2019 poll: INEC seeks electoral offences tribunal

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged the National Assembly and other stakeholders to expedite action on the bill to establish the National Electoral Offences Commission/Tribunal ahead of the 2019 general elections.

The Commission also disclosed that it recorded 1,080 cases of electoral offences during the 2015 general elections and subsequent bye-elections.

INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, stated these in a memorandum he submitted to the Senate joint committee on INEC and the Judiciary on Monday.

He said 124 of the cases were filed and 60 convictions secured in various courts across the country.

Yakubu expressed dismay that reports of the Electoral Reform Committee (the Uwais Report) of 2008 and the Post-election Violence (Lemu Report) 2011 have been left to gather dusts on the shelves.

He said the two reports recommended the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission/Tribunal to address all forms of electoral violence and impunity that had continued to undermine the stability of the nation’s democracy.

Yakubu lamented the fact that though INEC has the powers to prosecute, it lacks the powers to effect the arrest of electoral offenders.

This, he said has continued to hamper effective prosecution of electoral offenders.

Yakubu said: “While the Uwais Report was transmitted by the executive to the National Assembly in 2010, the White Paper on recommendations of the Lemu Report directed the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minster of Justice to take steps towards the establishment of the Electoral Offences Tribunal.

“Nearly a decade later, there has been no legislative action on these aspects of the recommendations of the Uwais and Lemu reports, making the present effort by the Senate and the concurrent effort by the House of Representatives a welcome development.

“The failure to systematically and consistently enforce sanctions has encouraged impunity and the violence that often characterised electoral contest in Nigeria, thereby subverting the will of the people and undermining the nation’s electoral democracy.

“At present, INEC is saddled with the responsibility of prosecuting electoral offender. Section 150(1) and (2) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) empowered INEC to prosecute electoral offenders through its legal officers or any legal practitioner appointed by it without the powers to arrest and investigate thus depending on the police for this purpose.

“Without the capacity to make arrest and investigate violations, the prosecutorial role is severely hampered. INEC cannot effectively focus on this role given its other variegated responsibilities under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).”

Source: Todayng

Not-Too-Young-To-Run: Are We Ready To Run?, By Opeyemi Oriniowo

…we must be frank with ourselves and ask each other what we have to offer that is better than the status quo. What business have we run? What is our track record of public service? Are we responsible in our immediate families and communities? You can’t be seen as running from your old student’s association and also shying away from estate meetings, yet want people to entrust a local government in your hands.

My week started with an early Monday morning phone call from a vibrant and promising family friend who is still licking his wounds from the defeat he suffered after a rigorous bid for the local government chairmanship ticket in one of the States in South-West Nigeria. He was in an in-house competition with his father’s peers who could be considered as part of the party establishment in power, so it made it quite easy to predict how things would pan out. I gave him all the support I could and after the dust settled, I admonished him, that for me, it wasn’t about him winning the primaries and the election, but more about his audacity to run, the momentum it gathered and the hope it raised in a generation that has largely surrendered. I guess that helped put his loss at the primaries in perspective, as we both went on to dissect the process, his approach and sieve out the lessons.

Moving forward, his call this morning was to discuss an offer of a State Assembly ticket by one of the newly formed political parties laying claim to Nigeria’s youth demography as singularly for us by us. Our conversation went along the lines of me advising him by sharing my thoughts on Nigeria’s youth development and youth political participation landscape with the hope that a broader understanding from my standpoint will provide him the necessary insight to make the decision to either leave his long-standing, state-level incumbent but relatively unpopular political party, for the new alluring party with not much to offer than potential.

First, let me state that as Nigeria’s youth, we have come a long way, especially with the recent passage into law of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill by 34 state assemblies in Nigeria. This effort was largely driven by civil society organisations using a movement model that resonated with virtually every Nigerian youth, perhaps more for loftiness of the idea. It is without doubt a great precedent and template for policy and legislative advocacy through movement-building, and we must commend every one of us that was involved, particularly organisations like YIAGA that played a coordinating role at the national level.

Without mincing words, we are presently failing to live up to expectation… Within the youth civil space, there is a distasteful penchant for titles, such as those of ‘Coordinator’, ‘Founder, ‘Leader, or ‘Executive Director’ of one youth movement or the other, as against striking partnerships and building networks where the collective goal is bigger than any individual ego-feeding habit.

I am aware that March 14, 2018 has been set aside as the national day of action to push for presidential assent to the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill. I particularly look forward to my involvement in this mobilisation effort at Unity Fountain, Abuja. However, I don’t need a crystal ball to predict that the president will waste no time in assenting to this bill, especially at this critical juncture of his presidency that is on and off life support. I trust the president’s handlers to see how jumping in front of this youth wave benefits him as yet another gift, albeit tokenistic, for the teeming youth that were instrumental to his victory at the polls in 2015. It is the least he can do vis-à-vis the four million jobs that were lost last year and the increase in youth un-employment rate from 14.2 percent to 18.8 percent in 2017, to say the least. Besides, it makes for good optics for the 76-year-old leader, who might get a second term in office as president of a country where youth account for over 63 percent of the electorate, to identify with the Not-Young-To-Run bill. The joke is on us!

My friends, I hate to burst your bubble but it is evident that it took more than our advocacy to get the movement to this final stage of the president’s assent. Where in the world or particularly on our continent have we seen power given up so easily? They know a bill reducing the age we can run for office is not a potent threat to the establishment, so they might as well join us in the charade and milk it for all that it is worth. So while we celebrate this milestone, let us not suffer fool-hardy. The process to the actual change we seek is a marathon and must be seen as resilient, vigilant and equipped to go the long haul. So far, our collective disposition is of a people only prepared for a hundred-metre race. We are presently the generation with the potential of rising above the parochial interest of self that manifests as ethno-religious divide, which is at cross purpose with our collective well-being.

