**There is no doubt that President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to give Nigerians a credible, free and fair election come February this year. In a show of his resolve while addressing delegates from ECOWAS, assured the international community that Nigeria is working closely with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to deal with insecurity in the West African region as well as implementing strategies to contain the spate of unconstitutional changes in government. Buhari gave the assurance Thursday in Abuja while receiving Letters of Credence from Ambassadors of Switzerland, Sweden, Republic of Ireland, the Kingdom of Thailand, the Republic of Senegal and the Republic of South Sudan, at State House. Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said Buhari called for cooperation and collaboration from the countries to overcome challenges in West Africa. The President invited friendly countries to ‘‘support efforts to address the problem of insecurity, fight against corruption, diversification of the economy, and our efforts in promoting good governance.’’ As Nigerians prepare to elect another government at the general elections on 25th February 2023, President Buhari renewed his call to foreign government representatives not to meddle in Nigeria’s internal affairs. “I urge you to be guided by diplomatic practice to ensure that your activities remain within the limits of your profession as you monitor the build-up to the elections and the conduct of the general elections itself. “I wish you all success in your respective tours of duty and at the same time encourage you to take time to enjoy the unique nature and culture at your disposal as you travel across our country,” he said. The President assured the ambassadors that Nigeria and their respective nations have highly friendly and mutually beneficial bilateral relations and collaboration, and he praised the contributions made by their predecessors who had worked diligently and resolutely to further these causes. “I am therefore confident that your appointments are obviously deliberate to build on the successes of your immediate predecessors in order to advance our relations to significant and enviable heights. “As you settle down to your diplomatic responsibilities, I am hopeful that you will appreciate the political, socio-economic and cultural diversities which are the hallmarks of the Nigerian nation. “I encourage you to build friendships and take time to fraternise across the length and breadth of the country including interfacing with both the public and private sectors in a bid to explore areas of mutual benefit to your respective countries and Nigeria. “Sectors such as Healthcare, Education, Infrastructure, Local Manufacturing, Pharmaceuticals, Agribusiness, Transportation, Solid Minerals are areas of particular interest to us and foreign investors alike. “This will enable us to collectively strive to resuscitate all our countries’ economies in the post-pandemic global recovery processes.” President Buhari also acknowledged the support of the respective countries in his Administration’s campaign to deal with the challenges of insecurity such as kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, drugs and human trafficking, as well as the threats posed by environmental challenges resulting from climate change in the Lake Chad Region. He reiterated that different factors that accounted for these challenges go beyond the abilities of any single country to effectively contain them. He emphasized that matters of security have become the business of all nations of the world to work together at both bilateral and multilateral platforms and build consensus in order to overcome these challenges. The Ambassadors who presented their Letters of Credence are Nicolas Lang, Switzerland; Annika Hahn Englund, Sweden; Peter Ryan, Ireland; Kitiisak Klomchit, Thailand, Nicolas Nyouky, Senegal and David Chaot of South Sudan. Responding on behalf of his colleagues, the Ambassador of Switzerland assured the Nigerian President that they will exercise “their functions as Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary with dedication, to the best of their knowledge and belief, and for the mutual benefit of our countries.” Wishing Nigeria peaceful, free and fair elections, the Ambassadors extended their goodwill to the President on his remaining days in office. “We are keenly aware of the importance of Nigeria to the wellbeing of the entire African continent, its role in international politics and its weight in the world economy. “Each and every one of us is proud to represent his or her country and its interests in this great Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Lang said.

**In it unflinching resolve to have almost every registered voter to obtain their Permanent Voters Card (PVC), The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday extended the deadline for the collection of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs). It was reported that the Commission extended the PVC collection deadline until Sunday January 29, 2023. This update was provided by INEC’s National Commissioner Festus Okoye in a statement sent to Journalists. “The Commission is determined to ensure that registered voters have ample opportunity to collect their PVCs ahead of the forthcoming election. “For this reason, the timeframe for the collection of PVCs is extended by eight days. “Instead of ending on Sunday 22nd January 2023, the collection of PVCs will continue until Sunday 29th January 2023. At the moment, the period of collection is 9.00 am – 3.00 pm daily (including Saturdays and Sundays),” INEC’s statement reads in part.

**OBJ is remaining resolute and unwavering with his open support for Peter Obi. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is enraged over a claim trailing his backing of Peter Obi to win the 2023 presidential election. The former Head of State endorsed the Labour Party (LP) flagbearer in a lengthy letter to Nigerians on January 1. “My dear young men and women, you must come together and bring about a truly meaningful change in your lives. “If you fail to redeem yourself and your country, you will have lost the opportunity and will have no one to blame but yourselves and posterity will not forgive you”, he stated. The open declaration, widely considered a major boost for Obi’s ambition, jolted the ruling party and the opposition. Since then, certain social media posts and publications accused Obasanjo of receiving inducement. In a chat with News Men, one of his aides, who asked not to be named, debunked the insinuation. He wondered how a man who led the country as a military and civilian leader would sell his conscience. “I am not authorized to speak publicly but I can confirm to you that it’s all lies, fake news. “How much does anyone have to buy a man like Obasanjo? When did speaking one’s mind become a problem? The aide revealed the retired General groaned about the allegation when he was informed. “Some VIPs have been calling him about it. Baba was so angry that he raised the matter. “We checked and discovered it was one or two news sites that are not mainstream. “We told him to ignore it because this is an election period and people will say things”, he added. It was gathered that a rebuttal may be issued if Obasanjo remains uncomfortable with the speculation. Obi, a former Anambra governor, is contesting to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in what is largely considered a four-man race. Other frontrunners are Bola Tinubu, All Progressives Congress (APC); Atiku Abubakar, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Rabiu Kwankwaso, New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).

