25 Jan

2019: Saraki constitutes conference committee on Electoral Act amendment

Senate President Bukola Saraki has announced a six-man committee of senators to harmonise the Senate’s version of the amended Electoral Act with that passed by the House of Representatives.

The Senate’s conference committee has the Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Suleiman Nazif, as Chairman.

Other members of the committee include: Shehu Sani, Biodun Olujimi, Hope Uzodinma, Dino Melaye and Peter Nwaoboshi.

The committee is expected to meet with the House of Representatives to harmonise the version of the amended electoral bill before transmiting it to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent.

The Senate had on March 30, 2017 passed an amended version of the 2010 Electoral Act, while the House of Representatives passed its version on January 23, 2018.

The lower house voted to change the order of elections in the country, thereby altering the dates and timetable recently released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of the 2019 general elections. Lawmakers amended the Electoral Act by approving that the conduct of National Assembly election should comes first, to be followed by the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections while the presidential election should be conducted last.

Highlights of the version passed by the Senate included the use of electronic voting for conduct and transmission of results, legalizing the use of Card Reader for accreditation, giving INEC powers to modify the voting process if there was any challenge among others.

The announcement by the Senate President comes 24 hours after the Chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, hinged the presentation of the 2019 elections budget on successful amendment of the Electoral Act.

Yakubu stated this while appearing before the Senate Committee on INEC to defend the electoral body’s 2018 budget estimates.

Also on Wednesday, the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room called on the House of Representatives to rescind the amendment of the Electoral Act, which altered the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2019 general elections.

Specifically, Situation Room described the legislation as self-serving, noting that the action of the lower legislative chamber violates constitutional guarantees of the independence of the nation’s electoral body.

Convener of Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room and Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Clement Nwankwo, stated this at a press conference in Abuja.

“We are however concerned about the delays in the passage of the amendments to the constitutional and legal framework for the conduct of the 2019 elections. Of particular concern are proposals coming from the National Assembly to amend the Electoral Act to alter the timetable for the 2019 elections already announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“The proposal by the National Assembly to alter the Order of Elections already set by INEC is an unwarranted interference in the Constitutional powers of INEC to determine the conduct of elections and interferes with the powers of INEC to carry out its electoralduties without directives or control from any person or authority, using the instrumentality of legislation. This is unacceptable and is hereby condemned.

“The National Assembly needs to backtrack from passing self-serving legislation that contradicts constitutional guarantees of the independence of INEC,” Nwankwo

Source: Business Day

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25 Jan

Voter Registration to End Early December, Says INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) will be temporarily suspended in the second week of December to allow for the conduct of the general election starting on February 19, 2019.

In a statement issued wednesday by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Prince Solomon Soyebi, the commission said so far, it has registered over four million new voters under the CVR exercise.
The CVR exercise commenced on April 27, 2017 across the country.

However, the commission said going by the provisions of Section 9 (5) of the Electoral Act (as amended), the CVR would be temporarily suspended 60 days to the commencement of the next general election scheduled for February 2019.
It said the exercise would resume after the conclusion of the elections.

“The commission wishes to assure all eligible Nigerians that the CVR exercise is designed to continue indefinitely as envisaged by the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

“The commission hereby encourages all eligible Nigerians to register at our offices in all local government headquarters and other officially designated areas across the country between 9a.m. and 3p.m., Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays. Full information about the designated areas can be obtained from our state offices,” it said.

INEC said the exercise was intended to afford all eligible Nigerians, 18 years and above who did not register in previous exercises the opportunity to do so at their convenience.

According to the INEC statement, “So far, over four million Nigerians have registered across the country”.
In a related development, INEC has disclosed that it would deploy new card readers for the upcoming governorship elections in Ekiti State later this year.

The Chairman of the electoral body, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said wednesday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on INEC, to defend the organisation’s 2018 budget estimates, where he added that the 85 staff, died of natural and unnatural causes in the outgone 2017.

