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Utomi reacts to reports Peter Obi asked supporters to charge fees for US meetings



A leader of National Consultative Front (NCF), Pat Utomi, has distanced himself and the presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, from the controversial sale of tickets in the United States to support Mr Obi in the 2023 election.

Mr Obi, in a video posted on social media, last week said he would be a guest speaker at several events being organised by Nigerians in five U.S. states from 31 August to 3 September.

However, one of the flyers being distributed shows that the cheapest ticket to attend the Atlanta version of the meeting costs $250 (N175,000) while the VIP and Executive tickets cost $1,000 and $5,000 respectively.

The costs of the tickets attracted criticisms from some of Mr Obi’s supporters who had extolled his prudence and acclaimed love for a better Nigeria.

“Ordinary seat = $250, VIP seat = $1000, Executive seat = $5000.

“Peter Obi is just a clever man that knows he will not win and wants to use this election to cash out! Look at the prices he is charging. And he says he is for the poor! If you don’t have shishi, stay away!,” one of his strong critics and former presidential aide, Reno Omokri, said in a tweet in reaction to the development.

Responding to the question on the controversy on “Sunday Politics”, a programme aired on Channels Television, Mr Utomi said the LP presidential candidate knew nothing about the charges.

He said the money for tickets may be a way to cater for attendees breakfast or dinner but they definitely have no hand in it.

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“We have been invited to an event, we don’t know what the mechanics are. You know, so, in America it is a tradition, if some people will give it breakfast or dinner, they may want to charge people that come to eat, but we have never not been associated with anything. We just get invited by Nigerian groups and we attend. So I don’t think that is an issue,” Mr Utomi said.

With reference to how Diaspora helped the historic change in Japan, India, among others, he said it would be unthoughtful not to engage Nigerians in Diaspora in Mr Obi’s mission to rescue Nigeria from the grip of its current leadership.

Given the precarious situation of the country’s economy, Mr Utomi noted that it is not the time to underrate the help Nigerians in Diaspora can offer through foreign remittances.

“When the time is right. The Diaspora will give money, they have always given money to campaigns. I have run for president as you know before and I got support from the Diaspora in 2006 and 2007, and then when I ran in 2011.

“When the time is right, we’re going to solicit obviously from Nigerians across the board. We are already setting up portals where people can give money,” he said.

He also dismissed speculations of disagreement between him and Mr Obi over campaign structures and funding ahead of the exercise.

The leadership of the LP recently rejected the choice of Charles Odigbo as spokesperson of Mr Obi’s presidential campaign team.

Mr Odigbo’s appointment was announced by Mr Utomi-led NCF at the unveiling of the LP media team in Lagos.

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The group is an umbrella body of some Third Force parties jostling to end the political dominance of the ruling APC and its main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the 2023 General Elections.

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PDP demands probe of Supreme Court fire disaster



The Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) has demanded a thorough investigation into the fire incident that gutted a section of the Supreme Court in the early hours of Monday.

The party raised the alarm over the incident which it described as suspicious giving the fact that a verdict on a sensitive issue of national importance is being expected.

National Publicity Secretary of the party, Debo Ologunagba made the position of the opposition party on the fire incident known in a statement on Monday.

He said, “The PDP is worried over the fire outbreak especially given heightened public apprehension of possible arsonist attack with the intent to cripple and frustrate the Supreme Court from effectively discharging its constitutional duties especially with regard to high profile electoral cases including the Presidential Election Appeals pending before it.

“Our Party demands for an immediate full-scale investigation into the fire outbreak with the view to unraveling the circumstances or possible sabotage in the incident.

“The PDP insists that the outcome of the investigation should be made public unlike those of previous fire incidents in various government Ministries, Departments and Agencies which were characteristically swept under the carpet by the All Progressives Congress (APC) administrations.

“While calling on the Federal Government to beef up security around the Supreme Court, the PDP also demands that Nigerians must be assured of the safety of sensitive documents and equipment at the Court especially at this critical time.”

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Gov. Mbah tasks FG on New Road Maintenance Model as bridge collapses along Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway



Gov Peter Mbah (centre) and some government officials during inspection of the collapsed bridge in Enugu on Monday

…urges FG to concession roads to states

Governor of Enugu State, Dr. Peter Mbah, has called for a new road maintenance model to guarantee a better condition and longevity of Nigerians roads, regretting that the current model had failed woefully.

Dr. Mbah made the call when he visited the site of the collapsed bridge between the New Artisan flyover and the NNPC Mega Station along the Enugu – Port Harcourt Expressway.

The collapsed bridge

Fielding questions from newsmen after the first-hand inspection of the scene of the disaster, Mbah who thanked God that no life was lost despite the magnitude of the incident, urged the federal government to consider a concession of all the federal roads in each state to the state governments for proper maintenance in conjunction with the private sector.

“I think the question should be whether the current model of federal road maintenance is working or not; and I think that is the bigger question that we must ask.

“Today, we are here witnessing a tragedy that has just occurred. We are fortunate enough that no life was lost, but this could have been prevented entirely. So, the people can no longer ply this route because of this tragedy. This shows clearly that we do not have a sound federal road maintenance model.

“The bridge collapse didn’t just happen. These threats could have been identified if we had routine or regular maintenance.

“Perhaps the way to go is to find a way to concession these roads to the states. The states need to take charge of the roads within their domains and there has to be a conversation around the funding models”.

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Gov Mbah (R) inspecting the collapsed New Artisan Enugu bridge that collapsed on Monday

The said bridge collapsed on Monday, leaving commuters stranded.

Meanwhile, in a statement signed by the Enugu State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Gerald Otiji, government has advised commuters to use Nza Street through New Haven or ply Ogui Road and Abakaliki Road to their various destinations, while the authorities come up with measures for immediate repair on the failed section of the bridge.

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Flyover bridge collapses in Enugu, no casualty



The collapsed flyover bridge in Enugu
The flyover bridge across the Enugu – Port Harcourt Expressway at the Enugu New Artisan market in Enugu state capital has collapsed.

The bridge collapsed Monday morning but an eyewitness said there was no casualty as artisans and residents were yet to come out from their homes for the day’s activity.

The eyewitness, an Auto Mechanic who identified himself as Nnamdi, told The Advocate that two lorries conveying goods which were on the bridge when the incident occurred were affected.

According to him, drivers and conductors of the two lorries, however, escaped unhurt.

The Advocate observed that one lane of the Enugu – Port Harcourt dual-carriage way had been blocked by the debris of the collapsed bridge forcing motorists playing the expressway to divert through alternative routes to continue their journey.

Security operatives, officials of the Federal and Enugu State Ministries of Works, Federal Road Maintenance Agency, Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) were sighted within the area to access the situation as well as to assist the road users plying the alternative routes.

Residents of Goshen Estate, Premier Layout, worshippers at the Dunamis Church and traders at the New Artisan market who are regular users of the bridge are likely to encounter serious traffic gridlock on account of the collapsed bridge, if an alternative route is not created as a matter of urgency.

The state government has yet to speak on the development by press time.

SEE ALSO:  Enugu PDP guber candidate, Dr Mbah slams N1b libel suit on APC Chair, Agballah
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