Rwanda Sets Date For Referendum To Extend Presidential Term Limit

rwandaRwandans will vote in a referendum on December 18 on whether to amend the constitution and allow President Paul Kagame to remain in office until as late as 2034, officials said on Tuesday.

Under the proposed amendment, Kagame, in power since 2000, would be able to run for office again after his second mandate ends in 2017, first for a seven-year term and then for two further stints of five years each, stretching to 2034.

Kagame is the latest veteran ruler in Africa to attempt to extend his hold on power. Similar moves have already sparked violence and instability in Burundi, Burkina Faso and Congo Republic. So far there has been no political unrest in Rwanda.

“President Paul Kagame has accepted that a referendum be made on the current constitution,” the government said in a statement late on Tuesday after it had discussed the issue.

He had said that the outcome of the referendum would determine if he would seek a third term in office in the next election or not.

The current constitution limits any head of state to two terms.

The United States earlier this month said Kagame should resist the lure of power and step down after his second term to allow a new generation of leaders to come through.

Kagame won widespread praise for rebuilding the Central African country after a 1994 genocide killed about 800,000 people, most of them ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

While praising Rwanda’s economic and social development since then, human rights groups say the government severely restricts freedom of expression and brooks no dissent, charges the government denies.


Tanzania Election: Ruling Party Faces Fight To Stay In Power

tanzania electionTanzanians are voting in elections that will determine whether the ruling party will give way to a new coalition or maintain its 54-year grip on power.

Final rallies were held on Saturday ahead of the Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party is said to be ahead in opinion polls, but observers expect the result to be close.

Four opposition groups are backing one candidate, 62- year-old Edward Lowassa , a former CCM member.

Some of the major issues for the almost 23 million registered voters include access to clean water, improved health care and better education.

President Jakaya Kikwete, who is standing down after two terms, has called for peace ahead of the election.

Tanzania’s Works Minister, Mr John Magufuli, 55, is running on the ruling party’s platform.

APC Assures Nigerians Of Productive Leadership

APC-members organise prayer in kadunaThe National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr John Oyegun, has assured Nigerians that the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration would live up to expectations during the first 100 days in office.

Mr Oyegun, who was represented by National Vice Chairman of the APC in Southeast, Mr Emma Enukwu stated this in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital, during a south-east Solidarity Rally organised in honour of the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, and his Vice, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

He insisted that the results generated from the south-east region during the last Presidential elections were not the true reflections and wishes of the people of the south-east, saying that the APC government will always ensure free and fair elections, portraying the wishes of the masses.

While addressing the crowd, the Ebonyi State Chairman of the party, Eze Nwachukwu, also commended the national and south-east leaders of the APC for their quest to change Nigeria.

Other National Officers, who spoke to Channels Television, said most of the people in the south-east do not believe in the course of the APC before now. It is obvious that with the event, the entire region has defected to the party, they said.

The event was graced by former Governor of old Abia State, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, the National Organising Secretary of the party, Senator Osita Izunaso, National Auditor of the party, Chief George Moghalu and the Deputy National Financial Secretary,  Sunday Chukwu, amongst others.

At the event, new members of the party that defected from other political parties in the state were welcomed.

Police Extend Curfew In Adamawa

policeThe Police in Adamawa State have on Friday announced a dusk to dawn curfew from Sunday till Tuesday.

This is in addition to the restriction of movement from 6am to 6pm on Saturday, the election day.

The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Gabriel Adaji, revealed this to journalists at a press conference in Yola, the state capital.

Mr Adaji also announced the total ban on tricycles popularly known as ‘Keke Napep’ and cart pushers from Saturday till Tuesday.

The Police Commissioner added that the decision was taken at a crucial inter-agency security meeting which was aimed at curtailing the breakdown of law and order in the state.

Mr Adaji said that the decision would help “to avert some nasty experiences encountered when the presidential elections result was announced about two weeks ago where miscreants hijacked the celebrations”.

The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) had earlier ordered the restriction of vehicular movement across the nation which is to take effect from 8:00am to 5:00pm on Saturday.

INEC Distributes Materials To States

Election Update INEC distribute materials The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has started the distribution of sensitive electoral materials to different states in Nigeria ahead of Saturday’s governorship election.

On Thursday, the INEC in Akwa Ibom State, south-south Nigeria, sent materials to electoral officers for the 31 local government areas in the state.

The State Resident Electoral commissioner (REC) in a closed door meeting with an elder  statesman, Mr Don Etiebet, gave the assurances that the commission would provide a level playing field for all parties in the election.

Mr Etiebet is canvassing support for the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the state.

Meanwhile, the APC in the state had earlier lodged a complaint against the conduct of last month’s Presidential election, saying INEC should ensure that the state REC, Austin Okojie, does not conduct the April 11 governorship and House of Assembly elections in the state.