Without mincing words, we are presently failing to live up to expectation, as some of us who should know better are carrying on as if our intention is to be recruited into the status quo as an exception, and to continue with the usual oppression. Within the youth civil space, there is a distasteful penchant for titles, such as those of ‘Coordinator’, ‘Founder, ‘Leader, or ‘Executive Director’ of one youth movement or the other, as against striking partnerships and building networks where the collective goal is bigger than any individual ego-feeding habit. Our singular strength is in our numbers and our numbers won’t amount to much if we are unable to aggregate our voices. To do this, we must understand that those of us at the forefront of the struggle with decent education from within and outside of the country, whose parents started us up with a middle-class and upward standards of living are not the representation of the average Nigerian youth. The foundation of democracy is choice and its benefit can only be realised when the people have the capacity to make the right choice. The greatest injustice done to the generality of us is the systemic denial of our right to good education. This has hindered our collective choices and we must move the Not-Too-Young-Run advocacy to a movement aimed at waking our demography up across all social strata.

As a rule of thumb, I will advise we young people that we collectively decide not to vote any of us, or anyone for that matter, into a political office, who has no primary occupation. We need professionals in politics, not professional politicians… We must not end up becoming the justification of the old cultural narrative where age is synonymous with leadership capacity. This is food for thought!

Secondly, we do not deserve a shot at the helm of affairs of this country just because we are young, so I will advise that we end such crass opportunism. So far, there are at least three registered political parties claiming to be representing the youth of this country without any corresponding grassroots movement in any part of the country; they are not even in any serious talks with existing socio-political youth groups across the federation. We need to understand the age long principle that you only reap where you sow. I was expecting that by now we would have a grand roll-out of plans to build structures across geo-political zones. We need to begin a volunteerism drive targeted at secondary schools and higher institutions of learning. We might as well rule out the 2019 presidential election that is only 11 months away.

Thirdly, we must be frank with ourselves and ask each other what we have to offer that is better than the status quo. What business have we run? What is our track record of public service? Are we responsible in our immediate families and communities? You can’t be seen as running from your old student’s association and also shying away from estate meetings, yet want people to entrust a local government in your hands. As a rule of thumb, I will advise we young people that we collectively decide not to vote any of us, or anyone for that matter, into a political office, who has no primary occupation. We need professionals in politics, not professional politicians. The Not-To-Young-To-Run movement can only be sustained beyond the presidential assent against the backdrop of a paradigm shift that is rooted in a new socio-economic order for Nigeria. We must not allow the movement become a recruiting ground for the sustenance of the old order. We must not end up becoming the justification of the old cultural narrative where age is synonymous with leadership capacity. This is food for thought!

Opeyemi Oriniowo is a youth advocate, international development practitioner and analyst.

Source: Premium Times

PRESS STATEMENT ON NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION ON PRESIDENTIAL ASSENT

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.

The Not Too Young To Run movement received with pleasure news of the transmission of the constitution amendments from the state Houses of Assembly to the National Assembly on 1 March 2018 for transmission to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the next and final stage in the constitution amendment process of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended.

The Age Reduction bill popularly referred to as the Not Too Young To Run bill received affirmative votes from thirty-five (35) state assemblies. In other words, 35 state houses of assembly have passed the Not Too Young To Run bill seeking to reduce the age for running for elective office in Nigeria. With this passage, the bill has met the constitutional threshold prescribed by Section 9 (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). The Section stipulates that any amendment to the constitution must be approved by at least 24 state Houses of Assembly. This is a landmark achievement and commend all the states that passed the bill.

Few weeks ago, the movement inaugurated 25 state assemblies into the Hall of Fame. We are glad that the number has increased to 35. We therefore use this opportunity to inaugurate the following 10 state assemblies into the Hall of Fame;

  1. Bayelsa State House of Assembly
  2. Cross River State House of Assembly
  3. Edo State House of Assembly
  4. Kano State House of Assembly
  5. Osun State House of Assembly
  6. Oyo State House of Assembly
  7. Rivers State House of Assembly
  8. Sokoto State House of Assembly
  9. Taraba State House of Assembly
  10. Zamfara State House of Assembly

It is instructive to note that the Taraba State House of Assembly which was earlier inaugurated into the Not Too Young To Run Hall of Shame reversed its earlier vote on Not Too Young To Run Bill. The House met on Monday the 19th of February 2018 and passed the age reduction bill.

On 11 August 2016 in his International Youth Day speech, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria recognized the roles that young Nigerians played in the historic election that brought his government to power and made a commitment that this government belongs to youth.

President Buhari also used the International Youth Day to assure Nigeria youth of his commitment to improving the quality of our lives and to create opportunities for us to achieve our dreams and ambitions. The statement was mindful of the fact that Nigeria has one of the youngest populations in the world.

In the words of President Buhari to Nigeria youth, “You are the strength and future of our country. Please be assured that this administration will create an enabling environment for you to realize your potentials.”

As a movement, we remind President Buhari of his promises to Nigeria youth and of our determined quest for a true people’s constitution anchored on the principles of inclusion, equality and justice.

We therefore invite citizens to join us on Wednesday 14 March 2018 for the National Day of Action on Presidential Assent as we engage the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari GCFR to sign the age reduction bill and fulfill his promises to millions of Nigerian youth.

NotTooYoungToRun National Day of Action

The Movement calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the constitutional amendment bill especially the Age Reduction bill as soon as the bills are transmitted to him for assent. We therefore, also urge the National Assembly to without further delay transmit the Constitutional amendment Bills to the President for assent.

