Obasanjo, Mahama, Others Discuss Credible Elections In Africa

Obasanjo, Mahama, Others Discuss Credible Elections In Africa
A file photo of former President Olusegun Obasanjo speaking at an event in 2018.

 

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and some other former presidents in Africa have met to discuss how to ensure free and credible electoral process in the continent.

The ex-presidents include a former President of Ghana, Mr John Mahama; former President of Sierra Leone, Mr Ernest Koroma; and former Prime Minister of Kenya, Mr Raila Odinga.

Also present are the immediate past Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, as well as Dr Muthoni Wanyaki and Amir Osman from the Open Society Foundations.

In his opening remarks, former President Obasanjo explained that the essence of the meeting was to review electoral systems in Africa, especially inputs, processes and output/outcomes.

The meeting, according to him, is also to examine the strengths and weaknesses in the use of ICT in electoral systems in the continent and elsewhere in the world.

“To illustrate how ICT can be used to ease the electoral process rather than inhibit it; to document good practices in e-voting across the world and extract lessons for Africa; and to propose models of successful deployment of ICT in electoral systems in Africa for the sustenance of democracy in the region,” the former president said.

He recalled the recent formal inauguration of the Africa Progress Group (APG) which he chairs.

Obasanjo was delighted that the Secretariat of APG was the venue of the two-day meeting which he said has to do with the progress of Africa.

“One of the pillars of Africa’s progress in my five “P”s as adopted by APG at its inaugural meeting of November 27, 2018, is Politics; the others are Prosperity, Population, Protection and Partnerships,” he said

“This meeting on the election process is within the framework of the pillar of politics. Deficit in the election process will translate to deficit in politics (and vice versa) which in turn will impede sound governance, a much sought-after element in the development of Africa.”

The former president added that the meeting would address one of the key issues at the heart of credible elections in Africa – ICT and the election process.

He believes the ICT is here to stay, pervading and increasingly impacting all aspects of the lives of Africans, including the conduct of elections.

“But it can be a good servant or a bad master. This is why, I believe, that the outcomes of our deliberations will have far-reaching implications for the quality and credibility of the election firmament in Africa now and in the future,” he said.

Obasanjo was also hopeful that the meeting would present new and refreshing insights into how ICT can be better used in delivering credible elections in the continent and for the rest of the world.

Professor Jega also delivered a paper titled: “Practical Experience in the use of ICT in the Election Process in Africa: The Nigerian Experience.”

A file photo of Professor Attahiru Jega

 

He stressed that the two essential areas that technology has not yet been fully utilised were electronic collation and transmission of results, and electronic voting.

The former INEC boss said that the use of appropriate technology “goes a long way to improve the efficiency of the conduct of elections, as well the integrity of elections, worldwide and especially in Africa.”

“Opportunities need to be explored and adequately utilized, but we must constantly remember that use of ICT in elections is a means to an end, and not an end in itself.”

“That end perhaps is electoral integrity for deepening and consolidating democracy. We need to constantly deploy measures that can ensure secure and sustainable use of ICT in our electoral processes,” he said.

The two-day event which began on Monday is tagged, “High-Level Working Group Meeting on Mitigating Disruptive Applications of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on the Electoral Process in Africa.

The event was organised by the Centre for Human Security and Dialogue of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) in conjunction with the Open Society Foundations.

Jega’s Comments ‘Far From The Truth’, Senate Reacts To Bribery Allegations

Jega's Comments 'Far From The Truth', Senate Reacts To Bribery Allegations

 

The Senate has criticised a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, over his comments on the budget passage by the National Assembly.

Professor Jega had reportedly accused the lawmakers of being notorious for demanding bribes while delivering a lecture on Monday in Abuja.

READ ALSO: Jega Warns Of Dangers Ahead Of 2019 Elections

The lecture, titled ‘Peace Building and Good Governance for Sustainable Development in Nigeria’, was part of activities organised to mark the 2018 Democracy Day.

Jega allegedly claimed that the lawmakers often take bribes under the pretext of committee work and oversight functions, stating that bribe-taking and giving in government agencies should be included in the war against corruption.

The matter was presented on the floor of the Senate during Wednesday’s plenary by one of the senators from Bauchi State, Isah Misau.

Senator Misau noted that such allegation was unacceptable, even in the presence of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.

Also reacting to the comments, Senator Saraki informed the Senate that other lawmakers have also approached him over the same issue.

