THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Thursday, August 15, took delivery of 20 million permanent voters’ cards for 2015 general elections in the country. Gabriel Ada, resident electoral commissioner, REC, in charge of Akwa Ibom State, disclosed this in Uyo, at a stakeholders’ meeting organised by the commission. Ada said the voters’ cards would help to phase out the temporary voters cards in the system. According to the REC, the permanent card has a micro-chip with bio-data of every voter. Other features include a readable card which every registered voter would present at the polling unit before being allowed to vote.
Ada said the equipment was designed to record the total number of people that are accredited and the total votes cast at each polling unit during elections. This, he said, would help to eliminate irregularities in the system and also check unhealthy activities of desperate politicians during elections. In addition, the REC said the commission has been restructured to enhance its operations, adding that more than 6,000 field officers have been employed to help institutionalise core values in the organisation.
End of the Road for Momogu Bama
MOMOGU Bama, a key leader of Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group, was killed by the Joint Task Force in Borno State, on Wednesday, August 14. Bama was, until his death, the second-in-command to Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the sect. There was a N25 million reward for whosoever will supply information that could lead to his arrest. Security men said Bama was killed the same day with Abatcha Flatari, his father, described as one of the spiritual leaders of the sect in an operation between the sect members and the JTF operatives in Bama village.
Chris Olukolade, a brigadier-general and director of defence information, who confirmed Bama’s death, described him as a vicious Boko Haram leader, who took delight in personally slaughtering the sect’s victims. He said that Bama was the expert in charge of mounting anti-aircraft weapons for the sect and coordinating members in Yobe and Adamawa states.
Bama’s body was identified by members of the sect arrested during one of the recent encounters between the JTF and the insurgents in Bama. “Momogu Bama personally led the attacks against troops and innocent citizens in the communities of Yobe and Adamawa. A specialist in manning the anti-aircraft guns of the group, he is known to be vicious and heartless with a penchant for personally slaughtering and executing victims. Momogu Bama has been a most wanted terrorist with a N25m bounty already placed on his head.”
Olukolade, who said that the JTF had intensified aerial patrol to secure communities in Borno and Yobe states, added that 17 insurgents were killed and 24 arrested during the Bama encounter.
APC On Local Government Autonomy
THE All Progressives Congress, APC, has dismissed reports in the media that its governors were against autonomy for local governments, describing the reports as a gross misrepresentation of its governors’ position on the issue. In a statement issued by Lai Muhammed, interim national publicity secretary of the party, on Thursday, August 15, the APC said the governors were only asking that such autonomy must be determined by the State Houses of Assembly, instead of the National Assembly. ”For those who may have been misled by the media reports, we want to state our stand clearly. In the first instance, the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria gives the state houses of assembly the power to create local governments. Therefore, autonomy for local governments should be debated at the houses of assembly, not at the National Assembly.
”Secondly, giving control of the local governments to the federal government, one of the two federating units in a federalist system of government, will only result in the creation of a unitary government. And thirdly, all local government administrations must be democratically elected in a free and fair election, while chairmen and councillors must be accountable to those who elected them,” the party argued.
The party said instead of creating more problems by giving the National Assembly the power to regulate local governments, there should be some measures to resolve existing problems for the smooth running of local governments. “Let us stop the appointment of caretaker committees to run local governments because this is undemocratic. Let the State Houses of Assembly which have the powers to create local governments also be able to determine the issue of autonomy, the statement said further.
Controversy Over ASUU Demand
CONTRARY to the allegation by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, minister of finance and co-ordinating minister of the economy’s allegation that the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, demanded for the payment of N92 billion as earned allowances, the union said it only asked for N87 billion in respect of the agreement reached with the government in 2009. Speaking through Olusegun Ajiboye, chairman, University of Ibadan chapter, the union described the minister’s statement as a misrepresentation of facts. Okonjo-Iweala had been quoted to have said that the striking university lecturers demanded for N92 billion as earned allowances in the 2009 agreement.
But the statement issued by the union said: “I want Nigerians to ask the minister where she got her figure of N92 billion from. There was never a time that ASUU made a demand that is up to N92 billion. I think the 92 billion naira is just the imagination of the minister of finance and co-ordinating minister of the economy.” Ajiboye, in clarifying the issue, noted that the earned allowances jointly calculated with the federal government and the ASUU in the 2009 agreement was N87 billion and it covered allowances for three and a half years for thousands of lecturers in Nigerian universities. He added that the N87 billion was a compromise made by ASUU by scaling down from N127 billion.
Ajiboye said: “This is a government that signed an agreement with us on January 24, 2012 to the effect that they would inject N100 billion as funding into the universities in the first one month and that before the end of 2012, they would inject another N300 billion. The same government did not put down a kobo to any of these universities. So, it is a sad story that we are hearing now that the government cannot meet a demand of N87 billion whereas the government said that they would keep on putting N400 billion annually for three years consecutively to the tune of about N1.2 trillion. If the government is now saying it cannot meet N87billion, Nigerians should know that this is not a government that can be trusted for anything.”
Nigerian university students have been at home since the ASUU members went on strike seven weeks ago over unfulfilled government promises.
Training for Anambra Elections
| By Vincent Nzemeke |
AS PART of efforts to ensure a hitch free poll in the forthcoming gubernatorial and local government elections in Anambra State, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in conjunction with the United Nations development programme, UNDP, has begun a week-long training for electoral officers to be deployed for the elections.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the programme which was tagged: Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections’, BRIDGE, in Enugu, on Monday, Mourtada Deme, UNDP’s director of democratic governance for development, explained that the training was to empower the officers with the skills and knowledge needed for the conduct of a successful election. Deme was represented by Adebowale Olorunmola, an election consultant.
He said the training was put together with the assistance of the United Kingdom’s department for international development, Canada international development agency and other international agencies. “This is a specialised training that is aimed at building the capacity of the officials of the commission to be able to conduct an election that is free, fair, credible and which also meets international standard. At the end of the day, we believe that they will get to understand the nitty-gritty of planning for an election, of civic and voter education, of understanding what it entails to carry stakeholders along.”
Ifeanyichukwu Agoha, INEC’s assistant director of international liaison and outreach, said the training was to strengthen electoral officers in Anambra to be able to train other participants in the electoral process. He added that the training would expose the officers to the electoral guidelines and regulations that would be binding on them.
“INEC is here as the father to the state’s independent electoral commission to assist it in strengthening its work force so that it can be in a position to give the people of Anambra a good local government election. We believe that with a good local government election, national elections will also be free and fair because they are the foundation, they are at the grassroots.”
Sylvester Okonkwo, acting chairman, Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission, ANSIEC, promised to conduct an election devoid of corruption and irregularities. However, Obiageli Chika, a participant, commended the organisers of the workshop and noted that the training had given them an insight on how to tackle challenges during elections. “We have learnt a lot from this workshop. When we get to Anambra, we will be able to impart them on all the people that will work for the successful election.”
— Aug. 26, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT