Abinader Claims Victory In Dominican Republic Presidential Race

Handout photo released by Dominican opposition presidential candidate for the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) Luis Abinader’s Press Office of him (R) giving the thumb up during a campaign rally in Santo Domingo on July 1, 2020. – General Elections will take place on July 5 in Dominican Republic. Juan VALENZUELA / Luis Abinader Press Office / AFP.

 

Opposition candidate Luis Abinader has claimed victory in the Dominican Republic’s presidential race after voters on Sunday braved a worsening coronavirus outbreak to cast their ballots for a new leader and legislature.

Abinader’s rivals and the outgoing president also recognized his win, which ends 16 years of unbroken rule by the Caribbean nation’s center-left Dominican Liberation Party (PLD).

“We won, today we win, but we will never forget who we owe this victory to,” the 52-year-old businessman said from a platform before dozens of followers at his campaign headquarters in the capital Santo Domingo.

“We owe it to you, the Dominican people. That is why tonight we all won.”

According to data from the central electoral board after around 60 percent of ballots had been counted, Abinader gained around 1.2 million votes — around 53 percent.

The PLD’s candidate Gonzalo Castillo came second in a six-man field, with 838,000 votes — or 37 percent — according to the incomplete figures.

Castillo said the official count “shows that there is an irreversible trend and that from now on we have a president-elect… Our congratulations to Mr. Luis Abinader.”

Outgoing President Danilo Medina also accepted the businessman’s victory, tweeting his “congratulations to the new president-elect @LuisAbinader.”

Abinader’s win was is yet to be formally announced by the electoral board.

Gunfire outside a polling station in the capital left one person dead after an argument among opposing party activists turned violent, police said.

But elsewhere, voting appeared to progress smoothly, with few disruptions despite the extra virus precautions.

“It’s pretty fluid and very well organized. The truth is I didn’t expect it,” said Maribel Roman, a 47-year-old business consultant, as she waited for her turn to vote.

The election, which was pushed back from May 17, was held despite the epidemic’s explosive spread, with the number of new COVID-19 cases hitting a record high Sunday for a third consecutive day.

Medina, who could not seek another term under the country’s constitution, was forced to impose a national lockdown, easing it only last week as parties made a final drive for votes.

– ‘Change is coming’ –

Abinader had to suspend his campaign after testing positive for the coronavirus, but recovered sufficiently to lead a rally on Wednesday.

An observer team from the Organization of American States (OAS) monitored the vote, but its leader, former Chilean president Eduardo Frei, was unable to be present because of travel restrictions.

Some 7.5 million Dominicans were eligible to cast ballots in the election.

Also up for grabs are 32 senate seats, 190 seats in the lower house and 20 representatives to the Central American parliament.

– Corruption an issue –

“Change is coming and the PLD is going,” Abinader, who is considered a centrist, promised hundreds of his supporters at a closing rally Wednesday.

Corruption has been a key issue after protests in recent years over the involvement of local officials in the Latin America-wide Odebrecht graft scandal.

The Brazilian construction giant has admitted to doling out $92 million in bribes in the Dominican Republic in exchange for winning public works contracts.

The country, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, ranks 137th out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s corruption index.
– Virus fears –

Despite health protocols at polling stations, Health Minister Rafael Sanchez Cardenas said it would be “practically impossible” not to have fresh outbreaks of COVID-19.

The pandemic has already hit polling by the Republic’s 600,000 overseas voters — representing almost eight percent of the electoral roll.

Most live in the United States, Spain and Puerto Rico, where polling has been taking place. However, expatriates in Italy and Panama have not been authorized to vote because of coronavirus restrictions there.

The Dominican Republic is one of the strongest economies in the region, recording on average 6.3 percent growth a year between 2013 and 2018, according to the World Bank.

However, the Bank has warned that it is at risk of being pushed back into poverty because of the pandemic.

AFP

Croatia Votes For New Government As COVID-19 Woes Loom

People queue to cast their votes at a polling station in Zagreb on July 5, 2020, during the country’s parliamentary elections. (Photo by DENIS LOVROVIC / AFP)

 

Croatians went to the polls Sunday for a government to navigate the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, in a tight race pitting ruling conservatives against leftist rivals and a new nationalist party on the rise.

