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Presidency: APC still divided on over Buhari’s succession plan, zoning

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Few hours to the rescheduled presidential primaries of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), billed to hold Monday, June 6, in Abuja, the leadership of the party, has remained divided on the zoning of its ticket.

The current state of play in the APC, has been further compounded by the differing positions of its stakeholders on the zoning palaver, a development, which has seen some governors insisting on going south for balancing, while the National Chairman of the party, Senator Abdulahi Adamu, in cahoots with a few others, would rather go north, for political expediency.

Interestingly, the development, has pushed the party leadership to consider the reopening of sales of Expression of Interest and Nomination forms to more members by way of broadening its choices for a suitable presidential candidate, that would secure the confidence of the people and lead the party to victory.

Already, two persons being targeted to encourage to join the race, are the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and his Borno State counterpart, Professor Babagana Zulum, even though the later had since dismissed the idea of looking at other possibilities in 2023, except returning to Borno to finish off what he had started.

The APC was first thrown into confusion, when Atiku Abubakar emerged candidate of the PDP at a keenly contested presidential primaries in Abuja, a situation, which completely unsettled the thinking and extrapolations in the ruling party.

Unfortunately, the confusion was further accentuated on Monday, when President Muhammadu Buhari, at a meeting with the 22 governors of the party and Adamu, pleaded with the stakeholders to let him choose his successor as a sign of reciprocity.

Buhari, in a two-page speech, reminded the governors that, while those governors, who just served their first terms, had a field day securing their tickets to return to office, the outgoing ones, after serving out their constitutional two terms of eight years, also had the privileges to choose their successors.

He, therefore, enjoined them all to let him too enjoy same privileges through “reciprocity” of similar action, to choose his successor at the proposed June 6 presidential primaries.

By implications, the president had ruled out the possibility of an elective convention but a consensus option that would allow him choose his proffered candidate, who would be affirmed on Monday, at the Eagle Square, in Abuja.

But since this new thinking was thrown into the mix by the president, the leadership of the party, including the governors, as major stakeholders, had started pondering the options opened to them and particularly, lead them to victory.

Thus, while some of the governors insisted that it would remain indefensible to go north, since Buhari, a northerner, would be serving out eight years in 2023, others, including the national chairman of the party, believed going north was the surest path to victory, if they must match Atiku in all the boxes critical to their victory in next year’s elections.

To this end, the party leadership, has resolved to consider reopening the sales of forms to some members of the party by way of broadening the options and further opening up the turf to more candidates for a competitive approach to the ticket, even when the president had said without equivocation that, there would be no election.

In their consideration as they came up with this idea, THISDAY gathered, were El-Rufai and Zulum, a move believed would help them push some of their best from the north into the race and put the party on a sure-footing ahead of the elections.

It is not certain yet if El-Rufai would buy into the idea, having said time and time again that, he was not interested in the presidency and that he believed in the need for power to shift to the south after Buhari’s eight years, because it was the right thing to do.

Zulum, on his part, had been touted earlier as a possible option for running mate to whoever emerged the candidate of the party, but had openly come out to turn down the idea, saying also that, while it was a good thing to consider him for the office, especially, given the privileges attached to it, he preferred to return to Borno to consolidate the work he had started.

This, nonetheless, the governors had maintained the position, that despite Buhari’s appeal for reciprocity in the choice of his successor, they too had a responsibility as stakeholders to advise and guide him on the suitability of his choice candidate for the party.

Indeed, many of the governors, who were insistent on going south, held the view that there was no need to panic over the emergence of Atiku in the PDP, because with a strong southern candidate, which they claimed to have in good numbers, the party would still comfortably defeat Atiku in 2023.

Aside not seeing anything wrong in pandering to Buhari’s request for reciprocity, many of the governors still believed that an acceptable choice of successor was key, not just to their victory at the general election, but to help prevail on other contenders, who would be persuaded to stand down for the sake of the president.

Against this background, while waiting for Buhari to return from his trip to Madrid, Spain, and present his candidate to the party ahead of the convention, a majority of the governors still stood strong against going north, notwithstanding the fears of other stakeholders, including Adamu.

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Organ harvesting: Dino Melaye reacts to arrest of Ekweremadu, wife

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Dino Melaye

Former Kogi West Senator, Dino Melaye has expressed his support for ex-Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu amid controversy of alleged organ harvesting.

Melaye said he stands with Ekweremadu because there was no wrongdoing by the Senator.

Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice were arrested in London for allegedly plotting to harvest the kidney of a Nigerian minor.

The UK metropolitan police had arrested and charged Ekweremadu and his wife to court, but the duo pleaded not guilty to the charges at the Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court.

“These are serious allegations and these matters are now adjourned until 7 July back here at Uxbridge,” Magistrate Lois Sheard said.

Ms Sheard remanded both defendants in custody ahead of their hearing next month.

Sharing Ekweremadu’s letter via his Twitter handle, Melaye wrote: “Sen. Ike Ekweremadu notified the British authorities on his trip with the said boy. I stand with Ike.”