The National Day of Action is designed to demonstrate that the large youth population is in support of the age reduction bill being considered as part of the constitution amendment process.

The National Day of Action is NOT a protest, but is a peaceful citizen engagement with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

We hope to use the National Day of Action to emphasise the need for the Constitution review process to be concluded speedily.

We thank all the young organizers across the country who have remained resolute and have constantly engaged with their stakeholders to ensure the passage of the #NotTooYoungToRun bill, we thank the media, civil society, and our partners for the solidarity and support.

We invite you to join us at Unity Fountain, Abuja by 8:00am on 14 March 2018.

One Shared Value, One Shared Goal, #NOTTOOYOUNGTORUN

Our Shared Value, Our Shared Goal, #NOTTOOYOUNGTORUN

Signed

  1. Activista
  2. Abuja Global Shapers
  3. African Youth Initiative on Population, Health & Development (AfrYPoD)
  4. Connected Development [CODE]
  5. Dean Initiative
  6. The Election Network
  7. League of Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (LEPAN)
  8. Mind Capital
  9. The Nigerian Youth Parliament
  10. Orodata,
  11. Project Pink Blue
  12. Social Good Nigeria
  13. TechHer NG
  14. The YALI Network
  15. Youngstars Foundation
  16. Youth Hub Africa
  17.  YIAGA Africa
  18. Amplified Radio
  19. Media Insight
  20. Say No Campaign
  21. Vision Alive Foundation, Abia
  22. Youth Initiative for Better Change, Adamawa
  23. Young Activists Initiative Nigeria, Akwa Ibom
  24. Integrity Youth Development Initiative, Anambra
  25. Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development, Bayelsa
  26. The Bridge Youth Development Foundation, Benue
  27. Exit Lanes, Borno
  28. After School Centre for Career Development, Cross River
  29. DIG Foundation, Ebonyi
  30. Connected Advocacy, Edo
  31. Inspiration Care Centre, Ekiti
  32. New Century Initiative, Enugu
  33. Dandalin Matasa Initiative for Rapid Development, Gombe
  34. Development Dynamics, Imo
  35. Centre for Environmental Research and Development, Jigawa
  36. One Project Afrika. Kaduna
  37. Centre for Advocacy in Gender and Social Inclusion, Kano
  38. Youth Entrepreneurship Support Hub, Katsina
  39. Youth Consensus Forum, Kebbi
  40. Youth Emancipation for the Society (ProjectYES), Kogi
  41. Brain Builders International, Kwara
  42. Grassroots Mobilization Initiative, Nasarawa
  43. Nigerian Young Professionals Forum, Niger
  44. Youth Future Savers Initiatives, Ogun
  45. Youth Aglow Initiative, Ondo
  46. Kimpact Development Initiative, Osun
  47. Young Care Initiative, Oyo
  48. Centre for Youth Participation Advocacy, Plateau
  49. Golden Star Development Initiative, Sokoto
  50. Rural Integrated Development Initiative, Taraba
  51. North East Youth Initiative Forum, Yobe
  52. Golden Stars Development Initiative, Zamfara
  53. Modaville Centre for Development, Lagos
  54. National Organization for Citizens Orientation (NOCO), Rivers State.
  55. Nigerian Youth Action (NYA), Rivers State, Nigeria

THE ELECTORAL AMENDMENT BILL 2017 : Withholding assent could mar the 2019 elections

The alarm by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) that it has in its custody a mountain load of uncollected permanent voter cards (PVCs) aside the increasing incidence of double registration, calls for concern. But coming at a time the nation is inundated with overwhelming evidence of the existence of underage voters on the register, INEC needs to do more than raise alarm. Once the register is dubious, a credible election becomes impossible.

Thankfully, with the transmission, last week, of the Electoral Act No 6, 2010 (Amendment) Bill 2017 to President Muhammadu Buhari by the National Assembly, INEC has more opportunities to consolidate its preparations for the general elections. The amendment bill contains far reaching reforms that are intended to make the electoral system deliver cleaner elections in the country.

Introducing about 18 fresh features, the bill de-emphasises reliance on human discretion that had been subject of abuse over the years by legalising the use of technology in the electoral process. Subsequently, INEC is now mandated to use full biometrics for accreditation and voting, while results are not only to be recorded on prescribed forms but must be transmitted electronically to the collation centres immediately after the close of polling. And besides manual register of voters, INEC is required to maintain an electronic register on its website for public scrutiny, at least, 30 days before an election.

The bill also addressed some grey areas of the electoral processes that manifested in past elections, including the provision for replacement of a candidate that dies before the declaration of results. The affected party now has a 14-day window to organise primaries for the nomination of a replacement for a fresh election to be conducted by INEC within 21 days.

The amendment bill harkens to complaints about overbearing conduct of political parties’ executives during primaries and enforces internal democracy by prescribing that all members are entitled to vote in the nomination process for delegate or direct primaries elections. Other arbitrary practices, including excessive nomination fees and disqualification of aspirants based on criteria other than those stipulated in the 1999 Constitution as amended, have been curtailed. The bill stipulates nomination fees payable, ranging from N150, 000 for councillorship to N10 million for presidential candidates.

Meanwhile, the controversial aspect of the bill is the provision which mandates INEC to appoint dates for the elections to be held in the following order: National Assembly; State Houses of Assembly and Governorship; and Presidential. This amendment reverses the prevailing order announced by INEC last month, which fixed National Assembly and Presidential elections for February 16, 2019, while the state Houses of Assembly and governorship elections would come up two weeks later on March 2, 2019.

