How Lack Of Improvement On Technology Is Affecting Election Credibility

liborous-oshomahNigeria’s electoral process prior to this time has experienced improvement, especially when Professor Attahiru Jega was the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The improvement in the process, was as a result of the introduction of technology in capturing of voters’ data – the card reader technology.

The technology had pushed backwards tendencies of ballot manipulation and box stuffing, as fingerprints are used in identifying a voter before he votes. Since no two individuals have same fingerprint, the nation’s election was near perfection.

But a Nigerian lawyer, Liborous Oshomah, fears that the gains are speedily being swallowed up by the lack of improvement on the technological input made by the Jega era.

“I had expected that probably the current electoral officials would have been able to take it a notch further and by now, all of these complaints… even when politicians complain, people would have looked at them and say well… why complain… because it is obvious.

“But because we did not bother to improve on that process, it seems as if, rather than progress, we are retrogressing. We are gradually getting back to those days,” he said.

Mr Oshomah further stressed that anyone raising any complaint about the process at this time had the ground to do so, pointing out that the card reader had its imperfections.

Technological input in the process of the election had stopped at card readers’ use and this, according to the lawyer, has given politicians time to begin to fashion out other ways of manipulating elections.

“With that process, politicians also devised another means of having to buy votes across board.

“With all of these, election now becomes a thing for the highest bidder. He who has more money will be the one that will eventually win it,” he said.

He, however, expressed optimism that with sincerity and modern technology, all elections in Nigeria will get to a level that it would be described as a fair process by all participants and political parties.

The lawyer advised that there should be provision for update of the card reader machine, a period of test-running the card readers and addition of other equipment that could make the process more credible.

He also highlighted the need for continuity in the preparation process for elections months before the election date.

Leaders’ Lack Of Focus Brought Setback To Education Sector – Jega

JegaThe former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission and Pro-Chancellor of the Plateau State University, Professor Attahiru Jega, has identified the lack of focus of Nigerian leaders as a major setback to the education sector.

Professor Jega made the observation on Monday at the ongoing 2016 Nigeria Higher Education Summit in Abuja which is aimed at building an effective platform for the revitalisation of the Nigerian education system.

He believes that identifying the challenges facing the sector is a first step in the right direction in boosting the education system in Nigeria.

“It is very important that we recognise that the major challenge has to do with the crisis of leadership and the abnegation of responsibility and misplacement of priorities.

“But it is not sufficient to identify and apportion blames, but we need to continue to work, struggle, engage, dialogue and to have summits such as this in order to keep up raising the issues and generating the consensus that is necessary in order to really get those priorities set right,” he told the gathering.

Save Sector From Total Collapse

Other participants at the summit identified education as the bedrock for national development and a very important tool in fostering unity amidst the series of conflicts in different parts of Nigeria.

Participants at the summit were drawn from the diverse spectrum of the education sector including policy makers and vice chancellors of universities.

They are to take a look at the gradual decline in the quality of education in Nigeria and strategise to save the sector from a total collapse.

A higher education consultant Dr. Omano Edigheji said that investing in youths and education was the way forward for Africa as a continent.

“There is now a recognition in the continent that the greatest asset of Africa are its people and in the context of the youth barge, investing in our youths will be a critical driver of national development, building democratic citizenship, nation building, innovation and of transforming the continent from a continent of consumer to producer,” he stressed.

Other participants also believed and very strongly too, that improving public funding for higher institutions and creating avenue for revenue generation will go a long way to enhance their capacity.

The 2016 Nigeria Higher Education Summit has as its theme “Exploiting Diversity, Differentiation and Quality Assurance in Revitalising the Nigerian Higher Education System.

Buhari Bags Leadership Award, Restates Commitment To Democracy

Muhammadu Buhari, Leadership Award, DemocracyPresident Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday called on the political class to build on the outcome of the 2015 presidential elections to nurture Nigeria’s democratic process.

The President made the call at a ceremony in Abuja, where he received the “Leadership 2015 Man of the Year Award” organised by the Leadership Group.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan and the former Chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, were among other awardees at the event.

President Buhari asked the award winners to remain committed to good behaviour in their endeavours.

He said that this would enable them justify their recognition, which he said should serve as an inspiration to other Nigerians.

The award was as a result of the phone call made by Dr. Jonathan, conceding defeat to President Buhari in the 2015 general elections.

The poll was the first in the history of Nigeria where an incumbent president would be defeated in a keenly contested election.

On his part, former President Abdulsalam Abubakar said it could not have been easy if the major players had resisted the outcome of the poll.

In separate remarks, the Chairman of the Leadership Group, Sam Nda-Isaiah and the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, paid tribute to the major players.