INEC, in response to allegations against RECs, said that the commission would look at the substance in the petitions before it would take a position.

Osinbajo Receives Over 5,000 Defectors From PDP In Kaduna

osinbajoOver 5,000 members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kaduna State are said to have defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of Saturday’s governorship and House of Assembly elections.

The defectors were received by the Vice-President-elect, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

A statement issued by the spokesman of the APC Governorship Campaign Organisation in the state, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, noted that the defectors were received in the southern part of the state by Prof. Osinbajo during a stakeholders meeting ahead of the election.

The statement quoted Prof. Osinbajo as saying the “PDP government did great harm to the nation, using religion and playing divisive politics during its 16-year rule”.

Prof. Osinbajo also urged the people to work hard in order to bring about a rebirth of a new Nigeria where freedom of religion, law and order will be entrenched for collective good.

Prominent among the defectors are a former member of the House of Representatives, Mrs Ruth Jummai Ango, former Commissioner and Attorney General in the state, Zakari Sogfa and 114 immediate past councilors from 8 local government areas of the zone.

Meanwhile, the PDP has denied that it lost some of its members to the APC.

Spokesman for the Kaduna State governor, Ahmed Maiyaki, in a statement said that no single PDP member has left the party after the March 28 Presidential and National Assembly elections, adding that the APC fabricated the story which is aimed at deceiving the electorate ahead of Saturday’s governorship election, because of fear of the growing popularity and acceptability of the PDP in the state.

Electoral Officers Found Guilty Will Be Dealt With – Igini

iginiThe Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in charge of Edo State, Mike Igini, says all the electoral officers found to have compromised in the March 28 presidential election will be dealt with according to the law.

Addressing the opening session of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) management meeting in Benin City, the Edo State capital, Mr. Igini warned that any official of the commission who decides to aid malpractice of any kind in the House of Assembly election in Edo State would have him or herself to blame.

The REC wondered why result sheets would be absent from some polling units even after same was distributed by him to the electoral officers.

Mr. Igini added that the card readers would be strictly applied in the Saturday election saying that the observed anomalies from the last polls were being addressed.

INEC Insists On Card Reader For Governorship Polls

Card readerThe Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has insisted that it will maintain the use of card readers for the verification of voters during Saturday’s governorship and House of Assembly elections.

INEC disclosed this in a statement by the Secretary to the Commission, Mrs Augusta Ogakwu, on Monday.

The statement read: “The provision of the guidelines for the conduct of the 2015 general election which outlined what is to be done if a card reader fails and cannot be replaced by the commission within the specified time frame (i.e. reschedule the election to the next day) will be enforced.

“The relaxation of the guidelines on March 28 was only with respect to the Presidential and National Assembly election held on that date.

“The Commission has reviewed the operation of the card reader in the 28th March elections, identified the challenges and has taken adequate measure to address them.”

Accreditation of voters during the March 28 election drew mixed reactions as the incumbent President and the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, and the First Lady could not be accredited with the card reader. At his home town, Otuoke in Bayelsa State, President Jonathan’s card and that of his wife, Patience could not pass the process.

Channels Television correspondent, Chukwuma Onuekwusi reported that several card readers were tried but his card and that of his wife could not be read by three different card readers.

While President Jonathan urged all Nigerians to be patient with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), politicians in different parts of the country had since urged INEC to review the use of the card reader, citing challenges faced during the presidential and National Assembly elections.

Anambra State governor, Willie Obiano, called the overall performance of the card reader device in the state ‘a disaster’, noting that his fingerprints could not be captured despite several attempts.

“Well, it was in my opinion a disaster at the early stages,” Obiano said during an interview on Channels Television’s special election programme, ‘Nigeria 2015’.

He explained that as at 10:30 on Saturday morning, INEC officials were absent at his polling unit,  while the queue was more than a quarter of a mile long.

According to the governor, INEC officials arrived at noon following a call to the REC. Even after their arrival, the card reader failed to work.

“But before then, substantially everywhere, the comment I was getting was that the card reader wasn’t working. As a matter of fact, I received so many calls that I got so worried,” he said.

The governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, had also urged the commission to make another pronouncement on the use of the card reader for the governorship and National Assembly elections.

Jega On Card Reader Flop

However, there had been an indication that the faith of INEC in the card reader technology remained strong despite the challenges faced on election day.

INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, admitted that there were indeed challenges in the deployment of the card readers but the challenges were not significant enough to affect the overall success of the elections.

In an interview with Channels Television about 24 hours after the presidential elections, he said: “From our general assessment, out of the 150,000 card readers which we have deployed, only about 450 were affected.

“But because we just wanted to ensure that Nigerians who have been patient in this process have an opportunity to exercise their rights and because the numbers are relatively insignificant, that’s why we thought it was necessary to do an addendum to the guidelines and allow those people to be able to vote once they can be physically authenticated and verified.”


