Only Your Votes Will Determine Outcome Of 2019 General Elections, INEC Assures Nigerians

Nigerians have again been assured that only their votes will determine the outcome of the 2019 General Elections and future polls.

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu gave the assurance at the 15th edition of the Daily Trust Dialogue, with the theme: “Nigeria and the challenges of 2019,” held in Abuja on 18th January.

Represented by National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Prince Solomon Soyebi, the INEC Chairman noted that there had been a lot of improvement in the electoral process since the current Commission came on board.

He said the Commission was not unmindful of the enormous responsibility of conducting elections in the largest presidential democracy in Africa, and second only to that of the United States in terms registered voters.

The INEC Chairman disclosed that as at last week, the Commission had 74 million registered voters, hinting that by projection, the figure could hit between 80 and 85 million by 2019 due to the on-going nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise.

Responding to a concern raised by one of the speakers, Kate Henshaw (a Nollywood star and politician) in her presentation about youth participation in the electoral process, the INEC Chairman said, “women, youth, People Living with Disabilities (PLWDs) and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) have always been at the fulcrum of the Commission’s plans.” He assured that INEC would continue to engage with all stakeholders to ensure an all-inclusive process.

Professor Yakubu used the opportunity to stress the Commission’s resolve to adhere strictly to the timelines provided in the recently released Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 General Elections.

He commended the Daily Trust Newspaper, organizers of the Dialogue, for contributing to the deepening of democracy through balance and fair reportage of the Commission’s policies, activities and other electoral related issues.

Professor Yakubu implored other media organisations to emulate Daily Trust by verifying facts first and help reduce the huge amount of rumours being circulated in the electoral space, especially in the social media age.

Source: Inecnews

Only Your Votes Will Determine Outcome of 2019 Elections – INEC Assures Nigerians

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu gave the assurance at the 15th edition of the Daily Trust Dialogue, with the theme: “Nigeria and the challenges of 2019,” held in Abuja on 18th January.

Represented by National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Prince Solomon Soyebi, the INEC Chairman noted that there had been a lot of improvement in the electoral process since the current Commission came on board.

He said the Commission was not unmindful of the enormous responsibility of conducting elections in the largest presidential democracy in Africa, and second only to that of the United States in terms registered voters.

The INEC Chairman disclosed that as at last week, the Commission had 74 million registered voters, hinting that by projection, the figure could hit between 80 and 85 million by 2019 due to the on-going nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise.

Responding to a concern raised by one of the speakers, Kate Henshaw (a Nollywood star and politician) in her presentation about youth participation in the electoral process, the INEC Chairman said, “women, youth, People Living with Disabilities (PLWDs) and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) have always been at the fulcrum of the Commission’s plans.”0

He assured that INEC would continue to engage with all stakeholders to ensure an all-inclusive process.

Source: Nigerianbulletin

Is the Judiciary the problem of INEC? By Tonnie Iredia

Now and again, Nigeria’s electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) faces a number of challenges in the performance of her functions. One of them is the large number of conflicting judgments on politics and elections. To redress the situation, the leadership of INEC visited Justice Walter Onnoghen, Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) a few days ago to seek his intervention in the matter.

Speaking on the occasion, the INEC boss, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said his Commission was worried about the recurring decimal among courts of coordinate jurisdiction in cases related to pre-election, post election and leadership crises in political parties. Apart from the enormous cost implications of the conflicting judgments to the country, the INEC Chairman said the practice also creates a negative public perception for INEC. Last Wednesday’s subtle protest was not the first by the electoral body. In July last year, the Commission reportedly  sent a petition to the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria over the order of an Abuja Federal High Court restraining it from continuing with the recall process on the Senator representing the Kogi West Senatorial District, Dino Melaye.

The court had asked INEC to maintain status quo pending the determination of the motion on notice filed by the Melaye’s Counsel. A National Electoral Commissioner, Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu, who explained INEC’s position, said the CJN’s attention was drawn to the order to check a precedent that could prevent the Commission from carrying out its responsibility in future. It would be recalled that during the tenure of the immediate past Chairman of INEC, Prof Attahiru Jega, the Commission had cause to adopt the same approach with respect to unresolved election cases concerning the April 2011 general elections in the country.

At that time, Jega reportedly wrote to the Chief Justice to draw attention to what he called an “emerging trend in the political process where ex-parte orders are granted at the top of a hat by judges.” The resort to the approach seems to imply that INEC thinks the judiciary is one of her main problems hence she deems it wise to constantly appeal to the CJN to direct judges on the subject accordingly. Considering that judges are professionally trained to handle the settlement of disputes, we suspect that if they do their jobs according to INEC’s prescription, the country may be in a greater dilemma than what is currently worrisome to the electoral body.

Luckily, Chief Justice Onnoghen put the subject in correct perspective when he merely repeated what he told the Senate during his clearance for the post of CJN that “conflicting judgments are bound to happen because the processes are different and the lawyers can adopt any of the choices and the system of Nigeria Judiciary has a way of regulating itself.” The Judiciary is home to us all and we are all free to go there as often as we choose, to present whatever case interests us even if the case hardly makes sense. Our judges must take time to listen to us all and determine who is right from who is wrong and who makes sense and who does not. Even those who may have come to deliberately waste the time of the court, must be heard before being disallowed from continuing to abuse court process.

In addition, politicians who have cases in court are represented by lawyers who are knowledgeable enough to determine the expedience of litigation. They are also officers of the court who in addition to managing the cases of their clients are obliged to assist the court to perform well. It is true that on its face value, courts of coordinate jurisdiction should not waste out time dealing with the same subject. It is also true that cases which have found their way to the Supreme Court ought not to be raised again at the courts below but the beauty of the due process of law is that such breaches can only be struck out by the courts; and not by critics or analysts.

While it is similarly true that society has much to gain if the heavy burden of litigation on election matters is reduced or prevented, INEC needs to tread softly. Indeed, the appeals she is making on the subject when properly construed may adversely affect our justice delivery system as judges may no longer give fair hearing to cases in order not to give discomfort to INEC. Under the circumstance, persons who would ordinarily have relied on the courts as channels for ventilating grievances may begin to employ extra-judicial strategies to deal with opponents. If care is not taken, we may reduce court cases and inadvertently increase political assassinations which may greatly challenge government’s main purpose of protecting lives and property.

Of course, everyone would prefer excessive litigation to killings. We agree that conflicting judgments are quite nauseating and that they are deliberately done by some corrupt judges. Of course there are judges who sell judgments but in fairness, they are few and we can support INEC to appeal to the CJN to look out for more of such bad judges and take them out of the system thereby reducing irritating judgments. But that does not appear to be all that needs to be done. Conscious efforts must also be made to fish out corrupt INEC officials whose activities instigate excessive election petitions.