The pandemic has put Croatia’s tourism-dependent economy on course for a contraction of nearly 10 percent — its steepest decline in decades — even as the country’s own health situation has remained stable.

The ruling conservative HDZ party, which has led the Adriatic country for most of its independence, has been touting its relative success in containing the country’s virus outbreak thus far, with an official tally of roughly 110 deaths and 3,000 infections.

But a fresh rise of cases in recent weeks, with dozens recorded daily, has renewed fears over the health situation and given the opposition fresh ammunition.

“Whoever wins will face major economic problems to deal with in autumn. It won’t be easy,” said Igor Ivic, a 49-year-old economist among the first crowd of voters to cast ballots in Zagreb.

Polls put Croatia’s two main camps — Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic’s HDZ and the left-leaning ‘Restart’ coalition led by the Social Democrats (SDP) — in a close contest.

With neither expected to carve out an absolute majority in the 151-member house, tricky coalition talks are expected to follow the vote.

That leaves the new populist ‘Homeland Movement’ of folk singer-turned-politician Miroslav Skoro, polling in third, a potential kingmaker.

– ‘New start’ –

With the European Union member facing a fresh uptick infections, voters were advised to wear masks and bring their own pens to polling stations, which opened at 7:00 am (0500 GMT).

Officials also paid home visits to the collect the ballots of 500 people — some 10 percent of those in self-isolation — who requested to vote, while others infected with the virus can do so through a proxy.

SDP leader and prime minister candidate Davor Bernardic has accused the government of “consciously pushing Croatia into a risk” by deciding to go ahead with the election in the middle of the pandemic.

He and other rivals also highlight HDZ’s history of graft, which has been brought back to the fore with a recent scandal involving a top official.

“We have offered…a clear alternative, clear changes for Croatia’s new start,” 40-year-old Bernardic said after casting his vote in the capital.

Plenkovic, meanwhile, is hoping the uncertainty of the health crisis will inspire voters to stick with HDZ, in power since 2016.

Now is the time for “serious choices and not for political quackery,” said the former MEP with strong backing from Brussels, who has dismissed his rivals as ill-prepared.

“Croatia doesn’t have time for experiments like Bernardic or Skoro,” he said.

Petar Dragic, a taxi driver from Zagreb, told AFP agreed with the 50-year-old prime minister.

“I’m pragmatic, don’t care who is left or right. Only Plenkovic is capable of pulling funds from Brussels and this is what we need now,” he said.

Yet some Croatians are hungry for new faces in a country struggling with massive emigration driven by low salaries and corruption at home.

“There is not enough focus on Croatians leaving for abroad, unemployment and poor salaries of young people,” said retired teacher Branka Tekavec.

Right-wing Skoro is also trying to capitalise on fatigue with the country’s two-party dominance, arguing that only his new party “guarantees a change, while SDP and HDZ guarantee the continuity of bad governance”.

The popular musician made his big debut when he finished third in Croatia’s December presidential election, inspiring him to form a new movement.

Analysts say HDZ could ultimately accept a tie-up with the singer, despite anger over his moves to break off a segment of their traditional voting base.

SDP, on the other hand, is unlikely to consider such an alliance given 57-year-old Skoro’s nostalgia for Croatia’s pro-Nazi past and accusations of sexism.

Some 3.8 million people are eligible to vote with first official results due late Sunday.

AFP

Taraba LG Polls: Ishaku To Inaugurate Newly Elected Chairman Thursday

LG Funds: Ishaku Agrees With NFIU, To Reduce Political Appointees
A file photo of Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku.

 

Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State will on Thursday inaugurate the newly elected Local Government Council Chairmen.

This was confirmed in a statement issued on Wednesday by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Hassan Mijinyawa.

Mijinyawa noted that the ceremony will be performed at the Government Lodge in Takum area of the state at 12 noon.

He, however, warned that planned participants to “adhere to Corvid-19 protocols such as physical distancing and wearing of face masks.”

Governor Ishaku’s spokesman explained that the “Protocol Department of Government House has been mandated to ensure observance of these protocols by those who will be attending the ceremony.”

This comes shortly after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won all the 16 chairmanship and 168 councillorship positions in the council’s polls.

