2019: INEC moves to clean up voter register, partners population commission on dead persons

The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday urged the National Population Commission (NPC) to furnish it with record of dead citizens since 2015 to enable it to “sanitise’’ the voter register.

Chairman of the commission, Mahmood Yakubu, a professor, made the request when he visited the Chairman of NPC, Eze Duruiheoma, in Abuja.

He said that the records were necessary to enable the electoral umpire to expunge names of dead persons from the national voter register.

“We will like to partner NPC and ask that the population commission make available records of dead citizens since 2015 to enable us take necessary steps to remove them from the voter register.

“We are confident that you will oblige us so that we can further clean up our voter register ahead of the 2019 general elections,” Mr. Yakubu said.

According to him, the commission is determined to do whatever it takes to sanitise the voter register as a free, fair and credible election is dependent on a sanitised voter register.

The chairman said that as provided by the Constitution, both commissions were saddled with similar responsibilities.

“While INEC is saddled with the responsibility of registering eligible voters, the population commission registers births and deaths of citizens across the country,” he said.

He disclosed that a draft copy of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between both agencies had been submitted to the population commission for its consideration.

“When the MoU is signed, it will formalise and enhance collaboration between the sister agencies for the general development of the country,” Mr. Yakubu said.

Responding, Mr. Duruiheoma commended INEC for the initiative to sanitise the voter register using records of NPC.

He said the collaboration between the sister agencies in the performance of statutory duties was very pivotal to national development.

According to Mr. Duruiheoma, “if we get our elections and censuses right, our nation will be on the way to greatness.”

He said that the commission would commence the process of making the records of deaths across the country available to INEC.

He, however, said that the commission could not pretend to have the records of every birth or death that had occurred since 2015.

“We look forward to the day when every single birth or death case will be efficiently documented by the commission,” Mr. Duruijeoma said.

He said that copies of the MoU had been circulated among relevant officers within the commission and that necessary inputs were already being made.

He assured the INEC chairman of his readiness to sign the MoU once it was finalised.

(NAN)

Source : Premium Times

INEC Must Meet Increased Registration Demand by Citizens – YIAGA Africa

Having deployed citizen observers across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, to keep an eye on the ongoing Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) process, YIAGA Africa’s WatchingTheVote has observed that there is an upsurge in the demand for registration by citizens which must be met by the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

According to an Observation report released by the citizen-led election observation initiative, the challenge remains that some people are not aware of the location of CVR centers while some of the machines in use are obsolete and have been breaking down in the course of registration.

According to the report, the queue at the registration centers are unabated, security deployment is not across board and most political parties are not deploying their agents. Observation reports also shows that registrants also complained about inadequate registration centers especially in big Local Governments that require at least 3 or more Registration points. Late arrival and early departure of INEC personnel was also among the challenges reported by WTV Observers.

The WTV team lauded INEC on the effective conduct of the process apart from delay in processing registrants and lack of enough machines and personnel while also applauding the resilience of Nigerians to get registered even in the face of challenges.

In view of these challenges, YIAGA Africa recommended that INEC should make available more DDC machines and personnel to meet up with high demand for registration. The report also recommended that registration period can be extended to 6pm to ensure the commission registers more people in a day as more awareness should be created on new registration centers to enable citizens locate

.

 

2018 budget of sports ministry unrealistic – YIAGA AFRICA – CLE

YIAGA Africa-Centre for Legislative Engagement (YIAGA-CLE) an NGO, has said the 2018 budget for the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is “unrealistic.”

The Executive Director of the NGO, Mr Samson Itodo made the statement during an advocacy visit to the Chairman, House Committee on Youths and Development, Rep. Segun Adekola (Ekiti-PDP) in Abuja.

Represented by the Senior Programme Manager of the NGO, Ms Yetunde Bakare, Itodo stressed the need to review the budget for the benefits of the youths in the country.

Itodo explained that YIAGA-CLE with support from the European Union undertook an analysis of the 2018 budget of the ministry.

He said that the aim was to ascertain the position of youth development on the priority list of the Federal Government based on the budget proposal and its responsiveness to the needs young people.