From just the plea bargain cases involving election personnel during the 2015 elections alone, it is likely that many people who were declared winners at that election may not have scored majority of votes. The argument that conflicting judgments also contribute to the poor public perception of INEC is in earnest not strong because there is sufficient contributory negligence on the part of INEC to make people think poorly of her. For instance, the Commission is yet to come to terms with basic issues such as the adequacy of men and materials for election as well as capacity to commence the voting process on schedule irrespective of whether the election is holding nation-wide or in only one state. When it is realised that INEC is yet to get beyond the use of temperamental card readers, many people are not likely to imagine that the unacceptable trend of conflicting judgments on elections matters is worse than the slow pace of improvement in the conduct of Nigerian elections.

 

Source: Vanguard

74 Million Nigerians Registered To Vote -INEC Chairman

The Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, says the commission had 74 million voters in its register by the second week of January.

The INEC Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, made the fact known in a statement in Abuja on Friday.

Mr. Osaze-Uzzi quoted Mr. Yakubu as making the fact known at the 15th edition of the Daily Trust Dialogue, where he was represented by INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of the Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Solomon Soyebi.

The chairman said the figure was expected to reach between 80 and 85 million by 2019 because of the on-going nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).

He assured Nigerians that only their votes would determine the 2019 general elections and beyond.

Mr. Yakubu noted that there had been a lot of improvement in the electoral process since the current commission came on board.

He said the commission was not unmindful of the enormous responsibility of conducting elections in a democracy.

He said INEC would continue to engage all Nigerians to ensure an all-inclusive process.

The INEC chairman stressed the commission’s resolve to adhere strictly to the timelines provided in the recently released Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 general elections.

Source: Sahara Reporters

INEC 2019 Time Table and the fate of NotTooYoungToRun Bill By MOSHOOD ISAH

It is no more news that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released the schedule of activities for the all-important 2019 General Elections and this basically means there is now a sacrosanct timeline which all electoral activities must fall within.

According to INEC, both the presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on February 16, 2019 while Governorship and state assembly elections will also hold same day on March 2, two weeks after the presidential election.

The dates for the election might not be as important as the timeline when the party primaries and submission of candidates form to INEC will happen as that will ultimately determine what candidate political parties will impose on Nigerians to choose. The conduct of party primaries including resolution of disputes arising from primaries for national and state elections according to the INEC time table has been slated for between August 18 and 2018 to October 7, 2018. This basically means, Young Nigerians have barely 10months push for the #NotTooYoungToRun bill, make up our minds to run for political office and pull through the Political parties’ bottle-neck.

Kudos to the National Assembly; Senate and House of Representatives who have played their own part by passing the #NotTooYoungToRun bill since July Last year. Although it took a bit of time for the bill to get transmitted to the state houses of assemblies but it’s over a month since the bill has bill has been with the state assemblies. Thus, it’s time to get the final push and see that at least 24 states if not all 36 states pass the age reduction bill along with the independent candidacy bill. This will not only give young Nigerians aspiring for political office the opportunity to run in 2019 but will also give us ample time to navigate the political parties’ hassles and other conundrums ahead of the 2019 General elections. More so, the independent is another bill on the table of the State House of Assemblies which is also as important as the age reduction bill. The independent candidacy bill, if passed also completely help young politicians to completely evade the intrigues in political party politics.

It’s cheering to know that the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign, a citizen led movement led by the Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) has been embraced beyond just Nigeria but to sub-Africa region and other parts of the world. The movement led by the Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) along with other youth friendly organizations embarked on ferocious advocacy across Nigeria ranging from town-hall meetings, nationwide protests, engagement of lawmakers, dissemination of letters to lawmakers, social media campaigns and every other legitimate means to get the attention of Nigerians and indeed the world.

The massive presence of youth organizations, media outlets including broadcast, print, online and social media discussions on the #NotTooYoungToRun town hall meeting back in December 2017, coupled with unending conversations on the issue goes a long way in showing that young Nigerians only need a little push to actualize that necessity of taking over their own future. The need for inclusion of youths who make up about 70 per cent of African population is a no brainer and should not be up for debate.

Borne out of the NotTooYoungToRun campaign, is the ReadyToRun; a movement dedicated to inspiring young men and women to run for office. This is in a bid to make a statement that young people can demonstrate excellent public leadership with immense capacity to address Africa’s governance challenges. Scrolling through the #ReadyToRun website (www.readytorunng.org) reveals a whole lot that citizens are not only taking a giant stride towards leadership but also youths have been educated and sensitized enough to know the social resources they possess in their repertoire.

Within two months of launching the #ReadyToRun platform, over 160 young men and women have expressed interest to run for political office at various levels. This is no doubt borne out of the urgent need for responsive, accountable and innovative leadership on the African continent. The platform therefore after intense perusal looks like an avenue that will inspire young people to participate in and sanitize politics in Nigeria on the long run. Although, there is a general perception that Nigerian politics tend to be dirty, recent experience has showed that, only the players are dirty which makes preparation for the next phase of political dispensation inevitable.

Political campaigns and winning elections is a complex enterprise which requires specialized skills and knowledge. Undoubtedly, opportunities are aplenty for young people to run for elective office. However, such opportunities must be tapped into by persons with requisite capacity and competence. As we continue to generate knowledge on youth candidacy in Africa via monitoring trends on youth participation in politics, it is important to utilize any opportunity at hand like the #ReadyToRun platform which will profile and promote youth candidates with capacity, integrity, competence and creativity.

With the launch of the #ReadyToRun platform, young candidates can be located, mobilized and support in a bid to eliminate any form of phobia and apprehension faced by youths when it comes to contesting and winning elections. This also comes with training opportunities via organizations to build leadership and organizing capacity.

2019! Young People are ReadyToRun!!!

Moshood Isah

Media Officer of Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement

(YIAGA)

Opportunity : African Movement for Democracy (AMD) Fellowship for Emerging Young Women Leaders in Africa

The African Movement for Democracy (AMD) Fellowship for Emerging Young Women Leaders in Africa supports young female activists and organizers aspiring to run for political office in their countries by facilitating access to capacity building and mentoring opportunities in four principal training hubs: Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia. The fellowship aims to enrich understanding of youth-led approaches to change while connecting participants to accomplished female mentors and resources.

Fellows will typically spend 4 days of training in any of the aforementioned training hubs acquiring skills and connecting with key leaders locally. Participation in the program affords emerging young female political aspirants an unparalleled opportunity to build networks and deepen understanding of the working of the political process. This is also an opportunity where they can leverage intergenerational knowledge and experiences, and identify pathways for transition into political leadership.

Equal opportunity for leadership does not imply that women should be handed roles they are unqualified for, but rather presents the need for an equal playing field in leadership opportunities. The stereotypes of being both young and female reinforce patriarchal misconceptions that narrowly paint women as abject, nurturers, emotional, and bearers of culture; and youth as being uninformed and inexperienced, thus, deeming public and political spaces inappropriate and unfitting for young women to traverse. Given this reality, in a context where advancing women’s political participation is crucial for delivering on the SDGs, our core conviction is that training young women in political participation at an early juncture in their careers will serve as a catalyst for ensuring women’s full and effective political engagement and equal opportunities for leadership.