He said such statement does not encourage the fight against corruption, noting that it was a slight on the National Assembly.

The Senate President further challenged the former INEC boss to come forward with any evidence to prove his allegations against the lawmakers.

He said, “On the Point raised by Senator Misau, myself and Mr Speaker were at the programme and we were very embarrassed by such comments.

“We all know that all of us are committed to the fight against corruption; to say what he has said is to suggest that every member of the National Assembly is part of this, or even those that are not part of this are colluding in this action — which is far from the truth.”

”I think Professor Jega, as somebody who is respected, should come out and name these kinds of members that he is aware of but if he cannot, he should not come and make such statements.

”Going forward, all distinguished and respected Nigerians should know that if there are cases like this, they should name these people and see what the institution will do to rectify the problem,” Saraki added.

Jega Warns Of Dangers Ahead Of 2019 Elections

Professor Attahiru Jega delivering a democracy day lecture in Abuja.

 

The former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, has advised political parties to improve their structure and scope of internal democracy ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Recalling the recent violence witnessed during various congresses in the country, the former INEC chairman said danger may be inevitable if parties are unable to properly manage their internal affairs.

He said this while delivering a lecture on Monday in Abuja as part of the 2018 Democracy Day celebration.

“The first issue of concern and a major challenge is the issue of violence and there is no better illustration this than what has happened in many of the recent party congresses and really, this portends danger.

“If political parties cannot organize their internal elections peacefully, then how can they engage with other parties with civility in the general elections so its very very important we improve our systemic mechanisms of addressing violence and conflicts relating to election and in particular, improving the scope of internal democracy within political parties.

“We may be running out of time but we must try harder and do everything possible within the time available to us before the next general election,” he said.

Also in the lecture titled Peace Building and Good Governance for Sustainable Development in Nigeria, Jega said cases of hate speeches and delay in the passage of the electoral legal framework are capable of eroding credibility and threatening the elections next year.

The former INEC chairman also took a swipe at some members of the National Assembly while addressing the issue of bribery and corruption.

“Many of the chief executives that I have spoken with (and I know only a few), have stories to tell, particularly about the issue of bribe giving and bribe taking when members of the National Assembly pursue so-called committee work and oversight responsibilities.

“This is well-known, everyone knows it, it is being said but nothing seems to be done about it,” he said.

Also present at the event was President Muhammadu Buhari who assured Nigerians of a more secure and prosperous nation.

Read Also: Democracy Day: Buhari Promises Secure, More Prosperous Nigeria

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Reps Yakubu Dogara; Minister of Mines and Steel, Dr Kayode Fayemi; Minister of Communications, Otunba Adebayo Shittu, APC Chieftain, General Lawrence Onoja, SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha among others, were also in attendance.

2019 Polls: Jega Faults National Assembly Over Election Sequence

2019: Jega Faults National Assembly Over Election Sequence
File photo

 

Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, has faulted the power of the National Assembly to alter the sequence in which elections are conducted.

The immediate past INEC boss faulted the lawmakers’ move on Thursday while speaking at an event organised by the Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Development in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

READ ALSO: Lawmakers Disagree As Senate Adopts Change In Election Sequence

Delivering a speech at the event with the theme, ‘Is Nigeria’s Democracy Under Threat?’ he noted that changing the election sequence undermines the independence of electoral body.

Professor Jega pointed out that several sections of the constitution also stated that the power to organise and set the date for elections remain the exclusive preserve of INEC.

He decried further that more funds would be needed to finance the conduct of elections if the nation was to go by the recommendation of the National Assembly.

INEC Will Implement Amended Election Sequence If Signed By Buhari – Soyebi

In the past years, the presidential and National Assembly elections are always conducted (on the same day) before other polls, while the governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections follow.

The lawmakers have, however, amended the sequence such that the National Assembly polls would be conducted first, followed by the state lawmakers, and the governors while the presidential election should take place last.

On January 23, members of the House of Representatives voted for the change of the order of elections in the country while considering the report on a bill to further amend the Electoral Act 2010.

However, the Senate was divided over the adoption of the conference committee report on the INEC Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill at the Upper House on Wednesday last week.

In its reaction, INEC said it was ready to implement the amended Electoral Act if assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“If it’s assented to by the President, it becomes a law. We have no basis to disobey the law; we have to work within the law as it is,” said INEC National Commissioner, Voter Education and Publicity, Mr Solomon Soyebi during his appearance on Sunrise Daily.

