Condemns killing of 2 clerics in Abuja, Kaduna The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday condoled with the leaderships of the Roman Catholic Church and the Nigerian Baptist Convention over killing of two clerics. CAN President, Samson Ayokunle, in a statement signed by Adebayo Oladeji, Special Assistant, Media and Communications to the president in Abuja condemned the killings. Mr Ayokunle said the clerics were killed by some unknown gunmen in Abuja and Kaduna state. He added that the late Michael Akawu was reportedly shot dead by identified gunmen in Gwagwalada, Abuja, while shopping on August 18. “Few hours later, on Sunday, August 19, at about 1.00 a.m, according to informed sources, some hoodlums suspected to be Fulani terrorists attacked Nasara Baptist Church in Guguwa, near Rigasa in Kaduna. “The suspected terrorists shot dead Rev. Hosea Akuchi and took away his wife, Mrs. Talatu Akuchi. “Her whereabouts remains unknown and the criminals have demanded for the sum of five million naira for her release,” he said. Mr. Ayokunle said that Mr. Akawu, was ordained as priest on February 4, 2017 by the Archbishop of Abuja, John Onayeikan and was the first FCT indigenous Catholic priest to be ordained. The CAN president prayed to God to comfort and console the Roman Catholic Church in Nigeria and the Nigerian Baptist Convention, the churches where they were serving with their immediate families. He, however, called on the Nigeria Police and other relevant security agencies to do whatever it takes to bring the culprits to book and rescue the widow of the late Akuchi as soon as practicable. “We once again call on our security agencies to be more proactive and invest more on intelligence gathering with a view to preventing many of these crimes that are being committed before their watch undetected,” he said. Slain Catholic priest for burial tomorrow By Chizoba Ogbeche The remains of the slain Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Michael Shekwonugaza Akawu, would be laid to rest tomorrow at the priests’ cemetery in SS Simon and Jude Seminary, Kuje, a suburb of the nation’s capital city, Abuja. Fr. Akawu, was shot and killed by suspected robbers on Saturday evening while shopping at a super market in Gwagwalada, a satellite town of FCT. Blueprint information has it that programme released by the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja for the burial of the deceased priest, who was ordained last year as the first indigenous priest from Abuja, would commence today, August 23, with a holy mass at Immaculate Conception Parish Dobi, by 1pm. The remains of Fr. Akwawu would subsequently be moved to Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Garki, for a wake starting at 6pm with the first holy mass, the second at 8pm and the 3rd at 12 midnight, just as there would be an office of the dead at 9:30am on Friday, August 24, to be followed by a funeral mass at 10am. Interment of the priest, who was the Chaplain of the Catholic Youths in Gwagwalada Deanery of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, is set for 1pm at the priests’ cemetery in SS Simon and Jude Seminary Kuje. Politics INEC, electioneering and politics of N242 billion By EMEKA NZE examines rationale for Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) proposal for N242 billion and National Assembly’s politics on virement for the conduct of the 2019 general elections The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s N242. 4 billion budget proposal for the 2019 General Election has set tongues wagging. What could have prompted the N134 billion increment from 2015’s N108.8 billion? Even as the two school of Nigerian citizenry we label hailers and wailers tackle each other over the budget, the pertinent questions that should worry Nigerians may gradually lose significance. All things being equal, the more than 55.3% increment processed through comparative analysis on the cost of holding elections globally will no doubt show that Nigeria ranks among countries with the most expensive election budgets while the reverse will be the case in the budgets for basic necessities like healthcare, housing, education etc. However, analyzing objectively the issues that has arisen from the INEC’s proposed budget while putting aside our partisan concerns, for the sake of fatherland and the survival of our democracy, then some pertinent questions that have to do with the strength of our economy must to be answered. While it is everyone’s right to form and express opinion on national issues, we must hold facts as sacred.But before we jump to conclusions in comparing and contrasting 2015’s election budget of N108.8 billion and that of the forthcoming election of 2019 expected to gulp N242.4 billion, it us pertinent to look at the parameters responsible for the huge differentials in the two INEC budgets and see if indeed there is an increase in the proposed cost of the 2019 General election budget from the previous one and if so, probe reasons for such ridiculous increase. The 2015 General Election gulped N108.8 billion, at the official exchange rate of N193 to a dollar translating to about $560 million, this was at the inflationary rate according to the National Bureau of Statistics of 9.60%. Fast-forward to 2018 and the proposed budget for the 2019 general elections, the estimate of N242.4 billion, at the exchange rate of N350 to a dollar amounts $692.5 million dollars at an inflationary rate of about 16.5%. A closer scrutiny at these figures shows that while the increase in naira value of the 2019 budget from the 2015 is about 55%, the deferential in dollar parity is a paltry 19%. If we factor in the inflationary effect of about 43% increase from 2015 it will dawn on us that we are in a high speed motion without movement. To examine the distinctions and contradistinctions in the proposed budget of 2019 from the previous election, what is arrived at is the realization that our economy is gravely ill and in urgent need of life support if it must survive. Recall that a tin of a particular brand of milk sold for N60 in 2015, today it sells for N150; 50kg Yakubu if Saraki adjourned the Senate ahead of schedule to resume towards the end of nominations, can that act be said to coincide with national interest? If you decide to frustrate INEC by denying it the funds that it requires, can you be said to be a defender of democracy bag of rice which sold for N8,000 in 2015 today sells for between N19, 000 to N20,000. Thus the question is not really who or which government is more corrupt than the other as it has been the