Alleged Kano Underage Voters: INEC Is Not Culpable By Mahmood Yakubu

Following the Kano State Local Government election held on 10th February 2018, there were several reports in the media, particularly the social media, alleging that underaged persons voted in the election. Both explicit and implicit in some of these reports was the suggestion that since the National Register of Voters compiled by INEC was used in the election, the alleged problem of underaged voting in the Kano Local Government election is linked to a prevalence of underaged registrants in the National Register of Voters.

I must note that till date, not a single formal complaint on this matter has been received by the Commission. Rather, some stakeholders, including a political party, have taken to the media to criticize INEC and in some cases to impugn the integrity of the National Register of Voters. Concerned that some of the claims being made about the Register could create doubts in the minds of citizens about INEC’s preparations for the forthcoming general elections, the Commission on 21st February 2018 set up an investigation panel into the allegations that underaged persons voted in the Kano State Local Government election, using the Register of Voters given to the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission (KANSIEC) by INEC, as prescribed by law.

For the avoidance of doubt, let me emphasize first, that INEC was not in any way involved in organizing the Kano State Local Government election beyond the legal requirement that the register of voters compiled by INEC should be used in all Local Government elections nationwide. The conduct of that election was entirely the responsibility of KANSIEC. Secondly, let me also emphasize that the investigative committee was not established to inquire into the general conduct of the Kano State Local Government election or to inquire into the organization or challenges of KANSIEC. Indeed, INEC has no legal remit to do so. Rather, as the Terms of Reference of the Committee show, its role was strictly to inquire into claims linking the register of voters compiled by INEC and the alleged incidents of underaged voting in the election.

The investigative committee had National Commissioner Engineer Abubakar Nahuche as Chairman, another National Commissioner Barrister May Agbamuche-Mbu, two Resident Electoral Commissioners (Barristers Mike Igini and Kassim Geidam) as well as some Directors and staff of the Commission, who are experts in ICT, as members. It has since submitted its Report. The Commission has carefully considered the report and accepted its findings and recommendations. Based on its Terms of Reference, there are four key points in the findings and recommendations of the Committee, which may be summarised as follows:

i.      Kano State Independent Electoral Commission requested for and received from INEC the Kano State Register of Voters for the election. The Register was produced for use for the elections. However, the Register was only sighted in a few polling units. In other words, the Register was not used in most of the polling units. In fact, accreditation using the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) largely did not take place.

ii.     Given that the Register was substantially not used to accredit voters before voting, it is logical to conclude that if underaged voting occurred in the election, it was not due to any presence of underaged registrants on the Register of Voters. However, after examining some of the images in circulation, the Committee found that they have been available long before the Kano Local Government Elections. The few images and video clips from Kano show no accreditation of voters or any relationship with the Register of Voters.

iii.    There is need and ample room for collaboration between INEC and all stakeholders to continue to update and improve the National Register of Voters to eliminate all ineligible registrants from it, including dead persons, aliens and underaged registrants.

iv.    INEC should work with the State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) to ensure continuous improvements in the quality of all elections conducted in Nigeria.

Since the central interest of the Commission and Nigerians in this remains the National Register of Voters because it is the bedrock of the 2019 general elections, let me share with you a few facts about the current register of voters.

Essentially, the present register of voters is the one compiled by the last Commission in 2011. Recall that before 2011, the register of voters was full of errors including strange entries like Mike Tyson, incorrect entries and misplaced records. Although the pre-2011 register was supposed to contain the fingerprints of registrants, the last Commission found that most of the fingerprints were missing or of very poor quality. Also, there were integration issues and a lot of data were lost because they were collected using incompatible platforms. In addition, there were multiple registrations, as there was minimal attempt to remove multiple entries from the register. These were some of the problems that the last Commission tried to solve by embarking on fresh registration of voters in 2011.

Since the 2011 general elections, the Commission has been updating this register in accordance with the law along three lines: (i) addition of new registrants from the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR); (ii) more stringent running of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) to identify multiple registrants and remove them; and (iii) updating incomplete records such as entries with incomplete fingerprints and wrongly spelt names among others. These became particularly important with the introduction of the PVC and Smart Card Reader (SCR). For this reason, records without fingerprints had to be updated, otherwise, the concerned voters will not be able to vote using the PVC and SCR. As a result of these updates and clean up, a final register of 68,833,476 was used for the 2015 general elections.

Consequently, this Commission believes that it inherited a register that:

i.      Meets a high standard of biometric registration. In fact, many other countries have subsequently learnt from INEC in handling their own registers. For instance, during the recent Presidential election in Liberia, the country’s National Electoral Commission (NEC), through the United Nations, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC), which I currently chair, requested the services of INEC staff to sort out issues with their register. Their work has been highly commended by these organisations and the diplomatic community for contributing to the success of the Liberian election;

ii.     Contains 68.8 million valid entries, easily the largest single database of Nigerians in existence;

iii.    Supports fingerprint matching for authentication of voters during elections using the SCR;

iv.    Supports the introduction of machine readable, chip-based PVC; and

v.     Ensures continuous updating through the Continuous Voter Registration, as prescribed by law.