There are arguments for and against the reordering of the sequence of elections by the legislature. For us, the most compelling is the additional cost of a three-stage election to the nation’s purse. This newspaper had argued in the past for a one-day process by which elections into all positions would be held same day and we maintain that remains the best way to go. It would have therefore been advisable, in the circumstances, to retain a two-stage process in which all the legislative elections would hold on one day, while the executive elections would on the other day.

However, in the absence of any meaningful attempt by the executive to engage the legislature before passing the bill, the matter has become quite complicated. Besides, we do not see how the current provision injures the basic objective by INEC to conduct free and fair polls. To therefore withhold assent at this stage, as being suggested by some presidential advisers, could set in motion wide-ranging controversy and generate unnecessary tension that we do not have the luxury of time to deal with.

Source: This Day

Fact check on underage voting in Voting

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has absolved the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission from allegations of gross underage voting in the last local government election in the state. Recall that the national chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, set up a special panel to investigate the allegations of electoral malpractice in the state.

The chairman of the special investigative panel, Abubakar Nahuce, thus disclosed on Friday, March 2, that there is no evidence to back up the allegations. In an earlier report by NAIJ.com, Nahuce said there was no concrete evidence to prove that the pictures of underage voters making the rounds on the Internet were from the Kano local government elections.

Nahuce said: “From the interaction with civil society organisations and media, no evidence of underage voting has been presented. “We have discussed with you media men, but none of you said he saw any underage voter in the line on election day.” In another report by ICIR, Nahuce added that some of the pictures were from the recently conducted Kenya presidential elections.

He said: “All what we saw were from social media and they are not verifiable… some of them are not even from Nigeria, some are from Kenya elections but people are attributing them to Nigeria.”
Earlier, Mohmmed Garba, Kano state commissioner of Information, had claimed the pictures were taken during the 2015 general election. The Kano council poll was won by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in all the 44 council areas in the state. How true is the claim by Nahuce that some of the videos are from Kenya? Fact According to ICIR, in one of the videos posted online, the children were seen chattering cheerily as they queued up to vote and the cameramen who spoke in Hausa could be heard chanting APC.

NAIJ.com gathered from ICIR’s findings that there is no political party with the acronym APC in Kenya. The closest are AP for Agano Party; ARC for Alliance for Real Change and APK for Alliance Party of Kenya. Therefore, it would be out of place for voters to be chanting APC in Kenya. Also, the children in the video reportedly spoke Hausa; Hausa language is not spoken in Kenya. Of course, there are many languages spoken in Kenya, chief of which is Swahili, but Hausa is not one of them. The Hausa ethnic group is found mostly in West Africa.

Conclusion
INEC must acknowledge the seriousness of underage voting and come up with innovative strategies on how to prevent it. Continuing to deny underage voting is not good for the country’s electoral system. The video above was shot during an election that was conducted in Nigeria, ICIR confirmed. However, whether it was during the recent Kano council polls as claimed by some people or the 2015 general election as claimed by Kano commissioner is another matter entirely. A former INEC commissioner, Professor Lai Olurode recently admitted during a recent interview with Punch that there were places in Nigeria where INEC personnel were being forced, sometimes even threatened, to register underage voters. He said: “There are certain areas of this country where even if they know the person is a kid, they will insist that the child must vote. “I had to run for my life at one of the election centres in a part of the country because these people said children must vote or there would be no election at all. It was that bad.”

Source: Naija.com

Electoral Act: Presidency Intensifies Lobby to Defeat NASS Vote to Override Veto

Two weeks after the transmission of the amended Electoral Act to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent, the presidency has intensified efforts to defeat the plan by the National Assembly to override the anticipated presidential veto of the Act.

The lobby is intended to ensure that the required two-thirds majority votes of the 469 federal lawmakers, comprising 109 senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives, is not secured.
This is just as a stalwart of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has dragged the federal legislature to court in Enugu challenging the Electoral Act passed by the National Assembly altering the election sequence.

The lawmakers on February 14 had voted in both legislative houses to change the sequencing of general elections for the presidential election to be conducted last, instead of first, as is the current practice.

The amendment, which is expected to weaken the bandwagon effect of presidential elections on the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections, has allegedly not been well received by President Muhammadu Buhari, who believes it is targeted at weakening him in the 2019 presidential polls.

It is therefore widely anticipated that the president would withhold his assent to the amendment of Section 25 of the Electoral Act, which provides for the National Assembly elections to be conducted first, followed by the governorship and state assemblies, while the presidential poll will be conducted last, all on separate days.

The president, who is required to give reasons for withholding his assent to any bill, is expected to state that the amendment to the Electoral Act, is in conflict with Sections 76(1), 132(1) and 178(1) of the Constitution, which specifically empowers the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to set the dates for the elections into the National Assembly, Office of Governor, and President.

The Senate and House spokespersons, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi and Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas have, however, indicated the readiness of both legislatures to override the president, if he declines assent.

The president, according to Section 58(4) of the Constitution, has 30 days, from the time a bill is presented to him, to give assent or indicate that he is withholding his assent.

Section 58(5), however, provides that “where the president withholds his assent and the bill is again passed by both Houses by two-thirds majority, the bill shall become law and the assent of the president shall not be required”.

But THISDAY gathered that the backlash that followed some of the lawmakers, who vocally criticised the amendment of the Electoral Act in the Senate, was also worrisome for the presidency, as the lobby was expected to be more successful in the Senate as opposed to the House where the amendment originated from.

Senator Adamu Abdullahi was suddenly removed as chairman of the influential Northern Senators’ Forum, while Senator Ovie Omo-Agege was mandated to appear before the Committee on Ethics and Privileges over his comments that the amendment was targeted at the president.