Between February and June, 2018, the AMD will support 4 emerging young women political leaders by covering the cost (including round trip tickets and lodging) of participating at any of the four aforementioned training hubs. Applicants will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, socio-economic status or disability. The Emerging Young Women Leaders Fellowship is open to young African women leaders who meet the following criteria:

– Are under the age of 35;

– Are  proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English or French;

– Demonstrate knowledge, interest, and professional experience in the area of democracy;

– Have a proven record of leadership and accomplishment in democratic/political activism at the local, national, or regional level;

-Be ready to take advantage of the resources and networks which the program offers;

-Present a (tentative) strategy and roadmap for political engagement;

– Submit two recommendation letters

The deadline for application is January 21, 2018.

The AMD reserves the right to verify all of the information included in the application. In the event that there is a discrepancy, or information is found to be false, the application will immediately be declared invalid and the applicant ineligible.

Click below to fill Application form

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSceOztcs1PGLTAtZbKEjuOZP_EYTRvi3TOKwABQYA-7qHVVug/viewform

EFCC Re-arraigns Former FCT Minister, Jumoke Akinjide

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has re-arraigned a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Jumoke Akinjide before a Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos.

Akinjide was re-arraigned before Justice Muslim Hassan on a 24 count charge.

She was charged with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission alongside a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, who is said to be at large.

Others defendants in the charge include Senator Ayo Adeseun and a Chieftain of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olarenwaju Otiti.

They were all accused of conspiring to directly take possession of N650million, which they reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act.

The defendants allegedly received the money from Mrs Alison-Madueke in the build-up to the 2015 general election. The money was said to be part of a larger sum of $115 million allegedly doled out by Mrs Alison-Madueke to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election.

Last year June, the EFCC had arraigned the defendants before Justice Joyce Abdulmalik sitting at the Federal High Court, Ibadan but the case was transferred to Lagos and this necessitated today’s re-arraignment.

At today’s proceeding, the EFCC arraigned Ms. Akinjide on 9 out of the 24 count charge. She pleaded not guilty.

The second defendant, Senator Ayo Adeseun pleaded not guilty to 17 out of the 24 count charge made against him while the third defendant, Chief Olanrewaju Otiti also pleaded not guilty to 6 of the counts.

Counsel to Akinjide, Bolaji Ayorinde, SAN, then asked the court to allow his client to continue to enjoy bail as earlier granted by the Federal High Court Sitting in Ibadan.

The counsel to the second and third defendant aligned themselves with this request on behalf of their clients.

Justice Muslim Hassan granted the request and ordered that the defendants should continue to enjoy bail.

He then adjourned their trial till February 5, 2018.

Meanwhile, a former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Haliru Bello and his son, Mustapha Mohammed told Justice A.R Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja how over N160 million was paid to Umar Tafida Kebbi, a former governorship aspirant in Kebbi State by former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd). Justice Mohammed adjourned to February 3, 2018 for further hearing due to the absence of the EFCC witness.

Bello and his son are on trial alongside their Company, Bam Project and Properties Limited on a 4-count charge of money laundering preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

They were alleged to have collected N300 million from the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, being part of the funds meant to fight insurgency in the North-East of the country.

According to him, the balance on the account before the inflow was N25 million. He went on to tell the court how N10 million was withdrawn in 16 tranches on March 25, 2015 and another N2.8million, all on same day.

Lawyer Leke Atolagbe, counsel for the witness, reportedly contacted the witness that he would not be in court and he is also unable to get another witness. He pleaded with the Judge to adjourn the case, Justice Mohammed accepted his plead and adjourned to February 3, 2018 for further hearing

2019 Elections: The Clear And Present Dangers Ahead By Chima Amadi

Expectedly, and in keeping with its proactive approach to elections management, the INEC just released the schedule of activities for the 2019 elections. Going by INEC’s timetable, it is precisely thirteen months before the general elections, while official campaigns are supposed to commence on the 18th day of November. However, even when they make the rules, politicians being the rule-abusing clan that they are, have already started not too covert electioneering activities, way before the officially designated date. Well, it would be disingenuous to tar the political class with the brush of abuse of process if it is not stated among other things that the president did not set the force of personal example to adhere to rules. Under the guise of wasteful commissioning of projects first in Ebonyi, and subsequently, in Anambra and Kano states, the president has already commenced campaigning for his not too secret ambition to seek a second term of office. The actions of the president have already opened the vista of politicking, horse-trading and conspiracies that is the routine of politicians.

However, in a departure from the last election circle, i.e. 2015, when during the same corresponding time, the polity was already abuzz with seismic realignments ala knew PDP and APC mergers, pontifications, posturing, and cross-fire barbs by political actors, there seems to be some graveyard peace. Perhaps, the political class, quite uncharacteristically, is showing deference to the veil of death and flow of innocent blood that has covered the land, from the plains of the middle belt plateau to the desert hinterlands of the North East. Any keen observer that mistakes this unofficial armistice as foreshadowing a peaceful 2019 elections is naïve at best. As someone that has had the rare privilege of formally studying elections in Nigeria since 1999 as a Civil Society observer, this writer can without equivocation state that there are clear and present dangers lurking around the corner for the 2019 elections. These threats, accentuated through the examination of the history, profiles, actions and inactions of the strategic stakeholders during elections are the focus of this week’s discourse. It is hoped that this early exposé will help prevent avoidable pitfalls that can put the polls in jeopardy.

INEC Officials Prepare Materials Ahead Of Bayelsa State Elections
There are usually four key stakeholders in any elections in most climes, namely: The Election Management Body, the electorate or voters, Politicians/candidates, and security personnel. Given the peculiarities of the Nigerian body polity, this writer, now includes the judiciary to these key stakeholders and will shortly unpack the reason for their inclusion in this classification. Since Nigeria started experimenting with democratic governance, and this time series goes back to pre-independence elections, the legitimacy and integrity of Election Management Bodies have always been called into question. However, no State institution, bar the Nigerian Police, typifies the rot that Nigeria has become like the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC). The INEC was cobbled together by the departing military in 1998 to quickly conduct elections that would usher in the Fourth Republic. The Junta had their preference of outcomes for the elections which the INEC was expected to effectuate. The dissatisfaction with the successive leadership of INEC and elections conducted by them led to the overwhelming clamour for a reform of the electoral process. It was in attempting to provide some form of credibility to the INEC that former President Goodluck Jonathan appointed Professor Attahiru Jega, a man renowned for his integrity, as the INEC Chairman on June 8th,2010.