Case Against Orubebe Not Withdrawn – CCT

OrubebeThe Code of Conduct Tribunal has debunked recent publications from some section of mass media, indicating that the Federal Government has withdrawn charges against former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godsday Peter Orubebe.

This is according to a statement by the CCT Head of Press and Public Relations, Ibraheem Al-hassan.

The Tribunal said that it was compelled to refute the said publications, particularly those contained in some major newspapers and online media because the purported withdrawal of the case was quoted to be based on the case being fundamentally defective.

The CCT said, “To the best of our knowledge based on available records, as at the time of this report, the information is misleading, distortive and as such it should be ignored.

“The case of Mr Godsday Peter Orubebe before CCT in Charge NO: CCT/ABJ/02/15 is on-going.

“What transpired in court in the last session held on 8th March, 2016 was a substitution of the initial charge with a newly filed charge by the prosecution, of which leave was sought from, and granted by the Tribunal. The case had been adjourned to 7th April, 2016. Thus; there is no withdrawal of the case by the prosecution.”

Mr Orubebe has been arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on four counts of false assets declaration and bribery.

Mr Orubebe was charged by the Code of Conduct Bureau for alleged failure to declare landed property in Kyamu and Asokoro district, both in Abuja, on assumption of office as minister on September 26, 2007.

In the other counts, Mr Orubebe is also facing charges of allegedly accepting bribes totalling 70 million Naira from one Pastor Jonathan Alota for the award of contracts in favour of his company.

The name, Orubebe, became well known in Nigeria after he attempted to stop the 2015 election collation, accusing the electoral body and its boss at that time, Professor Attahiru Jega, of being bias.

Tribunal Threatens To Strike Out 70m Naira Bribery Charges Against Orubebe

Godsday-OrubebeThe chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau, Mr Danladi Umar, is threatening to strike out the charges of bribery and false declaration of assets preferred against former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Godsday Orubebe.

‎Mr Umar made the threat in Abuja on Wednesday after the prosecution failed for the third time on Wednesday to open its case against Mr Orubebe and call its witnesses.

The Tribunal Chairman, however refused to accede to the request by the defence counsel, Mr‎ Selekowei Larry, to strike out the case.

Instead, he announced that the prosecution would be given one more chance to open its case failing which the Tribunal will strike out the case for them to put their house in order.

The name, Orubebe, became well known in Nigeria after he attempted to scuttle the 2015 election, accusing the electoral body and its boss at that time, Professor Attahiru Jega, of being bais.

Appointment Of Acting INEC Chair Is ‘Nepotic’ – Metuh

Olisa-MetuhThe Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the appointment of Mrs Amina Zakari as Acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The Party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr Olisa Metuh, told journalists at a news conference in Abuja on Wednesday that the appointment of the acting chairman was “nepotic” and did not follow due process.

Mr Metuh also criticised the delay in the Cabinet formation of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC),  saying it shows that the party “lacks direction and focus on how to govern the country”.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday appointed Mrs Amina Bala Zakari as the Acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) following the conclusion of the term of Office of Prof. Attahiru Jega.

The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Barr. Danladi Kifasi, who conveyed the appointment in a letter, said it is with effect from 30th June 2015, until the appointment of a substantive Chairman.

Mrs. Zakari was a National Electoral Commissioner at INEC before her appointment.

Professor Attahiru Jega’s tenure as the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) came to an end on Tuesday, June 30.

The former INEC boss, who took over from Professor Maurice Iwu, assumed office on June 8, 2010 during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

Professor Jega officially handed over leadership to the commission’s National Commissioner, Ambassador Mohammad Wali, on Tuesday before the appointment of Zakari was later announced.

Kano Government To Embark On Aggressive Revenue Generation

KanoIn the face of Nigeria’s oil revenue crisis, Kano State Government is set to embark on an aggressive internally generated revenue programme backed by an anti corruption agency that will prosecute corrupt government officials.

Addressing journalists on his new master plan, Kano State Governor, Abdulkahi Umar Ganduje, said that his administration will be committed to serving the good people of Kano State.

Ganduje said that he would begin with a rigorous drive for internally generated revenue to be able to complete the ongoing projects and introduce new ones.

In addition, Ganduje will establish an anti corruption agency to fight anyone who may be involved with any form of corruption.

Although Mr. Ganduje would have to settle a debt liability of N379 billion naira incurred from the Government of Mr. Kwankwaso, he was optimistic about his master plan’s chances of success, insisting that the huge debt will not stop him from performing.