Itodo explained that the analysis also looked at the budget of the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, the Ministry Agriculture and Rural Development.

He said that the budget of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, the budget for the Social Investment Program (SIP) and the budget for the National Directorate of Employment were equally analysed.

He said the youth ministry had been allocated the sum of N16.2 billion which represents 1.4 per cent of the N8.612 trillion proposal of the Federal Government.

Itodo said a breakdown of the budget indicated that the recurrent budget consisting Salaries and Overheads takes a larger share of 95 per cent while the capital budget which funds projects and programmes was only 5 per cent.

He said that the budget failed to meet the government’s policy of 30 to 70 per cent allocation for recurrent and capital expenditures respectively.

The executive director said that the ministry’s budget was very lean when compared to the role it is expected to perform.

He said that too many new underfunded projects were introduced and were likely to result to incomplete projects.

According to him, details of the budget were not explicit to ensure transparency and fiscal responsibility.

Itodo recommended an adjustment in the budget to increase the allocation for capital expenditures.

He recommended that projects on entrepreneurship, vocational skill acquisition training should be adequately funded.

Responding, the committee chairman blamed the situation on the merging of the Ministry of Youth Development and the Federal Ministry of Sports.

Adekola said that the merger had really affected youth development as the focus is now mainly on sports.

He said that the mandate of youth development had been relegated to the background.

Adekola said that during the budget defence, the committee was vehement that there was nothing in the budget to take care of youth development.

The Chairman said most youths are not gainfully employed and that the thousands of youths roaming the streets was responsible for the unabated spate of militancy, terrorism, prostitution and the menace of herdsmen.

“So I agree with you that the budget did not take adequate care of youths, it is unfortunate that we have already passed the budget defence stage.

“However, we will make sure a holistic investigation and forensic auditing is carried out in the ministry,” he said.

The Chairman said that the committee had made a case for the establishment of a youth commission to take care of the welfare of young people

Source: NAN

 #WatchingTheVote Election Series: Politicians Greatest Threat to Nigeria’s Electoral Democracy – Jega

Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said politicians were the greatest threat to Nigeria’s democracy.  Jega said this during the Watching the Vote Election Series held in Abuja with the theme “Is Nigeria’s Democracy Under Threat?, as he explained that the recklessness of Nigerian Politicians to destabilise the democratic process needs to be checkmated

Prof Jega who chaired the maiden edition of the Election series organised by YIAGA Africa said, “Nigeria like all countries face threats to its democracy, we must identify the threats that have the tendency to derail the development of our democracy and address them.

Bar. Dan Nwanyawu, Prof Jega and Idayat Hassan during the WTV elections series

“We must also checkmate the threats of politicians to undermine our democracy because all we need now is adding value to the process and We also need to mobilise our people in towns and villages to be part of the electoral process and ensure that we do not engage in authoritarian reversal which would take us several years to get back on track.

“The signals are there, the fragility of the system is evident, we are a country with enormous systemic security challenges.” The former INEC boss, therefore, advised that Nigerians should have quality representatives that would provide good governance and protect the interest of the people.

Jega also faulted the power of the National Assembly to alter the sequence in which elections are conducted saying, change in the election sequence undermines the independence of electoral body.

Professor Jega pointed out that several sections of the constitution also stated that the power to organise and set the date for elections remain the exclusive preserve of INEC. He also decried that more funds would be needed to finance the conduct of elections if the nation was to go by the recommendation of the National Assembly.

The panel discussion which was moderated by Seun Okinbaloye had former Chairman of Labour Party, Dan Nwanyanwu, Chief Executive Director of Centre for Democracy and Development, Idayat Hassan to discuss roles of Political parties and Civil Societies in Nigeria’s Electoral Democracy. Also, on the panel of discussion is Udo Jude Ilo, the Country Officer and Head of Nigeria Office of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

Panelists at the WTV Election Series

On the theme, Is Nigeria’s electoral democracy under threat? Ms Idayat Hassan decried the stage of our electoral democracy saying, having 68 registered political parties is a major issue as majority of the parties don’t have representation in the entire 36 states of the federation especially at the grassroots.  Similarly, Udo Jude Ilo also agreed saying there should be a threshold of registering political parties as it is not sustainable to continue to spend huge funds in conducting elections in Nigeria.