“We ordered our ballot boxes in 2017 which cost N1.4 billion, we have been using same ballot boxes , INEC will no longer rely on other states for ballot boxes. So new ballot boxes will be used for 2019 general elections,” he said.
“We have been using same card readers but we are ordered for more card readers,” Mahmood added.

The INEC boss said the organisation is yet to conclude on a budget estimate for the 2019 general elections particularly as the National Assembly is still soldiering amendments to the Electoral Act of 2010.

“It is provisions of the amendment to 2010 electoral act after passage by the National Assembly that will show the commission how elections at primary level by the political parties would be conducted and monetary cost that would entail on the part of INEC, let alone the general elections,” the INEC boss said.

Speaking on the 85 deaths of staff recorded in 2017, Mahmood said the intense pressure which several of the workers are subjected to due to the nature of the job, led to high blood pressure for several of them, who also succumbed to heart attacks.
He made the explanation while defending the budget estimate for a sick bay at the national headquarters in Abuja

“In fact, last year alone, there was preponderance of the 85 staffers that we lost died through such circumstances hours or few days after being rushed to hospitals. This is the reason why we decided to have sick bays in our offices now for preventive measures,” he said.
In another development, the Senate Committee on INEC also screened eight nominees for Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) of INEC.
INEC nominations are not affected by the Senate’s resolution to suspend considerations of nominees pending the clarification of its powers of confirmation on the appointment of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

INEC RECs are listed in the constitution as one whose members require confirmation by the Senate, where the EFCC is not.
Some of the nominees screened yesterday are Dr Usman Ajidagba (Kwara), Baba Yusuf Abba (Borno) Segun Agbaje (Ekiti), Yahaya Bello (Nasarawa) and Mohammed Magaji Ibrahim (Gombe).

Source: This Day

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25 Jan

EFCC arrests former SGF, Babachir Lawal

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, says it has arrested the former Secretary to Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal.

Mr. Lawal was arrested Wednesday, Channels Television reported.

Mr. Lawal was recently sacked after he was indicted by a presidential panel that investigated misuse of funds meant for people displaced by Boko Haram.

He had earlier been indicted by the Senate.

His arrest is coming a day after former President Olusegun Obasanjo accused Mr. Buhari of condoning corruption where persons close to him are involved.

Mr. Obasanjo said in a statement that the president had failed woefully, and urged him not to seek re-election.

Source: Premium Times

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25 Jan

Why there was no provision for 2019 elections in 2018 budget – INEC

Delay in the passage of the Electoral Act prevented the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from including the budget of 2019 elections in the 2018 appropriation, Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of the commission has said.

Mr. Yakubu said until legislative process is completed on the bill, the commission will be unable to estimate effectively the cost for the election.

He made this known on Wednesday while appearing before the senate committee on INEC to defend the 2018 budget.

“We can’t complete work on the election budget unless the national assembly has helped us to complete work on the electoral act,” he said.

“For instance, there is provision in the bill passed by the senate for two types of primaries; direct and indirect. One party may opt for direct, another for indirect and both will have different cost implications.

“What are we going to do? We have to wait until the act is passed before we know the correct figure. I will appeal to the distinguished senators to expedite work on the electoral act so that we can have an idea of the figure.”

Mr. Yakubu noted that INEC has made three key improvements on the card readers for forthcoming elections.

“First, we are improving the processors of smart card readers so that it will be speedier. Secondly, we are increasing the windows where people press the fingers on election day.

“We have realised that part of the problem sometime is with the size of the window.

“If the entire thumb covers the window, there is the tendency that for the machine not to recognise it. The third part is to enhance it to be able to transmit from the polling uni,” he said.

Source: Premium Times

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24 Jan

Enforcing Nigeria’s electoral offences laws

As the 2019 general elections draw nearer and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) timetable of activities for the election already released, lawyers have called for strict implementation of the electoral offences laws with particular emphasis on the role of the judiciary and law enforcement agencies.
Even as the laws prohibiting all forms of electoral offences have been outlined by the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act, 2010, there has been inconsistent enforcement mechanism where for instance, in a polling unit, a party agent financially induces the voter during an election, which is an offence under Section 130 of the Act; or where an unqualified person is induced to vote at an election knowing full well that it is an offence under Section 122 of the Act.