Lawmakers who spoke with THISDAY off record at the weekend, however, believe that the requisite two-thirds votes would be secured, despite the efforts of the presidency.

“It is two-thirds of the 469 that is required, not two-thirds of each chamber. So it is possible. We would simply call a joint session. It has been done before when the legislature overrode the veto of the President Olusegun Obasanjo on the NDDC (Niger Delta Development Commission) Bill in year 2000,” a lawmaker explained.

“It is likely to pass as long as the House of Representatives is in support of overriding the veto. And this current House is willing, I can assure you.

“Many of the members are really angry and they have reasons to be. So, even if we are unable to get many Senators on board, as we expect the EFCC to go after some senators in the coming days over past corruption cases when they were governors, we will get to override the veto,” he said.

The lawmaker further pointed out that the opposition to the president was not really about the Electoral Act, but about his perceived hostility to the legislature and his manner of governance generally.

A lawmaker from one of the North-central states also disclosed that chieftains of the APC were being enlisted to lobby their “people” in both legislative chambers.

“Unfortunately for those (chieftains) deployed from our area, the president has lost the confidence of North-central zone. The manner he has handled the Benue killings and attacks by herdsmen in other states, show that he is isolated from reality. Defeating his veto on any bill, not just the Electoral Act, would show him that he has no base in this parliament, which he does not have good relations with anyway.

“He has refused to release the zonal intervention funds, which has killed the re-election bid of some lawmakers in 2019. So such lawmakers already know they have nothing to lose,” he said.

Another lawmaker from the North-west explained that the president has remained aloof in the face of governors on the platform of the party battling federal lawmakers from their states, and has refused to intervene in several internal crises which had deeply polarised the party.

“If he asks my state governor to speak to me and the other members, how can that work when we do not see eye to eye. There is hardly any APC state where the party is not in disarray, how would any emergency fence mending work?” the lawmaker wondered.

Another lawmaker added that the gloves were completely off in the hostile relations between the two arms of government, then proceeded to enumerate the missteps of the president.

“We told the president to call his overzealous and disrespectful aides to order, yet there was no action; we refused to confirm someone, yet no action; we asked for constituency funds, that one is a tussle completely ignored. We are tired of this hot and cold relationship, it is enough.

“We were elected by our people, not by the president. So, when they try to remind us that some people here (in the legislature) rode on the back of the president in the 2015 APC tsunami, we tell them it is not necessarily a bad thing for everyone to independently test his popularity. It is better for our democracy,” he said.

N’Assembly Dragged to Court

But just as the National Assembly appeared to be set on overriding Buhari’s anticipated veto of the Electoral Act, a stalwart of the APC, Chief Anike Nwoga at the weekend filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Enugu, challenging the bill passed by the National Assembly.

The party chieftain also prayed the court for an interlocutory injunction restraining the president from assenting to the bill.

Nwoga, who is the zonal vice chairman of the APC in Enugu East senatorial district, filed the suit on Friday through his lawyer, Godwin Onwusi.

No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.

In his motion on notice, supported by a 25-paragraph affidavit, Nwoga is insisting that no action should be taken on the bill, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

The motion on notice was brought pursuant to Orders 26 and 28 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009 and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court.

Aside the National Assembly, which was listed as the 1st defendant/respondent, others listed as 2nd to 4th defendants/respondents in the suit numbered: FHC/EN/CS/28/2018, were the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the president and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).

Apart from the prayer for interlocutory injunction restraining the president from assenting to the bill re-ordering the election sequence, Nwoga is also praying for an order of interlocutory injunction, restraining the National Assembly from overriding the president’s veto, should he decide to veto the bill, and re-ordering the sequence of the elections, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

The plaintiff equally asked for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining INEC from complying with the sequence of elections contained in the bill passed by the National Assembly and such further orders as the court may deem fit to make in the circumstances, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

Specifically, the plaintiff is asking the court to among other things to determine: “Whether the National Assembly in exercise of its lawmaking powers can make laws to compel INEC to exercise the powers to organise, undertake and supervise elections conferred on it by the constitution in a particular sequence.

“Whether the National Assembly, in exercise of her law making powers, can make a law to change the sequence of elections already adopted and published by INEC, pursuant to the powers conferred on it by the Constitution.

“Upon the determination of the questions, the plaintiff urged the court to make the following orders: A declaration that the National Assembly cannot make laws to compel INEC to exercise the powers conferred on it by the Constitution to conduct elections in a particular order.

“A declaration that the bill passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly, which altered the sequence of the 2019 elections, already adopted and published by INEC pursuant to the powers conferred on it by the Constitution, is a usurpation of the constitutional powers of INEC and hence unconstitutional.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 3rd defendant from assenting to the bill changing the sequence of elections, already adopted and published by the 2nd defendant, when it is presented to him for assent.

“An order restraining the 2nd defendant from complying with the sequence contained in the bill or the law, if assented to by the 2nd respondent.

“Any further or other orders or consequential orders that the court may deem fit to make in the circumstances of the case.”

NFI Bill for Passage

Meanwhile, in a bid to avert Nigeria’s explosion from the Egmont Group and save the financial sector from being blacklisted in the international community, the National Assembly is set to pass the Nigeria Financial Intelligence (NFI) Bill this week.

This was confirmed by the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on his twitter handle on yesterday evening.

The bill is expected to be passed on Tuesday and transmitted immediately to Buhari for his assent ahead of the next plenary meeting of the Egmont Group coming up on March 12, 2018.