With regard the roles of political parties play in Nigeria’s electoral democracy, Barrister Dan Nwanyanwu said, political parties are much more concerned winning elections rather than the credibility of the electoral process itself. According to him, For us to have a level plain ground for all and a stronger democratic system, there is need for voters education.

As part of conscious effort to improve our electoral democracy, Director General of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr Garba Abari who is also present at the WatchingTheVote Election Series said, Nigeria’s democracy was under threat and the signs and indicators were evident. Abari stressed the need for government to partner CSOs to educate Nigerians on elections to especially curb invalid votes. He said NOA was concerned about the number of invalid votes that kept recurring during elections, adding that there was need to educate the electorate on election procedure.

DG NOA, Dr. Garba Abari speaking in Voter Education

According to the Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo, the Election series could not have come at a better time with barely 385 days to the 2019 General elections. Mr Itodo said, there was need for Nigerians to redesign what the future of the nation would look like. Itodo said the election programme was timely as it was aimed at assessing the state of Nigeria’s democracy and to chat the way forward.

Participants at the WTV Election Series

WatchingTheVote Program Director Cynthia Mbamalu giving her vote of thanks, said 2019 elections is going to be critical to us as Nigerians thus we at YIAGA will continue to engage citizens to ensure credible elections in Nigeria.

STATEMENT BY YIAGA-CLE AT AN ADVOCACY VISIT TO THE CHAIRMAN HOUSE COMMITTEE ON YOUTH DEVELOPMENT

Honorable Chairman,

YIAGA Africa-Centre for Legislative Engagement (YIAGA-CLE) with support from the European Union undertook an analysis of the 2018 Appropriation bill from a youth perspective to ascertain the Federal government’s priority for youth development based on the budget proposal and its responsiveness to the needs young people. The analysis looked at the budget for the Federal Ministry of Sports and Youth Development and some social and economic including the budget for the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, the budget for the Social Investment Program (SIP) and the budget for the National Directorate of Employment.

Considering that the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development’s (FMYSD) was created with the mandate to provide overarching policy direction and coordination for youth development in Nigeria, the focus on the budget for the ministry was to ensure that the budget was structured to fulfil the Ministry’s mission of providing the necessary infrastructure, sustainable framework, policies to enhance the development of the Nigerian Youth, the protection of their rights and continuous improvement of the quality of life for the entire citizenry and making Nigeria one of the leading sporting nations in the world.

The budget for the Ministry is divided in into four parts according to the four parastatals under the Ministry. This include; the FMYSD – Head Quarters (HQ), the Centre for Citizenship and Leadership, the National Youth Service Corps, the Nigeria Football Federation and The Nigeria Institute for Sports.

The FMYSD has been allocated 1.4% of theN8.612trillion budget proposal of the 2018 Federal Government budget, this amounts to N116,220,852,559. A breakdown of this budget indicates that the recurrent budget consisting Salaries and Overheads takes a larger share of 95% while the capital budget which funds projects and programmes is only 5%.

 General observation on the FMYSD budget

Generally, it is observed that the FMYSD budget is very lean when compared to the role it is expected to perform. A break-down of the budget indicates that the recurrent expenditure as it is currently proposed gulps 95% of the budget while the capital expenditure is limited to only 5% of the budget. This at first instance presents a major challenge considering that share of capital is lopsided and fails to meet the government’s policy of 70 to 30 for recurrent and capital budgets. Interestingly, most of the expenditure lines are administrative in nature. In other words, priority is placed on procurement of items such as vehicles, computers, furniture fittings, repairs of offices etc.