Burundians Vote Despite COVID-19 Outbreak

A supporter holds a picture of Agathon Rwasa, presidential candidate of the main opposition party the National Congress for Liberty (CNL), during the last day of the campaign in Gitega, central Burundi, on May 17, 2020. AFP

 

Tense elections to replace Burundi’s long-ruling president got underway on Wednesday despite a coronavirus outbreak that the East African nation has largely ignored.

The vote comes after five years of turmoil sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term, which unleashed unrest that left at least 1,200 dead and saw 400,000 flee the country.

Burundians stood in long lines outside polling stations, which opened shortly after six a.m. (0400 GMT).

Just before voting started, social networks were cut off except for access by virtual private network.

More than five million registered voters are being asked to choose between Nkurunziza’s hand-picked heir and frontrunner, 52-year-old general Evariste Ndayishimiye, the main opposition competitor Agathon Rwasa, and five other candidates.

Elections are also being held for parliamentarians and local councillors, who in turn appoint the members of the Senate.

“I am happy to vote for the candidate of my choice today, even if I am afraid of what is happening because social networks were cut,” said primary school teacher Patrice, 30, who voted in northern Ngozi.

“It is important because after 15 years of Nkurunziza, it is time for change. He did good and bad things…. today I want (Rwasa’s) CNL to win because the country needs new blood”.

READ ALSO: UN Chief Antonio Guterres Praises Africa’s Efforts To Stem COVID-19

However ruling party supporter Gertrude, who voted in central Mwaro province, said she would vote for Ndayishimiye “so that he can continue the legacy of our president Pierre Nkurunziza… and beat poverty”.

Burundi has a long history of ethnic violence between its Hutu and Tutsi communities and saw several presidents assassinated or ousted after independence from Belgium in 1962.

It is listed by the World Bank as one of the three poorest countries in the world.

The onset of turmoil in 2015 worsened the situation for many, as traditional donors cut ties.

There then followed two years of recession followed by paltry growth, and the economy now faces potential fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

– ‘Divine protection’ –

Unlike Ethiopia, which in March postponed its August general elections because of the virus risk, Burundi pushed ahead with the vote.

It has not imposed any movement restrictions on its 11 million people, as other countries in East Africa have done, and large crowds gathered at campaign rallies.

Ndayishimiye and other officials have insisted God is protecting Burundi.

Only 42 cases and one death have officially been recorded.

However, doctors accuse the government of minimising the scale of the outbreak and residents of Bujumbura have told AFP of mysterious deaths from respiratory problems and fever.

– Clash of Hutu rebel leaders –

The campaign was marked by violence and arbitrary arrests — the kind that has persisted in the shadows since the 2015 poll — and observers expected a bitter contest between the two frontrunners.

Ndayishimiye is a party veteran who like Nkurunziza, fought for the ethnic Hutu rebellion during the country’s 1993-2006 civil war with the minority Tutsi-dominated army. The war left some 300,000 dead.

Rwasa, 56, was a leader of the oldest ethnic Hutu rebel movement, the Palipehutu-FNL, one of the two biggest armed opposition groups in the war.

In the eyes of the majority Hutu — 85 percent of the population — Rwasa has as much legitimacy as a presidential candidate as his rival.

“The people won’t let their victory be stolen,” warned Rwasa, after the ruling party made clear it expected no other outcome than a resounding win.

Nkurunziza’s decision to step aside came as a surprise after constitutional changes in 2018 opened the possibility for him to stay in office until 2034.

In January legislators passed a law offering a golden parachute to outgoing presidents, including a luxury villa and a one-off sum equivalent to more than half a million dollars.

The outgoing president, who has ruled for 15 years, was in February named the “supreme guide for patriotism” and he is expected to retain an influential role if the ruling CNDD-FDD stays in power.

While Ndayishimiye is considered the frontrunner, observers highlight the massive crowds mobilised by Rwasa during his campaign.

“There is a phenomenon of despair, a feeling of ‘anything but the CNDD-FDD’, and Rwasa is riding this wave,” said International Crisis Group (ICG) expert Onesphore Sematumba.

The government has refused any observers from the UN or the African Union, accusing the latter of being too close to the opposition.

