Ahead of the 2023 general elections, Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi has said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should determine when to use the electoral transmission of results.
“Personally, I feel we should leave the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to handle and decide when or where to utilise the electronic transmission, not the principle of it,” he said during an interview on Channels Television’s Newsnight which aired on Monday.
The National Assembly had on July 15 deliberated extensively on the Electoral Amendment Bill with the House of Representatives passing the bill moments after opposition lawmakers walked out of the heated session.
While the House passed the majority of the 158 clauses of the bill intact including Clause 52 (2), the Senate only approved the conditional electronic transmission of electoral results and voted publicly along party lines over section 52(3) of the electoral act amendment bill, which deals with electronic transmission of poll results.
Fayemi, who is also the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, said the drama that trailed the passage of the bill before the parliament was unnecessary.
“I feel that the hullabaloo around this could have been avoided partly because I feel it is something that we must not over-regulate, particularly the activities of an independent commission.
“If I have the opportunity to have been asked, I would have actually argued strongly that we leave this matter for the electoral commission to handle rather than micro-manage the commission or bringing the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) as the final arbitral on what happens to the electoral commission,” the former Mines Minister added.
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, leaders from the southern region and the middle belt are demanding that the presidency be zoned to the south in the overall interest of Nigeria as a united country.
The leader of the group, Chief Edwin Clark stated this on Sunday during a press conference in Abuja, describing the ongoing constitutional amendment exercise by the National Assembly, as fraudulent.
He also insisted on a total restructuring of Nigeria and a brand new constitution fashioned after the 1963 constitution.
“The South should be ready to have the next President, without that, no Nigeria. We want to restructure of Nigeria if there has to be a Nigeria to continue,” he said.
“We want the zoning to continue, it is conventional. When the Constitution did not provide for a succession when Yar’ Adua was ill, the convention was adopted.
“Even though zoning is not part of our 1999 Constitution or our party institution, it has been an acceptable convention.”
The elder statesman said the country needs a brand-new constitution, adding that the 1963 Constitution recognised the country as a four-legged country where each region developed at its own pace, which was not the case in recent times.
According to him, the situation of things is such that one state that is not developed would be dragging a developed state down.
See the communique issued after the meeting of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum below:
COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF AN EXPANDED MEETING OF THE SOUTHERN AND MIDDLE BELT LEADERS’ FORUM HELD ON SUNDAY, 30TH MAY, 2021
An expanded Meeting of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), held on Sunday, 30th May 2021, at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, ABUJA. The Meeting, chaired by Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, OFR, CON, had, in attendance leaders of various socio-cultural organizations as follows: Afenifere, for the South West; Ohanaeze Ndigbo, for the South East; Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), for the South-South and the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), for the Middle Belt.
The Meeting also had in attendance, former Governors, Ministers and Members of the National Assembly, from the respective Zones (list attached).
The Meeting exhaustively discussed various issues about the State of Affairs in the country, particularly, bordering on the Security, National Dialogue, Restructuring, and the preparations for the 2023 General Elections.
Arising therefrom, the Meeting resolved as follows:
Urges the Federal Government to heed the genuine and reasonable nationwide calls for a transparent National Dialogue, and take urgent steps towards restructuring and birthing a new Constitution; to bring back equitable harmony to the Country;
Insists that it is imperative to immediately restructure the country considering the precarious prevailing atmosphere before any further elections.
iii. Reminds all leading political parties, especially the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and other political parties, that the basis of any viable democracy, especially in a diverse and complex country such as Nigeria, rests in fair and even sharing of power;
Notes that the Northern part of the Country would have fully enjoyed the Office of the Presidency, for the full statutory period of 8 years by 2023, hence, should yield to the South;
Therefore, the Meeting:
Unequivocally and in full resolve, calls on the APC and PDP and other political parties to zone the Presidency, in 2023 to the South; at the next election.