topic trending on the social media since the proposed 2019 INEC budget was made public, rather the germane question that must asked is why we are progressing in cycles? What are the people saddled with the responsibility of managing our economy doing? Are they competent enough to take us out of the woods? Coming to the proposed INEC budget for 2019, it is equally pertinent to ask if INEC is going to procure a whole set of new gadgets for the 2019 election. If so, what happened to the ones used in the previous election? Yes it is expected that the number of eligible voters is projected to increase by about 2.6% going by our population growth indicator, that notwithstanding, the number of interested first time voters will equally increase. However, is that a justification for the 132 million dollar increase in a country where there is less than 80 million eligible voters? This is more worrisome essentially when the electoral commission of India spent 600 million dollars in its 2014 general election where about 553.8 million people voted out of about 815 million registered voters and the United Kingdom spent only 142 million pounds to hold the European Union referendum last year. There are yet other issues to worry about, in an election year – as it has always been the case in this clime – when governance is relegated to the backdoor and politics takes the center stage, inflation is bound to rise as portfolio investment shrinks because of the unpredictable nature of our political environment with its realities and peculiarities, Nigerians should be concerned with the stability of the economy before and after the election else the 2023 general election might possibly hit the one billion dollar mark. It is imperative that the state of the economy should be of utmost concern to the electorates and the political actors as well because of its central importance, being the base on which every other structure stands on. It should form the basis for campaign and public discussion instead of the mudslinging we witnessed in the last general election. Come to think of it, why do we have to spend so much in electing politicians that will eventually tell us to “go and die” when elected. In Nigeria, there are politicians that will promise heaven on earth during the electioneering and turn around after the elections to tell the world that all we do is sit at home waiting for free housing, healthcare and education as if they themselves never benefited from such? Public sentiments seem to forewarn Nigerians to rise to the occasion and reject all inducement that would make for political misfits in office and vote in those who are passionately concerned about the welfare of citizens. Anything short of this is a sustenance of the status quo where Nigeria’s are left at the mercy of greedy politicians whose penchant inclinations is self aggrandisement and obtuse parochialism Okupe makes case for Atiku presidency, says Nigeria will make history By Bode Olagoke Abuja A former aide of former President Goodluck Jonathan and Olusegun Obasanjo, Dr. Doyin Okupe, has said that Nigeria will make history as a nation if former Vice President Atiku Abubakar emerges as president in 2019. Abubakar, a presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had, after consultations, officially declared last month for the 2019 presidential election. He has also embarked on continued nationwide consultations with PDP stakeholders ahead of the party’s primary. Okupe in a tweet from his personal Twitter handle @ doyinokupe late Tuesday evening, retracted earlier tweet attributed to him that generated backlash among Nigerians. He said that the post that was attributed to him did not originate from him and apologized to the former Vice President. “I did not originate d post saying if Atiku ruled, Nig will not recover in 10yrs, but if SP, it’ll bcom history. I changed bcos (sic) history to “will make History. Can never insult Atiku 4 any reason.” Ex-APC publicity scribe calls for ‘walk’ contest for presidential aspirants By Bode Olagoke Abuja Immediate past Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, has urged the presidency to stop using propaganda to convey the health status of President Muhammadu Buhari, to Nigerians, stressing that the President’s 800 metres walk is not an achievement to the country. Comrade Frank said since the seat of power has decided to play politics with mere 800 metres walk, it will be better for President Buhari to challenge other presidential aspirants for a walk contest at the National Stadium in Abuja where all Nigerians will see for themselves. The President was reported to have walked 800 metres from the praying ground back to his residence in Daura during the Sallah prayer on Tuesday. But reacting in a statement on yesterday in Abuja to what Frank considered as a propaganda, he asked whether there were officials on ground to measure the distance covered by the president during the walk. According to the Bayelsa born politician, for the presidency to make 800 metres walk an issue in an election year, there is something Nigerians doesn’t know about President Buhari’s true health condition. Frank recalled that former President Olusegun Obasanjo and others in President Buhari’s age have covered more than 1.2 metres and never made an issue about it. He also asked whether the president’s trek has solved the infrastructure deficiency, troubled economy, security threats against Nigerians and other issues confronting the nation under the APC government? “I strongly believe that propaganda will not walk on Nigerians in 2019 elections but the reality on ground. How does ordinary walk around becomes an issue? It is shameful in this time and age for the presidency to expect us to roll out drums because our president walked 800 unverified metres. “As at the time smaller countries like Rwanda and others are celebrating one technological breakthrough or the other, Nigerian seat of power want us to be celebrating 800 metres walk by the president. I wonder how does this put food on the table? “ Frank, however, urged the presidency to fear God and research well before playing politics with doing and undoing of the presiden

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday condoled with the leaderships of the Roman Catholic Church and the Nigerian Baptist Convention over killing of two clerics. CAN President, Samson Ayokunle, in a statement signed by Adebayo Oladeji, Special Assistant, Media and Communications to the president in Abuja condemned the killings. Mr Ayokunle said the clerics were killed by some unknown Read More