Jonathan Holds Breakfast Meeting With CAN

jonathanIn the spirit of Easter and the Lenten season, President Goodluck Jonathan held a breakfast meeting with members of the Abuja branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in his residence.

The breakfast meeting started with a prayer session led by the Chairman of the association, Reverend Israel Akanji.

Speaking to State House correspondents after the breakfast session, Rev Akanji said that the organized breakfast had been a tradition, describing this as a special one as it comes immediately after Nigeria’s presidential elections.

He also reacted to President Jonathan’s widely celebrated concession of defeat to General Muhammadu Buhari in the presidential election, particularly his phone call to congratulate the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate ahead of INEC’s official declaration.

Rev Akanji said that what President Jonathan had done was great, adding that whoever makes a sacrifice for the good of others will be elevated in due time.

The Reverend also described as heroic, the courage of  President Goodluck Jonathan, who accepted the verdict of the election. He described the President’s action as sacrificial.

INEC Promises Improvement In April 11 Polls

JegaAhead of the April 11 Governorship and House of Assembly elections, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega has promised to address the hiccups experienced during the March 28 Presidential and National Assembly elections.

Professor Jega, who made the promise at a meeting with the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on INEC in Abuja, explained that the commission was working hard to deliver an election that would be better than the just-concluded elections.

The INEC boss admitted the flop in the deployment of the card readers saying, about 450 of the 150,000 card readers were faulty.

The INEC boss also commended Nigerians for their role in ensuring a peaceful conduct of the election, hoping that they would exhibit greater maturity and patience during and after the April 11 elections.

Orubebe Accuses Jega Of Being Tribalistic, Selective And Partial

Godsday Orubebe

Former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe on Tuesday accused the Chairman of the Independent National electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Attahiru Jega of being ” tribalistic, selective and partial” in dealing with issues of irregularities raised during the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections.

Mr Orubebe was speaking during the resumed announcement of the elections result in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

He alleged that Prof Jega swiftly set up a committee to look into issues raised about the results in Rivers state by the All Progressives Congress, APC and slowly responded to PDP raised issues.

“We have raised issues about results in Kano, in Kaduna, Jigawa and Katsina and yet you have done nothing about it. You are biased. You are partial. You are tribalistic.

“Jega you have been compromised, we are no longer confident in you,” Orubebe said while causing a scene at the centre.

The ex-Minister also accused Jega of handing out results to the All Progressives Congress (APC) to publish on its site.

He also noted that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP’s will reject the results being announced INEC.

However, in a swift reaction, the professor of Political Science responded to the allegations raised by the former minister.

Card Reader Flop: Jega Says Number Insignificant

JegaThe Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega, has expressed gratitude to Nigerians for their peaceful conduct during the presidential elections on Saturday, March 28.

The INEC boss, in an interview with Channels Television on Saturday night, expressed gratitude to the Almighty for how peaceful the process has been and for the large turnout of Nigerians who showed patience in the face of frustrations.

“Of course, man proposes and God disposes. We thought that this would be near perfect but regrettably there have been challenges,” he said.

“There were still cases of late distribution of materials and late arrivals in polling units but in spite of this we think its been very good also.

“We cannot but thank Nigerians for the passion they have shown, and the commitment to be able to vote in this general elections.”

Professor Jega was particularly happy about the exercise in the north-east region of the country where there had been fears of insecurity.

Election Postponement

He also explained that elections which failed to hold on Saturday will only be conducted in 13 federal constituencies and that will be on April 11.

He explained that the polls would have to be moved to that date as a result of shortage of electoral materials.

Prof. Jega said that the decision was agreed to by all relevant stakeholders, who unanimously asked for all 11 federal constituencies in Jigawa State be moved to April 11 even though only seven federal constituencies were affected.

The INEC boss, however, looked on the bright side when he compared the situation with what obtained in 2011.

“Federal constituencies alone we rescheduled over 60 and then we also rescheduled some senatorial because of shortages of materials,” he recalled.

Nevertheless, he expressed regret over the challenges faced. He stated that lessons have been learnt, which would be factored into preparations for the governorship and State Assembly elections holding on April 11.

Card Reader Flop

Professor Jega admitted that there were indeed challenges in the deployment of the card readers but the challenges were not significant enough to affect the overall success of the elections.

“From our general assessment, out of the 150,000 card readers which we have deployed, only about 450 were affected.

“But because we just wanted to ensure that Nigerians who have been patient in this process have an opportunity to exercise their rights and because the numbers are relatively insignificant, that’s why we thought it was necessary to do an addendum to the guidelines and allow those people to be able to vote once they can be physically authenticated and verified.

“Thank God it went well. The only challenge is that it meant the voting has gone on in some places into late evening and early night.”

He expressed confidence in the assurance given by security agencies that all arrangements had been made to secure all the polling units and ensure the successful completion of voting as well as a successful collation of the results.