Under the present INEC, only 432,233 new registrants have been added to our national Voter Register. This represents 0.9 percent increase on the Register used for the 2015 general elections. These additions came essentially from the CVR carried out in 2015 and 2016 in States where we conducted off-season Governorship elections namely Bayelsa, Kogi, Edo and Ondo as well as the FTC Area Council elections. From April 2017 when we commenced the CVR to December of the same year, some 3,981,502 new registrants were recorded, including figures from Anambra State Governorship election held in November 2017. This figure represents the first major additions to the Register since this Commission came on board. Even so, except for the 190,767 new registrants added to the voter register in Anambra State, the new registrants are just about to be added to the national Register.

It is important to remind us that this National Register of Voters has been used to conduct the 2011 and 2015 general elections, as well as several re-run, off-season and by-elections. Most of these elections have not only been adjudged to meet international standards but have also produced varied outcomes for different political parties at different times. Indeed, the Register used in the Kano Local Government election of 10th February 2018 was the one compiled in 2011, updated in 2014 and used for the 2015 general elections.

This Commission did not add a single name to the voter register. As with all elections, some political parties have won and some have lost using the same Register. In fact, many constituencies have changed from one political party to another between elections on the basis of the same Register. Therefore, for anyone to suggest that the same register, on the basis of which political parties have won and lost elections at different times, is suddenly unreliable is curious to say the least.

Let me reiterate that this Commission is convinced that we now have a dependable register, even if it is not perfect. We believe that it is a huge national asset, easily the largest database of Nigerians in existence today containing over 70 million entries of names, addresses, photographs, ten fingerprints, telephone numbers etc. I implore all Nigerians to see the value of this national asset and work with the Commission to continue to improve it. Considering that there are few if any perfect voters roll anywhere, we can continue to work together with stakeholders and indeed all citizens to ensure that all ineligible registrants and entries are removed from the register and that eligible voters who have not registered take advantage of the ongoing CVR.

Let me also share with you what we have been doing and what we plan to do as a Commission to continue to update the register and remove ineligible entries from it.

First, we have made registration more continuous than ever before, starting from April 2017. We regularly display the provisional register after each CVR exercise for claims and objections, as required by law. This usually lasts between 5 and 14 days. We appeal to Nigerians to always use the opportunity of this display to alert the Commission about ineligible registrants, including underaged persons and aliens, as well as incorrect details of registrants.

Second, also as required by law, we have consistently given political parties copies of the register for each year and ahead of general elections as well as Governorship off-season elections. Only recently, on 28th February 2018, we gave each of the 68 political parties a copy of the register containing names of the 3.9 million new voters registered in 2017. We urged them to use the register not only to reach out to voters, but also to check whether there are ineligible persons on the list and draw the attention of the Commission to them. Unfortunately, since this Commission was inaugurated in 2015, there has not been a single report from any political party of ineligible voters on the Register.

Third, we have been working with the Nigerian Immigration Service to eliminate aliens from the Register by confiscating PVCs from aliens who are not entitled to vote, thereby identifying them for removal from the Register. Furthermore, the Immigration Service has promised to post their officials to registration centres during CVR to check the incidence of alien registrants.

Fourth, we intend through our Registration Area Officers (RAOs) to engage communities in all our 8,809 Registration Areas or Wards on a continuous basis to identify deceased persons and other ineligible registrants for removal from the Register. We have developed a RAOs Log Book specifically for this engagement. We appeal to Nigerians to cooperate with them in identifying ineligible registrants for removal.

Fifth, we intend to include major civil society groups and the media in the publication of the Register of Voters in the future. Section 20 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) provides that the Register be published 30 days before a general election. In addition to political parties, we intend to include other categories of stakeholders by making available copies of the register to them. Of course, this is without prejudice to the right of every Nigerian to apply for and receive the Register on the payment of the necessary fees as enshrined in the Electoral Act. We hope that CSOs and the media will also join in identifying ineligible registrants for removal.

Sixth, after the ongoing CVR, which as the law provides will end not later than 60 days to the forthcoming general elections on 16th February 2019 – please note that the law says not later than 60 days, which means that the CVR must end on or before the 60th day to the election –  we intend to display not only the provisional register, but the entire Register at all the Registration Areas/Wards across the country. This again will provide a good opportunity for all citizens to interrogate the Register and identify ineligible registrants, including underaged persons, for removal.

Finally, the Commission notes the recommendation of the Nahuche Committee that collaboration between INEC and SIECs is necessary to improve the quality of elections in Nigeria, including Local Government elections. In fact, INEC has forged a longstanding relationship with the Forum of State Independent Electoral Commissions of Nigeria (FORSIECON), the umbrella body of SIECs. We shall continue to collaborate with FORSIECON towards establishing robust pathways to improving the quality of all elections conducted in Nigeria. Some of the ideas already mooted include drafting of a model law establishing SIECs to bring them in line with the Electoral Act and global best practices, as well as the development of voluntary “Guiding Principles for the Conduct of Free, Fair and Credible Elections in Nigeria” to which we expect all 37 Election Management Bodies in Nigeria to accede.