Polls close at 1400 GMT, with results expected by next Monday or Tuesday.

AFP

Academic Wins Tunisia Presidential Poll By A Landslide

Conservative academic Kais Saied kisses the Tunisian flag as he celebrates his victory in the Tunisian presidential election in the capital Tunis on October 13, 2019. Photo Credit: FETHI BELAID / AFP

 

Conservative academic Kais Saied Sunday won a landslide victory in Tunisia’s presidential runoff, sweeping aside his rival, media magnate Nabil Karoui, state television Wataniya said.

It said he scooped almost 77 percent of the vote, compared to 23 percent for Karoui.

News of the victory triggered celebrations at the retired law professor’s election campaign offices in central Tunis, as fireworks were set off outside and supporters honked car horns.

Togo Ruling Party Triumphs At First Local Polls In 30 Years

 

Togo’s ruling party has cruised to victory at the first local elections in 32 years in the West African nation that has been dominated by one family for decades, results said. 

Voters in the country of 8 million people cast their ballots on Sunday at poll Western power described as an “important step in strengthening local democracy”.

Some opposition parties took part after boycotting parliamentary elections last year in protest at President Faure Gnassingbe’s grip on power.

Gnassingbe has ruled the country for 15 years since he succeeded his father Eyadema Gnassingbe, who led the country with an iron fist for 38 years after taking over in a coup.

READ ALSO: Mexican Authorities Rescue 24 Kidnapped Migrants

Parliament in May approved a constitutional change allowing Gnassingbe to run two more times and potentially remain in office until 2030.

Preliminary results released late Friday by the electoral commission gave the ruling Union for the Republic 895 of the 1490 local council seats on offer.

The National Alliance for Change was second on 134 seats, ahead of two other opposition groupings.

Overall turnout was put at just over 52 per cent but participation was low in the capital Lome. The vote was not held in three areas of the country due to “technical reasons”.

The election came almost two years after hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Lome and other cities in anti-government protests, leading to deadly clashes.

Protests again erupted earlier this year in Togo, sandwiched between Ghana and Benin, but have since waned.

Political activists have been detained by security forces and the police.

The previous councillors elected in local elections in Togo governed for 14 years from 1987 — despite being elected on five-year terms.

Councillors were later replaced with “special delegations”, tasked with organising new elections, whose positions were often filled with figures hand-picked by the government.

AFP

Senegal President Sall Wins Re-Election In First Round

Incumbent President Macky Sall speaks after casting his vote for Senegal’s presidential elections at a polling station in Fatick on February 24, 2019.  SEYLLOU / AFP

 

Senegal’s President Macky Sall won in the first round of the election Sunday, his prime minister said, although his two main challengers look set to contest the outcome.

“The results allow us to say that we should congratulate President Macky Sall on his re-election,” Prime Minister Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne said at midnight, predicting the incumbent would receive “at least 57 percent” of the vote.

His announcement hours after polls closed was greeted with cheers from supporters gathered at the headquarters of the presidential coalition in Dakar. Sall, who was seen there earlier in the evening, did not speak.

Official results from each region are not expected until Tuesday with a nationwide announcement by Friday midnight at the latest. If no one wins more than 50 percent a second-round runoff will be held on March 24.

Shortly before Dionne’s announcement, Sall’s two main challengers had warned against premature proclamations of victory.

“At this stage, a second round is announced and the results that are already compiled allow us to say so,” said former prime minister Idrissa Seck, who was making his third run for president.

“At the current state of the vote count, no candidate, I say no candidate, including myself, can claim to have won the presidential election,” taxman-turned MP Ousmane Sonko, who was also in the race, added at their joint press conference.

READ ALSO: Ghana’s Ex-President Mahama Joins 2020 Presidential Race

Seck and Sonko are the only two candidates seen as having a chance of making it to a second round, with incumbent Sall, 56, in the lead in many polling stations, according to preliminary results reported in the evening by local media.

The other challengers, former foreign minister Madicke Niang and Issa Sall of the Unity and Assembly Party (PUR), were trailing far behind, according to the results.

Macky Sall had looked set to cruise to victory in the first round after his two key rivals, popular former Dakar mayor Khalifa Sall and Karim Wade, son of the previous president, were banned from running over graft convictions and he only faced four lesser-known candidates.