On the security situation, Ganduje said that he would soon set up a security trust fund as part of step to bring the security problems in the state to an end.

The trust fund will be charged with the responsibility of sourcing fund to assist various security agencies in the state.

North-east Seeks Leadership Of National Assembly

NASS-on-zoning principal officialCivil society organisations in Nigeria have joined the debate on the zoning arrangement of National Assembly principal officers, demanding that it should be zoned to the north-east.

At a news conference in Abuja, on Wednesday, the coordinator of the Justice and Development Consultative Forum, Mr Elisha Ishaku, said the north-east deserved the position of the Senate president, having delivered the second highest number of votes for the party.

Mr Elisha argued that the north-east had been marginalised in the political equation in the country since the inception of democracy.

At a separate news conference, the coalition of Buhari-Osinbajo campaign movement argued that the zone deserves the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

On Monday, the Deputy Senate President urged the incoming administration to learn from the mistakes of previous governments and avoid imposing principal officers on the National Assembly.

Senator Ike Ekweremadu gave the warning at the opening of an induction seminar for incoming legislators held in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

He urged the presidency to allow federal lawmakers choose their presiding officers.

Ondo State APC, PDP Disagree Over Olanusi’s Impeachment

ondo state-APC,PDP-on olanusi's impeachmentThe All Progressives Congress (APC) and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State have disagreed on the recent impeachment and removal from office of the former Deputy Governor of the State, Mr Ali Olanusi.

Speaking to Channels Television on the issue in Akure, the State capital, a chieftain of APC in the State, Mr Kunle Adebayo, argued that the former Deputy Governor was not given fair hearing, as he was not duly served with the notice to appear before the panel of investigation.

He maintained that the decision of the State House of Assembly ‎to impeach Mr Olanusi was not acceptable.

But the Publicity Secretary of the PDP in the State, Mr Banji Okunomo, said that the former Deputy Governor was duly served with the notice to appear before the panel of investigation to defend himself on the allegations brought against him.

Mr Okunomo, however, argued that the decision of the House to impeach Mr Olanusi was the necessary procedure to be taken. He further called on aggrieved parties to approach the court of law to seek justice.

APC Reverses Decision To Ban AIT

APC-on-AIT-banThe All Progressives Congress (APC) has reversed the decision made by the media aide to General Muhammadu  Buhari to ban one of Nigeria’s private television stations, the AIT,  from covering the activities of the president-elect over what he referred to as issues relating to ethics and standards.

In a statement on Tuesday, the APC spokesperson, Mr Lai Mohammed, said all accredited media organisations in Nigeria, including the AIT, were free to cover the activities of the president-elect.

Mr Mohammed went further said that the incoming Buhari administration would not discriminate against any media organisation, irrespective of its role during the electioneering campaign before the elections of March 28 and April 11.

‘Out For Personal Vendetta’

He further advised that all media organisations should observe the highest level of professionalism in carrying out their duties.

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has described Monday’s directive to bar the television house, from covering his activities as unacceptable.

The party further said that the suppression of the media, under any guise portends danger for the nation’s democracy.

The ruling party, however, warned that if the right of the president-elect was in anyway violated by the media organisation or any media house,  he is expected to act within the law and seek redress in court. The party further stated that if the decision was not reversed, it would have no option than to conclude that General Buahri was out for personal vendetta.

Kebbi House Of Assembly Impeaches Speaker, Appoints Jega

maceThe Kebbi State House of Assembly Speaker, Honourable Hassan Muhammad Shalla, has been impeached for alleged breach of trust and embezzlement of allowances of some members.

At the the Tuesday sitting, which held in the absence of the Speaker and his Deputy, a member of the House, representing Birnin Kebbi north constituency, Abubakar Sabo, stood as the Chair of the plenary.

Another member, representing Yauri State constituency, Hon Aminu Gumbi, moved the motion for the impeachment of the speaker and it was seconded by Hon Aliyu Mutubare from Kalgo constituency.

Shortly after the members impeached the former speaker, they elected Habib Musa Jega as the new Speaker via a motion moved by Bala Aanbaba Waje.

Honourable  Shalla was, however, impeached by 12 out of 24 members of the House of Assembly.

Mr Jega, a former speaker was also impeached by his colleagues in a controversial manner in December, 2014.

The impeached speaker has not been reached for his opinion on the action of the House of Assembly.