Ironically there has been a silver lining in the cloud of allegations of underaged voting in the Kano State Local Government elections. It is providing the Commission an opportunity to take another look at the Register and to engage with stakeholders on how to continue to update and improve it, particularly through the removal of ineligible registrants. As we have consistently promised Nigerians, as a Commission, we shall continue to be open to criticisms, accept shortcomings and take bold corrective steps whenever necessary. All we ask is for Nigerians to see election and the processes related to it, not as the business of INEC alone, but as a collective national project.

E.A Adeboye Urges Members To Get PVC

The General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor E.A Adeboye has urged his members to get their Permanent Voters Card.

The clergyman said this when he spoke at a special prayer and thanksgiving for expectant mothers, medics, paramedics and all those seeking medical attention at RCCG’s national headquarters Throne of Grace Parish on Redemption Way in Ebutte Metta, Lagos.

Represented by his Special Assistant on Administration and Personnel, Pastor Johnson Odesola, Pastor Adeboye said as 2019 draws nearer and Nigerians will choose those to lead them for another four years, Christians must get their PVCs to choose politicians of their choice. According to the clergyman, the scriptures says give therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.

“Nigerians should be ready to vote for credible and God-fearing people in positions of authority at all levels of governance. Those who are currently in power but are not serving us well should be voted out.” he said

Benue Carnage, Buhari, Nigeria, RCCG And 2019 Elections By Nneka Okumazie

There is a great anger against Churches and Pastors in Nigeria. It stirred from tithes – exploded by Daddy Freeze – extending to everything else.

Take it or leave it, that anger is understandable. But just like anyone could have predicted, the anger became muddled, resulting in an online church, foolish rants and so many baseless blames.

Few days ago, gunmen stormed a Church in Benue State, killed close to twenty people including priests. The attack was a barbaric, causing nationwide shock. But it was expected that the President, Commander-In-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces and the State Governor, Chief Security Officer of the State, would take urgent and forceful actions – but they didn’t seem to. Rather than direct immense anger at them, the Church hate squad said Pastors did not do anything. Really!

It is easy to cast blames if you have hate in your heart. Even if Pastors fulminated, lobbied authorities and went there, they don’t have the political and military power for necessary security actions. But, they should at least go or speak or do something, OK. Almost all major Pastors have at a time spoken out against killings of Christians, and some visited, but how far could speaking or visits go? If they had spoken, some would have said do something else, in the end, the Church hate groupies want to make hypocrites of Pastors.

Tithing is a freewill contribution in a place you go of your own volition, voluntary/voluntary. In recent years with springing of new models of Churches, it is so easy to change Church. Some Churches use envelopes; you can return it empty if you don’t want to give – tithes or offerings. But a truth is you either believe, or you don’t. You want to be a Christian – you do, you don’t want – you quit. Or you come back when you need it or when you’re ready.

“But without faith [it is] impossible to please God”. Daddy Freeze and company wants everything in black-and-white. To believe, they want to see. The first temptation in the bible was successful in part, because of confusion, did God really say? They fell, but tempting Jesus, He refused to be confused by the author of confusion and disorder.

No need grumbling behind feeling you are cheated or robbed, when it was you who went there yourself and put your money. Don’t pay tithes because you don’t believe, but if others did and you say they are brainwashed, then you are a confused person, aimlessly agitating over personal decision of others.

Daddy Freeze said speaking in tongues in Nigeria is fake, and that because one prophecy of a year appeared not seen, means all the Pastor says is wrong? There were delayed or cancelled prophecies in the bible. Genuine Christians, like the apostles, can speak in other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance.

In any industry, or sector, when a leader has a large following, that leader or star, or famous person will likely become rich and have access to luxury. Majority of fans can be poor, in part, because majority of the country is poor, but there are rich fans too, high paying events, endorsements, bonuses, support fund, gratitude payment, etc. For a second, we can spread the argument of Pastors are rich and members are poor – everywhere else: movies stars are rich, majority of cinema goers are in debt; Fast moving consumer goods executives are rich, most of their consumers are poor; some state governments – north or south – are really rich, many of their indigenes are so poor; Bet and Lotto owners are rich, (fill in the gap); Emirs, Sultans and Imams are immensely wealthy (oh, oh, sorry!).

Daddy Freeze wants to make Church members hate prosperity, or plant confusion so that whatever progress is made in Church or whatever the pastor uses, means it is your money, so you are being cheated, false! Not everyone is poor, and genuine prosperity for Pastors or members is not a bad thing.

Prosperity or poverty is not the essence of being a genuine Christian or a true Pastor. Poverty may be the biggest problem in Nigeria, but it is not the mission of the Church to taper it. So if a true pastor is lucky to get gifts from righteous members or non-members who genuinely made money, great, if they support the work too, great!

But rich or poor, if you do not have or have faith in giving to the Church, ignore, and if possible don’t go there again.