In addition, the proposed budget for the FMYSD introduced too many new projects, which are underfunded with the likelihood to result in several incomplete projects thus adding to the growing number of abandoned projects. Details of budget line were not explicit to ensure transparency and fiscal responsibility. For instance, budget items in the FMYSD – HQ and the Nigeria Football Federation budget for sporting activities within the recurrent budget were not clearly stated. Both agencies could end up expending public resources for same activities if the type, location and beneficiaries are not clearly stated. Some of the specific observations include:

  1. The review of FMYSD budget shows that all the agencies did not apply the principles of good budgeting. Budgets of agencies were unrealistic given the magnitude of the problem and challenges youth face in Nigeria.
  2. The review of the national Youth policy tagged as an ongoing project means it was not completed in the last fiscal year. It is not clear if the amount budgeted for this fiscal year will be enough to complete the process. A national Youth Policy should be current and developed to address present day challenges while acting as a guide to develop relevant youth intervention in Nigeria.
  3. 49 new projects of FMYSD –HQ are too many resulting in a lean budget spread across many activities.
  4. Budgets for entrepreneurship and skills building aretoo lean to yield any significance in numbers of youths reached or results.
  5. A budget of N15m each for 40 Federal Universities, 21 Federal Polytechnics and over 100 Unity Schools respectively for sports equipments is lean. It is not clear  how many schools  in each category will benefit from these equipments
  6. Youth training on citizenship and leadership should be prioritized in the FMYSD 2018 budget, given the worrisome trends in youth agitations across the Country.
  7. Public private partnerships for the provision of entrepreneurship, vocational and sporting activities through the agencies should be encouraged and such budgets captured within public funding to ensure accountability.
  8. The Ministry should adjust its pattern of allocation to the 70:30 percent rule for Recurrent and Capital budget respectively, reflecting the policy on public finance
  9. Allocations to youth programmes should be strictly for young persons. Lumping budgets for youth with women was seen across most of the sectors. Although both are vulnerable groups their needs are surely different.

Recommendations

  1. It is therefore recommended that the MDAs adjusts the pattern of allocation to the 70:30 percent rule for Recurrent and Capital budget respectively, reflecting the policy on public finance management which the Federal Government has adjusted to.
  2. New projects within agencies should be reduced to a manageable number that will allow for optimal funding of project and possible completion within the medium term, depending on the size of the project.
  3. Projects on entrepreneurship, vocational skills should be adequately funded or left to specific ministries with direct functions such as NDE. There is need to harmonize youth programmes to ensure synergies and reduce duplications – a guideline on responsibility and budget priority for youth within federal agencies should be produced by the FMYSD.
  4. To avoid duplications, budgets for Sporting Activities in FMYSD-HQ and the Nigeria Football Federation should provide details on type, location and target audience. This will ensure a more transparent and efficient allocation of resources.
  5. Youth training on Leadership is very important. The Citizens and Leadership Centre’s budget should be increased to provide at least 6 zonal leadership programmes yearly. The agency should also reflect it revenue generating capacity within its budget.
  6. Public private partnerships for the provision of entrepreneurship and sporting activities through the relevant agencies should be encouraged and such budgets captured within public funding to ensure accountability
  7. The MDA’s should budget separately for youth activities from that of women and children. Since this is an area of intervention that needs strategic approach, it is important that allocations are separated; this will also enable tracking of funds and oversight of budget.

In conclusion, YIAGA-CLE is of the opinion that the budget of the Ministry as proposed is unrealistic given the magnitude of the youth demography and challenges youth face in Nigeria. This challenge is not peculiar to the budget of just the FMYSD but extends to the other social and economic sector that directly or indirectly impacts on youth development. Identifying this challenge and underscoring the importance of inclusive budgeting that meets the needs of the youth, YIAGA-CLE has designed a toolkit for Youth Development. This toolkit will be presented to the Committee of Youth Development and partners working to promote youth development. This toolkit will further strengthen the oversight function of the Committee for regulatory supervision of public expenditure to ensure transparency and accountability of public resources that truly meet the need of young people in Nigeria.

 

Samson Itodo

Executive Director

 

‘Corruption getting worse in Nigeria’ — Transparency International releases 2017 index

Corruption is getting worse in Nigeria, according to the latest corruption perception index (CPI) released by Transparency International (TI) on Wednesday.

While the country scored 27/100 and was ranked 136th in 2016, the latest CPI scores Nigeria 28/100 but with a rank of No. 148 out of 180 countries surveyed — a significant 12 places below where it was the previous year.