The bill had been delayed over a disagreement at the conference committee level when the Senate and House Committees on Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption failed to agree on the domiciliation of the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), which is currently in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

However, following the intervention of Saraki and the Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, it was agreed that the unit would be domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption, Senator Chukwuka Utazi last Thursday had accused his House counterpart, Hon. Kayode Oladele, of frustrating efforts of the conference committee to conclude work on the bill, an allegation which the latter refuted.

Saraki, however, assured that the leadership of the legislature would intervene in the matter.

On his twitter handle Sunday, he said: “Following my meeting on Thursday with Speaker @YakubDogara, the chairman @NGRSenate Committee on Anti-Corruption and @HouseNGR Chairman on Financial Crimes, the conference committee meeting for the NFIU Bill will hold tomorrow (Monday) and the report presented in both chambers on Tuesday.

“I am confident that we will pass the NFIU Bill this week,” Saraki said.

Nigeria was suspended from the Egmont Group, a network of the financial intelligence units of 152 countries, following the nation’s failure to grant operational and financial autonomy to the NFIU.

The country has a deadline until the next meeting of the group to meet the requirements, or be expelled from the group.

The Egmont Group provides a platform for sharing criminal intelligence and financial information bordering on money laundering, terrorism financing, proliferation of arms, corruption, financial crimes, economic crimes and similar offences geared towards the support of local and international investigations, prosecutions and asset recovery.

Nigeria was fully admitted into the body in 2007 after operational admittance in 2005

Source: This Day

N/Assembly sued over elections sequence

A top member of the APC, Chief Anike Nwoga, has filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Enugu challenging the bill passed by the National Assembly which changed the sequence of the 2019 elections.
Nwoga, who is the Zonal Vice Chairman of APC in Enugu East Senatorial District, filed the suit on Friday, March 2, 2018, through his lawyer, Godwin Onwusi Esq.

In his motion on notice supported by a 25-paragraph affidavit, Nwoga prayed the court for an interlocutory injunction restraining the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from assenting to the bill passed by the National Assembly changing the sequence of the 2019 elections when it is presented to him for assent pending the determination of the substantive suit.
The motion on notice was brought pursuant to Orders 26 and 28 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009; and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court.
Besides the National Assembly which was listed as the first defendant/respondent, others listed as second and to fourth defendants/respondents were INEC, the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
Aside the prayer for interlocutory injunction restraining the president from assenting to the bill, Nwoga also prayed for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the National Assembly from overriding the president’s veto should he decide to veto the bill.
A date was yet to be fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Source: DailyTrust

My Not-Too-Young-To-Run story – Maryam Laushi

“Fortune favors the brave”, it is commonly said. This quote aptly describes the journey of what has become a watershed moment in the movement to encourage inclusion and better participation of young people in politics in Nigeria as embodied by the ‘Not Too Young to Run’ movement.

For an organic movement that started with an unlikely band of 20 pioneer young fellows to grow exponentially to become one of the most powerful community mobilization efforts ever, for youth inclusion in Nigeria, NTYTR has greatly evolved over the past two years. This evolution has, in no small way been aided by the enthusiastic effort of so many different people in different places who joined along the way that it is difficult to even know each other.

I have thus come to realise that it is necessary to share my own experience to provide a better understanding of the movement, not in the general sense but from my specific perspective to provide an understanding of the beauty of this movement and, what we started out to do. Here is my story – one that I sometimes liken to be one of the most interesting adventures I have ever had.

ARE YOUNG PEOPLE READY?

This question has been the bane of this movement for me. In almost every interview or conversation I have had, the question of young people’s readiness always cropped up. Now, here is the issue with this: The question is based on a skewed thinking that, All young people are identical and behave in the same way. WRONG!

Young people have different goals, experiences, ideas and interests and so we cannot expect to answer that question directly. Some young people are ready and there are those who aren’t. However, I think people stray away from the main point of Not Too Young To Run when they ask that question. The right question to ask is this- does the movement encourage a more democratic Nigeria? The answer to that question is ‘yes’ because out of the tens of millions of people aged 18-35 in Nigeria, all are allowed to vote but not allowed by the constitution to contest for political office.

Isn’t it interesting that people who are trusted enough to join the army, defend the country, enter into legally binding contracts are constitutionally denied the right to run for elected office? NTYTR is not a promise that young people will solve all of Nigeria’s problems. Neither is it advocating for a complete change of guards from old to new. Rather, it is about giving young people the space to participate at all levels of the political process – the right for young people to vote and be voted for. This is the premise of an all-inclusive political process; one that we staunchly believe will improve and revolutionise the process in Nigeria. As we have seen in other countries in Africa and across the world, the inclusion of young people into the political process enhances rather than diminishes the delivery of good governance.

NOTE: If someone is qualified and trusted for the job, voters should not be deprived of that person as an option.

Think about the young man in Kenya, who at about 24 years old and still a student won a legislative seat. He did not win because he had money for posters, he reportedly went around neighbourhoods, door-to-door, to explain to people what he planned to do and that was how he won over their votes. The point of this story is to explain that at his young age, he had something of value to offer that his constituents found valuable enough so they chose him. This is the beauty of democracy.

ON PIONEERING / ON BEING A NTYTR PIONEER ( your choice)

Now, I want to tell the story of how I got involved with the Not Too Young To Run movement. I had been volunteering for YIAGA (Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement) – a dynamic and progressive youth led Civil Society Organisation. I started out as a volunteer for the ‘Young Legislators Accountability Program’ with YIAGA. Along the way, I remember receiving information about a bill to reduce the age to contest for elective office and being added to the WhatsApp Group where we had a clearer discussion on the bill and made contributions to what ages we all thought were appropriate until a final draft was developed.