Do Churches in Nigeria, especially the massive ones, need changes and adjustments? YES. Is there an urgent need for journalists across Nigeria to reform journalism in Nigeria? YES. Banks too? YES. Universities; Church or not, federal or state, too? YES. Medical sector, housing, entertainment, technology, electricity, water, agriculture, roads, transportation and everything else? YES.

There have been powerful investigative journalism work reporting corruption in Nigeria, but they have made no lasting impact. Reporting corruption makes no difference and does not move people, so is it irrelevant, or do journalists have to find new ways to do their work to make a difference? YES.

Every sector you look not under the direct power of government can do something about themselves and how they can do better for development of Nigeria. But, some people will say there is already Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR); sorry but there is no passionate CSR in Nigeria for development. It is, maybe, CSR with resentment, just like government projects. Do it and abandon it, don’t do better next time. Repeat same after two years, four years – somewhere else. Passionless CSR is mostly limited; build schools, renovate libraries, build hospitals, fix roads, etc., by churches or others is hardly impactful.

All entertainment or sports sponsorship – for CSR – also pass for marketing, so they are not useful development CSR. Billboard message by Asian car companies, in Nigeria, for road safety is not CSR.

All major organizations in Nigeria should have what can translate to National Development Unit, so they have passionate projects for National Development of Nigeria and continue to do better on it. No exemption, so long they have staff above a hundred strong, there should be that Unit. A start-up can monitor the work; collect reports from individuals everywhere on who is doing what or who is not doing, etc.

That way, the Church, universities, energy companies, telecommunications, etc. can contribute to development in Nigeria. There is an Asian smartphone company that sells units, in the millions to Nigeria and Africa; what have they done? Aside noise on the street and blue painted shops? Bet and Lotto companies, what have they done too? There are so many of them like that. [Oh, Churches!]. Also, is playing bet or lotto brainwashing?

All the true churches in Nigeria should have Suggestion Offering Sundays. To get from members, suggestions and letters on what they should also be doing. There will be some out-of-line suggestions, but there will also be really thoughtful ones to make a difference for the Churches of GOD.

The same applies to Nigeria. To develop, Nigeria needs 100 – 500 great ideas, collected from an open entry, where up to 5 million submissions are received. There will be repetition and zero submissions but there will be thoughtful ones, which will be pursued. Corruption may not let some ideas thrive, but ideas and projects that will excel in spite of corruption will be prioritized.

There will be slow progress projects and there will be fast paced ones. The slow progress and small impact ones will not be focused much on, or must be changed and iterated, so that no one wastes time – going in circles.

Governments are powerful and have the most resources. How will they become more functional, more useful and more helpful? Don’t just suggest technology, or national conference, or true federalism, or all the things that have not done much since. But bring all your ideas into the suggestion database, towards how Nigeria will grow.

This can be coordinated from outside the government as well. So there is something to hold on to and pursue, not just voting, or PVC, or one very arrogant candidate, or one idle one, or say all, without any public passion revolutionary projects since, all of a sudden – Presidency.

When the Church begins to reform as with National development unit, Daddy Freeze may want to take credit, but that will make him, like several of his teachings, a false prophet. It is not his idea. He only hates Churches. He suggests nothing – only negativity and everything is wrong with true Churches.

Part of the changes the Church may also make is to change some of the ways instructions are passed. Not everyone believes the Almighty GOD like the General Overseer, not everyone has Faith like true Pastors, so sometimes, if some people don’t come to certain realization themselves, they become disgruntled. Always say, it is not compulsory. If you are not convinced, don’t give, and don’t become a worker – make it known.

Not to adjust the doctrine for all the recent nonsense. But like was said, I advise you choose life, it is not compulsory, but this is the advice.

Some genuine workers understand they have business with the Almighty GOD, so a local pastor or anyone may behave or not, they focus on Jesus. It was said “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”.

Nigerians in several countries around the world are desperate for asylum. In Nigeria, the condition for Nigerians is bad, abroad for many same, it does not seem there is any foundation laid for progress that will be reaped in a half decade or beyond. Remember, no foundations for development were laid in the 70s, 80s and 90s and 2000s, now this.

But today the focus is church hate, Pastors Pharisee, pastors wrong, etc. All these attention debates hold nothing significant for development projects needed in Nigeria. Some marriages are in a crisis, they are getting help from the Church. Government has no major rehab centres, but Churches are helping many.

If Redeemed Church gave a third of their parishes to the government, corruption will take over all the places given; because governments are currently not doing any useful programs, or facilitating SMEs, to need spaces, so what is the point? How about others organizations too?

The States in Nigeria where the most beggars come from have state governments and state governors, some of those states have few Churches, and so would we blame the Church too for them?

Nigeria needs serious help. Underdevelopment of Nigeria is an emergency; everyone should play a smart part for development. Even as there is no development yet, this kind of thinking, pointing fingers at the wrong place shows Nigeria is not a serious country, at all, to develop.

