APC Will Meet The Demands Of Nigerians– Shettima

Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima has hinted that the All Progressives Congress (APC) will meet the huge demands and expectations which the nation as a whole has been yearning for.

Governor Shettima’s statement is coming after the registration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a political party in the country by INEC yesterday at its headquarters in the FCT.

The governor said the APC will strive exceptionally hard to provide Nigerians irrespective of their ethnic, religious and political affiliations with the long desired style of governance.

Speaking through his special adviser on communications Isa Gusau, in a congratulatory statement issued to newsmen in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, the governor noted that with the calibre of credible political leaders, highly respected technocrats, academics, successful captains of industry, rights activists and policy gurus associated with the party, Nigerians should expect refined governance that will turn the fortunes of the country around for the good of its people.

“I am very optimistic that our party has very patriotic, credible and competent Nigerians who are selfless and ready to work for the quick re-invention of Nigeria for all Nigerians

We have highly respectable people and this is why Nigerians have very high expectations from the APC, we must then get to work immediately as a family, to think out of the box, to bring something new and concrete that is capable of making the difference. Nigerians have so many demands but the demands are just about basic things that are achievable with good leadership” Shettima said.

Governor Shettima took over from Ali Sheriff under the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in Borno state, one of the states dominated by the nation’s leading opposition party since the return of democracy in 1999.

ANPP is among the parties that worked for the formation of an opposition party expected to give the leading political party in the country the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) a fight in the 2015 general elections.

 

 

We Have Prosecuted Over 200 Electoral Offenders Since 2011 – Jega

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega on Monday said that the commission has investigated and prosecuted over 200 persons who allegedly breached the electoral laws.

Mr Jega, who was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, accused Nigerian politicians of always seeking to ‘jump the gun’ during elections. He said INEC has done its best in checking this trend.

“I want to say categorically, we have done or best. We have prosecuted over 200 people successfully,” he said.

He said some of the electoral offenders, including members of the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) and INEC staff have been fined or jailed.
“Before our commission was inaugurated, there was no record of a single successful prosecution of electoral offences,” Mr Jega said.

He said though the number represents a drop in the ocean, the commission had reasons to prosecute about one million people over multiple registrations.

“On registration alone, we do have evidence to prosecute close to a million people for clear cases of multiple registrations,” he said.
He said the commission lacks the resources and personnel to prosecute all these offenders.

Mr Jega said INEC is currently working on how to relinquish the responsibility of prosecuting electoral offenders to another agency.

He said, “We are partnering with the NBA (Nigerian Bar Association), in fact, we have been discussing this partnership and now we are taking it a level higher and our hope is that before we commence the process of continuous voters’ registration, which we hope will commence by the third quarters which is July – September God willing, we also want to make example of those who have done multiple registration.

“We will do it, but it is very challenging. The best thing is to have another agency that can actually handle prosecution of electoral offenders.”

Logistic problems

Mr Jega said managing logistics during elections is a major problem that INEC have been contending with for a long time insisting that the commission has done its best to minimise this challenge.

He said, “I want to assure you that globally, there’s no country where you can say it is 100 percent free of this challenge of late arrival of materials.”

He said since he assumed office, the commission has been partnering with the security agencies to hasten the deployment of materials to areas with troubling terrain.

“Where it is necessary to move material by aircraft or helicopter, the navy helped us during the 2011 elections. Where it was to move it in the riverine areas the navy helped us and even provided security to minimise challenges arising from the activities of militants groups,” the INEC boss said.

He said INEC devised a strategy of deploying materials to areas far from the city centre before deploying to closer areas but that this, as it happened in the recent Edo Council polls, has its own challenges.

He said the commission has reduced the incidences of late arrival of material to election venue by about 60 percent since 2011.

Staggered Elections

Mr Jega maintained that staggered elections are not the best for Nigeria, saying that the series of staggered elections in the country resulted from court judgments which affected tenures of some governors.

He said, “Certainly, some staggering helps the process. The kind of staggering we have now in terms of saying this kind of elections should take place now and then you sequence it; that kind of sequencing of major elections, I think has been helpful, it helps us to focus and it helps us to poll resources together and to deploy them appropriately.

He said, “But if you take staggering to a staggering extent, if I can put it that way, really it will also have its own challenges. It means for example if we have to every election state by state in all the 36 states and the FCT it will take us three years.

“If you are doing Presidential election for example, you have to do it nationally and in every place because the results have to be announced for a candidate to be returned.”