Jega realized very early in his tenure that the organization he was asked to lead was reeking with the foul and offensive smell of the Nigerian system. For instance, it is an open secret among stakeholder-circles that any Nigerian politician of means has moles in the INEC that provides him/her with information aimed at compromising the organisation and its operations. Rather than adopt a reformist approach in tackling the integrity deficits and severe dysfunction of the electoral body and system, Jega chose to whitewash or mask the defects by applying deodorant to the stench in the INEC. In the conduct of elections, Jega adopted the same principle that led to his appointment, he merely brought his professor colleagues from the various universities in Nigeria, many of them serving Vice Chancellors. Academics, especially of the professorial class are mostly considered to be politically aloof and bring some integrity along with them. He also dragged Youth Corpers into the process by using them as ad-hoc staff. All these moves merely peppered over the enormous cracks in the system, but given Jega’s integrity credit, he cashed-in efficiently and got Nigerians to trust the system. By introducing the limited use of technology in the last elections, which inevitably led to the defeat of the ruling party, Jega created a myth of someone that left behind an outstanding organisation and huge shoes to be filled by his successor.

Nothing could be further away from the truth. Without disrespecting the legacies of the eminent professor, evidence suggests that the 2015 election was the worst in the history of the conduct of elections in the Fourth Republic. Beyond the usual culprits of underage voting, logistical handicaps, etc., the number of cancelled and rerun elections ordered by the tribunals in the last election is not only unprecedented but outweighs all other cancelled elections in past combined. This article, written in Awka where a court-ordered rerun election took place, three years after the 2015 elections is one of the legacies of the Jega INEC. It is within this context that the current INEC leadership, headed by another eminent professor of no mean repute, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, was appointed to superintend the 2019 elections. Professor Yakubu, in a sharp departure from his predecessor, adopted a reformist approach to the electoral process. But this has put him at daggers drawn with the establishment and entrenched interests in the polity. It is important to recall that following the string of APC losses of elections conducted by the INEC under Yakubu, the APC’s National Chairman openly accused him of being a mole of the PDP and an enemy of the ruling party.

The reason for this is not farfetched. Behind Professor Yakubu’s smiling façade is a stubborn and uncompromising insistence on respect for rules. This demand led to a series of inconclusive elections early on in his tenure. He just refused to budge on cases of proven disregard for the Electoral Act. However, he was severely burnt and exposed to the way of politicians during the Edo governorship elections in 2016 where while announcing to the world that the INEC was ready for elections, authorities in Abuja short-circuited him with a fait accompli that led to a shift in the elections. A change instigated mainly by the ruling party which ultimately benefitted from that adjustment. The current INEC’s reformist approach has seen some attempts made at clearing the Augean stable. For the first time, the INEC is carrying out an internal cleansing of itself. Over 250 staff members of the organization indicted for various election malpractices have been handed over for prosecution by the Chairman. It is understood that more have been penciled down for the same treatment.

Again, there is now a deliberate attempt by the INEC to respect the letters of the Electoral Act as intended. The registration of new voters has now become continuous, systemic and frequent engagement with stakeholders has been put in place, a test run of electronic transmission of results has also commenced. It is also noteworthy that the Card Readers, contrary to information being bandied about are now less cumbersome. In fact, during the Anambra elections, the number of faulty Card Reader machines that could not be rectified during accreditation was less than 0.01 percent of total Card readers deployed to the field.

The reforms are yielding fruits. No tribunals have thus far overturned any elections conducted by the Yakubu led INEC. History was made recently when all the candidates in the recently concluded Anambra gubernatorial elections accepted the outcome of the elections and congratulated the winner. This has saved the nation millions of naira in potential litigation cost.

To be fair to INEC’s thousands of staff, there are indeed a quiet majority who are honest, transparent, hardworking and genuinely want the system to work. However, the active minority who collude with politicians to perpetrate electoral fraud are so entrenched that it would take more than just prosecutions to rid the Commission of rotten eggs in the system. The ease at with which political actors compromise INEC officials suggests that there must be a surgical, methodical and meticulous reorganization of the agency to position it for efficiency. The fact that there is no time for that as the elections are already upon us is a clear and present danger to the 2019 elections. The lacunae for compromise of electoral officers occasioned by the structural defects of the agency is reflected in the audacious governor Wike leaked audio tapes. A recurrence played out in the last Anambra elections were a suspected internal compromise nearly ruined the deployment of Corpers to the field but for a contingency intervention quickly put in place by the INEC. In 2019, when elections will be simultaneously taking place all over the country, I doubt that the INEC will have the capacity to carry out a timeous and efficient intervention in the event of sabotage of its operations from within.

The Nigerian voter experienced a euphoria at the ease of voting out an incumbent president and quickly realized the power of the Voters Card or PVC. The rapid collection of PVCs has reduced the number of outstanding and uncollected PVCs from the embarrassing twelve million that it stood at shortly after the 2015 elections. As at April 2017, there are 66.5m registered voters, out of which 54.43 have collected their PVCs and 7.8m yet uncollected. The impressive collection of PVC belies the fact that there is troubling and deep-seethed apathy among voters in participating in the electoral process. This indifference played out in 2015 where only about 25 million voted in the presidential elections. However, a more potent and dangerous threat to the outcome of the elections is the emergent trend of vote selling. This pattern became brazen during the Edo elections and have now become a norm. The Anambra elections witnessed an upsurge in this practice with parties colluding with officials to foreground this bizarre practice. Why is this a threat to the 2019 elections?

Shortly before the 2015 elections, the Goodluck Jonathan administration requested for billions of dollars to purportedly combat the Boko Haram insurgency. We now know that most of those monies went into manipulating the electoral process to seek re-election for the ruling party. Unsurprisingly, the current government seems to be picking a page out of that last administration’s playbook. Nigerians are bewildered at the request for 1 billion dollars to fight a supposedly “technically defeated” Boko Haram in an election year. A little bit of statistical Arithmetic will drive home my point and show a possible nexus between elections, security votes and the dangers ahead. Based on observed patterns of votes buying in the most recent elections, the average cost of a vote in Nigeria is about one thousand naira. The margin of defeat between Goodluck Jonathan and Buhari in the last presidential election is nearly two million five hundred thousand votes. It will take just 2.5 billion naira to purchase that number of votes. Now, the National Bureau of Statistics in its 2016 economic outlook report declared that about 66 million Nigerians were living in abject poverty or below the poverty line of less than one dollar per day.

That number is just five hundred thousand short of the number of registered voters in Nigeria and a whopping 11 million higher than the number of Nigerians that have collected their PVCs. All other factors kept constant; if all Nigerians living below poverty line were to vote in the next elections, it would cost just 66 billion naira to buy their votes. At current dollar to naira exchange, the $ 1 billion (357 billion naira) requested by the president to fight Boko Haram is enough to buy the entire registered voters in Nigeria with still a large chunk left to cater for elite gratification and engagement of “prayer warriors” which cost the last administration about 4 billion naira.

