In preparedness ahead of 2018 gubernatorial election in Ekiti State ,the Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC) is set to commence the distributions of Permanent Voters Cards.
Speaking at the interaction session with stakeholders in Ado Ekiti, the Administrative Secretary of the Commission, Dr Musilim Omoleke, who represented the Resident Electoral Commissioner, said the purpose of the meeting is to demonstrate transparency and fairness of the commission.
He stated that the commission still has 224,840 uncollected PVC.
He appealed to all political parties to help educate their supporters and party members on the importance of the PVC.
Meanwhile, the representative of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Taiwo Olatubosun, who is also the party’s Publicity Secretary, said the commission should ensure adequate awareness of the PVC collection exercise.
The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Ekiti State, Mr Gboyega Oguntuase, said his party is ready to support the commission in achieving a free and fair election come 2018.
The All Progressive Congress (APC) in Nigeria has insisted on the use of card reader for next month’s general elections, warning the Independent National Electoral Commission against further shift of the polls dates.
The opposition party made its position known at a meeting of the party leaders held in Abuja on Tuesday.
Addressing reporters after the meeting, the national leader of the APC, Senator Bola Tinubu, warned the Federal Government against further shift in the election dates, saying the “party will resist such a move”.
Senator Tinubu told party leaders at the meeting to constitute themselves into groups of vigilantes that would defend the peoples votes at all levels.
The meeting of the APC leaders was the first of its kind since campaigns began for the 2015 general elections.
The national chairman of the party, Mr John Oyegun, criticised the military for their alleged role in the postponement of the election.
One after the other, the governors of Kano, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Borno, Kashim Shettima and Edo, Adams Oshiomhole States spoke on the need for change.
The national leader of the party was tough on the ruling party, as he insisted on the use of card readers for the general elections.
General Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the party also addressed the meeting, stressing the need for the party to pursue change.
The Director General of the party’s Presidential Campaign Council and the Governor of Rivers State, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, assured chieftains of the party that the APC would coast to victory, come march 28.
The INEC had insisted that it would use the Permanent Voter Cards and the card readers in the general elections, but only 75.9 per cent of the cards have been collected as at tuesday. A total of 68.8 million registered while only 52, 233, 396 have been collected.
The electoral body is optimistic it would distribute at least 85 per cent of the cards.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had put the current total number of registered voters in Nigeria at 68,833,476 and going by INEC’s claim that it had achieved 73 per cent PVC distribution, about 50. 2 million cards have been collected by registered voters while 18.6 million cards are still uncollected.
The electoral body had said that it would achieve at least 85 per cent distribution of the PVC before the elections.
The PVC distribution achieved so far and the outstanding are contained in the chart below.
The National Publicity Secretary, of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Lai Mohammed, says “the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is calling for the postponement of the general elections because it is not prepared for it”.
He stressed that the government had four years to prepare for the elections and that the date of the election was given about a year ago.
Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise, Mr Mohammed questioned what the Federal Government had done to help in the distribution of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and ensuring that every registered Nigerian got their PVCs to enable them participate in the elections.
He further stated that the Federal Government had earlier been advised to declare a two day public holiday to enable Nigerians who are yet to collected their PVCs to go and collect them.
Mr Mohammed also said that the government had failed to declare the holiday or take a decisive stand in ending the insurgency in the north-eastern part of Nigeria.
He, therefore, emphasised that the ruling party’s call for the postponement of the election was a sign of their lack of readiness for the elections.
Mr Mohammed’s comments are coming just as the Independent National Electoral Commission is meeting with political stakeholders to consider the realities on ground and the possibility of holding the elections as scheduled.
The Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) has expressed outrage over the statement made by the National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki at the London think-tank, Chatham House, calling for the postponement of the February 2015 scheduled election.
“We are outraged because the reason he adduced is puerile, bare face lie and a dummy meant to deceive the international community, portray Nigeria in bad light and scuttle regime change,” a statement by the group reads.
CNPP further challenged Dasuki to tell the world where the 30 million Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) he bandied is located; for without holding brief for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), it is common knowledge that over 60% PVCs have been collected nationwide.
CNPP said that it was “worried that the NSA had joined some anti-democrats and less than patriotic groups, calling out the Christian Association of Nigeria, Ijaw Youth Council, Federation of Middle People, and Ohaneze Youth Council to plant land mines to scuttle our fledgling democracy.
