Sunrise: INEC Defends Creation Of New Polling Units

Polling UnitsThe Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Kayode Idowu, has further explained the rationale behind the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to set up new polling units across the country, ahead of the 2015 general elections.

He was on Channels Television’s Saturday breakfast programme, Sunrise.

He expressed confidence that going by the elections in Ekiti and Osun states, INEC has been able to develop a logistic system that works. Therefore, the number of polling units would not matter but the system that has been put in place.

He explained that the commission had realised the need to redistribute voters based on the population statistics available to it.

Legal Practitioner, Barrister Ken Odidika, who was also part of the conversation, however, was of the view that such a decision by the commission was unnecessary. He stated that “more energy, resources and creativity” should have been put into voters’ awareness and acquisition of Permanent Voter’s Cards instead of creating new polling units.

He explained that five months to the election, it would be more productive to ensure that registered voters are not disenfranchised, rather than seeking to create more polling units, as planned by INEC.

The third guest on the segment, a Public Affairs Analyst, Sola Ojewusi, agreed with Odidika on the issue of maintaining the structure and doing more in sensitization.

Although, he noted that INEC deserves to be commended, having performed well, he said that the decision by INEC was beginning to create a feeling of distrust among the electorates.

“Some people are already thinking maybe there’s an agenda,” he said.INEC-Odidika

Idowu refereed to these comments as products of misunderstanding.

He said that INEC discovered that some polling units had very large population of voters while some have extremely low numbers and they set out to create a balance. He noted that it was unfortunate that people easily read conspiracy theories to issues like INEC’s.

He explained that INEC’s decision has been in line with the recommendations of the law. He also provided the procedures that should be followed for relocating registered voters, which only required writing to the Resident Electoral Commissioner of the new state to provide the details of the old and new residence.

Odidika and Ojewusi both highlighted the issues like educating many Nigerian voters who have relocated from where they had registered as one of  those INEC should be focusing on, rather than on the creation of new polling units.

They insisted that the INEC decision has created imbalance between the different regions of Nigeria and also creates avenues for politicians to return votes that do not exist.

They urged the electoral commission not to create unnecessary controversy ahead of the all important 2015 general election, as this might not be good for the country.

“This is a very fundamental policy decision, I think INEC should give this thing enough time for it to sink into people,” Ojewusi said, adding that there are alternatives to explore.

Idowu, however, insisted that INEC meant well and was making its decision in line with the law and in the interest of the country. He stated that the commission was not creating new voters, rather it was creating more spaces for already registered voters.

He gave assurances that INEC was sure that its plan would work.

“Don’t bother your head, you’re not going to be thrown to Agege, its not going to happen. You’re still going to be in the same neighbourhood. Nothing changes as far as we are concerned this is purely an administrative convenience for INEC.”

The INEC man also provided answers to series of questions from Channels Television viewers who were contributing via social media. They raised issues about voter’s registration, Permanent Voter’s Card distribution, voters’ relocation and many more.

Insecurity Not Jonathan’s Problem, Its A National Problem – Analyst

OjewusiA Public Affairs Analyst, Sola Ojewusi, believes that the most important solution to the state of insecurity in Nigeria is for Nigerians to unite.

Mr Ojewusi was speaking on the Thursday edition of Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, where conversations centered on ‘Finding the Chibok Girls’.

While acknowledging that it was expected that the pains of attacks by insurgents would make citizens point accusing fingers in different directions, especially at the Presidency for the time it has taken to solve the problem, he advised that this was not the best approach.

“Our approach is to look at how everybody can bring hands together to solve the problem of security.

“It is now clear that it is not just Jonathan’s problem, it’s a national problem. It is not PDP, it is not APC, it is everybody’s problem. That is the essence, the essence of unity”, he said.

Making reference to the Wednesday twin bomb attack in Kaduna, he noted that “everything boils down to one particular enemy and that enemy is the enemy of the nation of Nigeria” adding that Nigerians need to go beyond “abusing the owner of the house, leaving the thief”.

