Lagos doctors record first home grown corrective ear surgery

LAGOS State doctors have recorded the first successful homegrown cochlear implant surgery to restore hearing ability in two deaf patients.

The Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) Department at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, conducted the corrective surgery on two patients – a young chap and a Lagos doctor, who had gone deaf in the line of duty.

Director of Clinical Services and Training, LASUTH, Dr. Adedokun Ayoade, at a briefing, said it was yet another time the Lagos tertiary hospital was recording another astounding success, through cochlear implantation by its own indigenous doctors.

Ayoade, who spoke on behalf of the Chief Medical Director, said it was an exercise made possible by efforts of the state Governor, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), to bring Nigerian experts in the Diaspora back home for needed skills transfer.

Cochlear implantation is a hearing device implanted into a deaf patient’s ear through surgery. The device converts sounds into impulses, which enables the patients to hear and understand.

The latest feat follows a similar exercise that was conducted at the hospital last year by Cochlear Foundation, University of Freiburg, Germany.

But with a successful repeat of the exercise by local practitioners, Ayoade said it was another feat in the hospital’s quest to provide excellent health for the people of the state through her local indigenous professionals.

According to him, “this mission will no doubt improve self-esteem and build social confidence in patients who as a result of loss of hearing isolate themselves from societal engagements. This, we believe to a very large extent will find a lasting solution to a long lasting problem of deafness and hearing impairment in deaf people,” he said.

LASUTH ENT Surgeon and one of the leading hands in the surgery, Dr. Olawale Olubi noted that the homegrown exercise, which is significantly cost-effective than having it overseas, would open the option of corrective ear surgery to many Nigerians that are having hearing impairments.

An estimate has it that no fewer than 2.8 per cent of Nigerians are either partially or completely deaf.

Apparently excited at the development, Fashola said it was a demonstration that they care about the physically challenged, even as the state government would begin to sponsor the cochlear implant for many Nigerians that are in need of corrective ear surgery.

Fashola, who spoke to a mammoth crowd at the All Progressives Congress (APC) rally held in Badagry area of the state, said: “I start on a happy note. For the first time, we successfully carried out a cochlear implant surgery. What that means is that our doctors in our hospital has restored hearing back to somebody who was deaf.

“Before, you have to travel out of Nigeria before you can get that kind of service, but a Nigerian doctor (Dr. Anthony Owa), came back home at my request, joined LASUTH and working with all our staff. This is the feat that has been performed at home.

“So, it means now that the door is open for a lot of our brothers and sisters, our children who have never heard a sound before, that they would begin to hear because we would expand that project,” he said.

Fashola said the exercise shows the state’s policy to support disabled and physically challenged people.

According to him, “it is about a deep commitment on how people can get on with their lives, if government does what it should do. Those, who are physically challenged are not disabled and they crave for a chance and opportunity to compete and so we have continued to intervene

Nigerian Guardian News

Jonathan’s men: The stoning and stormy story of Isa and Bala

President Goodluck Jonathan’s reenergised campaign for a second term at the weekend suffered a puncture when two of his key associates from the Northeast entered a political brawl that is bound to embarrass the president and elicit enthusiasm from the opposition.

The stoning of President Jonathan’s campaign team in Bauchi and Katsina had drawn strong rebuke from the president’s associates who saw it as a demonstration of the reported inclination for violence by the opposition.

Jonathan1

The reaction of President Jonathan’s key associates from the South-South was equally foreboding. A meeting of former militants summoned by Governor Serikae Dickson last weekend in Yenogoa ended with a stern resolution that the president must not be harassed out of office by his traducers.

The opposition All Progressives Congress, APC presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari was also apparently disturbed by the development and saw it as a potential danger for his campaign. Handlers of the APC presidential candidate at the weekend sought the platform of the BBC to air a message from Buhari in Hausa language to distance himself from such attacks on the president.

The PDP had on its part blamed the APC for the attacks.

However, all such permutations that the violence was sponsored by the APC or induced by its supporters took an embarrassing turn for the PDP last weekend when Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State seemingly exonerated the APC and accused the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Senator Bala Mohammed of sponsoring the attacks.

The assertion from the governor was a bombshell and fell into nearly the position articulated by the APC that the attacks were a fall out from the internal discord within the APC.

“The Minister and his group sponsored small boys of not more than seven years of age and gave them brooms to give the impression that they were from the opposition party whereas they were all wearing T-shirts branded with his name and that of TAN,” Governor Yuguda, one of the president’s key associates in the Northeast said.