How come only Presidency is the focus of leadership in Nigeria? Not governors or senators or reps or others? Mace was taken, distraction took the country. Dino Melaye arrested – distraction. Entertainment and sports – are distraction. Bet and Lotto games – false hope. Daddy Freeze – confusion, distraction, distortion, backwardness, despair, cheap, negativity, hate, and quidnunc. State governments are mostly doing nothing; Churches are the problem, not governors. Nigeria is now comfortable with young men of internet fraud wealth – by any means, but the future or lack of it is not the problem, it is Church Parishes. If you criticize true churches and pastors alone – which is so unfair – listen to yourself and measure how smart, look at your choices, look at your influence, look at the country and rate yourself.

CVR: Osun Residents Express Mixed Reactions, Calls For More Centres

By Francis Ezediuno

Even as the State Government of Osun declared Monday April 16, 2018 as public holiday so that eligible voters could register in the ongoing Continuous Voters Registration [CVR], complaints and commendations have continued to trail the exercise.

For those who complained, their grouse was that they were being disenfranchised because there were not enough voter registration centres and where such existed, they had to travel long distances to get themselves ready in order to exercise their civic duties.

They revealed that because of the lack of enough centres, mammoth crowds turned up at the available centres and they could not be attended to until late in the afternoon.

According to a voter residing in Esa-Oke, Mr. Gbenga Adeola, “I was at the centre this morning to register for the new voters’ card with my wife but could not be attended to due to large turnout of people for the exercise.

“This afternoon, I repeated my visit only to discover that those who have been coming for the past three days are yet to register”.

He said that with this situation, about 70% of residents of the town have been technically disenfranchised.

Corroborating, Abodunde Olaniyi stated that majority of the people could not register because of the unavailability of registration centres while others complained that in towns like Iloko-Ijesa, there is no CVR centre at all.

Meanwhile, some residents of Osogbo and Olorunda local governments who turned up at the CVR centres expressed their satisfaction with the exercise and praised the state government for giving the exercise the needed publicity and prayed that the maturity with which the electorates have been handling the exercise was going to be translated during the Gubernatorial and General Election in 2018 and 2019.

Even as the exercise came to a close at the end of the day, mixed reactions however followed it as many residents in the state complained that there were not enough centres in their vicinity and thereby demanding for centres to be located in each ward during future exercises while others expressed satisfaction at the opportunity given for them to have a work free day in order to take part in the continous voter registration exercise.

 

 

Observers Urge INEC To Extend Registration

By Israel Afolabi

One of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) accredited Observers in the state of Osun, Comrade Omirinde Gboyega of Good Governance Concerned, has implored the Commission to extend the date for the continuous voter registration to capture more electorates.

Comrade Omirinde made the appeal during the OSUN DEFENDER visit to some registration centres in Osogbo and its environs to witness the just concluded registration exercise.

He noted that the electorate trooped out enmasse to participate in the registration.

According to him, “the huge turnout of electorate at the wards visited was a strong reason for the Independent National Electoral Commission to extend the exercise by few days”.

The observer noted that since the commencement of the exercise on April 11th, to the last day, he was impressed with the large turnout.

He also added that it would be helpful, if the exercise is extended for more days by INEC to capture more electorate.

At the various places visited in Alekuwodo and Oke-Fia, the people yearned for more extension of the registration exercise.

A community leader in Oke-Fia, PA Isaac Ayoola observed that the electorate came out in large number for registration in the area.

An INEC registration officer at Alekuwodo Mr. Ademola Olusola noted that peoples’ turnout to register for their permanent voters’ card in the unit was impressive.

Another INEC registration officer, Azeez Ayoade want INEC to give more time to attend to electorate who wanted to register for their permanent voters’ cards across the state to enable them participate in the future elections.

“I know Buhari very well, He is not corrupt”, Orji Kalu

Orji Kalu, a former Governor of Abia State proclaimed that President Muhammadu Buhari will return in 2019 if he re-contests despite the series of attacks from former President Olusegun Obasanjo and others. In his words, he vouched for the President and claimed to know him well enough.

Kalu said this in an interview with journalists in Ile-Ife, Osun State, on Friday, after his peace and advocacy visit to the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi.

The former governor said Obasanjo, who spent eight years in office, was the least person competent to attack Buhari’s integrity, adding that the former President did not allow anybody to criticise him while in office.

He said, “Talking of integrity, Obasanjo is incompetent to criticise President Buhari. When I was the governor of Abia State, I wrote letters to President Obasanjo, criticising him and because of that, he swore to make life difficult for me. He is today writing letters every week, attacking Buhari.

“I know Buhari very well. He is not corrupt. He does not own property anywhere. Some people should not just put the country in crisis. Whatever they may have in plan, Buhari will return in 2019.”

The former governor said that Buhari had demonstrated that he loved the country more than Obasanjo and added that there was no way Nigerians would dump the President based on the series of letters written by Obasanjo to discredit him (Buhari).

Kalu also said that the Igbo could realise the ambition of producing Buhari’s successor in 2023, stating, “We can’t do it alone. Late Chief MKO Abiola came to my mother’s house in Abia many years ago seeking political support.

“While discussing with my mother, MKO said no one could clap with one hand. I will also adopt that adage. We Igbo can’t do it alone. The rest of the country should assist us to realise this ambition.”