This will come as a blow to the President Muhammadu Buhari administration who came into office on the strength of his anti-corruption credential.

Although the administration has put many suspects on trial and seized assets of politicians and government officials, it has also been accused of condoning corrupt practices by top government officials.

The index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption in the opinion of experts and business people, uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean, according to TI.

NIGERIA NOW MORE CORRUPT THAN KENYA

An analysis by TheCable shows that Kenya, which was rated more corrupt than Nigeria in 2016, has now overtaken the west African country, climbing to 143 from 145.

Other sub Saharan African countries ranked higher than Nigeria are Botswana — whose joint 34 rank is the best in Africa — as well as Rwanda (joint 48) and Nambia (joint 53).

Nigeria is ranked 148 along with Guinea and Comoros.

In 2015, Nigeria scored 26/100 and was ranked 136 — although only 168 countries and territories were surveyed then.

New Zealand maintains the No. 1 rank with a score of 89/100, Denmark No. 2 with 88, while Finland, Norway and Switzerland are joint No. 3 with 85.

‘CORRUPTION FIGHT IN NIGERIA STALLED’

Meanwhile, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), the national contact of TI, says it is “seriously worried” about the new but unfavorable trend in the fight against corruption in the country, as buttressed in the newly published CPI.

“On the African continent, Nigeria ranks 32nd position in Africa out of 52 assessed countries in 2017. While Botswana leads the continent with the record of competent and largely corruption-free public administration, Nigeria hopelessly falls behind with 27 points. In West Africa, Nigeria is the second worst country out of 17 countries leaving only Guinea Bissau behind,” CISLAC said in a statement released on Wednesday evening.

“This fresh setback in the fight against corruption confirms that grand-corruption, political corruption, nepotism, favoritism and bribery persist in Nigeria at all levels. It is CISLAC’s view that the negative perception is mainly a consequence of the inability to combat grand corruption and astronomical plundering of public coffers costing the Nigerian tax payers around 25% of annual GDP. Since the current administration has come to power on the anti-corruption ticket, no significant politically exposed person has been duly sentenced on anti-corruption charges,” it added.

Source: The Cable

Is Nigeria’s Electoral Democracy Under Threat? Prof. Jega Set to Chair  Watching the Vote Panel Discussion

The 2019 election is barely 360 days away and we are yet to conclude on the amendments to the Electoral Act, the budget for the Independent National Electoral Commission for 2018 that directly impacts on the planning for the February 2019 General Elections and the increasing demand by citizens for the auditing of the National Voter Register especially with the controversial allegation of underage voters from the just concluded Local Government Elections in Kano State. In addition, is the rising insecurity, the rise of ethnic militancy and fragmentation as well as the poor state of the economy remain key issues as we move towards the 2019 General Elections.

As Several issues dominating the electoral discourse remain contentious and while each side of the argument will affirm superiority, the important question on how all these impacts on the success and credibility of the 2019 general election is yet to answered. The maiden edition of the YIAGA Africa WatchingTheVote Election Dialogue Series will be providing a platform for key stakeholders to debate on these issues while seeking to provide answers to the question: “Is Nigeria’s Democracy Under Threat?” The Panel session which will be chaired by the Immediate Past Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); Professor Attahiru Jega, billed to take place on 22nd February 2019 with Distinguished Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu, Udo Jude Ilo, Idayat Hassan and Chef (Barr.) Dan Nwanyanwu as speakers. The WTV Election Dialogue Series is a high level electoral policy dialogue designed to create a platform for engagement on the 2019 general elections in Nigeria. The event-based series provides an opportunity for key election stakeholders and citizens to engage on pathways for ensuring free, credible and peaceful elections in 2019.

While the 2015 general election was largely believed to be free and fair, it was far from perfect with records of poor voter turnout. The 2019 elections present’s more intriguing prospects with more citizens getting interested in the election as indicated in the rate of turn-out for the Continuous Voter Registration exercise and the whole discourse on having more young people and new alliances contest for the elections. As an active participant in the elections and one of the Election observer groups in Nigeria, there is no better time to build on the lessons learnt from previous elections and engage stakeholders; INEC, Political Parties, Civil society Organizations (CSOs), Media, Security Agents and citizens for better preparation for the forthcoming 2019 general election. This is most needful as Nigeria begins the countdown on the “Road to 2019” General Elections.