How People Rated INEC’s Conduct Of Edo Governorship Election

INEC Returning Officer declares Godwin Obaseki winner of Edo governorship polls
INEC Returning Officer declares Godwin Obaseki winner of Edo governorship polls

September 28 was a day to look forward to for residents of Edo State, with so much zest by the electorates to choose the successor of Governor Adams Oshiomhole.

He had ruled Edo State for about eight years, securing maximum two tenures as governor.

The election initially scheduled to hold on September 10 was shifted after security agencies advised the electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to shift the election, raising security concerns.

Prior to the postponement, the electoral body had said it would not shift the election, but later accepted the advice of the security agencies.

Inconclusive Election Fears

INEC has conducted several elections after the former Chairman of the Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega, left office after the general elections of 2015. Most of the elections were declared inconclusive.

The major governorship candidates of Bayelsa State Election, Seriake Dickson (Governor) and Timipre Sylva. One of the elections declared inconclusive

The recurrence of inconclusive elections in different states since the new chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, took over, has triggered concerns, with analysts expecting possible inconclusive election in Edo State, having considered the weight that the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Osagie Ize-Iyamu and that of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Godwin Obaseki, pull in the state.

Electorates in Edo State had filed out in their numbers on Wednesday, September 28, to choose their next governor. It was one of its kind, an election holding on a weekday.

Electorates in Nigeria are used to weekend voting, but this Edo Election is peculiar, with so much expected from the electoral body that had been offered an opportunity in the postponement to perfect its strategies to give the people of Edo State a free, fair and credible election.

Voting began early enough, with INEC holding on to its new strategy – simultaneous accreditation and voting.

Voting ended pretty well  and in good time in most polling units and votes were counted at the locations with voters waiting to get the results of the votes before leaving.

Voters-excited-after-vote-counting
Excited voters after counting of results at a polling unit

With the process running smoothly till evening, observers and reporters expected that the collation of results would begin few hours later at the headquarters of the INEC in the state’s capital, Benin City, but that did not happen.

Gradually, their patience waned, some voters could no longer wait, while reporters resorted to watching movies at the headquarters of INEC where they were waiting.

Voters that had become nervous over the delay in return of materials from the local councils began to gather at the headquarters of INEC questioning why there was delay in return of the ballot papers for final collation and result announcement.

INEC-Officein-Benin-preparing-for-collation
Late into the night, no results were brought in

Despites the assurance of an INEC National Commissioner, Solomon Soyebi, that some results were ready, none came in till Thursday morning.

“From tracking we know that some results are ready,” he said, but none came in.

The All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and the PDP raised concerns.

While APGA called for total cancelation of the process, the PDP claimed that the incumbent Governor, Adams Oshiomhole of the APC and INEC planned to rig the election at the collation centre.

While these claims were made, the delay compounded issues, leaving most Nigerians awake through the night.

Patiently they waited for the results which came in on Thursday.

Some minutes after 12 midnight, Channels Television’s political correspondent in Benin City, Seun Okinbaloye, said some vehicles moved into INEC Headquarters blaring siren. “It appears they have some results,” Seun said.

Collation of results began later that morning, leading to the announcement of Godwin Obaseki as the winner of the election.

Mr Obaseki of the APC polled 319,483 votes while the candidate of the PDP, his closest rival, for 253,173 votes.

The result ended expectations that the election could be declared inconclusive, but did not end claims by opposition parties that the result was manipulated.

With the results announced, it was time for Nigerians to react to the process and performance of INEC in the governorship election that sought of ended an inconclusive election jinx.

A poll was initiated by Channels Television on Twitter and over 5,000 Twitter users voted in the poll that began hours after the election result was announced.

The Poll Result

After voting ended, 30 per cent of voters rated INEC EXCELLENT while another 30 per cent rated the electoral body FAIR.

Twenty-six per cent of the voters rated the electoral body POOR while another 14 per cent was INDIFFERENT.

From the ratings, the INEC, which was gradually becoming famous for its consistency in declaring elections inconclusive, has gladdened spectators with its performance in the Edo State election.

Osaro-Onaiwu-APGA-Governorship-Candidate-in-Edo-elction
Osaro Onaiwu, the candidate of APGA claimed the process was flawed

The election has come and gone, but some political parties that participated in the process have continued to express their displeasure with the process.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party, which the APC has described as a ‘bad loser‘ is ready to go to the Tribunal to contest the result of the governorship election.

Expressing their displeasure with the process some residents and supporters of the PDP had held protests after the result was declared, claiming that there were irregularities that flawed the process.

War of words have continued over the election process, but this is not new to Nigerians’ as Nigeria’s elections are usually characterised by post-election Tribunal cases, a ‘deja-vu’ that may follow the governorship election of Edo State that was largely adjudged peaceful by observers.