Earlier, the Ooni of Ife thanked Kalu for promoting unity and peaceful coexistence among Nigerians.

Pastor Declares Voter’s Card The Ticket To Holy Communion

Philip Igbinijesu, convener and senior pastor of World Assembly, with headquarters in Lagos, has threatened that members will not be given Holy Communion if they do not have their voter’s card.

Igbinijesu was quoted by a member of the Church as describing any member who fails to go for his PVC as enemy of Nigeria, adding that the situation of things in the country demands practical approach from believers besides prayers, hence the need to end misrule in Nigeria through the power of the voter’s card.

He reportedly emphasised this position during the Easter service where he declared that Nigerians must be well armed with their Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs) so as to vote in credible leaders in 2019.

 

 

2019 Elections: Olusegun Obasanjo Holds Series Of Meetings

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has been holding a series of meetings with his associates at different locations. In one of such meetings, which held at Protea Hotel, located at 42/44 Isaac John Street, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos, Obasanjo was said to have met with 35 political parties under the aegis of the Coalition for New Nigeria.
Others at the meeting included the Co-Chairmen of the Nigerian Intervention Movement, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), and Dr. Jhalil Tafawa-Balewa, one of the children of Nigeria’s post-independence first Prime Minister, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa.

According to reports, Obasanjo, the immediate past Governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso and some political parties have been meeting to strategise for the 2019 elections. A former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke; a former Governor Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola; and a former Special Adviser to Obasanjo, who is the spokesman for the CNM, Mr. Akin Osuntokun, also attended the strategic meeting.

Some of the political parties represented at the meeting included the Social Democratic Party, Labour Party, Alliance for Democracy, Democratic People’s Congress, Action Alliance, Progressives People’s Alliance, Democratic Alternative and National Conscience Party.

Others, who attended the Lagos meeting, were Mr. Kenneth Udete, who represented Action Alliance Party; and Mr. Okey Chukwuendu, who represented the All Grand Alliance Party.

A source, who attended the meeting, told our correspondent that Obasanjo emphasised the need to work together ahead of the 2019 general elections.

The source, who is close to Obasanjo, told SUNDAY PUNCH that the coming together of the various interest groups and individuals had become necessary as that was seen as the only way to defeat the ruling All Progressives Congress in the 2019 elections.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said, “The meeting was summoned by Obasanjo. He noted that both the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party have failed Nigeria and there is a need to come together. He said his association, Coalition for Nigeria Movement, and the NIM should form a merger.”

When asked why Kwankwaso was invited to the meeting despite being a member of the ruling APC, the source noted that Kwankwaso had always been an Obasanjo loyalist.

“Have you forgotten that Kwankwaso was appointed the Minister of Defence by President Obasanjo in 2003? The former governor was not invited because of his ties with the APC but because he also has a huge movement known as the Kwankwasiya in Kano and its environs. Kano is a very strategic state,” the source, a top member of one of the groups, stated.

“The meeting is not just a political one but an attempt to come up with a unified ideology and strategy for 2019.”

The source explained that Obasanjo stressed the need for the parties present to prove to Nigerians that they were different from the APC and the PDP, saying Nigerians were tired of the two parties.

When asked why the meeting was kept secret for so long, the source said Obasanjo insisted that such strategic sessions remained clandestine.

When contacted on the telephone on Saturday, Agbakoba confirmed the meetings with Obasanjo.

Agbakoba, who is a co-chairman of the NIM, said the meetings would continue to hold.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria stated, “What I can say is yes, that is true. We are exploring the option of working together and those conversations are still ongoing and we have a mutually-agreed agenda that we will have to make an impact in 2019.

“And that we will not be supporting the APC or the PDP. We have agreed on that but we have not agreed on who the candidate would be and other minute details.”

When asked if the presence of old politicians like Kwankwaso and Oyinlola in the meetings would not undermine the quest for change, Agbakoba said NIM would be circumspect.

The former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, added, “I can confirm that Kwankwaso was there and Oyinlola was there, but for us, our concern is that Nigerians need to see a new political plan and we told them in clear terms that if we are to work together, it would present a challenge if the Nigerian voting population see the same old people and then there would be no change. So, that’s where we are.

“It will be difficult in my view for us to be supporting the same old people who left the PDP and went to the APC to come and join us. It will be very difficult.”

Attempts to get a response from Kwankwaso about the meetings were futile.

Calls to the mobile of his spokesperson, Rabiu Bichi, were not returned while a response to a text message sent to him on the subject was still being awaited as of the time of filing this report on Saturday night.

Attempts to speak with Osuntokun proved abortive as he neither returned calls to his mobile on Saturday nor responded to a text message sent to his telephone.

Efforts to get Oyinlola to speak on this were unsuccessful. Calls to the former governor’s phone rang out several times while he had yet to respond to the text message sent to him on the same issue as of the time of filing this report.

 

U.S Reveals Interest To Ensure 2019 Elections Remain Peaceful

The United States Government has revealed that a peaceful 2019 general election remained its major priority in view of the country’s strategic position in the region.