This was the birth of the “Not Too Young Strategy Team” – a group of 20+ young persons convened by the seemingly quiet but very intelligent Samson Itodo with myself, Adeshola Komolafe, Bella Ann Ndubuisi, Chioma Chuka, Cynthia Mbamalu, Hamzat Lawal, Ibrahim Faruk, Jenny, Kenneth, Laz Uze Ede, Mark Amaza, Nana Nwachukwu, Runcie Chidebe, Safiya Bichi, Ukachi Chukwu, Yetunde Bakare, Moshood, Fatu Oguche, Stephanie Oyaide, Frederick Adetiba as the core pioneer members. Over the next few months and with the contributions of those of us in the core strategy team, the movement would take up a unique life of its own as we had initially set out to do.

Being quite active on social media, I did not hesitate in pushing discourses and engaging the online community on this salient issue. In doing this, many people may have had the (mis)conception that NotTooYoungToRun was an online movement when in fact; the real work was going on offline. Along the way, Not Too Young To Run grew so much that the press and policy makers could no longer ignore the movement. The movement gained public support from notable people such as the Rt Honorable Speaker of the House of Representatives, The British High Commissioner, The Australian High Commission and even adoption of the movement by the United Nations Youth Envoy where we began to see it being discussed by young people in different countries.

What a lot of people don’t know is that the march to the National Assembly was not planned. Having heard so many stories of how the bill was not even going to be considered by the legislators, we felt we had no choice- within a short period of time, meetings held and the 5,000 man march was on.

A lot of work had gone into it by the time its success was recorded at the National Assembly and for the first time, I can comfortably speak for myself by saying I breathed a huge sigh of relief, knowing that our effort had not been in vain and confident in the path that lay ahead of the movement. At this point, I must also thank Senator Nyako and Hon. Tony Nwulu for sponsoring this on the floors of the National Senate and National House of representatives respectively. Who knows where the movement would have been without this? Thank you for your courage at a time many didn’t give this a chance.

I must add this; the successes of the NTYTR movement could not have been possible if young Nigerians had not identified with the cause. It was something that so many people identified with from the start and it is equally commendable that the NTYTR Core Strategy Team set out from the start to ensure that ownership of the movement belonged to every young Nigerian. We wanted it to stay that way and still do. With the benefit of hindsight, this was a genius decision.

The Not Too Young To Run teams grew astronomically in States across the nation… it was clear that even with scarce resources, so many young people were willing to volunteer time and energy into ensuring this bill was passed. The members who were in the States around Nigeria were incredibly zealous. In fact, many of them wanted to travel to Abuja for the march that took place from Unity Fountain all the way to the entrance of the National Assembly in July 2017. That was a triumphant day for the movement and the multitude of people who walked in solidarity that day was nothing short of amazing.

MOVING FORWARD IN THE FACE OF CHALLENGES AND OPPOSITION

Of course, after that success, people had a lot to say – some in favour but the sceptics were not left out either. There were false claims and false accusations even from people who were close enough to the strategy team to know better but that was to be expected for a movement that had grown to such a scale. It was so hard for them to believe that such a movement could grow so organically, it was an amazing feat to behold.

The swiftness and ease with which the many challenges faced were handled must have given a wrong impression that pushing this movement was a walk in the park but I must commend everyone who participated and ensured all hands were on deck to move the movement forward. You are the real heroes. Your work and effort ensured the movement is what it has become today.

At the next stage and after the National assembly voted on the amendment, 24 State Houses of Assembly out of 36 were constitutionally required to get the bill to its final stage for Presidential Assent. Initially, the voting process started out slow with so many negative assumptions that these bills would not pass in the required 24 States. Kastina, Borno, Adamawa, Nassarawa, Benue, Delta, Ondo, Kwara, Yobe, Ekiti and Enugu had passed it in no particular order when Taraba State House of Assembly voted ‘against’ it in a turn of events but engagement with the youths in Taraba State continued, in order to understand what went wrong.

In a commendable turn of events and a reflection of the power of the youth, 24 States had voted YES by the 13th of Febriary 2018 confirming that the stage was complete and paving the way for the president’s assent. Still, it was important for all States to show their support and show that they were youth friendly by making sure to represent the desires of the Nigerian youth they represent. Taraba State House of Assembly reconsidered the bill after several advocacy initiatives by young people in the state and they overturned their earlier ‘NO’ vote.

As we await the votes from other States, it is my sincere and humble request that they carefully consider the clamour among the youths they represent for this bill to a success. It is important that all other States which are yet to vote confirm that they fully align with the aspirations of Nigerian youth. After observing the efforts of State Coordinators and volunteers all across Nigeria, one must commend their audaciousness and commitment that made this movement an even bigger force than was ever expected. As we await presidential assent, I am confident that the state coordinators and volunteers will keep pushing for 36 out of 36 because every Nigerian youth in every state deserves that chance.

We are at the final stage now, which requires President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the bill. Mr. President, history will forever be in your favour if you listen to the yearnings of the Nigerian Youth who make up the single largest voting bloc in this country.

Nigerian youths have agreed to march to your official residence, Ask Rock, on 14th March 2018 as a request for your Excellency to take this bill into consideration and we humbly look forward to positive results.

We are tired of sitting on the sidelines. Young Nigerians will, God willing, be able to run for political office in the upcoming 2019 elections if you act quick. Will you align with us on the positive side of history?

The youth aren’t only ‘Not Too Young’ To Run but also ‘Ready to Run’ and able to perform. The time to act is now.

History will be made!

There are so many stories of how things happened behind the scenes that I am not able to tell but the truth is.. so many young people worked tirelessly to make this movement come to life and continue moving.