“At the end of this day, the Senegalese people alone will be the winner. And the president has chosen will equally have to be president of all Senegalese,” Sall said after voting Sunday.

A geologist by training, Sall took over as president in 2012 after beating his former mentor Abdoulaye Wade, and this time, he has campaigned for a second term championing his “Emerging Senegal” infrastructure project to boost economic growth.

“Victory in the first round is indisputable,” Sall told a recent Dakar campaign rally.

The EU observation mission said its overall assessment was “quite positive” among the polling stations it observed.

“There has been very little violence, very isolated incidents, which is very good news,” said Elena Valenciano, head of the mission.

 A smaller lineup 

Often held up as a model of stability in Africa, Senegal has enjoyed strong growth. The Muslim-majority country has largely escaped the jihadist attacks that destabilised neighbours such as Mali.

Sall has made transport infrastructure a priority. But basic services, healthcare, and education often remain inadequate, sometimes triggering strikes and protests.

The other four candidates have campaigned hard against his plans for the second phase of his project, which critics see as a potential debt burden.

The five-horse race leaves voters with a limited choice compared to 2012 when 14 candidates vied for the top post.

A new system approved by parliament last year requires candidates demonstrate support from a minimum number of citizens and regions.

Once the regulations went into force, only seven candidates made the cut, but two of them — Khalifa Sall and Karim Wade — were then disqualified.

Both men were barred over their convictions for misuse of public funds, which they say were engineered to bar them from the race.

Their supporters staged a number of protests and last year, Amnesty International issued a report highlighting the “unfair trials” of senior opposition figures, flagging a “lack of (judicial) independence” in the case against Khalifa Sall.

Senegal has a population of 16 million but only 6.7 million were registered to vote in the West African nation which gained independence from France in 1960.

Senegal has known two peaceful power transfers in 2000 and 2012 and has never experienced any coups. But election campaigns are often marred by charges of corruption, disinformation and sometimes violence.

For polling day, some 8,000 police were deployed throughout urban areas alongside an unspecified number of civilian security staff, officials said.

And around 5,000 observers — including some from the European Union — were monitoring proceedings, the interior ministry said.

AFP

PHOTOS: Candidates, Prominent Nigerians At The Polls

 

As millions of Nigerians packed the polls on Saturday for the presidential and National Assembly elections, the candidates in the race and major political stakeholders and statesmen also pushed their cause forward by voting.

Here are photos of major candidates, political stakeholders and other prominent Nigerians voting:

President Muhammadu Buhari and his wife, Aisha, voted in Daura

 

PDP Presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar (C) and his Titilayo Atiku-Abubakar (R) vote at Agiya polling station in Yola, Adamawa State. AFP Photo.
Professor Kingsley Moghalu.

 

Yemi Osinbajo and wife Dolapo

 

PDP Vice Presidential Candidate, Peter Obi, votes

 

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo voted in Ogun State

 

Fela Durotoye

 

Omoyele Sowore

 

Former President Goodluck Jonathan at his polling unit in Otoueke, Bayelsa State

 

Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, could not vote immediately as the card reader failed to recognise his fingerprint.

 

Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun arriving in Ward 6 unit 8, Itagbangba Abeokuta South Local Government Area of the state to participate in the general elections.
Senate President Bukola Saraki exercised his franchise in Kwara state.
Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara’s finger was not recognised by the card reader.

 

Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi waiting for the ballot papers after being accredited.
APM governorship candidate in Ogun, Adekunle Akinlade voted in unit 002, Ward 003 Ago Sasa, Ipokia Local Government Area of the state. After voting, he said it was too early to assess the process but from what he had gathered from his party agents across the state, the exercise “is going smoothly”.
Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson also came out to vote.
Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, at his polling unit
Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, and his wife were also at the polls
Former Oyo State Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala

 

CAN Calls For Intensified Prayers Ahead Of Saturday’s Polls

2019 Elections: Arewa Consultative Forum Pledges Neutrality
(File) An electorate casting his vote

 

The leadership of the Christian Association Of Nigeria (CAN), has appealed to all Christians in the country and those in the Diaspora to pray for Nigeria ahead of Saturday’s rescheduled general elections.