Enjoins political stakeholders from the South not to be lured into the unpatriotic step of seeking such other positions as National Chairmen and Vice President of the main political parties, but join forces to demand and ensure that the Presidency moves to the South in 2023;
iii. Calls on the Federal Government to declare a national emergency on security and urgently come up with proactive strategies to restore peace and security to all parts of the country;
Emphasizes that, if the security situation is not dealt with and banditry stopped or reduced to the barest minimum, it would not be feasible to have proper elections in 2023;
Condemns the cavalier attitude of the federal government towards the resolutions of the Governors of Southern States at their Meeting, held in Asaba, Delta State on 11th May 2021;as it pertains to ban on open grazing and restructuring.
Insists that cattle rearing is a generally, private business enterprise, as such, the Federal Government should avoid committing state resources to promote any particular business, beyond providing the enabling environment, in the performance of its regulatory roles;
vii. Extends condolences to the families of the late Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Ibrahim Attahiru, and 10 other military personnel, who died in the unfortunate military plane crash on 21st May 2021, and calls on the military authorities to carry out a thorough investigation to ascertain the actual cause of the crash;
viii. Reaffirms its commitment to the unity of Nigeria, but must only be sustained on the principles of Equity, Fairness and Justice.
The Meeting was held in an atmosphere of peace and collective commitment to the decisions.
Done in ABUJA, this 30th Day of May 2021.
Chief E. K. Clark, OFR, CON – Leader
Chief Ayo Adebanjo – Leader, Afenifere
Amb. Prof George Obiozor – President General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide
Dr. Pogu Bitrus – National President, Middle Belt Forum
Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, FNSE, National Chairman PANDEF.
Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has asked the Federal Government to tackle the deteriorating insecurity in the country.
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Tuesday, Akeredolu warned that the 2023 general elections might be threatened if the insecurity situation worsens.
He also condemned Saturday’s attack on his colleague from Benue State, Samuel Ortom, wondering why governors would be the target of attack.
While describing the attack as unfortunate, Akeredolu who is also the Chairman of South-West Governors Forum, thanked God for the life of Governor Ortom.
Following the attack on Benue governor, Ortom visited President Buhari today in Abuja, warning that elections might be disrupted in 2023 if nothing is done to nip insecurity in the bud.
Governor Akeredolu also backed Ortom’s remarks, noting that Nigerians should be worried if banditry activities reach its full-scale.
“I think he is right, definitely we cannot conduct election under an insecure environment. So if insecurity is not nipped in the bud, it will escalate and if it escalates, all of us should be worried that as at the time we are getting to 2023, we might have a full-scale banditry and other insecurity in the country,” he said.
“With that, there is nobody that can carry out any election under that atmosphere. What is clear is that he has made a good point that the Federal Government must sit up.
“Something just has to be done now to ensure that this issue of insecurity that is escalating by the day is now nipped in the bud and deescalated as soon as possible.”
Time For State Police
Regarding the myriads of security challenges ranging from banditry to terrorism, kidnapping for ransom to cultism, militancy and agitations to secede among several others, Governor Akeredolu renewed his earlier call for the creation of state police.
He believes that the setting up of the policy structure at regional levels would complement the efforts of the Nigeria Police Force.
The governor being a senior lawyer and ex-President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) however admitted that the outfit is not something that can come to force immediately.
He added, “There must be a swift response to all this level of insecurity. For now, since there is nothing else to do, those of us who believe that there should be multi-level policing and the time has come for us to have state police, it is not something you can force down.
“It is something that will have to go through the National Assembly. It takes some time but that is the goal. But before then, I believe that we can have meetings, set up committees on insecurity. Let it be addressed wholesomely without any bias.”
Nigeria has been experiencing a series of security threats ranging from terrorism, banditry, militancy, cultism among others in several parts of the country.
The country has been battling terrorism for more than a decade which has killed 36,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands in the northeast.
The Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) split from the jihadist group Boko Haram in 2016 and has since become a dominant threat in Nigeria, attacking troops and bases while killing and kidnapping passengers at bogus checkpoints.