Mr Jega said conducting staggered election has its limitation and insisted that what is important is for INEC to have the independence of deciding when to conduct a holistic or staggered election.

“If you legalise it by saying do elections state by state or do election region by region, you will create additional problems which are not presently anticipated,” he said.

Electronic voting

The INEC chairman said the commission at the moment does not have any legal bottleneck and is not hindered from seeking innovative methods of conducting its operation even with the use of technology.

“The only clear categorical hindrance is in electronic voting. The law says categorically that electronic voting is prohibited and until that prohibition is lifted we even have challenges in terms of experimenting and piloting or getting some machines and beginning to see which are the best that can be used for electronic voting are,” he said.

He said the commission had sent a recommendation to the National Assembly that as they review the 1999 constitution to “look at that provision and perhaps remove that prohibition. So that once it is removed we may not be able to do it in 2015 but we can begin to experiment and identify which models are suitable to Nigeria.”

Permanent Voter Card

Mr Jega said before the 2015 general elections, INEC will distribute permanent voters’ card to all registered voters in Nigeria.

The voter cards are to replace the temporary ones issued at the end of the voters’ registration in 2011. The cards are valid for 10 years.

Last year, the Federal Government approved N2.6 billion for the printing of 40 million out of the 75 million permanent voter cards in the first phase of the project.

The government has approved additional N33.5 million for the project’s second phase.

Mr Jega said “the permanent voter cards are chip-based carrying all our biometrics that was captured during the registration.

“We intend on election day to use a card reader to verify and to authenticate who is the true owner of that card. We believe that once we are able to do this successfully, then all these phenomenon of politicians purchasing voter cards and giving it to other people to come and vote with it on Election Day will be eliminated.”

Relocating voters

The INEC chairman said all registered voters must vote at the point where they have registered.

Mr Jega disclosed this in response to a question tweeted-in by a lady who was watching the live programme on Channels Television from Abuja.

However, when a voter relocates, Mr Jega said “the electoral act clearly specifies what to do. You can change or transfer your registration status. All she needs to do in her case is to apply to the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the FCT giving all the necessary information why she has moved, what were the details of her previous registration, what was her polling unit and where is she now located.

“Once she does that application and it is verified, her details will be transferred to her new place and then we will issue her a permanent voter card in the new place.”

Condemnations trail INEC delisting of political parties

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega

Strong condemnations have greeted the deregistration of 28 political parties by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The National Chairman of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Balarabe Musa said INEC’s action is unconstitutional and promised to contest the action in court.

A lawyer also said INEC has no power to proscribe political parties under the constitution which supersedes all other laws, including the electoral act on which the commission based its action.

The deregistered parties have won no seats in recent presidential, governorship, national or state assembly elections as stipulated by the electoral act 2011 as amended.

But legal practitioners interviewed by Channels Television’s correspondent said in interpreting the law, the 1999 constitution holds supreme over any other law and only authorizes INEC in sections 222 and 223 of the constitution to register political parties with no provisions for their deregistration.

Mr Musa said INEC has no powers to delist a party which has fulfilled all requirements expected of a political party by the constitution. According to him, a similar action was contested and won in 2003 and will be contested again by the affected parties.

So far, INEC is yet to give reasons for deregistering these parties and the ultimate fate of the parties will be left to the courts to decide yet again.

APGA begs for reconsideration

The National Secretary of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Sani Abdullahi Shinkafi, implored INEC to administratively reconsider its action on the recent de-registration of 28 Political Parties.

The party insisted that INEC’s action “will ultimately work against the intent and spirit of Nigerian Constitution which specifies the need for Nigerians to freely associate with one another, without let or hindrance, as well as, the action will close up the much needed wide and open Political and democratic space, which ordinarily allows every shade of opinion to be democratically expressed and be heard.”

APGA urged the Political Parties de-registered by INEC not to allow it to affect their would-be desire to contribute to the building of genuine democratic norms, ideals and culture in Nigeria.

ALP rejects deregistration

The National chairman of African Liberation Party, Emma Okereke, who was affected by this action, has rejected the action taken by INEC describing it as unconstitutional and unlawful as the action is capable of collapsing the nation’s nascent democracy and lead to total anarchy in the country as inec has not given any cogent reason for deregistering the parties.

Speaking to newsmen in Owerri, the Imo state capital, Mr Okereke said the Nigerian constitution allows right for freedom of association and also encourages multiparty system and it is not in the constitution that INEC has any right to deregister any political party as the electoral act is not the Nigerian constitution.