Again, law enforcement agencies have been accused of failing to act when a presidential candidate incurs election expenses exceeding N1 billion, a governorship candidate exceeds N200 million, and when a senatorial and House of Representatives candidate exceed N40m and N20m respectively, which violate Section 90, sub 1 to 10 of the Act.
Despite the seeming enhanced preparedness for elections by INEC, electoral offences have continued to undermine Nigeria’s efforts to consolidate its democracy through the power of the ballot paper. Ironically, these are not being treated strictly as criminal offences in the manner other crimes are viewed.
INEC on its website describes electoral offences as “Any conduct – action or inaction which is prohibited by the Constitution or the Electoral Act and a breach of which attracts punishment.” It added that “electoral offences may be committed by INEC or security officials, political parties and their officials, candidates, observers, journalists/media houses or the general public.”
To fashion a way out of the menace of electoral crimes, the 2008 Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) led by Justice Mohammed Uwais recommended generally among others, the setting up of an Electoral Offences Commission, and to stop the appointment of the chairman of the electoral body to guarantee its independence.
While receiving the report of Senator Ken Nnamani-led Constitution and Electoral Reform Committee in December, 2017, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) thanked the panel for a job well done especially on the review and jurisdictional mandates of the proposed Electoral Tribunal.
Besides, the panel was mandated to review relevant judicial decisions on election petitions as it relates to conflicting judgement; absence of consequential orders; trying of judges delay in issuing Certified True Copies of judgements as well as harmonising the Electoral Act in view of the judgements with a view to enhancing all the electoral processes.
It also had the mandate to review the extent of implementation of the recommendations of the 2008 Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) headed by Justice Mohammed Uwais (Uwais Report) and advise on outstanding issues for implementation.
Barr. E.M.D. Umukoro enumerated the steps to enforce breaches in the country’s electoral laws. Such as: First, “the President must be able to show the way forward by speaking up and insisting on the enforcement of the laws. Second, the security agencies must be fully trained, retrained and equipped for the responsibility ahead.”
He went further to suggest thirdly, “that there must be synergy amongst the various government agencies. Fourth, that the government agencies must be fully funded as politicians’ lured most of the security agents with financial inducement. Fifth, the courts must treat electoral offences with dispatch. And sixth, government must ensure there is adequate publicity of the laws and the consequences of breaking the law.”
Also speaking, Hamid Ajibola Jimoh accused INEC officials, political parties and their officials, security personnel, candidates, observers, media houses, media men or the general public for being responsible for electoral offences.
He therefore submitted that: one, “the electoral offences laws are sui generis – i.e. of its own procedures; two, prosecuting agencies should be specially trained for handling electoral offences; three, there should be specialised criminal rules for electoral offences and reportage; fourth, law enforcement agencies to investigate or arrest on electoral offences should not be officers of the Nigeria Police Force, due to suspected level of corruption lingering in the police force, if we want the electoral system to work as expected; and finally, the provision of Section 150 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) will work as expected only where investigating agencies are specially trained.”
The citizens and international community expect Nigeria through the National Assembly to improve its electoral processes through the review of existing laws. The task of enforcing electoral offences will bring sanity in the system and deepen the country’s democracy.

Source: Daily Trust

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24 Jan


Since we are still in the month of January, it is appropriate to wish all Nigerians Happy 2018. I am constrained to issue this special statement at this time considering the situation of the country. Some of you may be asking, “What has brought about this special occasion of Obasanjo issuing a Special Statement?” You will be right to ask such a question. But there is a Yoruba saying that ‘when lice abound in your clothes, your fingernails will never be dried of blood’. When I was in the village, to make sure that lice die, you put them between two fingernails and press hard to ensure they die and they always leave blood stains on the fingernails. To ensure you do not have blood on your fingernails, you have to ensure that lice are not harboured anywhere within your vicinity.