**Dr. Doyin Okupe’s troubles seem to be taking turns on him like there’s a special purpose why the financial watch dog agency waited this long to start acting. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has stated that the arrest of the former Director-General of the Peter Obi Presidential Campaign Council, Dr Doyin Okupe, was a mix up.
The chieftain of the Labour Party (LP) was arrested by operatives of the arrested by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS), Naija News earlier reported. Okupe, who was arrested at the Muritala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, has been released. Giving reasons for Okupe’s arrest, EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, in a terse statement on Thursday, said: “The Department of State Services, DSS, today, January 12, informed the Commission of the interception of Dr. Doyin Okupe, former presidential adviser, at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos. “The Service acted on a Watch-list request issued on July 18, 2016, over six years before his recent conviction on money laundering charges by the Federal High Court, Abuja.

**The immediate-past Director-General of the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Council, Doyin Okupe, has stated that his rearrest by the Department of State Service on the request of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, was erroneous and should not have happened. Okupe who was arrested at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport on Thursday morning said his passport had long been withheld by the Federal High Court Abuja even before finding him guilty of violating sections of the Money Laundering Act that attracted two and a half years imprisonment. The former Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Olusegun Obasanjo and Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan added that the officers of the EFCC in Lagos and Abuja have apologized for the error in his arrest.

**The rumors of election postponement was laid to rest by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC who dismissed the speculations on the alleged postponement of the 2023 general elections. The commission restated its commitment to hold the forthcoming general elections as scheduled. The INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu gave this assurance during a meeting with the leadership of the 18 political parties at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday. Yakubu said the commission is not contemplating postponing the general elections in February and March this year. He said, “The commission is not contemplating any adjustment to the election timetable let alone postponement to the general elections. The repeated assurance by security agencies for the adequate protection of personnel and process also reinforces our determination to proceed.

**Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Mr Peter Obi, has enjoined Nigerians to vote for competent persons, who are mentally and physically prepared for the task of providing leadership for a sick nation such as ours. Obi, made the appeal in an interactive session with students of the University of Nigeria Enugu Campus, UNEC, Business School, in Enugu, yesterday. The interactive session was entitled: ‘State of the Nigerian Economy: The Way Forward.” He also spoke at a rally in Enugu, where he said the LP Obi-Datti ticket was the best equipped and prepared to move the country forward. In a veiled reference to the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, he said: “In the United States during the election, they go for debates, somebody once asked Barack Obama questions that were personal and he answered. “But here in Nigeria, somebody wants to contest the election, we don’t know his real age, we don’t know his name, we don’t know the schools he attended. Nobody knows his real identity. “My name is Peter Obi, I can say I went to CKC, went to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Both the VC and DVC today, were my schoolmates. We came to University the same year and left the same year. “The people I went to school with, I can see them here today, my seniors and my juniors. How come we now have people who do not have classmates? This is very important. This is all about character and people we can trust.” The LP candidate explained that an honest person does not pretend to be someone he is not and is not afraid to tell people the truth about himself. Obi cited the example of Chief Afe Babalola, SAN, legal luminary and founder of Afe Babalola University, ABUAD, Ado-Ekiti, who he described as an upright Nigerian, who isn’t ashamed of his background. Okay

**With the general election drawing nearer, the faces behind most mask are beginning to emerge. Former Jigawa State Deputy Governor Ahmad Mahmud said a tsunami will hit the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, in the state in the next two weeks. Mahmud stated this while speaking to journalists shortly after he formally decamped to PDP from APC in Bamaina. He said work is in progress to end the era of APC in Jigawa State and Nigeria in general. He said: “I have already talked to my political allies and other good people of Jigawa State in APC, all have accepted to dump the party and join PDP. “In the last eight years, APC has destroyed all the foundations of peace and progress Jigawa State was built on and drifted it to the path of total collapse.” He enjoined his supporters to join hands with other PDP members to ensure the party wins the coming 2023 general election.

**January 12, The Deputy Speaker of the Kaduna State House of Assembly, Isaac Auta Zankai and the member representing Zaria state constituency, Suleiman Dabo, have dumped the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Labour Party (LP). The Deputy Speaker is representing Kauru state constituency in the state Assembly. The lawmakers’ defection was announced on Thursday, by the National Secretary of the Labour Party and Chairman of the governorship Council, Umar Farouk Ibrahim, while inaugurating the party’s 450-member Governorship Campaign Council and the unveiling of its manifesto in Kaduna. The LP National Secretary said half of the members of the Kaduna Assembly were “Obi-Datti” apostles. He noted that the support received from the calibre of personalities in the state, was an indication that the party was on the march to taking over political power both in the state and the national levels. “Sincerely speaking, today is one of the happiest moments in my life. I have gone around to campaign for our presidential candidate, Peter Obi and I have received great receptions. “I am particularly impressed by the calibres of personalities that grace this inauguration. In the entire northern states, we don’t have any personality that dumps APC and join Labour Party except in Kaduna State with the Deputy Speaker and another member from Zaria state constituency”, he said.