The possibilities of a hijack of the process and inducement of the voting public to go against their will in exercising their franchise by money bags from the major parties represent a clear and present danger to the outcome of the elections. However, it will be too simplistic to opine that anyone with most enormous war chest should carry the day. If we have learnt anything from patterns of vote buying, especially during the Anambra elections, it is that the size of a candidate’s wallet does not always determine the eventual decision of who to vote by voters. However, the fact that money is a factor suggests that we may be saddled with another class of ruling elites whose mandate was bought. The implications of this scenario for development and governance is scary.

Elections are serious affairs the world over and present peculiar security challenges, even in more advanced societies. The security architecture usually woven around elections in any nation is determined by the security challenges and needs of that society. Since the life of this Republic, Nigeria has been bedevilled with several security challenges that have made it near impossible to conduct elections safely in specific areas. The Niger Delta militancy proved a significant bottleneck for officials especially in the movement of materials to far-flung creeks that served as the bases of many of the militant groups. The relative peace in that area has not made elections any more comfortable as the groups have now been transformed into standing militias for electoral violence and rigging. But worryingly, the flashpoints have transcended just the Niger Delta and has engulfed virtually most parts of Nigeria.

The resurgence of Boko Haram attacks in the North East, murderous internecine clashes in Adamawa and Taraba and the North Central states of Benue, Plateau and Nasarawa, a threatening Niger Delta Avengers, a rampaging cult/gang related deadly violence in Rivers, Lagos and Bayelsa and an underground but potentially lethal IPOB all have the capacity of inciting the political class to trigger Section 26 of the Electoral Act. For those who may not know, that section grants the INEC the powers to postpone elections if in its considered opinion there may be a likely breach of the peace or the occurrence of natural disasters of such ramifications that could jeopardise the conduct of elections. If this happens, we may witness the return of that famous “doctrine of necessity” that was used to install Jonathan as the Acting President in 2010. This time, it may be deployed to elongate the tenure of the sitting president.

Again, in our clime, where politics had obvious economic allocative implications over the course of the tenure of an administration and given the winner takes all structure of our polity, elections have become what some refer to as a “do or die” affair. Given these situations, the role and importance of security personnel in elections have become all too important. I make bold to say that the greatest threat to the 2019 elections is that posed by security institutions saddled with the responsibility of providing a safe environment for the conduct of the elections. In this regard, the role of the police and other sister agencies and their hierarchies need to be critically examined. While an institution like the INEC has made conscious efforts to improve on its performance in the conduct of elections since 2015, security agencies, mainly the police have merely ignored the call for a paradigmatic shift and are continuing with business as usual, even becoming a significant threat to the 2019 elections.

The Inspector General of Police(IGP), who perhaps was rewarded for providing the security cover that ensured that the APC was not blindsided in Kano state in the 2015 elections has shown a continuing lack of competence in the handling and management of elections security. His lack of foresight almost cast a pall over the credibility of the Anambra gubernatorial elections late last year. In an irritating, insensitively embarrassing and most reprehensible display of a lack of grasp of best practices in elections security management, the IGP withdrew the security detail of the governor of the state less than 72 hours to the conduct of the elections. He was rightly overruled by a visibly embarrassed president Buhari.

The IGP was to delay the commencement of a stakeholders meeting called to address election issues by over three hours when he was apparently in Awka. The meeting had to be declared open without him by a vexed INEC chairman until he sauntered into the meeting at an advanced stage. The same IGP without due regard for the security arrangements that were put in place for the Anambra elections, and without consultations, unilaterally changed all the Divisional Police Officers that had been trained for the elections, replacing them with new and completely ignorant officers less than 48 hours to the elections. This was after assuring officials of the EMB that no such move would be undertaken. This was apparently a repeat of the Edo elections strategy which he almost bungled.

The consequences of these actions played out in the field with the security architecture put in place for the elections collapsing midway into the elections. The mitigating factor that prevented a disaster was the resolve of the Anambra people to be peaceful and to conduct themselves in a most decorous manner. An IGP that has shown serial disregard for due process cannot be trusted to provide security supervision for the 2019 elections. What is more, his integrity has been called to question by the allegations of a serving senator. This writer was present at a meeting where the Senate President stated that the IGP had come to “beg” for leniency after the Senate commenced a probe of the allegations against him. However, rather than investigate the weighty allegations against the IGP, the government filed a case against the senator, charging him for peddling “injurious falsehood” against the IGP. The government chose to throw a blind eye to the weighty allegations.

This move by the government raises intriguing posers. Is the IGP being kept around to midwife another ‘Kanoesque’ operation but this time on a much grander scale? Can a man who has so much baggage and skeletons in his cupboard be trusted to be fair to all, and to provide adequate security that will guarantee free and fair elections? A corollary to these posers would be to ask why the humongous number of personnel always touted by the police hierarchy as being deployed for elections is not reflected on the ground? Are funds for these, in my opinion, ghost deployments, being retired on paper? There are so many unanswered questions but if this IGP is left to supervise the security arrangements for the conduct of the 2019 elections, that in my opinion portends grave dangers ahead.

Another security anomaly confronting the 2019 elections is the infighting that is replete with the Buhari administration especially among the secret security agencies (this will be discussed in detail in a later article). Like many Nigerians know, there is no love lost between the Directorate of State Services(DSS) which is supposed to provide intelligence for the elections and the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) that is supposed to coordinate all security agencies. This war of attrition between two security institutions whose covert operations help provide proactive intelligence for use in the planning of the security architecture for elections is a dangerous omen for the 2019 elections. Except of course the crises of confidence is deliberately left to fester for some advantage to the political class.

The political class, another critical stakeholder in elections, whether as candidates, party chieftains, godfathers, or campaign buffs are at the heart of the many process manipulations that have so far been discussed. Nothing more needs to be said about them apart from the fact that they will not change their colours in 2019 and as purveyors and apostles of the Machiavellian principles will do whatever it takes to seize and retain power. This desperation is dangerous enough to pose a threat to the elections.

Finally, the judiciary and their growing and expanding influence in elections also add to the jigsaw. The role of the Judiciary in elections is contained in the constitution and the Electoral Act and needs not be rehashed, but this writer’s interest is in the ignoble roles that a few within that arm of government is playing to derail elections and unwholesomely influence their outcome. Politicians have now mastered the act of “shopping for judgements”. We have suddenly awoken to anomalous behaviour of lower courts challenging and giving counter rulings to the rulings of courts of appellate jurisdictions. To buttress the danger inherent in this trend, we only need to recall that the Third Republic was truncated by a court injunction contrived and contracted by the infamous Arthur Nzeribe-led Association for Better Nigeria (ABN). If this example is part of our better-forgotten history, consider that INEC just conducted the Anambra Central Senatorial elections almost three years after it was meant to have taken place. That election was held to ransom by countless litigations spurred on by a complicit judiciary. It is not beyond politicians to use a corrupt few in the bench to derail the 2019 elections especially if they suspect that the will of the people at the ballot box may not go their way.