The lice of poor performance in government – poverty, insecurity, poor economic management, nepotism, gross dereliction of duty, condonation of misdeed – if not outright encouragement of it, lack of progress and hope for the future, lack of national cohesion and poor management of internal political dynamics and widening inequality – are very much with us today. With such lice of general and specific poor performance and crying poverty with us, our fingers will not be dry of ‘blood’.

Four years ago when my PDP card was torn, I made it abundantly clear that I quit partisan politics for aye but my concern and interest in Nigeria, Africa and indeed in humanity would not wane. Ever since, I have adhered strictly to that position. Since that time, I have devoted quality time to the issue of zero hunger as contained in Goal No. 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. We have set the target that Nigeria with the participating States in the Zero Hunger Forum should reach Zero Hunger goal by 2025 – five years earlier than the UN target date. I am involved in the issue of education in some States and generally in the issue of youth empowerment and employment. I am involved in all these domestically and altruistically to give hope and future to the seemingly hopeless and those in despair. I believe strongly that God has endowed Nigeria so adequately that no Nigerian should be either in want or in despair.

I believe in team work and collaborative efforts. At the international level, we have worked with other world leaders to domicile the apparatus for monitoring and encouraging socio-economic progress in Africa in our Presidential Library. The purpose of Africa Progress Group, which is the new name assumed by Africa Progress Panel (APP), is to point out where, when and what works need to be done for the progress of Africa separately and collectively by African leaders and their development partners. I have also gladly accepted the invitation of the UN Secretary-General to be a member of his eighteen-member High-Level Board of Advisers on Mediation. There are other assignments I take up in other fora for Africa and for the international community. For Africa to move forward, Nigeria must be one of the anchor countries, if not the leading anchor country. It means that Nigeria must be good at home to be good outside. No doubt, our situation in the last decade or so had shown that we are not good enough at home; hence we are invariably absent at the table that we should be abroad.

All these led me to take the unusual step of going against my own political Party, PDP, in the last general election to support the opposite side. I saw that action as the best option for Nigeria. As it has been revealed in the last three years or so, that decision and the subsequent collective decision of Nigerians to vote for a change was the right decision for the nation. For me, there was nothing personal, it was all in the best interest of Nigeria and, indeed, in the best interest of Africa and humanity at large. Even the horse rider then, with whom I maintain very cordial, happy and social relationship today has come to realise his mistakes and regretted it publicly and I admire his courage and forthrightness in this regard. He has a role to play on the side line for the good of Nigeria, Africa and humanity and I will see him as a partner in playing such a role nationally and internationally, but not as a horse rider in Nigeria again.

The situation that made Nigerians to vote massively to get my brother Jonathan off the horse is playing itself out again. First, I thought I knew the point where President Buhari is weak and I spoke and wrote about it even before Nigerians voted for him and I also did vote for him because at that time it was a matter of “any option but Jonathan” (aobj). But my letter to President Jonathan titled: “Before It Is Too Late” was meant for him to act before it was too late. He ignored it and it was too late for him and those who goaded him into ignoring the voice of caution. I know that praise-singers and hired attackers may be raised up against me for verbal or even physical attack but if I can withstand undeserved imprisonment and was ready to shed my blood by standing for Nigeria, I will consider no sacrifice too great to make for the good of Nigeria at any time. No human leader is expected to be personally strong or self-sufficient in all aspects of governance.

I knew President Buhari before he became President and said that he is weak in the knowledge and understanding of the economy but I thought that he could make use of good Nigerians in that area that could help. Although, I know that you cannot give what you don’t have and that economy does not obey military order. You have to give it what it takes in the short-, medium- and long-term. Then, it would move. I know his weakness in understanding and playing in the foreign affairs sector and again, there are many Nigerians that could be used in that area as well. They have knowledge and experience that could be deployed for the good of Nigeria. There were serious allegations of round-tripping against some inner caucus of the Presidency which would seem to have been condoned. I wonder if such actions do not amount to corruption and financial crime, then what is it? Culture of condonation and turning blind eye will cover up rather than clean up. And going to justice must be with clean hands.

