The Late 5: Sowore protests exclusion from Presidential debate, Ezekwesili, Moghalu react; In a sane society, a peace accord is not necessary – Donald Duke | Other top stories

These are the stories that drove the conversation today:

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the Petroluem Industry Bill was experiencing delay because reforms in the industry must be well thought out and must have the best interest of Nigeria and Nigerians as its core objective, assuring that dialogue on the bill is still on-going. 
The President who made the statement on Thursday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja while receiving the award of Grand Comrade of the Productive Workers of the Nigeria Oil and Gas Union, presented by its National President of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), noted that reforming the Petroleum Industry was necessary to unlock numerous untapped potentials for the nation and that he will not be in a rush to carry out reforms.
 “Such reforms cannot and must not be rushed, if we must get it right. We are still suffering from the effects of many legacy policies that were rushed and passed without fully appreciating the consequences the provisions embedded in them. “Whatever decision we take now will impact either negatively or positively on generations to come,” he added.

Presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Donald Duke, on Thursday said there was no need for the peace accord being signed by presidential candidates, as the country has laws to deal with electoral defaulters.

The former Cross River governor who stated this after a public presentation of a book authored by Prof. Iyorwuese Hagher, in Abuja hours after he signed the deal however, commended the process, stressing that it would tame political leaders from orchestrating violence in 2019 elections, but urged the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), to increase the tempo of voter’s education and decisively deal with electoral offenders especially vote buyers, in a bid to sanitise the system.

“There is really no need for peace accord because we have laws. We just want to show that we are coming into the race. “They are laws that deal with those who don’t want to respect the norms of the society. In a sane society it ought not to be so,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore, has protested against his non-inclusion in the forthcoming Presidential Debate organised by the Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) in collaboration with the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), describing it as unfair.

Baring his mind on the development on Thursday with at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, shortly after he arrived from United States, Sowore who expressed surprise as to why he was excluded from the debate despite being “the most prepared and popular of all the candidates,” insisted that he and his supporters will continue to pressure the organisers until his name is listed among the participants in the debate.

“The beginning of the electoral fraud was the non-inclusion of my name among the presidential debaters. “We won’t allow this to deter us because for us, the debate has commenced. Apart from using Nigerian media, there are some other media where issues are already being discussed,” he added.

Read also: Oby, Fela Durotoye, Moghalu react to exclusion of Sowore, Donald Duke from Presidential debate

The Federal Government on Thursday said fake news and hate speech constitute the biggest threats to the 2019 general election, and had appealed to states to join in the ongoing campaign to sensitise Nigerians to the dangers posed by the twin evils.

According to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria, Information Minister, Lai Mohammed who disclosed this at the official opening of the 47th National Council on Information (NCI) said fake news has the capacity to alter the course of the elections and create legitimacy problem for the winner, hence there is no issue more relevant to the election than that of fake news and hate speech.

“This issue transcends political party lines, religion, ethnicity, even nationality. Left unchecked, fake news and hate speech constitute the biggest threat to the forthcoming elections,” he said.

Members of the House of Representatives have criticised the Minister of Budget, Udo Udoma over his allegation after Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, that the delay in the presentation of the 2019 budget to the legislature was because the National Assembly were yet to fix a date for the laying.

Speaking during plenary on Thursday, after notifying the legislature of President Muhammadu Buhari‘s intention to lay the budget next Wednesday through a letter read on the floor of the house, Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, informed the lawmakers that Buhari’s letter was only delivered on Thursday morning and was read on the floor shortly after, stressing that the Presidency was yet to transmit a letter to the legislature on the presentation date, as of the time the Minister accused the lawmakers of delaying the process.

He therefore ruled that being a former member of the National Assembly, the lawmakers should give the minister grace to‎ willingly retract the statement and apologise to the legislature, failure of which the lawmakers would officially demand them from him.

And stories from around the world:

Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will not lead the Conservative Party into the next general election.

She said the party would prefer to “to go into that election with another leader”, as she arrived in Brussels for an EU summit. (BBC)

A fire overnight at a warehouse in Congo’s capital destroyed thousands of voting machines and ballot boxes that were due to be used in the country’s long-delayed Dec. 23 presidential election, authorities said on Thursday. (Reuters)

North and South Korea have agreed to hold a ceremonial groundbreaking for a project to reconnect railways and roads across the divided peninsula, despite concerns of possible sanctions violations.

Following talks with Pyongyang on Thursday, Seoul’s unification ministry said in a statement that the ceremony would be held on December 26 at Panmun station – the first North Korean terminal across the border – in Kaesong. (Al Jazeera)

Yemen’s warring parties agreed on Thursday to cease fighting for the Houthi-held port city of Hodeidah and withdraw their troops, the first significant breakthrough for U.N.-led peace efforts in five years of conflict. (Reuters)

The United States lashed out Thursday at “predatory” Chinese and Russian involvement in Africa as it announced a leaner footprint on the continent that insists on accountability in trade and peacekeeping.

In a speech billed as unveiling a new US strategy on Africa, national security advisor John Bolton echoed Trump’s “America First” philosophy, showing a distrust of international institutions and a sense of stark competition with rival powers. (AFP)


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