 

Signed

Samson Itodo

Executive Director, YIAGA Africa

 

 

 

Kano, INEC and the 2019 Elections, By Jibrin Ibrahim

Kano, it would be recalled, has been in political turmoil for over one year as former Governor Kwankwaso had been involved in a fight to finish with current Governor Ganduje and the local government election was the opportunity for the current governor to show that he is the only game in town, as such there was additional pressure to falsify the election.

The Kano local government election has been one of the main issues of controversy in the past week. The debate was over video images that circulated showing boys, definitely younger than 18-years, queuing up to vote or thumb printing multiple ballot papers. It led to genuine alarm over the implications of such behaviour for next year’s elections. Charly Boy, the famous entertainer, led a coalition of civil society activists organised under the banner of OurMumuDonDo to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to complain about the election and demand for action. The social media was full of critical comments attacking INEC for the shambolic election. INEC then engaged in a media frenzy, explaining that it had nothing to do with the election, which they argued was organised by the body constitutionally empowered to do so, the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC).

I recall that when the Uwais Electoral Reform Committee was touring Nigeria for the views of citizens on its assignment, one of the key complaints then was that the State Independent Electoral Commissions were not independent of state governors and that they deny citizens the right to elect chairpersons and councillors at the local government level, imposing lists of candidates that had been drawn up by governors on the people. I still recall the anger of so many petitioners who really wanted to vote for good people to run their local governments, the closest level of administration for citizens, but who could not do so as the so-called elections are always non-elections in reality. The Uwais Committee recommended what has been a national consensus – that there should be a constitutional alteration allowing INEC to takeover the conduct of local government elections. That is yet to happen.

If everyone knows that local government elections in the country have never been elections, why was the Kano show so controversial? The first issue was the optics. The videos that I saw showed that most of the people involved appeared to be children; it was as if there are no adults in Kano State. Kano, as is well known, is an issue because of its huge electoral base. Local government elections are supposed to be conducted using the INEC voters’ register but none of the images I saw showed the use of the register. The problem, apparently, is that there is no mechanism compelling the SIEC to stick to the legal provision of using the INEC register, and INEC has no supervisory role in the conduct of the elections.

The general situation in the country, with violence spreading and preparations going on for next year’s elections, has focused attention on the voters’ register. For the first time since the return of democracy in 1999, INEC is adhering to the provisions of the Electoral Act by conducting Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).

Kano, it would be recalled, has been in political turmoil for over one year as former Governor Kwankwaso had been involved in a fight to finish with current Governor Ganduje and the local government election was the opportunity for the current governor to show that he is the only game in town, as such there was additional pressure to falsify the election. People knew that and did not bother to turn up for the election. The opposition to Ganduje had a stake in proving that there was no election and some of the images circulated may have been photoshopped by them to make that point. However, I believe that some of the images are real and confirm the popular belief that elections did not take place in Kano State.

The general situation in the country, with violence spreading and preparations going on for next year’s elections, has focused attention on the voters’ register. For the first time since the return of democracy in 1999, INEC is adhering to the provisions of the Electoral Act by conducting Continuous Voter Registration (CVR). With the introduction of the Biometric Voter Register in 2011, INEC no longer undertakes fresh voters’ registration with every election. In 2015, there was a CVR at the ward level for one week to update the 2011 voters’ register, in preparation for the 2015 General Elections. In April 2017, INEC took the next step by commencing voters’ registration on a continuous, all-year round basis, as provided for by law. Initially, turn out for the registration was low, until religious organisations started urging their members to register. One WhatsApp message is indicative of the mood in the land – “prayer points won’t give you the vote, you need your permanent voters’ card”. This for me is a good indication that Nigerians are beginning to accept that both the voters’ list and our elections have improved integrity and credibility. The optics of the Kano videos raised an alarm because people started posing questions.