On March 1, jihadist fighters burnt down a United Nations humanitarian compound in the town of Dikwa after dislodging troops, killing six civilians.
Nigeria’s jihadist violence has spread to neighbouring Chad, Cameroon and Niger, prompting a regional military coalition to fight the insurgents.
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmoud Yakubu, has met with all the Resident Electoral Commissioners in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Speaking at the commission’s headquarters on Monday, he directed all RECs to submit an inventory of all electoral materials in their care ahead of the next general election.
Professor Yakubu said the move is necessary to enable the commission to overcome the logistics challenges it faces during elections promising that the next general election will be better than all previous polls.
“As you are also aware, the commission is committed to deepening the culture of planning for elections. The current five-year plan covering the period 2017-2021 expires this year,” he said.
“For this reason, a committee involving the participation of some Resident Electoral Commissioners was inaugurated a few weeks ago to review the strategic plan and the strategic programme of action to cover the next cycle of five years, 2022-2026.
“As we continue to plan for the next general elections, the RECs have been directed to compile and submit an inventory of all election materials in order to determine shortfalls and early steps to ensure there are adequacy and availability.”
This is the first meeting the commission is holding with the recs after series of consultative meetings with political parties and other stakeholders on the need to create more polling units.
Ganduje is therefore confident that the ruling party would win the 2023 general election and maintain its winning streak by holding to power at the federal level.
“I think in 2023, APC will win the election because more people are coming into the party. Though we lost some governors because of intraparty problems, at the same time some are coming into the party.
“Also there is a very strong movement now to reconcile the major actors and I think that is also making the party stronger,” he added.
The governor said he is hopeful that despite the wranglings within the APC, the party would resolve all differences and put its house in order before 2023.
He however advised the party’s leadership to do a lot of planning and research to adopt the best option and approach in winning subsequent polls in the country.
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, on Friday met with the chairmen and secretaries of political parties in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
While the electoral body proposes the creation of more polling units, Professor Yakubu, said that the last time polling units were created was 25 years ago.
According to the INEC Chairman, the meeting which held at the INEC headquarters is the first engagement with party leaders aimed at enhancing voters’ access to polling units.
He is of the opinion that the inadequate number of polling units in the last 25 years have contributed to voter apathy and a dwindling voter turnout.
Nigeria has continued to maintain 119,973 polling units since 1996, when the country had about fifty million registered voters. The figure has remained the same even when the numbers of registered voters have risen to over 88 million.
“Unfortunately, the last time polling units were established was 25 years ago in 1996 by the defunct National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON). There were 120,000 polling units to serve a projected population of about 50 million voters,” he said.
“Today, the number of registered voters is 84,004,084 and is set to rise after we resume Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) ahead of the 2023 General Election. Yet, the number of polling units remains static. In fact, the biggest category of registered voters on our data base (aged 18 to 25 years) were not even born when the current polling units were established a quarter of a century ago.
“Certainly, the Commission tried unsuccessfully to expand voter access to polling units in 2007, 2014 and before the 2019 General Election. However, these attempts were handled administratively. They also came too close to General Elections. Consequently, the Commission’s intention was not properly communicated and therefore misunderstood and politicised.
“Learning from previous experience, the Commission has now decided to engage with Nigerians by consulting widely. We have worked hard in the last two months and produced a Discussion Paper entitled “The State of Voter Access to Polling Units in Nigeria”, prepared satellite imageries of the location of polling units across the country as well as pictures and videos to demonstrate the difficulties faced by voters on Election Day.
“The hard and soft copies of the Discussion Paper is being widely shared and will be uploaded on the Commission’s website and social media platforms latest by Monday 8th February 2021.”
The INEC boss explained that efforts to have more units created in 2007, 2011 and 2019 were misunderstood.
He stated that the number of voters have grown, thus making it imperative for the commission to create more polling units.
On his part, the chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Leonard Nzenwa, who responded on behalf of the parties commended INEC for the proposal.