“Dasuki’s statement clearly exposed his gross incompetence on his primary mandate to secure the country; hence the Boko Haram insurgents escalated since his appointment on 22nd June, 2012”, the group said.
“The NSA should tell the world what happened to the billions budgeted for defence in the past three years under his watch, since he has turned the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) into procurement agency of the Ministry of Defence.
“Our understanding is that elongation of President Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure, automatically elongates that of Dasuki’s less than successful tenure” CNNP added.
It also alleged that Dasuki “deliberately abandoned the late General Andrew Azazi’s concept, his predecessor that Boko Haram insurgents are located in the forest and should be fought with Isreali Satellite Images, Drones and modern equipment”.
“Had Dasuki adopted the Azazi concept it could have been very easy to use satellite images to recapture the Chibok girls few days after their unfortunate abduction,” the group opined.
They went ahead to demand an apology from the NSA, “We call on Dasuki to apologise to Nigerians for his anti-democratic tenure elongation canvas and for calling our soldiers he under equipped cowards.”
Ahead of next month’s presidential election in Nigeria, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has pledged its support for the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari, on grounds that he possesses a better credentials to tackle the current security challenges in the country than his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) opponent and the incumbent President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan.
The forum led by former Nigeria’s permanent representative in the United Nations, Mr Maitama Sule, appealed to Nigerians to vote for Buhari in the presidential election.
Addressing a news conference in Kaduna on Wednesday, spokesman for the forum, Professor Ango Abdullahi, said the forum’s support for Buhari as well as the huge support the former Head of State enjoyed from millions of Nigerians were based on the belief that “he has the capacity to eliminate corruption and transform the nation’s economy”.
The forum also raised alarm over an alleged move by a group of politicians to install an Interim National Government in order to stop the forthcoming elections, and therefore warned that Nigerians from all works of life will reject such moves.
The Northern Elders while requesting that President Jonathan provides the necessary enabling environment for the conduct of credible polls, also expressed worries with the mode of campaign of blackmail and violence being adopted by politicians and their parties. The also condemned the rising cases of deadly attacks by Boko Haram insurgents in the north-east, and however called on the military to intensify efforts in recapturing areas lost to the sect members in order to ensure that indigenes of those places would be adequately protected during and after the election.
Other issues raised by the forum include poor distribution of Permanent Voters Cards by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) and the likelihood that Internally Displaced Persons in the north-east may not vote in the election. The group, however, urged the electoral body to ensure that the voting rights of the displaced persons were upheld.
The national chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Dr Yunusa Tanko, has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide card readers to all polling units before the February polls.
At a press conference in Abuja on Saturday Mr Tanko said that the provision of Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) and card readers would prevent fraud and encourage voters to participate in the elections.
He also encourage INEC to do all it could to enable Internally Displaced Persons vote during the polls.
“No PVC, no election. No card reader, no election. This is the crux of the matter of our agreement in the last meeting we held with the INEC.
“The Inter-Party Advisory Council, a conglomerate of all political parties in Nigeria is saying that the time for rigging is over,” he said.
It is less than 35 days to the general elections that Nigerians have been looking forward to.
The group gathered to educate the masses on elections ethics. The members marched round Abuja, distributing elections code of conduct produced by the INEC to citizens.
During the press briefing, which was held before the march, the council spoke on the need for the electoral commission to ensure that the card readers would be enough during the polls.
The Head of ICT with the INEC, Mr Chidi Nwanfor, had in an earlier forum with civil society organisations promised the possibility of using a card reader technology during the February polls.
“As we talk now, if you go to our stores you will find these card readers there, waiting to be used for the elections,” he said.
The INEC had insisted that voters without the PVC would not be allowed to vote.
Already, politicians have begun intensive campaign around Nigeria, seeking voters support in the election that will hold in February to determine who manages Nigeria’s affairs in the next four years.
Due to increasing bomb attacks by the Boko Haram militants in North East, Nigeria, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has called on the Federal Government to look into the possibilities of involving retired military officers and other security agencies across the country to bring the situation to an end.
The forum which decried the deteriorating security situation in the North East, where thousands of innocent lives have been wasted by terrorists, further expressed the need to bring in trained retired military and other security officers as it seems that the present crop of security forces alone are not capable of wining the war against the insurgents.
In a communique issued by its secretary General and Deputy Chairman Board of Trustees, Colonel John Ubah and Air Vice Marshal Mouktar Mohammed at the end of its joint meeting in Kaduna on Thursday, the forum reminded the Federal Government of its responsibilities, including ensuring the security of lives and property of the citizenry.