Although Mr Ojewusi admitted that the responsibility for Nigeria’s security was on the President and citizens were justified demanding same of him, he explained that “security is not a one man thing”.

“Even if you have a guard in the house, there is a street before the thief gets to the house, perhaps there’s a gate to that street, there are a lot of people surrounding. Sometimes when armed robbers and thieves come to a community, they tend to do surveillance”, he explained.

Speaking about the continued abduction of schoolgirls from the Chibok community in Borno State, Mr Ojewusi wondered what had been done from the wards where the locals are from, considering the view that some of the terrorists also have their backgrounds in the communities.

He stated that rather than seek solution “from the top”, there was need to ask; “what are the people from the environment doing”.

Many observers have criticized President Jonathan for taking too long before meeting with the parents of the missing Chibok girls but Ojewusi also defended the President. He explained that there must have been some level of intelligence gathering which the Presidency would have access to and which would negate the idea of visiting Chibok.

He warned that while Nigerians express emotions, they should not lose sight of the importance of security as regards bringing the girls back alive. He maintained that the Government and security agencies could not afford to make their moves public.

He added that the unconventional nature of the war on terror required patience from all citizens.

Mr Ojewusi also threw his weight behind the President’s request for the approval of a loan to upgrade security in the country. According to him, this was a necessary move as there was need for not just the purchase of military equipment but also major upgrades in intelligence and border security.

He, however, warned that the proper management of the funds remained an important factor the President must ensure.

Analyst Blames Federal And State Governments Over Missing Chibok Girls

vlcsnap-2014-05-05-14h44m09s235A public affairs analyst, Mr Sola Ojewusi, has blamed the federal and state governments over the kidnap of over two hundred school girls in Chibok, Borno State.

Speaking as a guest on Sunrise Daily, Channels Television’s breakfast programme on Monday, Ojewusi blamed the lack of synergy between the governments and the West African Examination Council (WAEC).

Reacting to a comment credited to the Head of WAEC’s National Office in Nigeria, Charles Eguridu, Ojewusi said “there seems to be a disconnect right from all forces that should have given the security needed to this kind of people involved.

“There is kind of a slow approach from the state and federal governments and from all the people that should have acted”.

He called for an investigation into the allegation made by Eguridu that the WAEC had recommended the relocation of the students from Chibok to Uba Local Government Area in Borno state.

He urged the federal government to create a better way of communication with the state governor and vice versa because “the president is in Abuja” and those on ground “may have more information than the presidency” noting that “you don’t expect the president to be everywhere”. He however was quick to add that the “buck stops at his desk”.

“But you have to help the president to do the things that you have asked him to do” he said.

He further noted that the Boko Haram issue is a Nigerian problem and not a regional problem citing the concerns the federal government had when the Niger Delta militants were attacking oil installations and kidnapping expatriates working for oil and construction companies.

He called on northern elders to call the radical Islamist sect to order the way “leaders in the south west went to meet this people (Odua People’s Congress) and told them we know you are trying to do something to be able to be a voice for the people of the South West but there are certain actions you are taking that is going to affect the interest of not only the south west but Nigeria” .

Okupe Examines What Boko Haram Wants, Promises Victory

Sunrise Okupe BHThe Senior Special Assistant to the Nigerian President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe has admitted that the growth of terrorism in Nigeria may indeed be connected to the poor socioeconomic conditions in the country.

Dr. Okupe was the guest of Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise, where he was joined by Journalist, Sola Ojewusi, and a Legal Practitioner, John Oloyede to examine ‘What Boko Haram Wants’.

The group – whose official Arabic name translates as “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad” – says it is fighting to overthrow Nigeria’s Government and establish an Islamic state.

Dubbed Boko Haram or “western education is sinful” by locals for its rejection of European values, the sect was founded in the early 2000s by cleric, Mohammed Yusuf, and gained a steady following in the northern city of Maiduguri, preaching against secular values in a nation which is split between large Muslim and Christian populations.