“Before the arrival of the boys the presidential rally was going on smoothly. When they entered the venue they started signing “sai Jonathan”, “sai Jonathan” only for them to begin to chant “ sai Buhari”, “sai Buhari” to the bewilderment of all present.”

“I feel very bad over the sad incident caused by Bala and his group to discredit me and all that I have been able to accomplish in Bauchi. I must say that I am very sad and disappointed by the antics of the minister.”

The assertion from the governor was, however, rebuffed by the minister who ironically was equally pelted at the rally last Thursday.

“It is totally illogical, irreconcilable, wicked and fallacious for anybody to insinuate that the Hon. Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Mohammed imported thugs to stone and attack himself while addressing the President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s presidential campaign rally in his home state, Bauchi,” Bala said in a statement issued by his spokesman Nosike Ogbuenyi.

“The question begging for answer is ‘why wasn’t Governor Yuguda stoned by the rampaging thugs when he was on the podium addressing the same rally?”

“ Every sincere person in this country can attest to the fact that the loyalty of the FCT Minister to President Goodluck Jonathan and his commitment to the success of the PDP in all elections have never been in doubt.

Whatever, the story of the discord between Governor Yuguda and his one time key aide and special assistant as minister of aviation is one of many intrigues.

Bala, a former journalist turned politician was at a time a key strategist in Yuguda’s political machine and was instrumental in the popular rebellion against Governor Ahmadu Mu‘azu that led to the installation of Yuguda as governor on the ticket of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP after he had been shut out by Mu‘azu in the PDP in 2007.

However, Yuguda’s decision to seemingly eat his vomit in returning to the PDP in 2009 led to him and his onetime Man Friday parting ways. From friends they became bitter foes.

Remarkably, when President Umaru Yar‘Adua took ill, Bala became a kingpin in the group of senators known as the National Interest Group, NIG who met regularly in the residence of Senator Ehigie Uzamere. The group of about 70 senators was instrumental to the installation of Dr. Jonathan as acting president and as a pay back, members decided that the group must be rewarded with one of them being appointed minister of FCT and Bala was the choice of the group.

Having jumped to the other side, Bala became strong loyalist of the president and remarkably, turned into a near relative of the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan.

Like his former boss he also made desperate efforts to return to the PDP but obstacles were repeatedly put on his way reportedly by Yuguda, but he eventually returned setting the stage for what everyone expected to be his bid for the governorship.

However, reportedly on the advice of Aso Rock, he refused to follow other ministers who had gubernatorial ambitions in leaving the cabinet last October as he was stopped by the powers that be in Abuja.

Yuguda meanwhile had in concert with the national chairman of the party, Mu‘azu, successfully positioned his own man, Awaal Jutau as the PDP governorship candidate. The governor was also alleged to have also helped to position Abubakar Mohammed as the APC candidate, so that head or tail, he would not lose out. The governor has, however, denied the insinuation saying that he could not work for the opposition.

Bala’s failure to get the ticket was, however, a sore if not to him, but to many who had rallied round him in the state.

A recent meeting of Bala’s political leg men in Bauchi was said to have been laced with much antagonism against the governor. Remarkably the governor heard of the ill-feelings poured against him at the meeting where Bala was present but what Bala said remains unknown.

That development was said to have again festered the sour in the relationship between the two men leading to the latest development.

Remarkably, the stoning incident last Thursday was against the background of the reported resurgence of the APC in the state.

So when the president’s convoy was attacked as he left the den of the opposition, the governor was not surprisingly uncomfortable and against assertions by party officials traced the attack to Bala.

The internal brickbat between two of the president’s foremost supporters is a serious drawback for him and his party and gives the opposition the opportunity to take a respite from the tirade of the PDP that it is the harbinger of violence

Vanguard Nigeria News

PMS pump price reduction and the economy: My takeaway – Babatunde Fashola

 

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Fashola

It is no longer news that the Federal Government has announced a reduction in the pump price of premium motor spirit (PMS), popularly called petrol.

While I have made my position known on my Twitter handle that ‘a little over 10 per cent reduction in cost of the final (crude oil) product (PMS) in response to an over 50 per cent drop in the cost of the raw material is a good try and that Nigerians can get a better deal’, I am constrained to make this further intervention for a few reasons.

There is a sense in the public space that this reduction is politically motivated, given the reactions that have followed it. To the extent therefore that there is a political nexus, it deserves further interrogation because it is an economic issue and this is a major issue in the elections as canvassed by both parties, especially at the presidential candidacy level.

