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Nigeria’s Buhari confident of win in 2019. Are his boasts empty?

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Nigerians are weighing in on President Muhammadu Buhari’s chances in the presidential poll slated for 2019. On Friday, the man himself expressed confidence that the All Progressives Congress (APC) will win the 2019 general elections.

Buhari boasted that his party’s victory was imminent, stating that only the blind would fail to notice that victory lay ahead.

His Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, quoted the President as speaking in that regard while receiving, in his hometown of Daura, Katsina State, the representatives of the 34 chairmen of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria.

Buhari said the string of victories recorded by the APC in bye-elections in Bauchi, Katsina and Kogi States was sufficient proof that 2019 elections would be won by the party.

“Coming against the backdrop of the victory in Ekiti governorship election, the string of victory by our party, the APC, is a clear indication of the way things will go in 2019.

‘‘For those who are discerning; those who have ears and eyes they will see, hear and understand.

“Those who don’t understand are entitled to their mistaken assumptions.”

The President said the victories in the recent polls were “signs of things to come,” he said.

Buhari’s boasts have, however, attracted very strong reactions from critics and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

A former lawmaker and a well known critic of President Buhari, Junaid Mohammed, doubts his claim to being an autocrat.

He said, “The boast as far as I am concerned, the man Buhari is not a democrat and he is incapable of learning to become one.

“I sincerely hope that the 2019 elections come and happen the way normal elections should hold because if what we saw happen in Ondo, Ekiti and the last three Senatorial bye elections in Katsina, Kogi, and Bauchi is what they refer to as an election, then I doubt if we are going to have an election worth its name.

“If we call it an election because people have gone to vote and there was no too much violence, but a humongous amount of money was doled out to voters in exchange for their ballots; will the election be worth anything? I doubt.”

On its part, the PDP advised Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress not to be deluded into believing that it had the 2019 elections all wrapped up.

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Secondus said: “President Buhari is being deceived by those who are not familiar with politics of their states that they would deliver results to him.

“The President and the APC would be shocked with the level of their rejection by the electorate come 2019. Winning of elections is not about boasting. What will the President tell Nigerians that he has done for them? What will he tell workers he has done for them? What will he tell Nigerians he has done about the economy, job creation and others?

“Will Nigerians vote for someone who will not stay in the country to administer the country, but would choose to be junketing all over the world?

“We know he relies on security agencies and INEC to rig for him, but we want to assure him that the people are determined to put an end to the misery he and his government have brought to the nation.”

Analysts predict a very close race in 2019. Buhari’s cult-like following in northern Nigeria is still talked about as one that could work in his favour. In the northwest, north-central and northeast, the emergence of former governors Aminu Tambuwal, Rabiu Kwankwaso, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and incumbent Senate President Bukola Saraki as aspirants has done little to sway the views of some close watchers of the polity.

This body of analysts maintain that Buhari’s confidence is buoyed by the tremendous support coming from the Southwest which for a while has been under the firm control of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who continues to voice strong backing for the incumbent President.

There are indications, however, that the general elections would not be a walkover for APC. The forces massed against Buhari are not just those organized by PDP. The emergence of Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) said to be pro PDP remains a major headache though APC maintains that it also has an amalgam of other parties willing to back her in the coming polls.

APC’s biggest huddle yet would certainly be the open conspiracy by former military rulers Ibrahim Babangida, Olusegun Obasanjo and Theophilus Danjuma to truncate Buhari’s rule. Collectively, they have branded him incompetent, nepotistic and incapable of addressing the security challenges facing the country, particularly the largely perceived ethnic cleansing in the north-central States of Benue and Plateau.

They have not hidden their intentions to work with others to overthrow APC in 2019.

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What next as Nigeria’s Supreme Court knocks out President Buhari’s suit challenging electoral act?

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Nigeria’s highest court, the Supreme Court on Friday knocked out a suit filed by President Muhammad Buhari and his attorney-General, Abubakar Malami, to challenge the controversial section 84(12) of the new assented Electoral Act.

The ruling, which was unanimously struck out the suit on the ground of being an abuse of court process, was delivered by a bench led by Musa Dattijo-Muhammad.

Other members of the bench who consented to the lead judgement are Dattijo-Muhammad, John Okoro, Amina Augie, Lawal Garba and Ibrahim Saulawa.

Aokmaye Agim, who delivered the lead judgement, held that Mr Buhari, having earlier assented to section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022, cannot turn around to approach the court to strike it down.

Mr Agim said, “This suit cannot be entertained by this court under section 1(1) (a) of the Additional Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court Act. “

“There is no provision in the constitution that vests the president the power to challenge the constitutionality or desirability of a legislation after he has assented or denied his assent. In this case, the president gave his assent,” Mr Agim ruled.

The Nigerian President in March signed the reworked Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2022 after many years of back and forth. The new law among other provisions empowers the Nigerian Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deploy technological solutions for elections in the country.

President Buhari in a letter to the National Assembly later asked the federal lawmakers to amend the Act, by deleting Section 84 (12), which, according to him, constitutes a “defect” that is in conflict with extant Constitutional provisions.

The clause reads, “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the Convention or Congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”

The Assembly however rejected President Buhari’s request to amend the provision.

Justice Agim added that “The president has no power to request or compel the national assembly to amend any part of the Act of the National Assembly in which he has participated in its making.”

The effect of the new law has seen a number president Buhari’s appointees resign particularly during the height of the ruling party, the All-Progressive Congress primary elections. Notably amongst them is the former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi  who had to resign to pursue his presidential ambition.

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Ex-Tunisian PM Jebali arrested on allegations of money laundering

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Former Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, who is also senior member of the opposition Ennahdha Party, was on Friday, arrested by the police on allegations of money laundering, according to his lawyer, Mokhtar Jemai said in a statement.

The statement said police in the city of Sousse also seized the phones of Jebali and his wife, before taking him to an unknown location.

The arrest of Jebali has raised further concerns within the ranks of the opposition over the human rights situation in Tunisia since President Kais Saied took unpopular actions including dissolving the parliament last July, suspending the electoral commission, dissolved the Supreme Juducial Council and sacked 57 judges this month, which his opponents have called a coup meant to entrench a one-man rule in the country.

Jebali’s defence team have said they have been able to meet with him at the detention centre where he is being held.

“Jebali told us he will not answer the investigators’ questions and he entered into a hunger strike as the issue has a political motivation and nothing to do with money laundering,” Jemai said.

Jebali who was Tunisian Prime Minister in 2012 but resigned in 2013 following a political crisis, is not the first opposition figure to be arrested in what has been seen as a clampdown on opposition leaders by President Saied.

Earlier this year, Noureddine Bhiri, the vice president of Ennahdha was arrested and detained for more than two months before he was released without any charges being brought.

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