One fallout of the proposed new schedule is that organising three elections, instead of the customary two, would be a huge financial burden on national resources in a period when the country is just emerging from economic recession. There would be enormous logistics and cost implications for INEC, in terms of the mobilisation and demobilisation…

According to INEC, so far, four million Nigerians have been registered between April and December 2017. As the pressure mounts on citizens to get on the register, my fear is that people who are already registered would go out to register again. Continuous registration is uniquely for people who have turned 18, and not for those already on the register. Double registration is a crime. People who have changed locations or lost their cards are allowed to apply for new cards, but they must not pretend they are not on the register. The response to the Kano images should be to protect the integrity and credibility of the voters’ roll. That should be our focus.

On Wednesday, the National Assembly concluded the process of rescheduling the elections. The changes they have introduced to the sequence of the elections are disturbing because it has implications for the independence of INEC. According to Paragraph 15 (1) of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, INEC has the power “to organise, undertake and supervise all elections to the offices of the President and Vice President, the Governor and Deputy Governor of a State, and to the membership of the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the House of Assembly of each State of the Federation.” The Constitution is clear that election to the offices listed above “shall be held on a date to be appointed by the Independent National Electoral Commission.” Based on this provision, State and National Assembly elections were held before governorship and presidential elections previously, and the dates and sequence of the 2019 elections have already been determined by INEC. It is hard to see the purpose of isolating the National Assembly elections and putting these ahead of the governorship and presidential election. It would have been more logical to group federal elections on one day and state level elections on another, or to group legislative elections on one day and election into executive positions on another. It appears that the only purpose might be that National Assembly members think they would enhance their personal chances in the elections if they go first. They forget that the evidence from previous elections is that their governors would deny most of them nomination and usually only 20 percent of them usually return to the chambers. Their thinking then might be that if they are thrown out of their parties and join new ones, the rescheduling might enhance their chances. This, to say the least is self-serving.

One fallout of the proposed new schedule is that organising three elections, instead of the customary two, would be a huge financial burden on national resources in a period when the country is just emerging from economic recession. There would be enormous logistics and cost implications for INEC, in terms of the mobilisation and demobilisation of upwards of over one million regular and Ad-hoc INEC staff, transportation, feeding and security personnel. The capacity and resources of the security agencies will be severely tasked in providing election security for three elections over a six-week period, given the dire national security situation in the country. The same would be true for local and international election observers. Laws are serious instruments and should not be made for selfish interest without consideration for the national interest.

Source: Premium Times

EXCLUSIVE: Real reasons Senators, Reps amended 2019 election sequence

Details have emerged on the reasons the National Assembly changed the sequence of elections ahead of the 2019 polls.

Some lawmakers who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES in confidence said negotiations that preceded the passage ended in majority favouring the change based on past experiences and calculations about the 2019 elections.

According to the timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), presidential and National Assembly elections were slated for the same day on February 16, 2019.

However, with amendment to section 25 of the Electoral Act, election into seats in the National Assembly will hold on the first day before those of the state lawmakers and state governors on the second day, with the presidential election holding last on a separate date.

According to the section, the elections shall be held in the following order: (a) National Assembly election (b) States House of Assembly and Governorship elections (c) Presidential election.

The House of Representatives was first to amend the Electoral Act some weeks after INEC’s timetable was announced. However, the passage at the senate was not without drama and dissent.

The senate chamber was thrown into a rowdy session on Wednesday, February 14, following the adoption of the conference committee report on amendment to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Act.

The senate in its justification of the amendment said members of the conference committee followed rules guiding legislative procedures in the Senate and the House of Representatives in making the recommendation.

“Our rule says whatever position we have taken and there is a similar one in the house, we harmonise, but where the house has taken a position that we have not taken, we are bound compulsorily to adopt that of the house,” Senate spokesperson, Sabi Abdullahi, said on Wednesday.
While the plenary was still on, 10 senators left the chamber to address the press on their disapproval of the amendment to section 25 of the Act. They alleged that the change in sequence was targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari.

However, two influential senators who supported the amendments, and who have deep insights of the political schemings that culminated in their passage, have now confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that the changes were indeed targeted at President Buhari, with sights trained on the next elections.

Both senators asked not to be named so they are not victimised by the presidency and the national leadership of the ruling party.