Gen. Muhammadu Buhari had seized the moment and the importance of the economic issue earlier this month. Through his campaign council he said:

“Stop stealing from Nigerians and allow them enjoy the relief that has come to consumers of petroleum products globally.

“For the Nigerian consumers, unfortunately the collapse of crude oil price since October 2014 has not translated into any change in diesel, kerosene and PMS prices across the country.”

The second reason for my intervention is also economic, and it goes to interrogate policy, particularly this pricing policy, and the consistency of the party in government vis-a-vis its credibility before the Nigerian public.

The economics of oil

It must be obvious to any discerning mind that you cannot have a viable democracy without debating the management of the economy.

This is because the real issue in elections is the way people’s lives have fared during the tenure of the incumbent.

The question, sometimes spoken, sometimes not, but never forgotten, is this: – Has my life been better in the last few years or not?

This question always involves an examination of the record of service of the incumbent and many have lost their seats in a bad economy.

So, the present government must defend its record on the economy and this involves its management of prices and consumer indices.

The cost of energy, fuel, gas, electricity for transport, cooking, heating and manufacturing is a direct determinant of the cost of living and how far people’s wages can take them before the next pay day.

It is not therefore surprising that in the last decade and a half, many western countries have gone to war “in order to make peace”, especially in the Middle East, so that there is no scarcity of petroleum (crude oil) supply.

The reason is simple. Scarce crude means high prices of crude oil, translating to high fuel, gas and production costs, leading to restive domestic population, which can translate to electoral defeat.

If one remembers Iraq, Libya and Egypt; in spite of the democratic masks that those military interventions wore, it is difficult to dismiss a domestic, political (electoral) self interest in them.

In the aftermath of these interventions and investment in shale oil as an alternative, leading to the crash of crude oil prices, what have these western countries done at home for their people in terms of oil price management?

Let us look at a few examples:

•United Kingdom (UK)

Drop in price (dollar per litre): 0.52

Percentage of price drop: 23.75 per cent;

  • United States (U.S.)

Drop in price (dollar per litre): 0.39  Percentage of price drop: 36.57 per cent;

• Singapore

Drop in price (dollar per litre): 1.79

Percentage of price drop: 21 per cent;

  • Nigeria

Drop in price (dollar per litre): 0.03

Percentage of price drop: 10.3 per cent

My takeaway:

•It is poor economic management to import the final product of a commodity whose raw material (crude oil) we produce in abundance.

•A refinery in Nigeria, such as the 400,000 barrel refinery we are supporting by providing land for the Dangote Group in the Lekki Free Zone will keep jobs at home, (instead of in foreign refineries), create income for the Nigerian government by way of companies income tax, and give us better control of pricing by eliminating subsidies and demurrage charges by port delays paid to ship owners in dollars against a weak Naira; and it will eliminate many other charges that are passed on to ordinary Nigerians.

•Clearly, an inefficient Port management that escalates shipping costs, a devalued currency, and an exorbitant interest rate on borrowing, which are economic failures of the current government, are part of the reasons why Nigeria cannot get a better deal from an over 50 per cent drop in crude oil price.

 Iinterrogation of policy

In announcing the reduction of fuel pump price, the Minister for Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, stated the reasons for the government’s decision in her own words as follows:

“As you may be aware, there has been a lot of volatility in the price of petroleum products, particularly crude oil, over the last few months. Invariably, this has meant that the price of the product in Nigeria has also been greatly impacted.”

When addressing journalists she added:

“After watching the price per barrel drop over the last few months, we have finally achieved parity… therefore this would be the best time to actually reduce the price. We have been watching very carefully over the last two weeks to ensure that the volatility did not destabilize this reduction in price and we think it’s safe to implement it at this time.”

Please note she used the words (1) “price per barrel drop” and (2)  “achieved parity” in the oil price regime to justify the reduction.

(i)       Price per barrel drop

As I have pointed out, I doubt that a 10 per cent reduction is the best that we can get in response to a 50 per cent drop in oil price, and this is simple common sense.

If a product is manufactured at X price and the price of the raw material drops by Y per cent, I think it is simple economics to reflect that Y per cent  drop in the price of the final product without doing any damage to the cost of packaging or transporting the product. And this should happen vice versa if the price of the raw material heads in the opposite direction.

But let me be quick to acknowledge that these price changes may not necessarily be effected overnight in a period of volatility; and this is the relevance of the Minister’s point about “parity”, which I will come to later.