Appraising ‘not too young to run’ campaign

MOST people say politics is a dirty game, but the truth of the matter is that, for better or for worse, decisions made by politicians affect our lives. Their decisions could mean there is more money in our bank accounts, and it could also mean premature death for some of us if, for instance, they plunge our nation into a state of war! Because of the enormous powers wielded by politicians, not least the elected ones, it would be foolish not to be interested in the sanity and maturity of their members. It is precisely because of this that constitutionalists, even when they are not prepared to throw themselves in the mud with politicians, dissipate much energy in prescribing qualifications for the power elite at different levels of political governance.

Age prescription, in particular, is universal in most democratic nations with written constitutions. In the United States of America, for instance, there are varying minimum age requirements for the president (35), senator (30) and member of the House of Representatives (25). In spite of the generous minimum age prescribed for the president, the youngest elected President in the more than 200 years of America’s democracy was John F. Kennedy at the age of 43. And because it is taken for granted that those who aspire into high profile elective positions would be more likely than not to be educated, educational requirement is hardly included in the constitution.

There is a lot of premium on age in the Nigerian society. The “I am older than you” attitude knows no ethnic or religious boundary. It was therefore not surprising that when our constitutionalists copied the American Constitution, the imperative of age qualification was one the photocopying machine could not have blotted out without a public outcry! Because age is probably more important to us than the Americans, and because of the assumption or belief that we are late in maturing, it was also one aspect where our constitutionalists tried to teach the Americans the meaning of respect and deference. The Nigerian Constitution prescribes a minimum age of 40 for the president, 35 for senators, and 30 for members of the House of Representatives.

The House of Representatives is that political arena where the American constitutionalists and political thinkers believe young men and women could exert their aggression as constituent emissaries by subjecting them to two-yearly elections. However, the members of a committee on the legislature in the Olusegun Obasanjo-sponsored National Political Reform Conference thought the bar could further be raised to 35. In a society where life expectancy is not particularly too great, theirs might have been one suggestion that went a bit too far and was rightly challenged.

Also competently challenged was the suggestion that federal legislators should be university graduates with the minimum of five years experience or even 10 years experience, depending on which legislative arm is being sought after. There is hardly any doubt that the art of lawmaking demands quality thinking and quality understanding and articulation of issues. In the USA, for instance, the House of Representatives is one forum where young professionals, particularly lawyers, come in to make names for themselves before embarking on their professions. However, the quality of mind and determination needed to represent a constituency cannot be confined to those with degrees.

The quality of education in Nigeria has deteriorated, and that is one worrying concern that should be urgently addressed. Most of our First Republic great debaters — the Anthony Enahoros, Adegoke Adelabus, and Maitama Sules — never went to university. They were beneficiaries of high quality education dispensed in the colonial era. Even in the Great Britain, where the educational system has a history dating back to over 1,000 years, there are today Members of Parliament who did not attend university because they had no need for university education. However, in most Western democratic nations, students who have chosen to be future politicians and ambassadors study, at university, subjects that would enhance the quality of their performances in the profession. For instance, subjects such as Law, History, Politics, Philosophy and Economics, feature in their most common choices.

And to talk of experience, what experience does one require in the legislative arena that excludes the apprenticeship we all serve in every call of life? The young men and women should be encouraged to bulldoze their ways into the Senate and House of Representatives and seek to become legislative dinosaurs or gurus by virtue of being constantly re-elected because of loyal services to their constituencies. In Britain, for instance, there are politicians who have been in the House of Commons for well over 25 years. Equally, in America, there are those who have become dinosaurs in the Senate having served for decades. A potential president, more often than not, gets recruited from the ranks of those who have excelled in the legislative or governmental arena.

For our young men and women itching to go into elective positions — not too young to run — my admonition is that they should demonstrate their good intentions, determination and readiness, by being vocal and committed voices in the fight against the ills that plague our nation. They should be seen as the young tigers in the fight against sectionalism, bigotry, and corruption, among other numerous societal ills. Their foray into elective politics should be a means to an end that is patriotic, and not one that is selfish. Of course, they need not be reminded that the youths of today are the oldies of tomorrow.

Source: The Punch

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY LACK POWER TO CHANGE ELECTION ORDER by Polycarp Dama Datau

 The constitution is the grund norm in the country and as such all arms, tiers, organs, institutions and bodies derive their powers and functions from it. Section 1(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) speaks about its supremacy and binding force over all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Similarly, Section 1(3)  of  the  1999 Constitution as amended asserts its superiority over every other law which includes the Electoral  Act and shall always prevail in the case of discrepancies.

The combined effect of the above sections simply means the Constitution has a binding and compelling force   on the National Assembly as well as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Thus, both the National Assembly and INEC are creatures of the 1999 Constitution and their powers and functions are clearly defined and spelt out by the Constitution.

The National assembly consisting of the Senate and House of representatives is vested with ensuring the peace, order and good Government of the Federation or any part  thereof .

INEC on the other hand according to the constitution shall have power to Organise, Undertake and Supervise  all  elections  to  the  offices  of  the       President  and  Vice  President,              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  combined effect  of  Section 153 (1) (f)  of  the  Constitution and  paragraph  15  of  Part 1  of  the  Third  Schedule  to  the  Constitution  is  that  INEC   has the  power  to  organize,  undertake  and  supervise  all  elections  to  the  offices  of  the  President  and  Vice  President,  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,  and  the  literary  meaning  of  the  word,  “Organise”,  simply  means  arrange  systematically,  order and/or do as it is necessary to conduct elections into the offices as provided.

The power given by the Constitution to INEC to organize and order elections in the country cannot be usurped by any legislation whatsoever without a Constitutional amendment to that effect.

Polycarp Dama Datau is a scholar of YIAGA Africa- Centre for Legislative Engagement Scholars Program (YSP)