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Ayu takes over as new PDP Chairman, serves APC quit notice

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Senator Iyorchia Ayu was on Friday sworn in as the new national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Accompanied to the International Conference Centre, Abuja by family members, friends and political associates, Ayu paid glowing tributes to the party’s founding fathers for their role in bringing Nigerians of diverse backgrounds to form the PDP in 1998.

Speaking on the theme, rescue and rebuild Nigeria, “On behalf of the new NWC, I pledge to be guided by consultation, team-work, internal democracy and national interest. To all non-PDP members, we say our umbrella can accommodate all of us. And to our members who left, I urge you to come back home; our doors are still open,” he said.

The new leadership according to the former Senate President, “marks a new journey and a new direction for the PDP. As one who was part of those that founded the party in 1998, I am well aware of its core values and vision which are centred around the people and their well-being,” he added.

He continued: “Our task at this auspicious moment is to return the party to the people. But to do that, the party needs to be reinvigorated, reinvented and re-positioned. We are not unmindful of our missed steps and actions in the past, but we have learnt our lessons, both in government and in opposition. Today, we stand tall, and with a firm resolve to rebuild our great party and rescue our nation.

“The PDP is the only organic political party in Nigeria that has remained a credible, tested, tasted and trusted mass movement since the return of democracy in 1999. Other political parties have either fizzled away or merged with others.

“Some have mutated into a contraption like the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, without any clear ideology or a coherent programme of action. This contraption seduced Nigerians with propaganda in 2015. Today, Nigerians have seen the limit of propaganda and demagoguery. The only thing the APC is doing successfully is irresponsible borrowing.

“The PDP, on the other hand, has a history of performance and legacy achievements. In our 16 years in power, we not only gave Nigerians good governance, we also strengthened democratic institutions so as to add value to the people. In an unprecedented move, we stabilized our democracy by sanitizing the armed forces of politically exposed officers.

“We gave Nigeria her first-ever successful transition from one civilian administration to another in 2007. To the disbelief of all watchers of African politics, we willingly conceded defeat in 2015, and handed over power to an opposition party in 2015.

“It was the PDP-federal government that created value-adding public institutions like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, the Debt Management Office, DMO, the Bureau for Public Procurement, BPP, among many others.

“The PDP administration also strengthened the governance process by enacting laws to effectively drive public administration in Nigeria, namely: the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the Mid-Term Expenditure Frame-Work, the Treasury Single Account, TSA, Integrated Personal and Payroll Information Systems, IPPIS just to mention a few.”

The PDP-led government of President Olusegun Obasanjo, according to Ayu, “negotiated and obtained forgiveness of over $30 Billion of debt, making Nigeria almost a debt-free country. Foreign direct investments flowed in. Cumulatively, the foregoing made Nigeria, not only the fastest growing economy in Africa, but also the biggest economy on the continent.”

That said, Ayu slammed the APC-led government of President Muhammadu Buhari to the cleaners, saying “from the biggest economy in 2015, the APC has given the country two recessions and turned Nigeria into the poverty capital of the world. Today, close to 40 million Nigerians have no jobs.”

He continued: “In the last six years, the APC-led government has mismanaged our diversity; divided the country along regional and religious lines. It has exacerbated religious tensions in the country.

“And through its marriage to nepotism, the incompetent APC- federal government is fueling secessionist agitations in the East and West of Nigeria.

“Our dear Nigeria is drifting dangerously towards a failed state. Terrorists are now sharing sovereignty with Nigeria. Nigeria is simply ungoverned. Nigeria is collapsing under the leadership of a retired general!

“The APC used both the mainstream media and the social media to access power. Today, it coordinates a systematic assault on the media, civic freedoms and freedom of speech.

“Let me give you the grim legacy of the APC: two economic recessions in six years. A sluggish Gross Domestic Product, GDP growth rate of below two percent.

“About 40 million Nigerians have been pushed into extreme poverty in six years.

Inflation is at an all-time high at 18 per cent.

“A weak and devalued Naira; devalued by over 300 per cent since 2015, has made our currency the worst in Africa.

“Unemployment now stands at 33 per cent, meaning close to 40 million Nigerians, willing and able to work, can’t find jobs.

“A total debt stock of over $90 billion now hangs over Nigeria. An erratic exchange rate regime has depleted N324 against the US Dollar in the last six years.

“Kidnapping for ransom is now big business. We share sovereignty with terrorists who kidnap and rape our women, including our mothers and under-aged children.

The terrorists even kill them when ransom is delayed. These are not political alarms, but statements of facts.

“But I stand here today, not to merely recount APC’s spectacular failures. I stand here to assure you that PDP is back to rescue and rebuild Nigeria. Under the new NWC, PDP will strengthen its internal democratic processes. We shall endeavour to reach out to all party members, young and old, male and female.

“This National Working Committee will create alternate platforms within the party to actively engage the young people and our women, not only for mobilizing and winning elections, but for advocacy, policy formulation and the design of a new development agenda for the party.”

He did not stop there as he promised to expand Nigeria’s international vision “beyond Niger Republic.”