But the quick additional point to make is that diesel has not enjoyed any subsidy for a long time and there is a loud silence on this product, as far as pricing policy is concerned; and nothing is said about Kerosene.

So, if this was really meant to bring relief to the people, I think Diesel, which impacts on production costs, power costs in homes through generators, and Kerosene, which ordinary Nigerians use to cook, would have been the place for Government to demonstrate that it understands the plight of the people.

This would have afforded some cushion against the austerity measures indicated by the  Minister of Finance.

My takeaway: This price reduction is not-far reaching enough. It demonstrates a knee-jerk reaction to a serious economic issue where the majority of ordinary Nigerians are concerned.

When we factor the fact that the majority of Nigerians generate their own power at four times the cost of public power, and they mostly use diesel, a reduction there would have reduced the pressure on their disposable income.

(ii) Achieved parity

My understanding of the Minister’s use of these words is that government now believes that oil prices will hover around the current prices of $50 per barrel, so that, according to her, “the entire country will benefit immensely from this reduction.”

If this is correct, then who are we to believe?

If we go back to the statement of the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on December 17, 2014 when, while defending the oil budget benchmark of $65 for the 2015 Budget which some observers felt was too ambitious, she said:

“This is what we have done by proposing a benchmark of $65pb. We recognise that prices might still fall further but we do not intend to revise the price further down as price intelligence indicates that prices might average between $65 and $70pb in 2015.”

If the Finance Minister expects oil prices to get to $70 and the Petroleum Minister says we have “achieved parity,” there seems to be inherent contradictions within the same government.

My takeaway

•Are government departments talking to themselves?

•Who is co-ordinating the economy?

•Why was the Minister for Finance not part of this major pricing policy briefing?

•Was this price reduction provided for in the 2015 Budget?

P.S.

As I concluded this intervention, my attention was brought to a response by Governor Peter Obi to a contribution I had made, in which he said in ThisDay newspaper that:

“The President showed that the sound economic policies of his government have brought about macro-economic stability. This has been acknowledged by the renowned economist and former Chairman of the Asset Management Division of Goldman Sachs Group, Dr. Jim O’Neill, who coined the term BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey), recognising these countries as the world’s fastest growing economies.”

I have no issue with Governor Obi, because his role in government and policy making is still unclear to me.

If he speaks as a party man, it is a measure of credit to him that he knows more about the programmes of a party he joined a few weeks ago, than those he met there.

But for the record, the same Jim O’Neill, whom he quotes in support of this government’s policy and the leadership of President Jonathan, said:

“If he (Jonathan) doesn’t get re-elected, and it’s because of Nigerian people wanting something different and something better, I think the markets would be happy with that. Foreign investors are pretty negative about Nigeria, so I don’t dismiss the possibility that if he lost, people actually might react positively.”

Those who seek the truth should simply visit this link and verify the facts of what Jim O’Neill actually said: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-08/o-neill-says-jonathan-vote-loss-may-be-seen-as-nigeria-positive.html

My takeaway: I think Jim is right. Nigerians want “something different and something better.” They want Change.

 

Jonathan Has No Record Of Good Governance – Soludo

charles-soludo

A former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof Charles Soludo, has advised the presidential flag bearer of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), President Goodluck Jonathan, to stop campaigning about the record of the outgoing government, saying it has no testimonial to parade.

Soludo, a former governorship candidate of the party in Anambra State, gave this position in a document entitled ‘Buhari vs Jonathan: Beyond election’, and made available to LEADERSHIP newspaper.

The document, which emphasized the technocrat-cum-politician’s passion for the country and concern about the forthcoming general election, stressed the need for the country to improve on its economy especially considering the dwindling price of crude oil in the international market, among other economic challenges.

He said, “My advice to President Jonathan and his handlers is to stop wasting their time trying to campaign on his job record. Those who have decided to vote for him will not do so because he has taken Nigeria to the moon. His record on the economy is a clear ‘F’ grade.

“As one reviews the laundry list of micro interventions the government calls its achievements, one wonders whether such list is all that the government could deliver with an unprecedented oil boom and an unprecedented public debt accumulation. I can clearly see why reasonable people are worried.

“Everywhere else in the world, government performance on the economy is measured by some outcome variables such as: income (GDP growth rate), stability of prices (inflation and exchange rate), unemployment rate, poverty rate, etc.

“On all these scores, this government has performed worse than its immediate predecessor– Obasanjo regime. If we appropriately adjust for oil income and debt, then this government is the worst in our history on the economy. All statistics are from the National Bureau of Statistics”.