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Supreme Court set to rule on controversial Electoral Act on Friday

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The Supreme Court of Nigeria will on Friday deliver judgment on the legality or otherwise of the controversial section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022 .

The apex Court is set for its verdict in the suit instituted against the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation AGF and Minister of Justice.

A notice for the judgment delivery has just been sighted, indicating that the apex Court will make its position known this morning.

The notice was served on Buhari and the National Assembly on Thursday, inviting them to appear before the court today for their judgment.

Our correspondent further observed that the suit is the only one for determination today.

Buhari and Abubakar Malami had filed the suit at the Supreme Court, seeking an interpretation of the controversial clause in the Electoral Amendment Act 2022.

In the suit filed on April 29, Buhari and Malami, who are the plaintiffs, listed the National Assembly as the sole defendant.

Section 84 (12) has been a subject of intense litigation and political debate in Nigeria since President Buhari signed the amended Electoral Act 2022 into law in February this year.

Shortly after signing it into law, Buhari had asked the parliament to delete the controversial clause in the Electoral Act, but the National Assembly declined the president’s request.

According to Section 84 (12) of the legislation, “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.”

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World’s most livable cities: Vienna climbs back to its No. 1 spot. These are the biggest decliners

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World’s most livable cities: Vienna climbs back to its No. 1 spot
The Stephansplatz is a square at the geographical centre of Vienna. It is named after its most prominent building, the Stephansdom, Vienna's cathedral and one of the tallest churches in the world.

After two years, Vienna has overtaken Auckland as the world’s most livable city, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Vienna ranked first in 2018 and 2019, but was overtaken by Auckland, New Zealand, during the pandemic and slipped to 12th place in 2021, according to the Global Liveability Index 2022.

The EIU said that Auckland’s position on the index dipped to the 34th place this year because of higher Covid-19 infection rates and strict border controls in 2021. Although lockdowns ended in New Zealand in December, well-vaccinated cities in Europe and Canada had begun easing restrictions earlier.

However, it’s unlikely that Auckland would’ve clinched the top position in this year’s ranking even without a pandemic, according to the EIU.

“Other cities falling was why Auckland was top last time. Without Covid, it would likely be top 10, but not number one,” said Simon Baptist, global chief economist at the research and advisory firm.

Five other European cities — Copenhagen, Zurich, Geneva, Frankfurt and Amsterdam — also made the top ten. Canada’s Calgary and Vancouver took the third and fifth spots respectively. Japan’s Osaka and Australia’s Melbourne shared 10th place — the only two “Asian” cities that made it to the top 10.

The 172 cities that were included in the rating were assessed on these categories: stability, health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

Biggest decliners
Cities in New Zealand and Australia were the biggest fallers in the EIU’s livability ranking.

New Zealand’s capital Wellington dived by 46 places, while Australia’s Adelaide and Perth lost their 2021 positions in the top 10. They are now in the 30th and 32nd place respectively.

Australian and New Zealand cities snagged six of the top 10 spots last year, but were “much, much lower down” on this year’s list as their partial reopening coincided with the spread of the more contagious omicron variant, Baptist told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Thursday.

But the EIU is optimistic that these cities would bounce back.

“We can expect to see Australian and New Zealand cities moving up the rankings next year, when we do the next round of the survey. And this will be because they will have relaxed more of their Covid restrictions,” said Baptist.

Other cities in the region saw their rankings slip as well.

Singapore fell three spots to 37th place this year, while Hong Kong dropped to 62nd place from 49th last year.

“This is a long term change, it’s not just about Covid. That is part of it. But Hong Kong’s loss of connectivity is likely to be permanent,” said Baptist, citing the decline of cultural and political freedom in the city.

Russian cities plunged
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine saw Moscow’s livability ranking fall by 15 places, while St. Petersburg dipped by 13 spots, the EIU reported.

“Both cities record a fall in scores owing to increased instability, censorship, imposition of Western sanctions and corporates withdrawing their operations from the country,” the report said.

The war on Ukraine also affected the rankings of other Eastern European cities that have been facing political standoffs security threats, food and energy insecurities, and rising inflation, EIU said.

For example, Poland’s Warsaw and Hungary’s Budapest saw their stability scores slip as a result of rising diplomatic tensions, the EIU added.

Ukraine’s capital Kyiv was also excluded from this year’s report, and 33 new cities — 11 of them in China — were added.

The top 10
These are the world’s most livable cities and their scores, according to The Global Liveability Index 2022:

  1. Vienna, Austria (99.1)
  2. Copenhagen, Denmark (98.0)
  3. TIE — Zurich, Switzerland (96.3)
  4. TIE — Calgary, Canada (96.3)
  5. Vancouver, Canada (96.1)
  6. Geneva, Switzerland (95.9)
  7. Frankfurt, Germany (95.7)
  8. Toronto, Canada (95.4)
  9. Amsterdam, Netherlands (95.3)
  10. TIE — Osaka, Japan (95.1)
  11. TIE — Melbourne, Australia (95.1)

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