In conclusion, I want to state that this discourse intervention is by no means meant to be alarmist or aimed at conspiratorially constructing realities to suite a predetermined end, but rather an intellectual contribution to the course of better elections. Like the infallible wisdom of the sages would say, “it is better we start early in the day to chase a black goat before night falls “. The clear and present dangers of the 2019 elections highlighted herein can be averted.

Dr China Matthew Amadi, a 2016 Chevening Scholar in the Department of Government of the London School of Economics, is the Executive Director of the Centre for Transparency Advocacy.

Source: Sahara Reporters

Young Nigerians who want to be president in 2019 by Chuks Oluigbo & Nathaniel Akhigbe

As the despondency brought about by the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) to deliver the massive change they promised Nigerians in 2015 reaches its crescendo, an increasing number of young citizens of the country have begun to express strong interest to wrest the reins of power from the older generation.

Bolstered by the passage of #NotTooYoungtoRun Bill by the National Assembly last July, many young Nigerians, citing lack of confidence in current political leaders to deliver the nation from perennial economic and infrastructural backwardness, are jettisoning their long-held I-don’t-care attitude to politics. The #NotTooYoungtoRun Bill, when it becomes law, would reduce the minimum age for presidential candidates from 40 to 35, the age for governorship candidates from 35 to 30, and the age for the House of Representatives and the State Houses of Assembly to 25.

Also spurred by the examples of Justin Trudeau, who became the Canadian Prime Minister in 2015 at age 44, and Emmanuel Macron, who defied all odds to become the youngest president of France at the youthful age of 39, a number of these youths are warming up to contest for the presidency ahead of the 2019 general elections. Those who have so far indicated interest or hinted that they may contest the 2019 presidency include Adamu Garba II, founder/CEO of IPI Solutions Nigeria Limited; Ahmed Buhari, CEO of Skylar, Inc.; Chris Emejuru, founder and managing director/CEO of Liberty Approach & Allied Consults (LAAC); Fela Durotoye, motivational speaker and leadership coach; Nollywood actor Yul Edochie, and Omike Chikeluba Lewis.

The Macron effect

The victory of Emmanuel Macron in the May 7, 2017 French presidential poll particularly aroused a new wave of political awakening among young Nigerians.

Macron, a pro-business centrist, defeated Marine Le Pen, a far-right female nationalist, by a vote of 66.06 percent to 33.94 percent, according to the French Interior Ministry.

Macron, whom many now see as the new face of possibilities, instantly became a source of inspiration for the youths of Nigeria, spurring in them a new consciousness that with the right political mobilisation and action, they can take charge of governance and redeem their country.

Many young Nigerians, on social media and elsewhere, seemed to have suddenly realised that their country has for too long been run by older people who lack the 21st Century leadership foresight Nigeria desperately needs.

“It is increasingly evident that these people can’t lead us anywhere because you can’t give what you don’t have. The change that we fought for is obviously not what we are seeing today. So, we have to organize for 2019. But the interesting thing is that these current leaders are not making it easier for an outsider to win election in Nigeria. We have to begin to think about how to push an idea, push a candidate, and push what I call ‘a ballot revolution’,” Chris Nwokobia, a 2011 presidential candidate under the platform of Liberal Democratic Party of Nigeria (LDPN), told BDSUNDAY over the telephone.

“Of the total 72 million registered voters, 70 percent of them are young people. Mobile phone service providers are saying that we have a total number of 115 million registered phone users; that means that the 70 percent registered voters are on social media,” he said.

There also followed a constant reminder that Nigeria had in the past been ruled by young people, most of who continue to rule the country today even in their old age.

“The people that fought for Nigeria’s independence were not in their 40s. They were in their late 20s and early 30s. Nigerian millennial generation are angry but they don’t know how to direct their anger. Now they find the internet, and can sit down on the toilet seat and rant and nobody hears the voice. What happened in France can happen in Nigeria too,” said Tomi Wale-Temowo, creative and visual strategist.

Young Nigerians who want to be president

Adamu Garba II

Adamu Garba II, founder/CEO, IPI Solutions Nigeria Limited, a leading cloud computing company based in Lagos, wants to rule Nigeria in 2019. Aged 36, Garba, who hails from Jimeta, Yola-North Local Government Area of Adamawa State, attended Kano University of Technology where he studied Electrical Engineering.

In an interview with ThisDay Newspaper published on November 25 last year, Garba listed his strong points to include that he is “strong-willed, able, healthy intelligent and smart”, with “strong emotional balance and all the attributes obtainable in a visionary leader”, and “fully prepared”.

“I think Nigerians should start to prepare for a new Nigerian dream by our great Nigerian renaissance project where each citizen will transparently measure our government in 4 key metrics namely: Better education and training for our children; better standard healthcare facilities for all Nigerians; better market to transact in goods and services, and more money in their pocket as a result of improved trade,” Garba said in the interview.

“We will work extensively to open our market potentials. We will use oil money only to build infrastructure and not to pay salaries and state subventions. The so-called FAAC will be discontinued under our government. With creation of special geo-economic zones in each state, we will support them to create their revenues locally and run their government.

“The shorelines, from Calabar, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta to Lagos will be a strong economic activity area and energy production zones or Shoreline Energy Production Zones (SEPZ) .We will build heavy gas pipeline across the country and explore our natural gas to power our homes for energy needs. In addition to the hydro power for electricity, we will use coal to build a large thermal station in Enugu capable of generating 20000MW of electricity within the first 5 years of our government.

“On the northern part of the country, places like Sokoto, Jigawa, some parts of Kano, Yobe, Maiduguri, Bauchi, Katsina, Zanfara and Adamawa all have great potentials of generating a high amount of solar energy at industrial scale. We will invest $5 billion on solar and wind renewable energy in those areas. We will call this Inland Energy Production Zones (IEPZ).

“On education, we will take over the control of primary school education and transfer it under presidential task force of federal government. We will focus our training on skill-based, rather than academic-based training so that we can graduate young innovative minds. We will give reasonable autonomy to all universities and make them to generate their income to run programs which will be provided with curriculum geared towards skill-based training that is applicable in modern work place. All subventions going to universities currently will be directed to primary education and our unity schools.

“On healthcare, we will design a contributory system that will ensure health cover for all Nigerians irrespective of status or background. The system will ensure our life expectancy increases to 60 years. We shall also empower our rural women to generate value to the economy as it’s done in Bangladesh and other countries. More details will be available in our manifesto,” Garba said.

Ahmed Buhari

Ahmed Buhari, CEO of Skylar, Inc., a Lagos-based ICT company, says he has come to the realisation that young Nigerians should all be very concerned about Nigeria’s political environment because the decisions made by politicians determine their progress as a people and a country. He also spoke of his plans for the country.

