IPAC Calls For Scrapping Of State Electoral Commissions  

 

The Inter-Party Advisory Council Of Nigeria (IPAC) on Wednesday called for the scrapping of state electoral commissions in the country accusing them of being undemocratic and controlled by state governors.

President of the council, Peter Ameh during a press briefing blamed poor economic development at the grassroots level on the poor funding of local governments.

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“The current system encourages massive rigging because the SEC are under the whims and caprices of the state government and the political party in power in each of the states across Nigeria.

“As we have seen over the years, the political party that controls such state will stop at nothing to tailor election results in their favour.

“The opposition party in the state is always left with nothing,” he said.

Ameh added that if local authorities have autonomy it will be easy to hold them accountable.

“What is going on presently in Local governments across Nigeria is a mockery of our democracy,” he lamented.

The council also asked for a national electoral reform conference to review Nigeria’s electoral process adding that they will support the National Assembly on any moves aimed at granting financial autonomy to local governments in the country.

LG Funds: NFIU Does Not Have Powers To Prosecute, Says Lawyer

A lawyer, George Eke

 

A legal practitioner, George Eke, says the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) does not have the powers to prosecute culprits.

Appearing as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, he said that unlike the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the NFIU is incapacitated with arraigning violators of some financial crimes.

“My only worry is that they (NFIU) don’t have prosecutorial powers. And you cannot begin to threaten anybody when you cannot take the person to court and prosecute him.

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“But I think they want to hide under their sister organisation, the EFCC because it has overwhelming powers to prosecute,” he said on Tuesday.

His comments come two days after the Nigeria Governors’ Forum urged President Muhammadu Buhari to call the NFIU to order over funds allocated to all Local Government Areas (LGAs) across the country.

In a statement by the NGF’s spokesman, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, the governors said the agency was dabbling into a matter that was beyond its mandate.

But reacting, he said the local governments are short of funds, lamented that the state governors have not given the local councils their dues from the joint accounts.

He alleged that most governors have rubber-stamps the local governments to the extent that about 80 per cent of the states don’t have elected local government chairmen.

“We expected that the NGF was going to react in this manner. The reason is that the joint account is very important to the governors.

“As a matter of fact, that is actually what attracts quite a number of people to contest for that position because it is like a free fund.

“The intendment of the constitution is that these monies will be paid into the joint account and the governors, in turn, will pass it to the local governments so that they can have this third-tier development,” he stated.

Senate Votes Against Devolution Of Power To States

Senate Approves Electronic Voting For ElectionsThe Nigerian Senate has voted against the devolution of power to states, and in support of Local Government Autonomy.

The lawmakers on Wednesday voted on the areas up for amendment in the 1999 Constitution, in favour of immunity in respect of words spoken or written at plenary sessions.

The lawmakers also voted in favour of the amendments that the President must nominate Ministers within 30 days and attach the portfolios of the Ministers to the Senate when sending for confirmation.

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Other areas voted include the separation of the office of the Minister and Commissioner of Justice from the Attorney General of the Federation and of states to create an independent office of the Attorney General of the Federation insulated from partisanship.

Also, to empower INEC to deregister political parties over failure to secure an elective seat, to remove NYSC, Land Use, PCC, NSA Acts from the constitution and make them flexible for regular amendment.

The clause makes it obligatory for the President to deliver a State of the Nation address in a joint session of the National Assembly.

Lawmakers To Examine Supreme Court Verdict On Local Governments

House-of-Representatives-NigeriaThe House of Representatives has directed its Committees on Justice and Judiciary to examine the Supreme Court’s verdict on local governments.

Mandating the committee to carry out the assessment on Tuesday during plenary, the lawmakers said it would enable the House determine if revenue should be released to councils with non-democratically elected council administrations.

This resolution followed consideration of a motion on the need to sustain and promote democratic local government administration and good governance sponsored by Honourable Afe Olowookere.

The House further urged state governments without democratically elected local government councils to conduct elections without delay.

ACF Urges State Governments To Grant Autonomy To LGAs

Boko Haram-arewaThe Board of Trustees (BOT) of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has urged state governments in Nigeria to grant total financial autonomy to the Local Governments by giving them free hand to manage the federal allocations that are channeled to them.

In a statement signed by its Chairman, Mallam Adamu Fika, at the end of its meeting in Kaduna on Wednesday, the forum explained that the granting of financial autonomy to the Local Governments will enable them execute projects that have direct bearing on the welfare and development of the people, rather than the use of joint accounts that have in most cases become a conduit pipe for misapplication and abuse of state funds.

While advising the various state governments to respect the constitutional autonomy of the Local Government Councils, the Forum stressed that such autonomy will boost economic activities and generate employment opportunities, especially at the grassroots level.

The ACF also called on all tiers of government to address the issue of payment of back log of domestic debts, especially those owed to local contractors, workers and pensioners emoluments, which will equally revive the economic activities.