He however wished that the process had commenced earlier than now.
READ INEC CHAIRMAN’S FULL SPEECH BELOW:
REMARKS BY THE HONOURABLE CHAIRMAN, INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC), PROF. MAHMOOD YAKUBU, AT THE FIRST CONSULTATIVE MEETING WITH POLITICAL PARTIES FOR THE YEAR 2021 HELD AT THE CONFERENCE ROOM, INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC) HEADQUARTERS, ABUJA, FRIDAY 5TH FEBRUARY 2021.
Chairmen of Political Parties
Honourable National Commissioners
Resident Electoral Commissioners
Senior Officials of INEC
Members of the INEC Press Corps
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. It is my pleasure to welcome party leaders to our first meeting for the year 2021. On behalf of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), I wish the Chairmen and leaders of political parties a happy New Year. At the same time, but on a sad note, we lost the Chairman of the Labour Party (LP), Abdulkadir Abdulsalam, a trade unionist, a democrat, a frontline politician, and an active promoter of multi-party democracy in Nigeria. He never missed the Commission’s meetings with political parties, including the last one held about three months ago on Tuesday 10th November 2020. May God grant him paradise.
2. You may recall that at the last meeting, many party leaders expressed concern about low voter turnout in elections in Nigeria. After reviewing the situation, it was agreed that political parties, INEC, and all stakeholders need to do more in the areas of voter and civic education, voter mobilisation and inclusivity. After the meeting, the Commission critically appraised the situation. In addition to other factors highlighted by political parties and other stakeholders, the Commission is of the firm belief that expanding voter access to polling units in Nigeria is crucial to voter turnout in elections. Experience has shown that enhanced voter access to polling units increases turnout in elections. Not surprisingly, many countries expand access to polling units with every fresh registration of voters while others do so routinely or before every general election. Increase in voter population, emergence of new settlements, urbanisation, distance to existing polling units, difficult terrain and other factors require constant review to give the voter a pleasant experience on Election Day. Above all, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is necessary to decongest polling units to minimise overcrowding and reduce the long distances voters travel often in overcrowded means of transport to vote during elections.
3. Unfortunately, the last time polling units were established was 25 years ago in 1996 by the defunct National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON). There were 120,000 polling units to serve a projected population of about 50 million voters. Today, the number of registered voters is 84,004,084 and is set to rise after we resume Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) ahead of the 2023 General Election. Yet, the number of polling units remains static. In fact, the biggest category of registered voters on our data base (aged 18 to 25 years) were not even born when the current polling units were established a quarter of a century ago.
4. Certainly, the Commission tried unsuccessfully to expand voter access to polling units in 2007, 2014 and before the 2019 General Election. However, these attempts were handled administratively. They also came too close to General Elections. Consequently, the Commission’s intention was not properly communicated and therefore misunderstood and politicised.
5. Learning from previous experience, the Commission has now decided to engage with Nigerians by consulting widely. We have worked hard in the last two months and produced a Discussion Paper entitled “The State of Voter Access to Polling Units in Nigeria”, prepared satellite imageries of the location of polling units across the country as well as pictures and videos to demonstrate the difficulties faced by voters on Election Day. The hard and soft copies of the Discussion Paper is being widely shared and will be uploaded on the Commission’s website and social media platforms latest by Monday 8th February 2021.
6. It is significant that we are commencing the series of engagements today with leaders of political parties. At each engagement, there will be a presentation followed by discussion. We hope that by doing so, we will communicate the Commission’s intention to Nigerians and invite input from citizens across the board on how we can tackle the problem of voter access to polling units in our country and hopefully establish the framework for subsequent seamless adjustments as the need arises. This is how it is done in virtually all democracies around the world. I am confident that by working together we will make history by finally solving this 25-year-old problem of enhancing access to polling units in Nigeria. The Nigerian voter and our democracy in general will be the biggest beneficiaries of increased access to polling units.
7. Once again, I welcome party leaders to this meeting and look forward to your contributions.