He added that some political parties in the country are not only registered for electioneering purposes but for other important purposes that affects the country’s democracy.

He however disclosed INEC still has a case pending in court with his party as regards some illegalities in the 2011 elections conducted by the commission and since the case is still pending in court, INEC has no right to deregister his party without the court verdict.

Mr Okereke called on all stalk holders in the country to call the INEC boss to order in order to protect the nation’s nascent democracy and rule of law.

Credible elections foundation to development – Jega

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega has said that promoting the culture of free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria is fundamental for good governance.

Speaking at the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commission’s (ECONEC) annual general meeting in Abuja, the INEC Chairman noted that the nation’s electoral system has transformed in the past two years but more needs to be done to address the numerous challenges facing the country.

He urged the general assembly to encourage exchange of technical expertise and evolve standard electoral practises that could serve as benchmarks for assessing elections across the African region.

“For our countries to progress and develop; for us to have good governance, we need to entrench the culture of free, fair and credible elections because they are the foundation of good governance and the choice of leaders who can preside over the responsibilities of developing our countries,” Mr Jega said.

The INEC boss said that all over the West Africa sub-region “there is now a clear recognition that we have to entrench the culture of free, fair and credible elections. We have to ensure that elections are conducted on an impartial and non-partisan basis so that the true choice of the people will emerge in the electoral process.”

ECONEC was established in February 2008 in Conakry not only to facilitate ECOWAS assistance to Member States but also to serve as a regional platform for exchange of best practices and enhance the capacities of the electoral commissions of Member States.

Participants in this year’s ECONEC summit, according to a statement by the organisers, are expected to update and improve the internal regulations of the network; set up a bureau to coordinate its functions; highlight best practices in the management of elections; adopt a two year work plan for the network and discuss specific challenges in election management and ways of resolving them

They will also establish a mechanism for improving cooperation between ECOWAS  and the National Electoral Commissions, review the activities of the network  since its establishment and examine the role of E Registration in election  management in the region.

Group commend INEC on Ondo polls

Meanwhile, Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) and the Centre for Human Right and Ethics in Development (CHRED) has described the last Saturday’s governorship election, that produced incumbent Ondo governor and Labour Party’s candidate, Olusegun Mimiko the winner, as credible, free and fair.

The two accredited observers noted that the result of the election as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) reflect the wish of the electorate in the state.

The TMG in its interim report signed by Ibrahim Zikirullahi and Eddy Ezeruike stated that voter turnout was very impressive at different polling units across the state while the security was adequate, heavy and in most places provided the confidence that most voters required to come out and vote.

Similarly, the CHRED in his report signed by Moshood Erubami stated that the result announced by INEC reflected the voting character in most polling stations as reported by the observers who also reported the presence of political Agents representing the three main political parties contesting the election.

Mr Erubami said “The conclusion of our report today 21st of October 2012, is that though the pre-election periods created fear that the election might be marred by violence and irregularities, the determination of the stakeholders to participate in an election that is free, fair, transparent, credible and legitimate played out in the results from majority of polling centres as reflected in the vivid adherence of political parties to their pledge to support peaceful election, improved operations of the INEC, the impartiality of the security Agencies and vigilance of the citizens and domestic election observers.

”The results of unofficial irregularities in smaller units and their outcome might not be enough to upturn the INEC results except  in situation of provable evidence of where the process was  failed by non –compliance with the guidelines and electoral act which in most of the polling stations manned by our observers were not the order.”

INEC is broke, can’t pay salary – Jega

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is so broke that it may not be able to pay staff salaries, as from next month.

The leadership of the electoral commission disclosed this to members of the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters who visited the commission’s  headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday.

Acting Chairman of INEC, Dr Abdulkadir Sulaiman, who represented Prof. Jega said “if we don’t do anything about it on time, we may not be able to pay salary by next month’’.

Following this development, the chairman called on the legislators to quickly intervene and save the situation, else the commission’s aspiration of conducting the 2015 general election in line with international best practice will be a mirage.

He also told the legislators led by the Chairman of the House Committee on Electoral Matters, Hon Jerry Manwe that the lack of fund has drastically slowed the pace of work on all the capital projects being currently executed by the electoral umpire.

Dr Sulaiman, explained that out of the N35 billion earmarked for the commission in this year’s budget, only N10 billion was released to it in March this year which was meant for the first quarter.

Honourable Jerry Manwe, has immediately summoned that the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) and the Minister of Finance to appear before the house to explain why the 2012 budgetary allocation of INEC is yet to be assessed by the commission at the last quarter of the year.