It also commended the steps taken by the Federal Government to investigate and repatriate stolen public funds, describing it as not only appropriate and timely, but will also sanitize the system and revive prudence and discipline in the conduct of public officers.

The ACF, while commending the effort of the Federal Government in tackling the Boko Haram insurgency in the north east, expressed optimism that the success being recorded by the military and other security agencies in combating insurgency in the northeast is as a result of the support and encouragement from the Federal Government and the determination of the field commanders to end the insurgency within the time frame given by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Kano Police Deploy Troops For Election

troopsMore than 5,000 security personnel were deployed ahead of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections in Kano State, north-west Nigeria.

Addressing the troops, the State Police Commissioner, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, said that no chances would be taken in ensuring violence-free elections across the state.

The troops comprise operatives from the Nigerian Police, the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force, Civil Defense, and all other paramilitary agencies.

Ibrahim Idris said that the officers are expected to ensure violence free elections at their respective Polling Units.

Meanwhile, INEC in Kano has also commenced the distribution of both sensitive and non-sensitive electoral materials across the 44 Local Government Areas of the state.

Fayemi Can Still Make Executive Decisions – Ogala

Babatunde OgalaA former member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Babatunde Ogala, on Wednesday, stated that the plan of the outgoing governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, to create more local governments before handing over to governor-elect, Ayo Fayose is not out of place.

“The fact that elections have been held does not mean governance has stopped,” he said, insisting that “Fayemi remains the governor until sometime in October and that he can still take executive actions, even a day before his tenure expires”.

He maintained that Fayemi’s plan was not wrong “if the creation or proposed creation of local government is going through due process of the law”.

He expressed these views while on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

While commenting on the outcome of the Ekiti elections, Ogala expressed surprise, because “one wasn’t expecting the election to go the way it went,” especially when the reported performance of the incumbent governor was considered.

He noted that the circumstance in which the governor-elect had left office when he was governor made it “most unlikely” that he would win.

Mr Ogala who said he could not tell if the APC had prepared well enough and not underrated their strongest opponent, noted that “in warfare, you never underrate any opponent”.

He further emphasised that the most important thing to note would be that “Ekiti has spoken”, saying “it is a lesson for all of us”.

He described Fayemi’s concession of defeat and willingness to work with Fayose, as the “act of statesmanship” which is a lesson for the country in the electoral process.

However, Ogala said that there was no doubt that Fayemi had his misgivings about the elections but had shown that “the State should be more important than our personal, individual interests”.

He further commended Fayose’s reaction to the situation, praising his decision to work with all the governorship candidates in the best interest of the people.

On Fayemi’s bid to create more local governments before leaving office, Ogala said he doubts that Fayose would “frown at any process that brings development to the State”.

 

Ekiti Election: Why Fayemi Lost – Olatunde-Bruce

Bolanle Olatunde-BruceThe Publicity Secretary of the Labour Party in Ekiti State, Mrs Bolanle Olatunde-Bruce, says the incumbent governor in Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, lost in the governorship election held on Saturday because he took the people that voted him in for granted.

Though the Election has come and gone, lessons from it will continue to linger in the hearts of people, especially politicians in Nigeria.

Mrs Olatunde told Channels Television on Tuesday that the election was free and fair, but listed other circumstances that must have led to Ayodele Fayose’s victory over Fayemi.

On the conduct of the election, the Labour Party spokesperson said materials got to various polling units very early, with early accreditation of electorates also achieved.

“There was no problem at all. Everyone was happy with the election. Voting started at about 12:30pm in most polling centres. By 2:30pm, voting was concluded,”she said, admitting that the election was credible, free and fair.

Strength Of Labour Party

When asked why the Labour Party gubernatorial candidate stepped down before the election, she stated that “on Monday the All Progressives Congress (APC), the incumbent governor’s party, went to town, saying that the Labour Party’s standard flag bearer, Honourable Opeyemi  Bamidele, had stepped down for the APC. Then, on Tuesday evening, it was rumoured that Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had asked him to step down from the Election”.

She said that a bulk SMS, asking members of the Labour to vote for the PDP candidate, went viral on Saturday morning.  Mrs Olatunde-Bruce stressed that the SMS was not from their candidate and that the Party had planned to win the Election.

“We have 2,195 polling units in the state and the Labour Party has a minimal of 250 registered members and over 600 members in several other polling units. When the flag bearer of the party contested for the House of Representative in two Local Government Areas, he polled over 47,000 votes and he won because he was loved by the people and other party members voted for him,” she said, explaining the chances of the party’s candidate making a remarking feat in the election.

Lesson From The Election

She pointed out that there were lessons to be learnt from the Ekiti Election, listing them as: “Don’t take the people you are ruling for granted,  Don’t play god when you have an opportunity to serve, you are not a leader if you don’t have the followership and always bear in mind that there are so much intrigues in Politics that you can’t predict what’s going on in politics”.