The event was attended by top party’s functionaries including Governors Aminu Tambuwal, Samuel Ortom, Ahmadu Fintiri, Ifeanyi Okowa, Seyi Makinde and Duoye Diri, of Sokoto, Benue, Adamawa, Delta, Oyo and Bayelsa states respectively.

Ayu said he was serving APC quit notice and the ruling party should prepare their handover note.

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Google set to invest $9.5bn in US

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Google has announced plans to invest $9.5bn in its US offices and data centers around the country in 2022, up from more than the $7bn it spent in 2021.

According to CNN, the big bet on office space was coming at a point Google was embracing a hybrid work model. The Alphabet-owned company has called for many of its employees to work in an office three days a week after two years of being fully remote.

The Chief Executive Officer of Alphabet and Google, Sundar Pichai, said, “It might seem counterintuitive to step up our investment in physical offices even as we embrace more flexibility in how we work.

“Yet we believe it’s more important than ever to invest in our campuses and that doing so will make for better products, a greater quality of life for our employees, and stronger communities.”
Google said it would open an office in Atlanta this year and continue to develop and expand office space in Austin and New York. It added that it planned to continue investing in data centers in Iowa, Nebraska, and Tennessee, among other states.

As part of the announcement, Google said it expected to create at least 12,000 new full-time jobs at the company this year.

Google and other tech companies were among the first businesses to shift to remote work when the pandemic hit in early 2020. But that shift always appeared to be temporary. Like others in Silicon Valley, Google had previously invested billions in expansive campuses and lavish office benefits for workers.

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European markets pull back amid doubts over latest Russian pledges over Ukraine

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European stocks retreated on Wednesday following the latest round of talks between Russia and Ukraine, aimed at finding a solution to the conflict.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 0.8% in early trade, with autos shedding 1.9% to lead losses, while oil and gas stocks gained 1.7%.

In terms of individual share price movement, Finland’s Nokian Tyres fell 6.6%, while Sweden’s Lundin Energy added 4.7%.

Investor sentiment was boosted on Tuesday following negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian officials in Turkey, at which Russia’s deputy defense minister claimed Moscow had decided to “drastically” cut back its military activity near Ukraine’s capital.

Alexander Fomin, who spoke following the talks in Istanbul, said Russia would slow its military operations near Kyiv and Chernihiv in order for peace talks to progress. Russia previously claimed that it would reduce military operations in other parts of Ukraine but then continued its advance.

Growing hope for a cease-fire appeared to boost investor sentiment Tuesday, as Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 200 points, or 0.6%. S&P 500 futures also climbed 0.6%, while Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 0.7%. Meanwhile, the price of U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil, which spiked on the heels of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, fell more than 4% to $100 per barrel.

Doubts have set in over the pledge, however, and while the Russian military has begun moving some of its troops in Ukraine away from areas around Kyiv to positions elsewhere in Ukraine, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby warned the troop movements do not amount to a retreat.

Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Wednesday trade as investors watch for developments surrounding the war in Ukraine. Stateside, traders are keeping tabs on a slew of key economic reports, while also monitoring the Federal Reserve’s planned interest rate hikes.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey on Tuesday showed 11.3 million job openings, higher than the 11.1 million expected. The ADP will also release its private payrolls data ahead of the closely watched monthly jobs report, on Friday.

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Lagos Assembly kicks against harassment of residents by police

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Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, yesterday, cautioned police in the state against harassment, intimidation and extortion of residents.

Obasa said this on the floor of the House when lawmakers honoured outgoing Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, who has been promoted to Assistant Inspector-General, and is due to retire in January 2022.

Obasa said Odumosu was honoured as the first Commissioner of Police in the state to stand before the lawmakers and address Lagosians on his experience policing the state.

The Speaker thanked Odumosu for his openness and responsiveness to issues affecting the peace of the state.

“It is important to call on those behind you to know that the relationship between the police and the people need to be constantly improved upon,” Obasa said, adding that men of the Nigeria Police Force need to build more trust among the people.

“Everybody must be treated with respect, dignity and honour. And that is how we can earn respect. Policing should not be about harassment and extortion but building trust among the people and making them comfortable,” Obasa said.

The Commissioner of Police, who led a team of officers to the House, thanked the lawmakers for their support. According to him, nothing could have been achieved in terms of security and peace in the state without assistance of the House.

He said he would remain grateful to Lagosians for making it possible for him and his team to effectively manage the security of the state.

Odumosu, who described Lagos as ‘mini-Nigeria’, said proactivity of the Assembly led to the creation of laws that helped the police remain successful in the state.

He said the Cultism Prohibition Law also helped to reduce illegal associations in tertiary institutions in the state and enlightened property owners and residents.

“We promise to continue to excel in providing watertight security for people of the state,” he told the lawmakers. He also promised he would encourage his successor to sustain the relationship between the police and the House, while urging the lawmakers to extend their support to his successor.

“Policing Lagos is not a tea party. Without the laws in Lagos, it would have been difficult to police the state. Don’t get tired, don’t relent in making laws that would make Lagos maintain its place as the most peaceful state in Nigeria,” he said.

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