In a statement by its President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, CAN directed its members to begin a Prayer Programme from Tuesday, February 19, 2019, and end on Sunday, February 24, 2019, for the success of the rescheduled elections.

He described the current political scene in the country as not being ordinary, adding that there was the need for the Church to intercede for the country.

READ ALSO‘It Was Never This Bad For Us Before,’ CAN Condemn Election Postponement

“I want you to pray very well this week against some evil forces that are plotting against the election. If it’s about the things we see in the spirit, I am not sure that elections will hold at all.

“We should rise up and ask for a transparent, free, fair and credible election that will even be better than those of 2015,” the CAN president pleaded.

He urged Christians to prevail on God not to allow the elections to result in war or bring hardship and suffering unto the citizens, and there would not be a further postponement of the polls.

“It is our prayers that this will be the last time INEC will toy with any postponement again. It is reprehensible, unacceptable, condemnable, ungodly and a national embarrassment and never again will Nigeria be subjected to this kind of rude shock of international proportion.

Among other prayer points, the CAN president also asked that prayers be offered for the deliverance of Leah Sharibu, who was kidnapped by terrorists from her school, Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School in Dapchi, Adamawa State on the night of February 19, 2018.

Couple’s Wedding Affected As INEC Postpones Elections

Cople-to-be, Smart and Grace.

 

Nigerians have continued to express shock and disappointment over the postponement of the general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Perhaps some of those most affected by the development, are those who had fixed key events on the dates which the elections have been rescheduled to.

One of such persons is a couple in Plateau, Jos, who had fixed their wedding on February 23 with the hopes that the elections would have held successfully on Saturday (February 16).

The couple-to-be, Smart and Grace shared their plight with Channels Television.

 

They say family members who are not based in Jos, had begun travelling down in preparation for the wedding only to be greeted with the shocking news of the postponement in early hours of Saturday.


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INEC Postpones General Elections To February 23


 

According to them, following the last-minute decision of the electoral umpire, a lot of their plans have been disrupted and ultimately, the wedding has to be rescheduled.

Business leaders have also said that the economic implication of the postponement could be horrendous. Read Here

Around 2:44 am on Saturday, INEC announced that all elections initially scheduled to hold on February 16 and March 2, were moved by a week.

According to the Commission, the postponement will afford it the opportunity to address identified challenges in order to maintain the quality of the elections.

Crunch Time As Nigeria Goes To The Polls

 

Nigeria made final preparations Friday on the eve of a presidential election, with candidates pitting continuity against reform in a battle between incumbent Muhammadu Buhari, his main rival Atiku Abubakar and over 70 others. 

Buhari, the 76-year-old leader of Africa’s most populous nation was elected in 2015 on a wave of hope he could defeat Boko Haram Islamists, tackle rampant corruption and boost the economy.

But he faces a stiff challenge from former vice-president Abubakar, 72, amid fears about widening insecurity, claims of creeping authoritarianism, and economic incompetence.

READ ALSOKey Numbers In Nigeria’s Election

A total of 73 candidates are on the ballot for Saturday — the sixth election in 20 years since Nigeria returned to democracy after decades of military rule.

Buhari, from the All Progressives Congress (APC), and Abubakar, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are considered the main contenders.

Campaigning ended Thursday with final rallies in Buhari’s home state of Katsina, in the northwest, and Abubakar’s native Adamawa, in the northeast.

A record 84,004,084 people are registered to vote.

Also up for grabs are 360 seats in the lower House of Representatives and 109 in the Senate.

Nearly 120,000 polling units are set to open at 0700 GMT and close at 1600 GMT.

No date has been given for the results, but an announcement is expected from early next week.

Either/or

Electors face a choice between two elderly candidates who have both been part of the political elite for decades and do not mirror the country’s increasingly young demographic.

Just over half the registered voters are aged 18-35.

Chief among the criticisms against Buhari is security, with signs of a resurgence of Boko Haram in Nigeria’s remote northeast and new conflicts elsewhere.

His anti-corruption campaign has been described as one-sided against political opponents.

Economic growth picked up last year after a recession in 2016 but remains sluggish. The cost of living is high in a country where most of the 190 million people live in poverty despite billions earned from oil.