FG Withdraws Two-Count Charge Against Orubebe

OrubebeThe Federal Government of Nigeria has filed a fresh one count charge of non-declaration of assets against the former Minister of Niger Delta, Mr Godsdey Orubebe.

The Director of Public Prosecution, Mr Mohammed Diri, withdrew the two-count charge of non-declaration of assets and bribe for contracts to the tune of 70 million Naira.

Mr Diri gave no reason for the withdrawal of the initial charge.

However, with no objection to the new charge by counsel to Mr Orubebe, the Tribunal allowed the switch and struck out the initial charge filed against him on October 8, 2015.

The former minister entered a not-guilty plea when the charge was read to him.

The trial has now been fixed for April 4, 2016.

Mr Orubebe was arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on four counts of false assets declaration and bribery.

Mr Orubebe was charged by the Code of Conduct Bureau for alleged failure to declare landed property in Kyamu and Asokoro district, both in Abuja, on assumption of office as minister on September 26, 2007.

In the other counts, Mr Orubebe is also facing charges of allegedly accepting bribes totalling 70 million Naira from one Pastor Jonathan Alota for the award of contracts in favour of his company.

The name, Orubebe, became well known in Nigeria after he attempted to stop the 2015 election collation, accusing the electoral body and its boss at that time, Professor Attahiru Jega, of being bias.

Appeal Court Nullifies Uche Ekwunife’s Election As Senator

Uche_EkwunifeThe Court of Appeal in Enugu has nullified the election of Uche Ekwunife, as the Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial District.

The court has consequently ordered a fresh election within 90 days.

Anambra Central Senatorial district is regarded as one of the most keenly contested in the country having a former Governor Chris Ngige, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Umeh and of course Mrs Ekwunife.

The appeal was filed by Mr Umeh of APGA.

Delivering the judgment, Justice Datijo Yahaya said that the election of Mrs Ekwunife on March 28, 2015, did not meet the prescription of the Electoral Act.

Reacting to the judgment, Mrs Ekwunife said  she had accepted the court’s decision and was ready for the fresh election.

Mrs Ekwunife before the nullification of her election was the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Oil and Gas Downstream.

Police Ban Protests, Rallies In Bayelsa State

Nigeria_Police_Armoured_Personnel_CarrierPolice have placed a ban on all forms of procession, rallies or demonstrations in Bayelsa State, as the result of the governorship election concluded on Sunday is being awaited. 

The State Police Command said the decision was taken after information at its disposal revealed that some disgruntled persons in the state were planning to carry out illegal demonstrations, processions and rallies.

Existing Peaceful Atmosphere

In a statement by a spokesperson for the Police in Bayelsa State, Mr Hashimu Argungu, the Police said rallies, protests and demonstrations of any kind would jeopadize the ongoing electoral process.

The command warned the intending perpetrators to desist from such acts, saying it will deal decisively with any person or group of persons who may engage in any conduct that will compromise the existing peaceful atmosphere.

It further advised the public to go about their normal businesses, as security agencies were poised to guarantee the safety of lives and property.

Collation of results is still ongoing in the Saturday election that was extended by the electoral body to Sunday to enable it hold elections in Ijaw South.

 

S/Arabia Stampede: CJN Confirms Death Of Two Justices

S/Arabia Stampede: CJN Confirms Death Of Two JusticesThe Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has confirmed the death of two Court of Appeal justices among those who died during the deadly stampede at Mina, Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

A statement issued by the CJN gave the names of the deceased as Justice Abdulkadir Jega, who is the brother of the past INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega; and Justice Musa Hassan Alkali of the Ilorin Division.

Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary, Gombe State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mr Usman Arabia, says that some pilgrims have not been located since Thursday.

He added that members of the medical team had been checking hospitals and mortuaries with a view to locating them or their remains.

However, Mr Arabia noted that for now, it is yet to be confirmed whether they were among those who died as a result of Thursday’s incident at the stone throwing venue, where over 700 pilgrims died.

Jega Ends Tenure As INEC Chairman, Hands Over To Wali

Jega Resigns As INEC Chairman, Hands Over To WaliProfessor Attahiru Jega’s tenure as the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has come to an end.

The former INEC boss, who took over from Professor Maurice Iwu, assumed office on June 8, 2010 during the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

Professor Jega officially handed over leadership to the commission’s National Commissioner, Ambassador Mohammad Wali, on Tuesday.

Under his tenure, the electoral body conducted the election that brought former President Goodluck Jonathan in and the March and April 2015 general elections that brought President Muhammadu Buhari in.