It called on government to find a lasting solution to the current security challenge before it got out of hand.
The Northern Socio- Political body also expressed displeasure over the decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) to revoke its earlier plan of creating additional 30,000 polling units nationwide.
The forum while insisting that INEC should go on with the creation of more polling units across the country in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, also called on the commission to ensure that no eligible voter is disenfranchised in the current distribution and review of the Permanent Voters Cards.
The Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, and his deputy, Eze Madumere, have collected their Permanent Voters Cards at their different polling centres.
The State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, upon the collection of his Permanent Voters Card at Ogboko Ward 2 in Ideato South Local Government Area of the state, urged all Nigerians and Imo citizens particularly to ensure that they collect their own card which he said was a determinant to voting good governance and reliable leadership.
He said that even though there had been hiccups in some Local Government Areas across the state on the collection of the permanent voters card, INEC must keep to their promise of solving the problems encountered during this period before proper elections.
On his part, at Ezihinitte ward in Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo State where the Deputy Governor collected his PVC, he asked that INEC should extend the date so that many citizens who have not been able to collect theirs could do that.
He noted that this had become necessary since the commencement of the exercise had been shaky due to the logistic problem encountered.
He urged all Imo citizens to take advantage of the opportunities they have to collect their PVCs to enable them play their roles in ensuring the dividends of democracy.
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN on Thursday said Nigerians must have the courage to change leaders who does not live up to their responsibilities.
The Governor who spoke at the Lecture and Awards Ceremony for the Mike Okonkwo Educational and Youth Initiative Essay Competition (MOEYI) which took place at the Shell Hall of the MUSON Centre, Onikan said it is no longer democratic when the people have allowed a bad government to serve out its full terms before saying it should be changed.
He noted that just as the voting public must be ready to change a bad government, it must also work vigorously to keep a good one in government, adding that that is where the choice is inherent and embedded in a democracy.
The Governor stressed that the United States of America and the United Kingdom have had several scores of Presidents and Prime Ministers in position but no one can easily recall the names of at least a quarter of them off hand because in those countries the voting public have been quick to remove those who perform below expectation and also kept those who performed very well for as long as the Constitution allowed it.
“Either you like it or not, elections have started because Permanent Voters’ Cards are being issued now. Are you busy at work? Stay at work. Those who wish things to happen, stay away from there and those who want things to happen get involved in them. Somebody will probably collect your card or they would return it if it is unused.
“What is happening in February is ballot day, part of the process of elections. After balloting takes place disputes would be resolved because petitions would be filed. When all of that is finished, it is to return valid candidates and remove unsuccessful candidates and what ends the process is that electoral offenders should also begin their own part of it”, he said.
Governor Fashola likened the job of an elected leader to that of a football coach, stating that whenever a football coach falls short of his expectations, he is simply given the boot and that Nigerians should not hesitate to give a non-performing leader the boot from office.
The Guest Lecturer, Professor Akin Oyebode, urged the governing class to do all that it can to assure the people that their vote would count.
He maintained that democracy would not have come of age in the country except and unless and only to the extent that the people are able to vote ruling governments out of office in a free, fair and peaceful manner just as some of Nigeria’s neighbours have done.
“We just cannot continue having more of the same and think we are making any progress. For me, change represents the touchstone of democratic practice and the earlier this is brought to the consciousness of all and sundry, the better our chances of being on the ascendancy of democracy, socio-economic and political development generally”, Professor Oyebode added.
Lagos Politician, Jimi Agbaje, has revealed that he joined the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, because of his belief in the party’s ability to provide better governance for the people.
The new People’s Democratic Party member admitted that his decision generated some “noise” from those who feel uncomfortable with it, and it was expected in politics for people to complain but added that what mattered more to him was having more people in support of the decision than those against it.
Mr Agbaje, during a conversation on Channels Television’s Politics Today, refused to categorically state if his movement into the PDP was an indication that he would be contesting for the governorship seat of Lagos State in the 2015 election but did not rule out the possibility.
He said, “I believe that the law does not allow you to campaign publicly until some time. I think we’ll keep that within the family.”
Speaking on the politics of the South-West region of Nigeria in recent months as displayed in the Osun and Ekiti state governorship election outcomes, Agbaje was of the belief that the citizens were beginning to have a strong say in who their leaders are.
He cited several elements and qualities that should make an ideal politician and stated that how well the politicians can blend these elements would determine what they would get from the people at the end of each election.