**The unbridled tongue of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu is being widely criticized by the majority of Nigerians from the South East region. His careless statement that they, of the region will languish in longer marginalization unless they vote massively for him to become the president has cast a stone in the bees hive of the truly non APC region. Tinubu made this provocative statement in Enugu, on Wednesday, while he was there for the state presidential campaign rally at Michael Okpara Square. He said they have to work hard to support his presidential bid, if not, they will only get “soaked sliced bread” as a region. According to the APC National Leader, Igbos should “work hard, sweat for this party until they deliver victory for him.” But nobody will give you any credit, you are working hard, and you’re sweating now. We want you to sweat well now for this party until you deliver victory.

**According to a news that was published by the Vanguard Newspaper online this morning, it was reported that an eyewitness, who saw how bandits operated at the Igueben Train Station, has narrated how the bandits selected their victims and left. While the eyewitness, a middle-aged woman, who sells around the train station, was narrating what happened, around 3:30 to 4:00 pm in the evening, she said was standing where she was selling and then suddenly, they heard gunshots and when they turned, they saw about four of the bandits coming towards where she was selling, and when she wanted to run to the other side, she saw a group of them shooting, as they instructed them to lie down, before the assailants went into the Arrival Hall of the station to bring out the passengers that were there, and also told them to lie down. She said, “They now selected some of the people. I do not know the number they selected and they went with them, as they directed us to one bush and instructed us to lie down there while the others matched the others to another side of the forest.” She said three of the Kidnappers, led them to one bush and asked them to lie down there, before they now ran to meet their colleagues and their victims. He said, “We lay in that place for about ten minutes before an old man came after they released him. He was the one who told us that they have gone.” She said the old man was deliberately released and that, they did not come in any vehicle and it was not the direction they came from that they went back through.

**CAC Yusuf Malanta has continued in his revenue generation stride, making lots of positive gains for the Service. In what seems to be like stock taking exercise, the Apapa Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), has said it facilitated non-oil export goods worth N28.2 billion with a total tonnage of 6.4 million metric tonnes through Apapa port in 2022. The command said it also generated N1 trillion revenue, which is 16.07 per cent higher than the N870 billion collected in 2021. The Area Controller of the Command, Comptroller Yusuf Malanta, who disclosed this, yesterday, at a media briefing to review the activities of the command in 2022, said a total of $68.5 million Free onboard (FOB) export commodities was recorded. He said the exports included steel bars, agricultural produce such as, hibiscus, sesame seeds, cocoa, cashew nuts, ginger, soya beans and mineral products. On anti-smuggling, in the year under review, Malanta said the command seized 157 containers with a duty paid value (DPV) of N14.4 billion, as against the 102 containers with DPV of N31.8 billion seized in 2021. He said items seized include, codeine syrup, foreign parboiled rice, vegetable oil, processed/unprocessed wood, used clothing, adding that 60 suspects were arrested in connection with some of the seizures. Malanta said collaboration with other agencies of government has greatly enhanced productivity of the command. He said inter agency collaboration, networking, incidence profiling, information gathering/processing and experience shared has resulted in a lot of interception of life threatening import of dangerous drugs and various prohibited items. While noting that 2022 is characterised by several challenges in the economic and trade supply chain, Malanta expressed delight that the command was able to make some laudable achievement using technology-driven initiatives to maximise revenue collection, enforcement of anti-smuggling operations, export promotion and synergy with our noble stakeholders in the industry. Malanta thanked the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hammed Ali and his management team for robust support throughout the year, even as he encouraged freight agents to pay accurate duty and obey extant import and export guidelines without violating the prohibition lists.

**Lionel Messi’s father, Jorge, is believed to be in Riyadh to hold talks with Al-Hilal over the possibility of the player joining the Saudi club. The deal would see Messi earn a staggering £245m-a-year. The 35-year-old’s current contract with PSG expires in June and Al-Hilal is keen to take him to the Middle East. They would be willing to pay him $300m-a-year (£245m) to get a deal over the line, according to Mundo Deportivo. If it becomes a reality, the move could see Messi renew his on-pitch rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo joined Al-Hilal’s rivals Al-Nassr last month and will receive £175m-a-year. Should Messi accept Al-Hilal’s proposal, he would earn significantly more than Ronaldo and would get the chance to play against his great rival once more.

**FIFA Best Men’s Player Award 2022 nominees: Messi & Mbappe on prestigious shortlist but Ronaldo left out. World Cup finalists Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe featured on FIFA’s Best Men’s Player shortlist, but there was no room for Cristiano Ronaldo.

May our success be unimaginable to men today

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