This disclosed by the U.S. Department of State during a background briefing on the first trip of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Africa, monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria in New York.

He also added that a peaceful transition was also a priority.

Mr. Tillerson would meet with Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and other top government functionaries, and also leaders of Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya during his travels from Tuesday, March 6 to 13.

The department said over two decades ago, the number of countries in Africa with really democratically elected government were really very few – only three or four.

It said, however, now we had over two dozen African countries with democratically elected governments and which are hopefully not going to have transitions in government through coup d’etats and other illegal methods.

“As we look at the 20 elections, obviously Nigeria, though it’s not this year – it’s going to be next year – that really is a major priority focus, because that’s going to be the third most populous country in the world by 2050.

“It has really very complex political issues, ethnic, tribal and security issues.

“And that’s an area that we really are focusing on how to do a peaceful transition, a democratic transition, but more important is how to hold governments accountable to the people,” the state department said.

The department explained that obviously, a lot of those African countries were still fragile democracies and the U.S. was trying “to strengthen them.”

The U.S. commended the most recent elections in Liberia, saying it was the first open, fair, and peaceful transition of governments in over 75 years, saying that is a good thing.

It regretted what it called the “horrendous rule of Charles Taylor and the degradation of the institutions there, but now we’re going back and they’re building, and I think with the election of George Weah that’s going to be a positive thing”.

The U.S. also noted the election of Nana Akufo-Addo in Ghana, Alassane Ouattara in Cote d’Ivoire and Macky Sall in Senegal, describing them as positive developments.

It said, however, that Ethiopia remained a challenge for the U.S. and a focus for it as well and an opportunity.

The U.S. explained that it was looking at trying to build institutions, really strengthen institutions, and also have peaceful transitions and hold governments accountable to the people in Ethiopia.

It said it was also looking at how it could have reconciliation and dialogues between all of the different groups – the Oromos, the Amharas, the Tigrays, and also in Kenya with the opposition and with the ruling government.

Accordingly, the department said building strong institutions and holding governments accountable are some of the things that are certainly going to be the subjects of discussion during Mr. Tillerson’s trip.

 

Before The Next Round By Edwin Madunagu

I am inviting our country’s popular-democratic forces, especially the Nigerian Left, to join me in looking back once again. We have to look as the Nigerian state and the various fractions, factions, groups and blocs of the ruling class now begin to take the country through another political turbulence that will end in a reconstitution of their political representation. It is this reconstitution of its “political class” that the ruling class calls election.

This opening clarification leads to an opening proposition, namely: That if the Nigerian Left consciously, responsibly and seriously adopts electoralism, it is only its participation in elections as a tangible, coherent and relatively independent political force that will begin to introduce real and unexpected contradictions in elections. A real contradiction in this context is a contradiction with both reformist and revolutionary potentials. And I say “relatively independent”, rather than “independent” in describing the popular-democratic forces’ electoral participation because I do not, ab initio, rule out the possibility of alliance which, if it is real, imposes limitations on the freedom of all sides in an alliance.

Historians of independent Nigeria’s electoral politics usually begin the narrative from the federal election of December 1959. This was the election which the history books say determined the power structure which British colonialism left behind as it withdrew from Nigeria on October 1, 1960. Between that election and now, 58 years later, Nigeria has had nine other federal or national elections: 1964, 1979, 1983, 1993, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015. Leftists had participated in all the 10 elections. And, by Leftists I mean, broadly speaking, socialists as well as progressives and radical democrats who, even if they are not socialists, are not anti-socialist. The central question here is how Nigerian Leftists have so far participated in elections.

This central question may be put in context by locating each of the 10 federal or national elections in the political period it belongs. Nigeria’s First Republic is generally understood to be the period between October 1, 1960 and January 15, 1966, the date of the first military coup d’etat. This designation has come to stay although Nigeria did not become a republic until October 1, 1963, three years after independence. Only the 1964 election falls into the First Republic. Similarly, only the 1983 election falls under the Second Republic (October 1, 1979 to December 30, 1983). The Third Republic, defined only by when it ended (November 17, 1993) and not when it started (when, please?), had no election within it.

The Fourth Republic, the current one, started on May 29, 1999. Four general elections have so far taken place in this period: 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015. The remaining four elections, that is, those of 1959, 1979, 1993 and 1999 do not belong to any of the four republics and may be called transition elections. The first of the four was conducted by the British colonialists, while the other three were conducted by military regimes: General Olusegun Obasanjo (1979); General Ibrahim Babangida (1993) and General Abdulsalami Abubakar (1999).

For the Nigerian Left, the 1979 general election marked a sharp and tragic turn in the trajectory of the country’s electoral politics. In the first place, the huge material/financial conditions placed on the registration of political parties almost automatically ruled out genuinely Leftist parties. In the second place, the elimination of independent candidacy placed a stiff choice before intending Leftist candidates and unregistered and unregistrable Leftist parties.

