itsekiri USA INC. newsletter meets you well. I would like to thank all of you for your contributions towards the success of the 17th Annual Convention of Ugbajo Itsekiri USA, Inc. held in Miami, Florida from August 29 to September 1, 2014.

In this issue:

  • A messsage from the president.
  • Scholarship recipients
  • What is happening in the regions?
  • FAFSA: Q&A
  • Pictures from the 17th Annual Convention

Click here to see the newsletter.

Below is a transcript of the report, to view a copy of the original click here.


17th Annual National Convention Communiqué

Miami, Florida August 28, 2014

Ugbajo Itsekiri USA, Incorporated successfully hosted its 17th Annual National Convention at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Miami FL, from Friday August 29 to Sunday August 31, 2014

In pursuant of its objective of bringing together Itsekiris from all walks of life to form a common front, and in continuation of its relentless pursuit of bringing quality life to Itsekiri people and especially the youths, the convention provided a forum for discussing the “Itsekiri Nation” in areas of Health, Education and Communications today. A series of papers were presented on how to tackle the above mentioned issues by various speakers, including “Human communication” in Itsekiri, presented by Deacon Weyinmi Eyeguokan,“The Challenges of Development in Itsekiri land” by Mr. Toju Ekwejunor Etchie, President, Northern California Itsekiri Association, “The Itsekiri Nation in the 21st Century-A Synopsis” by Dr. J. Omatseye and “Impunity and the Survival of the Itsekiri Nation in Nigeria Federation” by Mr. Edward Ekpoko. A full text of any of these presentations is available upon request.

The Board of Directors at the convention also deliberated and unanimously approved two (2)amendments to the constitution:

Amendment #9 is henceforth amended to include (i) Banking and signatories to Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Inc. bank accounts and other matters that may lead to financial obligations. (ii). Compliance, annual financial and operational reporting and annual audits as a United States nonprofit Association.

Amendment #10 is henceforth amended to include (i) Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Inc. shall establish Bank and Brokerage accounts for the benefit of the Organization only in FDIC insured or similar Institutions. (ii). The President shall present an annual audited financial statements of the previous calendar year and a current midyear (January –June 30) financial report to its general membership at its annual National convention.

In keeping with some of the legacy projects undertaken by the organization to continuously support Itsekiri youths in their quest for higher education, Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Inc.awarded 10 scholarships to the following students for 2014/2014 academic session:

• Okoturoh Utseoritselaju
• Gbaminido Elliot Toju
• Ogharandukiens Temisaren Michael
• Emianghande Tuoyo Bright
• Akande Tosan
• Omagbemi Emiko Dickson
• Itseyingho Julius
• Edun Oritsesholaye Samuel
• Ojomu Orighomisan Oluwafunmilayo
• Aduwenye Presley Tosan
Finally, at the deliberative session on August 30 2014, a new executive committee members were elected and sworn into office to oversee the affairs of Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Inc. for the next two year term. They are:

  • President – Dr. Fabian O. Iwere
  • Vice President – Mrs. Rebecca Isa Graham
  • Secretary – Mr. Ellis T. Buwa
  • Assistant Secretary – Mr. Sam Ivwure
  • Treasurer – Mr. Patrick Edun
  • Financial Secretary – Mr. Lucky Mayor
  • Publicity Secretary – Mr. Bawo Akonu

The Board of Directors unanimously chose Northern California Itsekiri Association, San Francisco, as the host Organization for the 2015 18th Annual Convention.

 

Signed:

Dr. Fabian Iwere
President, Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Inc.