Just like most persons, she expressed surprise at the result of the polls,  narrating how her Party had traversed Ekiti, sold the manifesto for change to the Electorate and  never took the social class for granted. “The brand we sold to the Ekiti people was good and the people loved the candidate but so many things went on which will be discussed later on,” she said.

Mrs Olatunde-Bruce explained that there were so many things that were wrong, but she said that “sometimes a battle is lost for a war to be won”.

She said that Governor Faryemi tried his best but that the best was not considered good enough.

“For us the election result has been able to prove that the two annex of incumbency should be done away with completely in Nigeria. When people put you in a position of leadership, don’t forget who put you there,” She emphasised.

According to her, the People of Ekiti State were angry with the incumbent governor. “Forty-three months are such a long time and the out-going government failed the people of Ekiti in so many ways, coupled with the huge debt profile of Ekiti.

Highlighting more on the issue, she said that “during the reign of the out-going governor, there were nine extra-judicial killings in Ekiti State which are disappointing”.

On the unemployment rate in the state, she also said that several masters degree holders in Ekiti were ‘okada riders’ (commercial motorcyclists), a situation she described as absolutely abysmal.

Speaking on the grassroots governance, she said: “The out-going governor didn’t put things in place. The government had a poor governance strategy, the Ekiti Governor does not need to visit 122,000 villages if he had put the right materials in place . In the history of Ekiti State, his administration has the largest retinue of aids”.

On the future of the Labour Party, she insisted that “it is very bright”, having all structure in place, with Bamidele seen as a game changer in the election.

Asked if the Labour Party will go to court, she said: “No we are not going to court”.

Analyst Says Fight For LG Autonomy Is About Abuja Money

A legal practitioner and a chieftain of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Bisi Adegbuyi, on Monday, said that the on-going clamour by local governments to become autonomous is all “about money coming from Abuja”.

“Sever that and you won’t hear about the autonomy issue.” He added.

Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, he said that the move to give local governments power is against the constitution, adding that, “we are trying to create three tiers of government because some guys want to also create a freedom for themselves at the local government level.”

“It’s either you want to practice federalism or unitarism, make up your mind,” he said.

“The trouble with us is that we have tied the so called local government autonomy to this rent-sharing mentality of going to Abuja to collect money.”

The way forward is ‘simple’.

“Identify the fundamentals (two tiers of government) and then leave the states to determine whether they want to have 1000 local governments, 500 community development centres as the case maybe.”

Citing other nations like the United States of America and Brazil, he said the one-size-fit-all equation will not work as different states have different needs and challenges.

Mr Adegbuyi also said that the constitution amendment is a “journey to nowhere” because “there are so many contending interests. Therefore, the more we try to amend this incurably flawed constitution, the more we run into troubled waters.”

He added that in light of the ‘discordant tunes from the Senate and House of Representatives,’ the amendment process “is going to be cosmetic”.

“We have wasted our time, we have wasted resources,” he said.

Autonomy Of Local Government Must Be With Caution – Gbajabiamila

Minority leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has called for caution with the local government autonomy recently approved by the lawmakers.

Speaking on Channels TV Sunrise Daily, the lawmaker decried the inclusion of local governments as purview of federal government, saying that they should be the responsibility of state government.

According to him, local governments are not meant to be in the constitution. “We have agreed on the autonomy of local government but we are yet to vote on what defines the autonomy and those are clauses that we have vote on soon.”

He affirmed his support for the local government autonomy in terms of elections into the councils but utterly disagreed with “the ridiculous things….and clauses that have been put into the law that basically allows the federal government to run local government.”

“That is running from one problem to creating another problem”, he added.

FLOOD: 680 people are displaced in Kwara as hectares of farmlands are eroded

The devastation caused by the over-flow of River Niger is spreading further across its banks as the resultant flood has displaced hundreds of families in Kwara, destroying hectares of farmland in its flow.

No fewer than 680 people have been displaced and rendered homeless in Patigi and Edu local government areas of Kwara state following heavy downpour in the last few days, coupled with the over-flow of River Niger at its tributary in Jebba, within the state.

The flood which affected 16 communities washed away nearly a million hectares of rice farmlands.

The state government has now called on the Federal Government to extend the dredging of River Niger to Jebba in Kwara state for permanent solution to perennial flooding in the area.

The Special Adviser to the state governor on emergency in company of the state Head of Service were shocked at the magnitude of the damage caused by the flood as they embarked on an inspection of the affected community.

The government officials had to resort to using a canoe to access the villages during their assessment tour.

Some of the villages visited in Edu and Patigi local government areas include Kpata, Mawogi, Abefu and Gbaradogi, where residential buildings and offices have been submerged by flood.

Nearly 70 houses were affected including the country home of the Commissioner for Industries and Solid Minerals who could not recall when such a magnitude of flood has ever occurred before.

Most of the displaced communities have been temporarily relocated though; they still remain at the mercy of the impending flood while the state and local governments are making all efforts to alleviate their suffering.

The government officials appealed to the flood victims to move away from the river bank.