Abubakar, 72, bills himself as a dynamic, modern, pro-business leader. But the former vice-president faces allegations about links to corruption.

Buhari said in a televised address Thursday that reelection would give him the chance to fulfil his initial promises and complete vital infrastructure projects.

“It is a choice between going back or keeping the momentum of change,” he said

For his part, Abubakar pitched himself as “the ticket to development and advancement” and cautioned voters against four more years of “misdirection and maladministration”.

“There is no best candidate among them,” said Aliyu Jibrilla, a 70-year-old retired teacher in the Adamawa state capital, Yola, adding: “intellectually… they’re not up to it”.

“It’s about time these old people go,” added Modibbo Sadiq, a 23-year-old university graduate.

Security and fraud

Security is a constant threat in Nigeria, after previous outbreaks of deadly election-linked violence.

As a precaution, all vehicles have been ordered off the roads from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm Saturday.

Nigeria’s police chief Mohammed Adamu said the restrictions were designed to prevent “hoodlums and criminally-minded elements from hijacking and disrupting the electoral process”.

With reinforced police and military presence on the streets Friday, the interior ministry announced that land borders will shut for 48 hours from midday.

Candidates have pledged to conduct peaceful elections and to accept the results, but there have been clashes in the southern state of Rivers.

APC candidates have been prevented from running in the parliamentary and governorship elections in Rivers because of a dispute over their selection.

Vote-rigging has marred previous Nigerian elections, and this year concerns have been raised both the APC and PDP may have sought to buy votes.

Red flags also went up after voter cards were distributed late, or not at all, and three fires in 12 days Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) offices.

Ahmad Ado Hasan, 21, a tailor and first-time voter in the northern city of Kano, said: “As a citizen, you should vote your choice, not sell your vote.

“God has already destined the winner, we are only to confirm through our votes. So, vote buying is not the answer.”

AFP

Former Military Officers Endorse Buhari For 2019 Presidency

 

A group of retired Army Generals, Admirals, Marshals and former Military Governors/Administrators have endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term in office. 

The ex-officers made their declaration in support for Buhari’s re-election when they paid a visit to the President in Abuja on Monday.

The leader of the delegation, Brigadier-General Buba Marwa, who was military governor in Borno, and later military administrator of Lagos State, said the retired top officers thought it right to visit the President.

Gen Marwa said the visit was to tell President Buhari that he has represented his constituency well.

He said, “You announced a simple three-point agenda upon the assumption of office namely security; fighting corruption, and the economy. You have kept your words as an officer and a gentleman.”

“We the retired armed forces officers, representing 99.9% of our colleagues say that we are proud of you; proud to be associated with your administration; and proud to witness this era of Nigeria rising again under your able leadership.

“We support you fully and totally in the presidential elections next week and will do whatever we can within the law to contribute to your emergence as the victor in the election in order to take Nigeria to the next level,” Gen Marwa

READ ALSO: Tonye Cole Lauds Appeal Court Ruling On Rivers APC Primaries

The most senior of the retired officers, Vice Admiral Jubrila Ayinla, a former Chief of Naval Staff, who said future generations would acquit President Buhari “most creditably”.

He added: “On behalf of the generals here today, I congratulate you on the tremendous work done by this administration, and wish to state unequivocally that we are proud of you and fully behind you in the presidential elections next week. We pledge our full support and continued loyalty.”

The delegation was made of one Vice Admiral, two Lt-Generals, 15 Major Generals, two Rear Admirals, eight Air Vice-Marshals, 12 Brigadier-Generals, three Commodores, nine Air Commodores, and 17 former military governors/administrators, among others.

On his part, President Muhammadu Buhari reiterated his commitment to the country, saying that his objective is clear and he will continue to do his best as the President of the country.

The President said, “God has made this country great. We have human and material resources, and may God continue to give us the right leaders. My objective is very clear, and I will continue to do my best.

“We have no other country but Nigeria. We will stay here and salvage it together”.

President Buhari noted that even if one was blessed enough to send children for training abroad, “after such training, they will still have to come back here. We must, therefore, give our best for our country.”

“The patriotism imbued in us by the military will ever remain relevant. Let’s do our best for this country,” he said.