I thought President Buhari would fight corruption and insurgency and he must be given some credit for his achievement so far in these two areas although it is not yet uhuru!

The herdsmen/crop farmers issue is being wittingly or unwittingly allowed to turn sour and messy. It is no credit to the Federal Government that the herdsmen rampage continues with careless abandon and without finding an effective solution to it. And it is a sad symptom of insensitivity and callousness that some Governors, a day after 73 victims were being buried in a mass grave in Benue State without condolence, were jubilantly endorsing President Buhari for a second term! The timing was most unfortunate. The issue of herdsmen/crop farmers dichotomy should not be left on the political platform of blame game; the Federal Government must take the lead in bringing about solution that protects life and properties of herdsmen and crop farmers alike and for them to live amicably in the same community.

But there are three other areas where President Buhari has come out more glaringly than most of us thought we knew about him. One is nepotic deployment bordering on clannishness and inability to bring discipline to bear on errant members of his nepotic court. This has grave consequences on performance of his government to the detriment of the nation. It would appear that national interest was being sacrificed on the altar of nepotic interest. What does one make of a case like that of Maina: collusion, condonation, ineptitude, incompetence, dereliction of responsibility or kinship and friendship on the part of those who should have taken visible and deterrent disciplinary action? How many similar cases are buried, ignored or covered up and not yet in the glare of the media and the public? The second is his poor understanding of the dynamics of internal politics. This has led to wittingly or unwittingly making the nation more divided and inequality has widened and become more pronounced. It also has effect on general national security. The third is passing the buck. For instance, blaming the Governor of the Central Bank for devaluation of the naira by 70% or so and blaming past governments for it, is to say the least, not accepting one’s own responsibility. Let nobody deceive us, economy feeds on politics and because our politics is depressing, our economy is even more depressing today. If things were good, President Buhari would not need to come in. He was voted to fix things that were bad and not engage in the blame game. Our Constitution is very clear, one of the cardinal responsibilities of the President is the management of the economy of which the value of the naira forms an integral part. Kinship and friendship that place responsibility for governance in the hands of the unelected can only be deleterious to good government and to the nation.

President Buhari’s illness called for the sympathy, understanding, prayer and patience from every sane Nigerian. It is part of our culture. Most Nigerians prayed for him while he was away sick in London for over hundred days and he gave his Deputy sufficient leeway to carry on in his absence. We all thanked God for President Buhari for coming back reasonably hale and hearty and progressing well in his recovery. But whatever may be the state of President Buhari’s health today, he should neither over-push his luck nor over-tax the patience and tolerance of Nigerians for him, no matter what his self-serving, so-called advisers, who would claim that they love him more than God loves him and that without him, there would be no Nigeria say. President Buhari needs a dignified and honourable dismount from the horse. He needs to have time to reflect, refurbish physically and recoup and after appropriate rest, once again, join the stock of Nigerian leaders whose experience, influence, wisdom and outreach can be deployed on the side line for the good of the country. His place in history is already assured. Without impaired health and strain of age, running the affairs of Nigeria is a 25/7 affair, not 24/7.

I only appeal to brother Buhari to consider a deserved rest at this point in time and at this age. I continue to wish him robust health to enjoy his retirement from active public service. President Buhari does not necessarily need to heed my advice. But whether or not he heeds it, Nigeria needs to move on and move forward.

I have had occasion in the past to say that the two main political parties – APC and PDP – were wobbling. I must reiterate that nothing has happened to convince me otherwise. If anything, I am reinforced in my conviction. The recent show of PDP must give grave and great concern to lovers of Nigeria. To claim, as has been credited to the chief kingmaker of PDP, that for procuring the Supreme Court judgement for his faction of the Party, he must dictate the tune all the way and this is indeed fraught with danger. If neither APC nor PDP is a worthy horse to ride to lead Nigeria at this crucial and critical time, what then do we do? Remember Farooq Kperogi, an Associate Professor at the Kennesaw State University, Georgia, United States, calls it “a cruel Hobson’s choice; it’s like a choice between six and half a dozen, between evil and evil. Any selection or deflection would be a distinction without a difference.” We cannot just sit down lamenting and wringing our hands desperately and hopelessly.