“You’ve got to get your politics right, you’ve got to get your policies right, you’ve got to get your propaganda right, and you’ve got to get your polity right.”
He expressed joy that the elections in both states, above all things, had large turn-out of voters and still did not result in violence, contrary to expectations especially in Osun State.
He noted that the security presence did not discourage the voters from coming out to vote and this meant that it would be hard to debunk the need for the security presence deployed in the states for the elections.
INEC and 2015
“I think INEC has given us hope from Osun and Ekiti” he also said, but added that these were “stand alone” elections.
He noted that the general election happening simultaneously across the country would pose a bigger challenge for the electoral commission and expressed hope that they would be able to handle the challenge when it comes.
The former Lagos governorship candidate warned that the quantity of security personnel deployed in each state for the “stand alone” elections would not be available during the general election and this would reduce the level of help INEC got which helped in the avoidance of violence.
He, however, added that this also meant that the pressure on the electoral commission would reduce, as all the party bigwigs who were moving into the election states to pull their weight would not be there as they would also be busy facing their own constituencies.
The distribution of the Permanent Voter’s Cards, according to Agbaje, has also been “so far so good” considering the level of complaints which he said has not been as bad as expected. While admitting that there were challenges that needed to be addressed, he believed the INEC had done well enough.
The South-West Battle
With the PDP and APC having won a state each in the recent elections, Mr Jimi Agbaje expressed confidence that the PDP would eventually win the battle for the South-West, reminding Nigerian politicians that how well they are able to make impact on the lives of the people would be the determining factor come 2015.
“I have every confidence that the PDP is going to win this game for the South-West”, he said, sticking to his earlier stance that the electorates were more aware.
“In the South-West, people are asking, how much has the Government done for me? What is the benefit of Government? If you cannot quantify in any quantum that Government has done well for you, it means that you are willing to look elsewhere.”
Agbaje also believes that the direction in which the South-West battle swings would affect the outcome of the presidential election in 2015. He added that the chances of President Goodluck Jonathan of being re-elected, if he contests, would also depend on the perception of the people about his leadership.
He noted that it would be important to let Nigerians know that many of the things they complain about are not problems of the Federal Government but that of the states.
“If you’re having problems with education it is not necessarily the fault of Abuja and if you’re having problems with your roads, it is not the problem of Abuja. The Federal Government’s role is very different, so the presidential role is different”, he said.
He cited the resuscitation of the railway system, industrial growth especially as regards foreign investment and job creation, power sector development as some of the achievements that the PDP would need to properly articulate to the Nigerian people.
He added that he would also be expecting President Jonathan to ask Nigerians, “Can you truly say that your power has not improved?”
Speaking about Lagos State in 2015, Jimi Agbaje said; “People are going to be asking themselves, how well has the Government provided an enabling environment for me to aspire to whatever it is (I want).
“The market women are gong to be asking; ‘are we comfortable with the way the ruling party has treated us?’ The students are going to have a say; ‘has this government been nice to us?’
“The private sector are going to be saying ‘how heavy-handed has this government been?’ If they feel comfortable, fine; and if they don’t feel comfortable, then they are not likely to go that way.”
Residents of Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, have appealed for an extension of the period stipulated for the distribution of the Permanent Voter’s Cards by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to avoid many electorates in the city from being disenfranchised.
Many residents who turned out to collect their permanent voters’ cards on Sunday, the last day for the distribution, complained that the process was slow and disorganised at the collection points.
There were also those who lamented the lack of public awareness on the distribution of the permanent voter’s cards. They said that the three days set aside by the electoral body was not enough to distribute the large volume of the voter’s cards in their custody.
Channels Television correspondent who visited some PVC distribution centres, reported the presence of large volumes of Permanent Voter’s Cards stacked in front of members of the National Youth Service Corps at the distribution centres visited and this has been the common sight in the last three days at polling units across the Federal Capital Territory.
The turn-out of residents who had visited to trade their temporary voters’ cards for the permanent ones at the collection points fell far short of the cards yet to be distributed.
While a few centers were orderly, the situation was completely different in others, causing confusion and disenfranchisement.
The Corps members declined to comment about the PVC distribution process and why it was slow.
If the volume of undistributed Permanent Voters’ Cards at the centres across the Federal Capital Territory is anything to go by, coupled with the several complaints of missing names, the residents say their call for an extension of the days for distribution is something the Independent National Electoral Commission would have to pay attention to.