Okupe, tracing the strength of the group back to the founding strategies of its leader, noted that the late cleric gained the loyalty of many youths because he was assisting them to solve issues bordering on their economic challenges, while teaching them his beliefs.

“In his method of recruitment, he stood in the gap, giving social services and helping young people.

“A young man whose parents are not wealthy and has gotten to the age of getting married and he hasn’t got the means to pay dowry and somebody helps him; that man becomes his mentor. So, poor economic conditions may have some measure of role to play in the festering of this phenomenon”, he said.

The provision of economic and social support by Boko Haram – which included providing meals and economic schemes, a youth empowerment programme, support for trading, as well as helping to arrange cheap marriages between sect members – has led some to ascribe the group’s growth to a failure of governance in Nigeria.

Mr. Ojewusi, however, noted that it would be too simplistic to attribute the growth of the sect to bad governance, as the issue of Boko Haram started way before the present administration, and looking at the history of terrorism, it was not new in Nigeria.

“What we are having is an offshoot of what has been from the beginning”, he noted.

While also admitting that Government indeed has a role to play, he explained that examining Boko Haram as an entity should not be done in isolation as it was not peculiar to Nigeria, being an international body. “You have to look at it from countries like Niger, Northern Cameroon, and Chad.

He stated that the escalation of the group in Nigeria showed that there was more than meet the eye and those underlying factors should be what Nigerians need to focus on, if they would find a solution to the menace.

The Legal Practitioner, John Oloyede, admitted generously.

“You cannot tell me that because America has had to contend with terrorism in Iraq is simply because the American Government does not know how to handle terrorism. Even the terrorists took the war to America and they had their way”, he said.

On the view that America differed from Nigeria in the sense that it was not dealing with home-grown terrorists owing to its higher economic standards, Oloyede disagreed, claiming that the situation in Nigeria was also not totally home-grown.

He argued further, “America has gone through the same situation we have now. You can take from history the case of Cuban refugees – those who were sympathetic towards the Cuban cause then. America was on fire, the Cubans were bombing all the places, the Government didn’t know what to do, it took like 10-15 years before they could nip that problem in the bud.”

Referring to an earlier statement by Dr Okupe that poor and unemployed people had become easy prey for the sect’s recruitment strategies, using the maxim “Devil finds work for an idle hand”, Mr Oloyede said: “Poor people cannot afford AK47; they can’t buy these arms and ammunition – anti aircraft guns – that we see, so they are not poor people, we need to clear that from our conscience, because Nigerians we are turning against one another – APC accusing PDP, PDP accusing APC.

“When Al-Qaeda struck America, the American people came together. These elements are using psychology, and we are doing exactly what they want us to do out of fear. We are blaming each other instead of us to see them as a common enemy and face them as such.

“We are blaming our military men that they are not doing the job, they are ill equipped, No. I don’t think President Jonathan or General Buhari is happy with what is happening; they just can’t do anything about it.”

The response and sensitivity of the Federal Government then came to the fore as Dr Okupe defended the President, stating that the case of America’s 9-11 attack should not be compared to Nigeria’s.

“For every attack that becomes visible and devastating, eight or nine have been stopped; but you know when an attack is foiled Government does not come to the air to talk about it.

Okupe, speaking on the demands of the sect, noted that their demands were clear on wanting full implementation of Sharia laws; he added that they also demanded that the Holy Quran becomes the guiding principles of the country amongst other requests which he said could be negotiated if the insurgents were truly representing Islam.

“Today we’ve got infiltration by actual crass criminals who are not really totally Nigerians complicated by political activists who also demand some other things. So it has become an appearance of incongruous gathering of people you cannot easily discern.”

He, however, stated that even as the country is at war with the Boko Haram sect, the Federal Government was working relentlessly to win the war but Nigerians need to understand that the war has been made difficult by the nations peculiar population and topography.