“Our strategy for job creation and a reduction in the unemployment indices is a focus on some sectors. We are going to be focusing on agriculture and solid minerals, Information Technology (IT), and education. Our agricultural plan has the potential of creating half a million jobs in the first two years.

“We intend to revolutionise the agricultural sector by introducing highly-equipped mechanised farming and unlike the eagerness perceived from our Ministry of Agriculture, we will not be in a hurry to export unprocessed products. My administration will be focused on ensuring that no tuber of yam leaves the shores of this country simply because we want to realise foreign exchange. We must understand that for every tuber of yam that we export, we are exporting jobs. When you understand that the by-products of yam are used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries, you will have a rethink before exporting unprocessed products. We must exhaust the entire value chain, not just stopping at the farm gates. We must begin to create jobs from the farm gate to the processing plants, then to the storage plant, and then we create openings around branding, packaging and transportation to the end user.

“We should ensure price control mechanisms are clearly addressed so that Nigerians can purchase commodities at the same price all year round. When all these are met, then we can go ahead and export for better value. Our agricultural plan for jobs will address National Youth Corp members, giving them the opportunity to be part of the supply value chain by creating optional vocational programmes that broaden their horizons on the possibilities embedded in agriculture.

“Our manifesto also clearly addresses jobs that will be created from solid minerals. We must not forget that the richest man in Africa makes his billions from solid minerals. We will ensure that the marble and tiles imported from China and Spain are sourced from within instead. We must rejuvenate the ceramic industry and tell the Nigerian people what the true mineral deposit quantity in Zamfara, Kebbi and Niger States amount to. Transparency, efficiency and accountability must all be incorporated into our economic reforms.

“Information Technology is the new frontier. As an IT entrepreneur, I know exactly what our focus on this industry can contribute to employment and income generation and poverty reduction. ICT enables people and enterprises to capture economic opportunities by increasing process efficiency, promoting participation in expanded economic networks, and creating opportunities for employment.

“ICT enhances the economic productivity across region and geographic location. For instance, ICTs can enhance rural productivity. ICT enables solution sharing between local people and communities, providing access to practical information on small business accounting, weather trends and farming best practices, for example. Timely access to market information via communications networks also helps farmers make appropriate decisions about what crops to plant and where to sell their produce and buy inputs.

“The number of young people today in Nigeria who are able to use ICT to proffer solutions as well as make a living for themselves is amazing. We must ensure that we make electricity and internet hubs available to enable aspiring tech-preneurs explore and develop the new Nigeria,” he told BDSUNDAY in an interview.

Fela Durotoye

In a television programme monitored in Lagos, Fela Durotoye, a Lagos-based motivational speaker and leadership coach, said he was ready to serve Nigerians in whatever capacity including as president in 2019.

“The problem with Nigeria so far is that we have not yet seen a system that produces natural good people in governance. The leadership system we have in Nigeria is what I call ‘seletocracy’; it is a kind of system whereby the access to position of authority and power is to a large extent determined by a few people who have a higher interest in themselves and their own selected interest than they have in the interest of the general public.

“It now time for us to lead, but remember it is not just about the people being led, it is about us the people, choosing how to make life better, that we have to make our mission. Because we have woken up, now we have chosen to accept our responsibility for the wellbeing of our nation. Now we believe ourselves that our generation can do this; now we are committing our time and resources, rather than sitting in our comfort zones and most importantly, we are determined.

“I am ready to take up the task in whatever capacity it is. I will love to serve my people and create a desirable nation to live in first, which we can do. If I were to serve in the highest office in Nigeria and I am given the right condition, I will be honoured to serve my people in any position, including the presidency,” he said.

Chris Emejuru

Chris Emejuru, a young Nigerian based in the United States of America, is the founder and managing director/CEO of Liberty Approach & Allied Consults (LAAC), a consulting firm whose goal is to inform and provide knowledgeable information to clients regarding fiscal, economic, social, cultural endeavours as well as present information on current events in Nigeria, from the perspective of the Federal Government, and government at state and local levels.

Born on December 1, 1982, of Rivers State origin (Elele), Chimene “Chris” Emejuru has a background in Business and Politics. His reach has expanded to four continents including Latin America (Costa Rica), Africa (Nigeria), Asia, (Istanbul, Turkey) and North America (United States). His passion for enterprise and social development has led him to his home country of Nigeria for the past 17 years since 1999.

In a statement published on NAIJ.com, Emejuru, who believes he can make a difference in Nigeria, said: “Today in Nigeria, there are many challenges that we face, and I tell you they are deep. We have a mountain to climb (power, health, education, finance, labour, etc.), but the vision that has risen from this difficult journey will not end in vain but I believe will be overlooked at the glorious view from the mountain top.

“Nigeria is one; from the beauty of the North, to the magnificence of the South, to the wonders of the West, united we will remain, as an example for many, for Africa, for the world.”

Yul Edochie

Yul Edochie, Nollywood actor who ran for governor in Anambra State under the Democratic People’s Congress, chose the occasion of his 36th birthday, January 7, 2018, to give a hint that he might seek election as Nigeria’s president in 2019.

“2018 is just unfolding, we pray for more blessings so let’s just keep our fingers crossed. Who knows, I may just decide to run for president of Nigeria this time, in 2019, and I will win,” Edochie said in a video posted on Instagram.

The last of six children of veteran actor Pete Edochie, Yul attended the University of Port Harcourt where he studied Dramatic Arts. He ran against 36 other aspirants, including the incumbent governor, Willie Obiano, in the last Anambra gubernatorial election and secured only 145 votes. That notwithstanding, he is confident that he has all it takes to become president.

Omike Chikeluba Lewis

Omike Chikeluba Lewis last year announced his intention to run for presidency in 2019. In a statement exclusively made available to NAIJ.com, he said it was time for the youths of Nigeria to take charge of the country and stop voting in the same set of politicians who have been in charge for a long time. He apologised to leaders he might have insulted in the past and promised to make the country a better place.

New political movements emerge

As the momentum builds, there is also a consensus of opinion among the youths that APC and the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are spent forces that hold no hope. Even before now, the failure of the Buhari administration to fulfil the yearnings of the youth who massively supported him in 2015 had dispirited many young Nigerians, leading to a fresh yearning for change – a youth-led change. That yearning has already produced movements like Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), founded by Tope Fasua, CEO at Global Analytics Consulting Limited; Ordinary People’s Party, led by Chris Nwokobia, who contested the 2011 presidential election; Progress Party, which was initiated by 29-year-old Nigerian writer Onyeka Nwelue, among others.

“The old men who sold us out cannot bring us the change we seek. The old timers have profited from our complacent and nonchalant attitudes. For too long. It is time we stop waiting for salvation and take Nigeria back. Hope without work is useless. We are the ones we have been waiting for, we are the change we seek. And together, under the Progress Party, we will create our promised land,” Progress Party wrote in a post on its Facebook page on January 6, 2017.