During his tenure, the INEC made remarkable input in the growth of Nigeria’s democracy, as both the general elections of 2011 and 2015 were adjudged credible by observers.

He will be remembered for his introduction of the Permanent Voters Card and the use of card readers for accreditation of voters during the last elections.

Not much has been heard about the Chairman of INEC since the successful conduct of the general elections two months ago.

At a forum organised by university Vice Chancellors last week, Professor Jega, spoke on his next move after his tenure.

He also told journalists what informed the choice of Professors as returning officers during elections.

“We know that anybody who has risen in the system and developed a career and became a Vice Chancellor will not for anything damage his or her reputation by pandering to the wishes of politicians. That is why we decided to make them returning officers and we are very pleased that they have done this country proud.

“I am looking forward to taking a leave and resting and then going back to my job in the university -Teaching, research and community service,” Professor Jega stated.

His successor, Ambassador Wali hails from Sanyima town in Tambuwal Local Government Area of Sokoto State, north-west Nigeria.

Before his appointment as INEC National Commissioner, Ambassador Wali was an Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto and Chief Executive Officer, Development Strategies International (DSI).

He is a member of various committees of INEC and the Chairman of the Tenders Board.

However, he would be acting as the INEC Chairman till the end of his tenure in August 11, 2015.

University Heads Urge Government To Seek Alternative Funding

Joseph Ajienka Univeristy of Port Harcourt VC
Professor Joseph Ajienka want the University system repositioned

Vice Chancellors of universities in Nigeria have urged the government to explore more result-oriented means of the funding the education system.

The university heads’ suggestion is hinged on the need to reposition Nigeria’s universities to compete with their counterparts in the developed world.

At a forum in Abuja on Saturday, held in honour of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, the Vice Chancellors stressed that improvement of the standard of education in Nigeria had become more urgent than ever.

They emphasised that funding appeared to be standing in the way of achieving the needed growth in the sector.

Needs Assessment Policy

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Professor Joseph Ajienka, stressed the need for the repositioning of Nigeria’s educational system for sustainable development.

“The way the global economy is, it is very clear that government alone may not be able to sustain the educational system.

“We will like to encourage the government to network with all stakeholders to see how we can sustain education,” he said.

The Vice Chancellor of the university of Lagos, Professor Rahamon Bello, urged the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to sustain the Needs Assessment Policy aimed at revamping the university education in Nigeria which was established by the administration of Goodluck Jonathan.

“We want to plead with this government to be able to keep faith with that so as to stem the kind of incessancy of strikes and problems that befall universities when agreements are not kept,” Professor Bello stressed.

Not much has been heard about the Chairman of INEC since the successful conduct of the general elections two months ago.

At the forum, Professor Jega, spoke on his next move as his tenure ends in a few days’ time.

He told journalists what informed the choice of Professors as returning officers during the polls.

“We know that anybody who has risen in the system and developed a career and became a Vice Chancellor will not for anything damage his or her reputation by pandering to the wishes of politicians. That is why we decided to make them returning officers and we are very pleased that they have done this country proud.

“I am looking forward to taking a leave and resting and then going back to my job in the university -Teaching, research and community service,” Professor Jega stated.

INEC Declares Ikpeazu Winner Of Abia Governorship Election

Okezie Ikpeazu wins Abia governorship elctionThe Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Okezie Ikpeazu, the winner of the Abia State governorship election.

Mr Ikpeazu polled 264,713 to defeat the candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, Alex Otti, who polled 180,882 votes.

The result was declared in the early hours of Sunday after the supplementary election of Saturday.

Election was held in all the areas earlier listed by INEC for the re-run election except in Umunneochi Local Government Area.

INEC had erroneously scheduled election there, which was not supposed to take place in the first instance because the Form, EC40G, was not filled which indicated that there was no problem in the area.

Abia State is one of the state where supplementary governorship election was held on Saturday after election of April 11 was declared inconclusive by INEC.

Other States are Imo and Taraba State.

The incumbent Governor of Imo State has been declared the winner of the elections while the result of Taraba state election is being awaited.

Supplementary House of Assembly election was also held in some other states in areas where elections had been declared inconclusive. The elections were adjudged peaceful.

Okorocha Wins Imo State Governorship Election

Governor Rochas OkorochaThe incumbent Governor of Imo State and the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Mr Rochas Okorocha, has been declared the winner of the Imo State Governorship election, securing a second term in office.

Governor Okorocha was declared the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) after the supplementary election of Saturday.

The re-run was between Governor Okorocha and Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Governor Okorocha polled 416,996 votes while Mr Ihedioha got 320,705 votes.

After the election was declared inconclusive on April 12 by INEC, the incumbent Governor expressed optimism that he would come out victorious in the election.