Nigerian Leftists participated in the 1959 transition-from-colonialism election in one or more of four forms: as members of large and well-established ruling class parties; as members of small self-determination or radical-reformist parties; as members of small Leftist parties; or as independent candidates or supporters of independent candidates. The large ruling-class parties were the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) led by Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons (later, the National Council of Nigerian Citizens) (NCNC), led by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and the Action Group (AG), led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo. In the last decade of de-colonisation, that is, (1950-1960), these three parties, especially the AG and the NCNC, had received large numbers of young Leftists, including Marxists and labour activists, who had been dislodged from their independent formations by colonial repression. The Leftist entrants into the AG, with support and encouragement from Awolowo himself, transformed the party ideologically.

The small radical parties included the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) led by Mallam Aminu Kano, and the self-determination parties included the United Middle Belt Congress (UMBC) led by Joseph Tarka. While NEPU was allied to the NCNC, UMBC was allied to the AG. Each alliance fielded a single slate of candidates. The small Leftist parties only participated in the election symbolically and for ideological and educational reasons.

In the 1964 federal election, the only federal election that took place in the First Republic, the 1959 forms of Left participation again appeared. By now the Leftist parties and groups had increased and enlarged. Beyond this, however, was a new development: a number of Leftist parties, including the Nigerian Labour Party (NLP), joined the AG and the NCNC in an alliance called the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA). This was a mega-alliance whose component members included NCNC, AG, NEPU, UMBC and NLP. The alliance survived the December 1964 election and the supplementary election of March 1965. It then went on to fight the very bloody October 1965 Western Regional Election. The mass uprising generated by the last election led directly to the January 15, 1966 military coup d’etat.

The 1979 general election was a transition election: transition from the 13-year military dictatorship (1966-1979) to the Second Republic (1979-1983). By then several things had changed: the country had moved from the parliamentary to the presidential system; parties now had to be officially permitted and registered to participate in the contest; only very rich parties or parties of very rich people could satisfy the conditions for registration; participation as independent candidates had been abolished; and elections had become much more corrupt than they were in the First Republic.

For the Nigerian Left, the 1979 general election marked a sharp and tragic turn in the trajectory of the country’s electoral politics. In the first place, the huge material/financial conditions placed on the registration of political parties almost automatically ruled out genuinely Leftist parties. In the second place, the elimination of independent candidacy placed a stiff choice before intending Leftist candidates and unregistered and unregistrable Leftist parties.

This strategic change, if adopted, frees you to seek alliances. For accessible historical illustration: First, check China in the years between the Japanese invasion and the end of Second World War. The alliance in mind here was the one between the Chinese Leftists and the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang).

This choice can be put like this: “Abandon your electoral ambition or come and seek a chance in one of the registered and registrable parties”. In the third place, since the big registered parties knew that the unregistered leftist parties and candidates could not participate in elections without coming to them, they imposed tough conditions on collaboration. The main condition invariably was: “Withdraw publicly from your platform and publicly join us. But you must join us as individuals, not as groups”.

This situation may be summarised this way: From the 1979 general election onwards the genuinely Leftist parties could participate in electoral contests in Nigeria only by liquidating themselves as they were and as they presented themselves. It was then that history presented the silent revolutionary alternative: “But if you must still participate in Nigerian elections, then you must adopt, or rather, return to, dialectics. That means: differentiate between form and content; or rather, while retaining the revolutionary content, adopt two forms – one for elections and the other for the permanent democratic struggle of the masses.”

This strategic change, if adopted, frees you to seek alliances. For accessible historical illustration: First, check China in the years between the Japanese invasion and the end of Second World War. The alliance in mind here was the one between the Chinese Leftists and the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang).

After this, turn to the post-Second World War history of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island and check the alliance between the various wings of Irish nationalism.

For contemporary illustration, turn to South Africa and check the Tripartite Alliance between the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Confederation of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).

INEC To Monitor 2019 Elections Through Satellite

INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu has disclosed that the agency would deploy satellite to remote areas where 3G and 4G networks are not available, to monitor the 2019 general elections.

He said this during his visit to the the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT), Abimbola Alale, in Abuja.

INEC said it

“In continuation of consultations with national agencies in the telecommunications sector, INEC considers this interactive meeting critical to the success of our commitment to deepening of the application of technology to elections. While we appreciate the tremendous reach of the telecommunications operators, we are equally aware that some of our polling Units are located in places where 3G and 4G networks are not available for real time electronic transmission of results”

“It is for this reason that we wish to leverage on the capacity of NIGCOMSAT to provide a wide range of telecommunication services. In particular, your broadband service offers a tremendous flexible bandwidth capacity that can be deployed almost anywhere and in a short period of time, including hard-to-reach and temporary locations. These are invaluable to the work of INEC. Working with you and in partnership with the NCC as well as the telecommunications operators, we believe the challenges to the seamless transmission of results are not insurmountable We are similarly aware that NIGCOMSAT has the capacity for Direct-to-Home (DTH) broadcasting, multimedia, video streaming, Hotspot event services and indoor and outdoor electronic message displays. These services are invaluable to our work on voter education, sensitisation and mobilisation for elections”.