Mrs. Rebecca Isa Graham
Vice President

Mr. Ellis T. Buwa
Secretary

Mr. Sam Ivwurie
Assistant Secretary

Mr. Lucky Mayor
Financial Secretary

Mr. Bawo Akonu
Publicity Secretary

Mr. Joseph Maku
President, Agura Iwere Itsekiri Org. Dallas-Ft Worth TX

Mr. Kingsley Onuwaje
President, Itsekiri Cultural Association of Southern California, Los Angeles CA

Mr. Toritse Uwejeyan
Patron, Itsekiri National Association, Chicago IL

Mr. Fred Boyo
President, Itsekiri National Association, Houston TX

Mrs. Bibiana Anyanwu
Vice President, Itsekiri National Association, Washington-Baltimore CMSA Inc. DC

Mr. Tunde Johnson
President, Oma-Itsekiri Association, Denver CO

Ms. Patience Edremoda
President, Oma-Iwere Itsekiri Org. Inc, NY/NJ

Mrs. Patricia Animashaun
President, Oma-Iwere Association of Florida, Miami FL

Mr. Emmanuel Ejutse
President, Uranran Iwere Georgia, Atlanta GA

Mr. Toju Ekwejunor Etchie
President, Itsekiri Association of Northern California, San Francisco CA

Mr. Eyisan Omagbemi
Patron Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Inc.

Mr. Mac E-Nunu
Patron, Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Inc. 

The chair of the electoral commission however expressed concern that the Nigerian armed forces, despite openly claiming to be fully prepared for the elections, had refused to meet with INEC to discuss specific roles that each of would play in order to help safeguard electoral materials and distribute them across the nation.

Prof. Mahmud Jega

Attahiru Jega, chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has told his aides that he plans to inform tomorrow’s meeting of the Council of State that his commission is fully prepared for the February 14, 2015 elections.

According to INEC sources who spoke to SaharaReporters, Mr. Jega indicated that he also intended to brief the council on a few outstanding minor logistical issues which he said INEC would be able to take care of in the next week.
The chair of the electoral commission however expressed concern that the Nigerian armed forces, despite openly claiming to be fully prepared for the elections, had refused to meet with INEC to discuss specific roles that each of would play in order to help safeguard electoral materials and distribute them across the nation.

One source said that some INEC officials believe that the military’s uncooperative attitude arose from a scheme by President Goodluck Jonathan and his supporters to frustrate the elections. As far back as October 2014, SaharaReporters had disclosed that Mr. Jonathan was less interested in the elections than in the elongation of his tenure.

Mr. Jonathan called a meeting of the Council of State to hold in Abuja tomorrow, February 5. Our sources said the president’s major agenda was to persuade former Nigerian leaders, some state governors and opposition figures to agree to the idea of postponing the elections for at least two months. The president’s main argument, according to those familiar with the scheme, is that INEC was ill-prepared to hold elections on February 14.

One source told our correspondent that Mr. Jonathan had secured the full support of former military dictator, Ibrahim Babangida, for the postponement of the elections. Mr. Babangida’s political legacy included annulling the June 12, 1993 presidential polls, an action that precipitated a major political crisis in Nigeria for several years. The election had been described by local and foreign observers as freest and fairest.

A source told SaharaReporters that former President Olusegun Obasanjo plans to boycott tomorrow’s meeting of the Council of States. As at press time, our correspondence was unable to find out if Muhammed Buhari, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), plans to attend the council meeting. An aide of Mr. Buhari’s said the presidential candidate would lead opposition governors to the council in order to fight against the extension.

Should Mr. Jonathan succeed in postponing the election by two months, Mr. Jega would be approximately one month away from the end of his tenure, the President will send him on a terminal leave and bring in his replacement to conduct the election, but SaharaReporters has learnt that the President doesn’t have any interest in conducting elections instead he is interested in pushing for a two-year Interim Government of National Unity to be headed by him. His aides are supposed to meet with the National Leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu to offer his a position as the VP slot on the IGNU.

WARRI—ITSEKIRI Leaders of Thought, ILT, in Delta State, yesterday, denied that it had endorsed Senator James Manager, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate for Delta South senatorial district.

ILT Secretary, Mr Edward Ekpoko, told Vanguardthat the group was surprised to read in the newspapers that it had endorsed Manager.

He said the serving senator, who is gunning for the position for the fourth time, actually visited the group and was received by Pa J. O. Ayomike last Sunday.

“The ILT chastised him that it was only when he wants to contest elections that he comes to meet them.”

Ekpoko said that the group urged Manager to represent the three ethnic divides, Ijaw, Isoko and Itsekiri that make up the senatorial district equitably if he gets the mandate of the electorate.