While comparing Jonathan’s administration to that of former President Olusegun Obasanjo where he (Soludo) served, he noted that “despite presiding over the biggest oil boom in our history, it (present administration) has not added one percentage point to the growth rate of GDP compared to the Obasanjo regime especially the 2003- 07 period. Obasanjo met GDP growth rate at 2% but averaged 7% within 2003- 07.

“ The current government has been stuck at 6% despite an unprecedented oil boom. Income (GDP) growth has actually performed worse, and poverty escalated. This is the only government in our history where rapidly increasing government expenditure was associated with increasing poverty”.

While assessing the economic and development policies of the two major political parties in the February election, the ruling PDP and the All Progressives Congress (APC), he declared that “So far, neither the APC nor the PDP has a credible programme for employment and poverty reduction”.

“The APC promises to create 20,000 jobs per state in the first year, totalling a mere 720,000 jobs. This sounds like a quota system and for a country where the new entrants into the labour market per annum exceed two million. If it was intended as a joke, APC must please get serious.

“On the other hand, President Jonathan targets two million jobs per annum but his strategy for doing so is a Job Board— another committee of sort. Sorry, Mr. President, a Job Board is not a strategy. The principal job Nigerians hired you to do for them is to create jobs for them too. You cannot outsource that job, Sir. Creating 3 million jobs per annum under the unfolding crisis would task our creativity and audacity to the limits”.

Leadership Nigeria News

US: Nigeria’s Election Must Hold as Scheduled

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US Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry

• As Kerry meets Jonathan, Buhari
• Says violence perpetrators will be ineligible for US visa
• Mu’azu: Call for election postponement is absolute nonsense

The United States Government on Sunday said Nigeria’s general election billed for next month must hold as scheduled because it is one exercise that is both critical to the survival of the country and reaffirm its place in the world map.

The US Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry, who said this at a news conference in Lagos, also had separate meetings with both President Goodluck Jonathan and the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, where they discussed the need for a violence-free election and the nations’ bilateral relations.

While the meeting with Jonathan was said to have held at the State House in Lagos, the one with Buhari was held at the official residence of the US Consul General in Ikoyi, Lagos, the same venue as the news conference yesterday evening.

Kerry, who repeatedly harped on the need to eschew any form of violence, also noted that for Nigerians to know how seriously the US government took the issue of election violence, perpetrators would be ineligible for the US visa as a new measure against every anti-democratic tendency.

“The fact is that one of the best ways to fight back Boko Haram and similar groups is by protecting the peaceful, credible and transparent elections that are essential to any thriving democracy. And certainly, it is essential to the largest democracy in Africa.

“It’s imperative that these elections happen on time as scheduled. There have been improvements over past elections and a need to set new standards for this democracy. That means that Nigerians do not only have to reject violence but they have to actually promote peace,” he said.

The US Secretary of State, reading the riot act to violence perpetrators, said: “So, let me be clear: anyone who participates in plans or calls for widespread or systematic violence against the civilian population must be held accountable including being ineligible for an American visa.

“Violence has no place in democratic elections and I can guarantee you that the perpetrators of such violence will not be welcomed in the United States of America. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation and one of the world’s largest democracies. It is blessed with some of the planet’s most valuable and abundant natural resources.”

Reading from a prepared speech, Kerry said: “I am particularly pleased to be here at this moment just few weeks before one of the most important elections that this country has held. And this would be the largest democratic election of the country. Given this stage, it is absolutely critical that this election be conducted peacefully. That they are credible, transparent and accountable; that the people of Nigeria can have faith and the world can have faith in the government at this moment.

“So, I came here today to deliver a very simple message and I met with both major candidates in order to underscore that the international community is paying very close attention to this election and that the international community is deeply committed to working with Nigerians, going forward with the hopes that they will have election that is free of violence and capable of instilling confidence in the future.”

“The unfortunate truth is that Nigerians know as well as anyone how desperately that approach is needed. Day after day, the group that calls itself Boko Haram continues to kill scores of innocent civilians and attacks villages and military installations in places like Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States.

“The United States condemns these attacks which have escalated in recent weeks and extend our deepest condolences to the thousands of families that have been impacted and we deeply regret the toll that this violence is taking on the Nigerian people.

“We will absolutely continue to support the Nigerian military in its fight against Boko Haram. And as I said in Davos, all of us must work together to strategize to stop the groups – the Boko Haram, Al-Queda – but they will address the environment from which these groups emerged.