Just last Wednesday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) handed certificates of registration to 21 new political parties at its national headquarters in Abuja. Some of the parties include the All Blending Party, All Grassroots Alliance, Alliance for New Nigeria, Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party, Coalition for Change, Freedom and Justice Party, Grassroots Development Party of Nigeria, Justice Must Prevail Party, Legacy Party of Nigeria, Mass Action Joint Alliance, National Interest Party, National Rescue Mission, and New Progressive Mission.

Others are the New Progressive Movement, Nigeria Democratic Congress Party, People’s Alliance for National Development and Liberty, People’s Trust, Providence People’s Congress, Re-Build Nigeria Party, Restoration Party of Nigeria, Socialist Party of Nigeria, Sustainable National Party, and Modern Democratic Party led by 27-year-old youth activist and entrepreneur, Bukunyi Olateru-Olagbegi.

Poll results favour youthful candidates

There seems to be a groundswell of support for younger presidential candidates, with many Nigerians expressing optimism that bringing about the change that all Nigerians earnestly yearn for is achievable if only the youth could forget their difference and pool their resources.

The result of ‘The 2019 Presidential Candidate Age Preference Poll’ conducted by NOIPolls in May 2017 in partnership with BusinessDay showed that Nigerians would prefer middle-aged candidates for the country’s 2019 presidential elections. Sixty-four percent of Nigerians said they would prefer to vote for a presidential candidate between the ages of 40 and 50 years, while 15 percent said they would prefer candidates between 51 and 60 years. Specifically, ages 50 years (33 percent) and 40 years (21 percent) constituted the highest precise age preferences cited by Nigerians, according to the poll result. Similarly, almost half of those interviewed (48 percent) expressed their preference for middle-aged presidential candidates, and when probed on the reasons for their preference, 44 percent said “they combine youthful energy and maturity”, while 23 percent said “they are more mentally alert”. Similarly, 35 percent expressed support for young candidates and further cited the following reasons for their preference: “they bring new and fresh ideas” and “they are more vibrant than the elderly”.

Source: Business Day

Now That 2019 INEC Time Table is Out

On Tuesday last week, January 9, the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] issued the 2019 Election Time Table and Schedule of Activities for 2019 Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Elections. It will be recalled that on March 16, last year INEC announced the dates for the 2019 elections. INEC fixed Saturday, February 16, 2019 as the date for Presidential and National Assembly elections while Governorship and State Assembly elections are to hold on Saturday, March 2, 2019. It said FCT Area Council elections will also hold on Saturday March 2, 2019.
Last week’s announcement built up on that. INEC National Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who addressed the press in Abuja, said political parties should conduct their party primaries, including the resolution of disputes arising from primaries, between August 18, 2018 and October 7, 2018 for national and state elections while that of the FCT Area Council is slated for between September 4 and October 27, 2018. Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said the commission arrived at the schedule of activities after its meeting held on the same day.

He said the Publication of Notice of Election for National and State Elections would be on August 17, 2018 while that of the FCT Area Council Elections would be done on September 3, 2018. Collection of nomination forms by political parties for national and state elections will hold from August 11 to 24 while that of FCT Area Council elections would be between November 3 and 10, 2018. Commencement of campaign by political parties would be November 18 for Presidential and National Assembly Elections; December 1 for Governorship and State Assembly elections and December 2 for the FCT Area Council elections. The last day for the submission of nomination forms to INEC is December 3, 2018 for Presidential and National Assembly Elections; December 17 for Governorship and State Assembly and December 14, 2018 for the FCT Area Council Elections.

INEC also fixed February 14, 2019 as the last day for campaigns for Presidential and National Assembly Elections while February 28, 2018 is the last day of campaign for Governorship, State Assembly and FCT Area Council Elections. Prof Yakubu then appealed to all and sundry to eschew bitterness and conduct their activities with decorum. He said, “The 2015 General Election was a watershed in the history of our democracy. The Commission is determined to build on this legacy by ensuring that our elections keep getting better.”

INEC set the right tone last year when it fixed permanent dates for Nigerian elections. It said henceforth Presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on the 3rd Saturday of February of each election year while Governorship and State Assembly elections will hold two weeks later. It also said when the end of tenure of FCT Area Councils coincides with the general election, FCT Council elections will be held together with Governorship and State Assembly elections.

Release of the election time table was generally welcomed by political parties. The Inter-Party Advisory Council [IPAC] welcomed the early release of 2019 time table and said it would ensure early preparation for the elections. IPAC urged political parties to keep to the timetable and play by the rules of the game as specified in the Electoral Act and the Constitution. PDP’s National Publicity Secretary Mr Kola Ologbondiyan also said, “As a party we welcome the release of the timetable and schedule of activities. It is a welcome development.”

Early though the release of this time table is, conducting the 2019 elections will still be an uphill task. INEC is expected to conduct elections for 1,558 Constituencies. These are one Presidential, 29 Governorship and 109 Senatorial and 360 Federal Constituencies as well as 991 State Assembly Constituencies, 6 Area Council Chairmen and 62 FCT Councillorship positions. INEC’s task was slightly reduced because seven state governorship elections [Edo, Ondo, Osun, Ekiti, Anambra, Kogi and Bayelsa] are now off-cycle.

Compounding the task is the number of registered political parties. Last week INEC presented registration certificates to 21 new political parties, bringing the total number of registered political parties in Nigeria to 68. Prof Yakubu said last week that INEC still has 90 applications and that more parties could be registered before the election. This means more local and state congresses and national conventions, more election candidates at all levels and very long ballot papers for all the elections.

Rolling out of the election time table and schedule of activities effectively kick started the 2019 election season. The registered parties have a few months to go before they conduct their primaries to elect their candidates. As at now most of them are disorganised, including the ruling APC and the main opposition PDP, not to mention the remaining parties including the recently registered ones that have no structures of any kind across the country. Yet, democratic choice must be made at the party level before it can be made at the level of the wider electorate. At present Nigerian law forbids independent candidates so the electorate has no choice but to choose between candidates fielded by political parties.

Unfortunately, a lot of our electoral problems emanate from the party primaries. Ugly episodes such as imposition, granting of automatic tickets, rigmarole in arranging conventions, squabbles over zoning, last minute change in names of convention delegates, illegal substitution of elected candidates and endless litigation around “pre-election cases” characterise party primaries and often serve to disorganise INEC and confuse voters. This time around, we urge the Chief Justice of Nigeria [CJN] to come down hard on judges who issue ridiculous ex-parte orders to stop elections or to substitute candidates, which also adds to the confusion. As for INEC, we must remind it that its performance in 2015 under the former chairman Prof Jega was acclaimed throughout Nigeria, Africa and the world. We expect it to do even better than that in 2019.

Source: DailyTrust