I believe the situation we are in today is akin to what and where we were in at the beginning of this democratic dispensation in 1999. The nation was tottering. People became hopeless and saw no bright future in the horizon. It was all a dark cloud politically, economically and socially. The price of oil at that time was nine dollars per barrel and we had a debt overhang of about $35 billion. Most people were confused with lack of direction in the country. One of the factors that saved the situation was a near government of national unity that was put in place to navigate us through the dark cloud. We had almost all hands on deck. We used people at home and from the diaspora and we navigated through the dark cloud of those days. At that time, most people were hopelessly groping in the dark. They saw no choice, neither in the left nor in the right, and yet we were not bereft of people at home and from the diaspora that could come together to make Nigeria truly a land flowing with milk and honey. Where we are is a matter of choice but we can choose differently to make a necessary and desirable change, once again.

Wherever I go, I hear Nigerians complaining, murmuring in anguish and anger. But our anger should not be like the anger of the cripple. We can collectively save ourselves from the position we find ourselves. It will not come through self-pity, fruitless complaint or protest but through constructive and positive engagement and collective action for the good of our nation and ourselves and our children and their children. We need moral re-armament and engaging togetherness of people of like-mind and goodwill to come solidly together to lift Nigeria up. This is no time for trading blames or embarking on futile argument and neither should we accept untenable excuses for non-performance. Let us accept that the present administration has done what it can do to the limit of its ability, aptitude and understanding. Let the administration and its political party platform agree with the rest of us that what they have done and what they are capable of doing is not good enough for us. They have given as best as they have and as best as they can give. Nigeria deserves and urgently needs better than what they have given or what we know they are capable of giving. To ask them to give more will be unrealistic and will only sentence Nigeria to a prison term of four years if not destroy it beyond the possibility of an early recovery and substantial growth. Einstein made it clear to us that doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the height of folly. Already, Nigerians are committing suicide for the unbearable socio-economic situation they find themselves in. And yet Nigerians love life. We must not continue to reinforce failure and hope that all will be well. It is self-deceit and self-defeat and another aspect of folly.

What has emerged from the opposition has shown no better promise from their antecedents. As the leader of that Party for eight years as President of Nigeria, I can categorically say there is nothing to write home about in their new team. We have only one choice left to take us out of Egypt to the promised land. And that is the coalition of the concerned and the willing – ready for positive and drastic change, progress and involvement. Change that will give hope and future to all our youth and dignity and full participation to all our women. Our youth should be empowered to deploy their ability to learn, innovate and work energetically at ideas and concepts in which they can make their own original inputs. Youth must be part of the action today and not relegated to leadership of tomorrow which may never come. Change that will mean enhancement of living standard and progress for all. A situation where the elected will accountably govern and every Nigerian will have equal opportunity not based on kinship and friendship but based on free citizenship.

Democracy is sustained and measured not by leaders doing extra-ordinary things, (invariably, leaders fail to do ordinary things very well), but by citizens rising up to do ordinary things extra-ordinarily well. Our democracy, development and progress at this juncture require ordinary citizens of Nigeria to do the extra-ordinary things of changing the course and direction of our lackluster performance and development. If leadership fails, citizens must not fail and there lies the beauty and importance of democracy. We are challenged by the current situation; we must neither adopt spirit of cowardice nor timidity let alone impotence but must be sustained by courage, determination and commitment to say and do and to persist until we achieve upliftment for Nigeria. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and we believe that our venturing will not be in vain. God of Nigeria has endowed this country adequately and our non-performance cannot be blamed on God but on leadership. God, who has given us what we need and which is potentially there, will give us leadership enablement to actualize our potentiality.

