Senate President, Senator David Mark, Thursday expressed shock over an allegation by Senator Babafemi Ojudu (Ekiti Central), that he called for the postponement of the 2015 general election, describing it “as an undignifying mischief least expected of a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Ojudu had alleged in an interview he granted THISDAY in Lagos that Mark had once attempted to sell the dummy for election postponement to senators in a meeting, saying the senate president allegedly flew President Goodluck Jonathan’s kite to remain in office for another two years without conducting elections.
The senator also alleged that the idea was to hide under a section of the constitution which provides for deferment of elections for six months as a result of security crisis, adding that the hope that 2015 elections will be conducted on March 28 and April 11 remains a mirage.
Ojudu, who added that Mark unveiled the agenda after the senators resumed from a summer break, said he (Mark) was forced to beat a retreat on his intention to co-opt senators into the plan when he was confronted over the move.
But Mark in his reaction through a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Kola Ologbondiyan, in Abuja yesterday, said he was shocked and disappointed by the allegation, saying he never held any meeting with Ojudu or any other senator where any issue on deferment of elections was raised.
While accusing Ojudu of attempting to ridicule his fellow senators by the allegation and consequently drag the Senate into public disrepute, Mark said he never at any given time suggested the postponement of elections.
According to him, these are desperate times for politicians and Ojudu must have cooked up the story in pursuit of his alleged clandestine intentions, saying he was still at a loss over the factor that could have prompted the senator to descend so low to the level of blackmail and mischief.
“I have neither canvassed the postponement or deferment of 2015 elections nor has my body language ever suggested that. I am shocked that distinguished Senator Ojudu could descend to this level of mischief and blackmail for reasons that I am yet to understand.
“How could I call for the deferment of elections whereas I ran for the primary election of my party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and was elected unopposed. I picked and filled the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) forms. I had commenced a rigorous campaign that took me to the length and breadth of my senatorial district where I urged Nigerians to come out and participate in the electoral process. How else could I have shown commitment to the process?
“In no unmistakable terms, when the issue of insurgency came to the floor of the Senate and a distinguished senator introduced the issue of elections, I cautioned that the issue before the Senate had nothing to do with elections and that the issue before us in the Senate was insurgency and terrorism.
“I do hope Ojudu has not embarked on a voyage to re-write history to suit his clandestine intentions. I know these are desperate times for a lot of politicians. But it has not called for this outright mischief. Different political affiliations notwithstanding, we all have a common goal to maintain the sanctity of our peace and unity.
“If Ojudu feels strongly about any issue, he had the opportunity to make his point before his colleagues and certainly not grandstanding in the media arena. I have always maintained that elections should hold on schedule. I also believe that the right thing should be done. This is not personal but in the collective interest of Nigeria and Nigerians. The country is bigger than any of us. Our unity must be held sacrosanct,” Mark submitted.
Meanwhile, Ojudu yesterday clarified that Mark only said election should not be Nigeria’s priority in a speech he gave after the 2014 summer break.
In a statement he signed, Ojudu said the senate president did not specifically asked the senators to support the election deferment of 2015 elections, though explained what should be Nigeria’s priority rather than elections.
The statement said: “What I said was that when we came back from last year’s summer break, the senate president gave a speech where he said that left to him, the defeat of Boko Haram should be the nation’s priority now and not an election.
“I said from that moment on I began to feel that the elections as fixed for February may not hold since the nation may not have overcome Boko Haram by then,” the statement said.
Medical Student Wins 2015 Photo Contest
A 400-level medical student of Abia State University, Uturu, currently undergoing clinical studies at Abia State University Teaching Hospital, Aba, Chioma Nwanyichukwu Maduagwu, has emerged the winner of the maiden Proudly Adamazi 2015 online Photo Contest. She beat 31 other contestants to clinch the crown as well as the $1000 cash prize in a heated contest that trended enthusiastically for several weeks on facebook and other social media.
An ex-student of the Federal Government College, Okigwe, Chioma’s alluring traditional costume, matching accessories and delectable dancer’s gait gave the photograph she submitted for the competition a winning edge. All the five judges unanimously choose her photograph as the winning entry.
Organised by Arondizuogu Heritage Foundation, a non profit organisation dedicated to the rekindling of Igbo culture, the Proudly Adamazi Photo Contest is aimed at promoting Igbo cultural heritage from an Arondizuogu perspective. The 2015 contest is the maiden edition and many prospective contestants are already gearing up for the 2016 Contest.
Other contestants that emerged in the contest included Chioma Nwokeji (first runner up). Two contestants, Princess Charity Kanu and Faith Chinwe Ijita tied for the position of the second runner up; while Adaeze Felix Nkaru emerged as the third runner up.
Formal presentation of prizes and certificates of participation to the contestants is scheduled to take place during the 2015 Ikeji Festival. Highlights of the event shall include the unveiling of Heritage Magazine, a bi-annual magazine of culture and tourism, the 2015 Proudly Adamazi Calendar as well as “My Vision for Arondizuogu – A Collection of Essays,” written by the contestants as part of entry requirements for the Photo Contest. A tour of places of interest and visits to selected dignitaries are being planned to precede the event proper.
A statement signed by the Director-General of Arondizuogu Heritage Foundation, Mr. Uche Ohia, stated that efforts were being made to make the maiden prize presentation and related events memorable.