“We were very happy to see the government of Nigeria host a regional security ministerial meeting last week to discuss how to better coordinate counter-terrorism method. This is exactly the kind of thing that I suggested as necessary a couple of days ago. It is very important that the world cooperates more and helping countries where they want to and where they don’t have the capacity to be able to step up and take up lawless terrorist entities.

“That is precisely why President Obama has announced that next month in Washington we will host an international summit on combating violent extremism around the world. It would be held at the White House. It would be at the ministerial level and we hope to bring people together, who have been engaged in this fight against Boko Haram and other entities so that we can share best practices; so that we can hear from people about what they need and what they think is necessary in order to be able to summon an even stronger global response.

“I met with President Jonathan earlier today and separately with General Buhari and I was encouraged to hear once again from both men that this is exactly what they intend to do – to try to press for elections that can be held with the credibility that the people of Nigeria want and deserve. As President Jonathan said in his New Year’s message, ‘None of our political ambition is worth the blood of any of country’s men, women and children’.

“And as General Buhari recently tweeted, ‘Electoral violence is unacceptable and every Nigerian life is sacred’. Both candidates have also signed on to a peace pact which commits them to running exclusively issue-based campaigns; refraining from violence before and during and after election day.
“These are commitments that need be said from everyone and they are commitments that need to be kept. Many people are stepping up. For example, Chairman Jega and a thousand of Independent National Electoral Commission employees are taking concrete steps in order to guarantee that this election is successful. We also urge all of Nigeria’s governors to call for peaceful and democratic engagements amongst all citizens and we ask all parties and all candidates to do the same.

“And I urge all of Nigeria’s candidates to do what is best for their country no matter the outcome on Election Day.

“I want to emphasise that for the United States, Nigeria is increasingly important, strategic partner. Nigeria has a critical role to play in the security and prosperity of this continent and beyond. We are committed to helping the electoral process succeed.

“I want to reiterate what President Obama recently said that he and the American people stand with you as Nigeria’s great democratic exercise unfolds. And we stand ready to work with the government of Nigeria, the Nigerian people to continue building on the important partnership that we share,” he said.

In the same vein, the National Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu has described the call for the postponement of next month’s general election as absolute nonsense.
He also said that PDP is ready for the February 14 presidential and National Assembly polls and the February 28 governorship and state assembly elections.

Reacting to calls for the postponement of the general election, Mu’azu through his Chief Press Secretary, Tony Amadi, said: “It is absolute nonsense to suggest that the Peoples Democratic Party is not ready for the 2015 elections. The APC is at it again. The PDP looks at election campaigns as a marathon race and runs like the Kenyans and the Ethiopians in measured steps, slow, steady and consistently. We are only just in the half way mark of a long distance race and the APC thinks that they have already won simply because they think they are on pole position.

“The aggression with which they (APC) are pursuing this election is fine, but they must realise that pulling crowds is one thing, winning the election is quite a different kettle of fish. Their mountain of propaganda is being steadily dismantled by the ruling party since the campaign began because our message of truth is now getting through and opinions are being reversed at a rate they will never understand especially with the desperation to win by all means.”

The quest for a postponement of the election was first mooted last week by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd). Although Dasuki had argued that the insecurity and non-readiness of some of the electoral materials like the permanent voters’ card (PVCs) were the basis of his suggestion, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), through its Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, had foreclosed any plan to postpone the polls, insisting that he is ready for the election.

Mu’azu said signals from the North-central zone of the country showed that PDP would get massive votes from the Middle Belt.

According to Mu’azu, “The North-west zone has been a reassurance that PDP is on course for a fourth consecutive election victory not only because of the performance of our President Jonathan which are glaring for all to see, but also because the acceptability of the major opposition candidate is fraught with danger.

“The northern elite who direct the destination of votes don’t want a Buhari administration now or never. We accept his massive popularity among people who have no intention of voting but who adore his cult status and following.

“Therefore PDP, when the polls open on February 14th will not only be on pole position but victory is guaranteed because our marathon speed would have increased to the level we need to win the race. Think about this: we set up 12 universities across the country, nine of which are in the North and the opposition says they are glorified secondary schools. If their candidate had set up even a glorified primary school in 1985, imagine what would have become the lot of the Almajiris of those days who would have changed Nigeria today. But now they are Boko Haram, harassing all of us and the APC have the magic wand to stop their carnage and butchering of innocent souls immediately they get power. How will they do it?”