The first lawmaker traced the decision to amend the sequence of elections to the crisis rocking the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC).

“The change in sequence is as a result of APC crisis where it was predicted that senators and members of House of Reps will not be given ticket because the governors want to replace them with their own candidates,” he said.

“Almost 70 to 80 percent of APC senators and Reps members are working on moving to other parties. So, in order for them to move to other parties, the understanding is that if they will move to other parties, under the old order, it will be difficult for people to win elections. The idea is that if you move to a new party, people can be voted based on their own merit.

“The new arrangement favours three categories of people. One, the APC members who are aggrieved, second, it favours smaller political parties. Third, it favours the PDP.”

The lawmaker added that rather than fighting the President as the dissenting senators claimed, they are actually fighting for their political interests.

“Those who came up against it, outwardly, they are saying that it was targeted at Buhari but inwardly, what they were saying was that if they separate presidential election from National Assembly election, the APC will not release money for polling agents. That APC will not release money for the National Assembly elections. But it is only when they tie National Assembly election with presidential election that the APC will have no option than to fund it.”

The second lawmaker said the need to erase the notion that lawmakers won their elections in 2015 due to the bandwagon effect of Mr. Buhari’s election informed the new order.

After the 2015 elections, analysts posited that majority of APC lawmakers rode on the popularity of Mr. Buhari to win their elections. This, some of the lawmakers consider offensive.

The lawmaker said the need to test the water, with or without the President, informed the decision to alter the election sequence.

Also, the new order was imperative due to alleged electoral attitude of President Buhari and the APC.

If the sequence was left the way it was, the lawmakers are of the opinion that Mr. Buhari will not be interested in other elections once he wins his.

Besides, according to our source, the APC will be forced to release money for other elections bearing in mind that the president’s election is at stake.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives, unlike the Senate, adopted the harmonised version of the amended Electoral Act on Wednesday.

The amendments, if eventually signed by the president, will effectively re-organise the sequence of elections in Nigeria.

However, if the president withholds assent, the lawmakers are empowered by the constitution to veto the amendment with the votes of two-thirds of their members.

The lawmakers told PREMIUM TIMES that they (senators) are ready to veto the decision should the president reject the bill.

Source: Premium Times

British High Commissioner Urges Buhari to sign NotTooYungToRun bill into Law

Fresh from the historic feat of the passage of NotTooYoungTorun bill in over 24 states constitutionally required by law, the bill has enjoyed another major boost as British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the bill as soon as its transmitted to him by the National Assembly.

Mr Arkwright said this on Saturday barely 24 hours after the #NotTooYoungToRun movement issued 30-day ultimatum to State Assemblies, National Assembly and the Executive to conclude the ongoing constitutional amendments process.  While congratulating the movement on the historic feat he said, the next step is young people especially women to present themselves as candidates.

He made this known via his official twitter handle saying “I am delighted at this excellent news and congratulate the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign. I urge @Mbuhari to gibe assent as soon as possible. Next step is young people (especially women) to present themselves as candidates”. Mr. Arkwright who has always publicly declared support for the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign is of the believe that, it is important that the voice of young people in Nigeria is heard loud and clear.

As young Nigerians look forward in participating in politics, all Focus is now on President Muhammadu to assent on the age reduction bill after the bill met the Constitutional requirement of passage in State houses of assemblies. The movement also urged state assemblies to conclude and transmit the constitutional amendment back to the National Assembly as soon as possible.

The bill was first passed by the Nigerian National Assembly in a historic vote in July 2017. The bill seeks to reduce the age for running for elective office in Nigeria. With this unprecedented feat, the world looks to President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the constitutional amendment. Once the President assents, the bill becomes law making it possible for young people to run for office in 2019.

The Not Too Young To Run movement is a movement of youth and civil society groups advocating for the reduction of age for running for elective offices to mainstream young men and women in electoral politics. Not Too Young To Run is Nigeria’s largest and most successful youth movement in recent times. The movement is driven by the compelling need to restructure the country’s political system to address the deeply entrenched system of political exclusion and institute inclusive politics, transformative leadership and electoral competitiveness in the electoral process.