The development and modernization of our country and society must be anchored and sustained on dynamic Nigerian culture, enduring values and an enchanting Nigerian dream. We must have abiding faith in our country and its role and place within the comity of nations. Today, Nigeria needs all hands on deck. All hands of men and women of goodwill must be on deck. We need all hands to move our country forward.

We need a Coalition for Nigeria, CN. Such a Movement at this juncture needs not be a political party but one to which all well-meaning Nigerians can belong. That Movement must be a coalition for democracy, good governance, social and economic well-being and progress. Coalition to salvage and redeem our country. You can count me with such a Movement. Last time, we asked, prayed and worked for change and God granted our request. This time, we must ask, pray and work for change with unity, security and progress. And God will again grant us. Of course, nothing should stop such a Movement from satisfying conditions for fielding candidates for elections. But if at any stage the Movement wishes to metamorphose into candidate-sponsoring Movement for elections, I will bow out of the Movement because I will continue to maintain my non-partisan position. Coalition for Nigeria must have its headquarters in Abuja.

This Coalition for Nigeria will be a Movement that will drive Nigeria up and forward. It must have a pride of place for all Nigerians, particularly for our youth and our women. It is a coalition of hope for all Nigerians for speedy, quality and equal development, security, unity, prosperity and progress. It is a coalition to banish poverty, insecurity and despair. Our country must not be oblivious to concomitant danger around, outside and ahead. Coalition for Nigeria must be a Movement to break new ground in building a united country, a socially-cohesive and moderately prosperous society with equity, equality of opportunity, justice and a dynamic and progressive economy that is self-reliant and takes active part in global division of labour and international decision-making.

The Movement must work out the path of development and the trajectory of development in speed, quality and equality in the short- medium- and long-term for Nigeria on the basis of sustainability, stability, predictability, credibility, security, cooperation and prosperity with diminishing inequality. What is called for is love, commitment and interest in our country, not in self, friends and kinship alone but particularly love, compassion and interest in the poor, underprivileged and downtrodden. It is our human duty and responsibility so to do. Failure to do this will amount to a sin against God and a crime against humanity.

Some may ask, what does Obasanjo want again? Obasanjo has wanted nothing other than the best for Nigeria and Nigerians and he will continue to want nothing less. And if we have the best, we will be contented whether where we live is described as palaces or huts by others and we will always give thanks to God.

I, therefore, will gladly join such a Movement when one is established as Coalition for Nigeria, CN, taking Nigeria to the height God has created it to be. From now on, the Nigeria eagle must continue to soar and fly high. CN, as a Movement, will be new, green, transparent and must remain clean and always active, selflessly so. Members must be ready to make sacrifice for the nation and pay the price of being pioneers and good Nigerians for our country to play the God-assigned role for itself, for its neighbours, for its sub-region of West Africa, for its continent and for humanity in general. For me, the strength and sustainable success of CN will derive largely from the strong commitment of a population that is constantly mobilized to the rallying platform of the fact that going forward together is our best option for building a nation that will occupy its deserved place in the global community. May God continue to lead, guide and protect us. Amen.

Source: The Punch

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24 Jan

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

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22 Jan

YIAGA Induct Writers to Document Experiences of Young Politicians

The Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement, (YIAGA) Centre for Legislative Engagement (CLE) has inducted a team of Writers to implement a book project that will serve as a resource pool for young men and women interested in running for public office in Nigeria. The book would leverage on previous experiences of political office holders while running for office in a bid to inspire citizens to run for public office.

To this end, YIAGA-CLE issued a call for creative writers, out of which Six writers were selected based on the strength of their applications and invited to an induction/methodology workshop to brief them on the nature of the project and solicit their feedback in designing its workplan. The selected writers include; Temitayo Olofinlua, Head Writer, Richard Ali, Aishat Abiri, Beatrice Porbeni, Amara Okolo, and Eketi Ette.

The book is expected to share experiences of young people mainly under 35 years old who ran and won elections at various level and a couple of candidates who ran but did not win.  During the induction, Professor Shola Omotola from Ekiti State University highlighted the challenges faced by candidates, particularly young candidates at various stages of elections. Prof. Omotola also suggests other areas of interest where the writers can explore during interview with young politicians who can for office and this includes issues relating to political mentorship popularly known as Godfatherism.

