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Buhari’s hold on power slackens in Nigeria; How the ‘coup’ happened

True to prediction, the breakaway faction of Nigeria’s ruling party, the Reformed-All Progressives Congress (R-APC) has formally dumped the mother party to join the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)

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True to prediction, the breakaway faction of Nigeria’s ruling party, the Reformed-All Progressives Congress (R-APC) has formally dumped the mother party to join the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In a dramatic move Tuesday, 52 lawmakers defected from APC to PDP. They were made up of 15 Senators and 37 members of the House of Representatives. The notes conveying the decision of the decampees were read by the respective heads of both houses of the National Assembly, Bukola Saraki of the Senate, and Yakubu Dogara of the House of Representatives.

The 52 lawmakers, in their collective letters, alleged irreconcilable differences within the APC as reason for pitching their tents with the opposition PDP.

SlamReportesAfrica had reported how, in the build up to the breakup, the ruling party had approached its aggrieved members with juicy offers to give up on their intentions to leave the party.

In no unmistaken terms, the aggrieved faction had said that the promise of juicy carrots to its members by the leadership of the APC was already too late to stop the R-APC from its planned defection.

The bombshell was dropped on Sunday in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kassim Afegbua.

The statement came on the heels of high powered meetings between the Presidency and perceived arrow head of the rebel group, Senate President Bukola Saraki.

Read Also: Unfolding story: What we know about siege on home of Nigeria’s Senate President

In one instance, the meeting with Saraki was led by President Muhammadu Buhari himself while Chairman of the ruling party, Adams Oshiomhole, was caught in nocturnal consultations with Buba Galadima who has been the known figure behind R-APC.

Early attempts to abort a gathering of lawmakers occurred Tuesday as security operatives, allegedly from the Presidency, made futile efforts to prevent the Senate President and his deputy from accessing the National Assembly, venue of the defection exercise.

The development has radically altered the power configuration in the country’s legislative arm with the opposition PDP having majority of seats while shrinking APC’s control of the lower house.

Reacting to the political tremor, President Muhammadu Buhari said he wished the departing members best of luck in their future endeavours. The ruling party, however, would not concede that it had lost control at the National Assembly.

Bolaji Abdullahi, spokesman of the party, said in his reaction to the defection of 52 federal lawmakers that the party respects the right of people to move to another party.

“APC notes the development in the National Assembly with the defection of some of our members from the party,” Abdullahi said in a statement.

“APC remains in firm control of 25 states of the 36 states of the federation and maintains a clear majority in the Federal House of Representatives and state assemblies.

However, the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, branded the defecting lawmakers ‘mercenaries.’

Analysts argue that the developments would have far reaching implications for the polity as the realignment of forces is expected to trickle down to the States of the federation where at least three governors and their supporters are likely to join the PDP bandwagon and ultimately alter the support base of President Buhari ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Politics

African leaders seek change in fight against terrorism at Nigerian summit   

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At a security summit in Nigeria, African leaders have called for a revamp of institutions that fight violent extremism on the continent.

The leaders also began to push to set up a standing military force and give the government more power over efforts to keep the peace.

Attacks on citizens and the military have been happening all the time in Africa, including in the Sahel, Somalia, and Mozambique, by groups with ties to Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

President Faure Gnassingbe of Togo said that coastal states like Togo were facing more threats, even though people were being attacked the most in the Sahel.

“I say this with prudence and regret, but I think the institutions that have been in place for several decades are no longer able to respond to the security situation that we face,” said Gnassingbe.

Moussa Faki, chairman of the African Union Commission, reported that between 2017 and 2021, there were four attacks and 18 deaths a day in Africa. Last year, there were eight attacks and 44 deaths a day.

The AU chief added that last year 7,000 citizens and 4,000 military members were killed stressing that the situation was being used in some countries as a reason for military coups. The Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Amina Mohammed, said that half of all terrorist deaths happened in the Sahel.

Until a military coup in July that called for France to leave, Niger was the West’s last major ally in the central Sahel area south of the Sahara Desert. In July, France pulled out 1,500 troops from Niger.

Faki said that Africa needed more money to help stop the spread of terrorism. Bola Tinubu, the president of Nigeria, said that more needed to be done to stop the spread of small guns and weapons. He also called for the creation of a regional standby force whose job it would be to fight terrorism.

“I am mindful of the funding, legal and logistical complexities that face the proper establishment of such a force. Such a force can stand as a strong deterrent to large scale and protracted terrorist operations and the capture, occupation or disruption of strategic land and resources,” Tinubu said.

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Togo’s civil society, opposition plan mass protests following constitutional review

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Some of Togo’s opposition parties and civil society groups have called for mass protests again on Saturday following lawmakers’ approved changes to the country’s constitution a week ago.

The legislation is widely believed to enhance the continued stay of President Faure Gnassingbe in power after 19-year rule. The opposition group Dynamique Pour la Majorité du Peuple (DMP) and other signatories said in a statement that the changes to presidential term limits and how presidents are chosen were just a political move to let Gnassingbe stay in office forever.

“What happened at the National Assembly yesterday is a coup d’etat,” they said in the statement that reiterated calls for the population to mobilise against the changes.

“Large-scale action will be organised over the next few days to say ‘no’ to this constitution,” they said. In Friday’s vote, lawmakers unanimously approved an amended charter under which the president will no longer be elected by universal suffrage, but by members of parliament.

The amendments also set up a parliamentary system of government and cut presidential terms from five years to four years, with a maximum of two terms. Since the changes don’t consider time already spent in office, Gnassingbe could stay in power until 2033 if he is re-elected in 2025. This is very likely because his party controls the parliament in Togo, where his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, took power in a coup in 1967.

The most valuable company in Abu Dhabi has made an offer of more than $1 billion to buy a 51% stake in Vedanta Resources’ copper assets in Zambia, according to two people who know about the situation.

In the past few years, the Central African Republic, Rwanda, the Congo Republic, the Ivory Coast, and Guinea are just a few of the African countries that have changed their constitutions and other laws to allow leaders to serve longer terms.

In the last three years, there have been eight military coups in West and Central Africa as well. As they were during his father’s long rule, violent police crackdowns on political protests have been common in Togo under Gnassingbe, who was returned in a landslide in 2020 that the opposition says was rigged.

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