There was also a session on lesson learnt from similar publications in the past. Wumi Asubiaro one of the facilitators, presented “Election Herstories: Lessons Learnt” based on her experience writing a book with multiple authors on women in politics. Election Herstories documented the stories of 13 women, grouping them into themes based on the most interesting parts of their stories. Wumi explained that the decision to group in themes came after interviews were conducted and the first draft was completed. She commended the decision to use creative writers instead of activists or academics. She also stressed the importance of creating complementary products such as video documentary with the book to enhance publicity.

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22 Jan

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

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22 Jan

YIAGA Annual Retreat! – 2018!!! Our Year of Disruption

Making Great Things Happen!

Achieving Together!!

Building a Community of Experts!!!

Fresh from the successes achieved in the year 2017 which include the passage of the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill in both House of Representatives and Senate and successfully observing the November 18, Anambra Gubernatorial election, YIAGA has tagged 2018 as the ‘Year of Disruption’.  This was revealed during the institution’s annual retreat held in Abuja on 12th and 13th of January, 2018.

According to YIAGA Executive Director, Samson Itodo, YIAGA has become a reference point with respect to advocacy, youth participation and electoral matters. He applauded the growing influence of YIAGA within the region and improvement in institutional growth particularly in programme implementation, advocacy and knowledge production.

The retreat which had members of the board in attendance, witnessed several reflections and projections by the different departments. Chairman of the board, Dr. Hussaini Abdu placed emphasis on the importance of becoming resourceful at the individual level as well as the institutional level. He noted that “many Nigerian NGOs started well but could not handle the pressure of growth and getting grants”.

According to Dr Abdu, YIAGA on the other hand has succeeded in evolving and has survived this challenge but there is need for YIAGA to maintain her relevance within the local, regional and international community. He reiterated the need to be dynamic and adapt to changing contexts by being disruptive in the year 2018.

Cynthia Mbamalu, Programme Manager, YIAGA gave an overview of YIAGA projects, activities and programmes in 2017. She stated that, YIAGA recorded great achievements in 2017. Among successes recorded was the ability to lead through, particularly, the ‘Not Too Young To Run (NTYTR)’ and Youth Organizing School (YOS) projects. YOS had 1329 applications with 109 beneficiaries. Additionally, YIAGA was able to choose State Coordinators, keeping NTYTR in the state media and assemblies without direct presence she noted.

She also noted that, on the National Day of Action for #NotTooYoungToRun Bill, there was a march to the National Assembly and also in 24 State Capitals with 12,000 youths participating in general, including Borno State. She further itemized YIAGA’s accomplishments in 2017 which include:

  1. Organized a Town Hall Meeting on NTYTR with Speakers from Kwara, Ekiti, Benue, Kaduna and representation from Kebbi and Cross Rivers in attendance.
  2. Passage of NTYTR bill in 11 State Houses of Assembly as at December 2017.
  • Launched Ready to Run with 170 registrations in the first month.
  1. Connecting Youth with Government and increasing youth interest in political issues.
  2. Engaged in policy dialogue on youth development.
  3. Organized colloquium on youth and their future in Nigeria.
  • Provided support to the office of the Senate President.
  • Organized Democracy Summer Camp with 258 students (135 girls).
  1. Running of the Radio Ambassadors program under the accountability project.
  2. Establishment of the Centre for Legislative Engagement programme.
  3. YIAGA Election team got feedback from INEC when we put out our reports, we got media attributions to WTV.
  • YIAGA Election Team released our turnout figures before the results and prompted INEC to do same which is usually not the case with INEC.
  • YIAGA had the Chair of INEC visit and he met with election team (WTV).
  • YIAGA-CLE did lots of Bill Analysis, Budget Analysis, Youth Budget Analysis for 2017 and Budget of Ministry of Youth and Sports Development Analysis for 2017.


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