The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared Mr Emmanuel Aguariavwodo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), winner of the October 12, Delta Central Senatorial District bye-election.
The Returning Officer, Prof. John Arubayi, announced yesterday in Ughelli, Delta State, that Aguariavwodo polled 263,024 votes to defeat eight other candidates.
Arubayi said Mr Otega Emerhor of the All Progressives Congress (APC) scored 29,075 votes to emerge second, while Mr Ede Dafinone of the Democratic Peoples’ Party (DPP) followed with 29,055 votes.
According to the declared result, PDP won in all the eight local government areas in the senatorial district, though the opposition parties claimed there were malpractices.
But the INEC official described the conduct of the by-election as free and transparent and urged all the political parties that took part in the exercise to accept the result in good faith.
He commended the political parties and their agents for the peaceful conduct of the election.
Voting started late in many of the voting centres, following the late arrival of electoral and voting materials at the polling units and the voting period was extended for hours as a result.
Earlier, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Delta State, Mrs Gesila Khan, had described the election as peaceful in spite of some initial challenges.
She said “normally, voting ought to have started at 12.30 p.m., but because of the initial hiccups, it was not so. However, it ended peacefully at the end of the day.’’
The resident electoral commissioner said the initial challenges encountered were a normal occurrence.
“There can never be 100 per cent perfection in any election conduct anywhere in the world,’’ she added.
The Commissioner of Police in Delta State, Mr Ikechukwu Aduba, said the bye-election was peaceful because his men were at all the voting centres to maintain law and order.
Aduba had earlier warned against violence during the poll, threatening to deal with any person found disrupting the election.
He had also warned policemen in the state to steer clear politicians and government officials during the exercise, saying that any violation of the order would be severely punished.
The bye-election followed the death of Sen. Pius Eweridoh of DPP on June 30, 2013.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Peoples’ Party (DPP) has reacted to the October 12 Delta Central Senatorial District bye-election won by the PDP, alleging that it was rigged.
In a statement issued by the DPP Chairman in Delta State, Chief Tony Ezeagwu, the party alleged that the election was a sham and disassociated itself from the election.
It also alleged that “the scale of impunity and violence by PDP thugs, cultists and security agents is just unimaginable.
“There was no election and we know the conflagration that could follow if we do not stop our people early enough from going to collation centres to witness the results collation.’’
The party, however, urged its members and supporters to remain peaceful.
In his reaction, the PDP Publicity Secretary in Delta State, Mr Macaulay Deighan, said the party’s victory was well-deserved and the alleged rigging was false.
Deighan said that the electorate voted for the party’s candidate, Emmanuel Aguariavwodo, because they believed in him, adding that the party worked hard to secure the victory.
He described the election as peaceful, saying security agencies were on ground to maintain peace and order.
He added that “it is not a surprise that we won the election because we campaigned seriously to regain the seat.
“The allegation about rigging is baseless because it was a one-man-one-vote affair, which everybody witnessed. PDP is the majority party in the state.’’
On his part, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Chairman in the Delta State, Mr Ogueshi Eboka, said PDP won the election and the exercise was peaceful.
“We participated and we tried our best but could not win. Definitely, I knew that PDP would win,” he said.
However, the All Progressives Congress (APC) alleged that the bye-election was marred by electoral malpractice “and widespread violence perpetrated by security agents and thugs.’’
The party made the allegation in a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
The APC alleged that there was no voting at all in most of the eight local government areas and the 85 wards in the district.
It also alleged that “the PDP used armed security agents to chase away voters in opposition strongholds.’’
Lawmakers Want CBN To Halt Naira Devaluation
The House of Representatives has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to urgently put in place a policy to check further devaluation of the naira to the United States dollar and other international legal tenders.
The House decried that while the Nigerian currency was losing value, others in Africa were appreciating.
At the plenary on Wednesday, the House unanimously adopted a motion moved by the Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Pensions, Mr Bamidele Salam, which warned the CBN of the implications of further devaluing the naira.
The motion was titled, ‘Matter of urgent public importance on the need for the Central Bank of Nigeria to urgently put in place monetary policies to stop the free fall of the naira against the dollar and other international legal tenders’.
Salam recalled that the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, while addressing the Bankers’ Committee at a summit on the economy in Lagos earlier in February, informed the committee about the naira devaluation against the dollar.
The lawmaker also quoted Emefiele as saying at the summit that the official exchange rate stood at N410 to the dollar.
“That is 7.6 per cent weaker than the rate of N379 published on the central bank’s website,” Salam noted.
According to the lawmaker, while the value of the naira relative to the dollar had declined by nine per cent in the last six months, the South African rand and Ghanaian cedi had appreciated by 11.4 per cent and one per cent, respectively.
Salam also recalled that the CBN adopted multiple exchange rates in 2020, in a bid to avoid an outright devaluation.
He noted that the official rate used as a basis for budget preparation and other official transactions differed from a closely controlled exchange rate for investors and exporters known as the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Rate Fixing Methodology.
He stressed that the naira had traded in a tight range between N400 and N410, while the NAFEX rate was different from the parallel market, considered illegal by the CBN, where the naira closed at 502.
Salam said, “The House is concerned that devaluation is likely to cause inflation because imports will be more expensive any imported goods or raw material will increase in price; aggregate demand increases, causing demand-pull inflation. Firms/exporters have less incentive to cut costs because they can rely on the devaluation to improve competitiveness.
”The concern is that the long-term devaluation may lead to lower productivity because of the decline in incentives.
”The House is further concerned that devaluation of the naira makes it more difficult for Nigerian youths especially in the IT sector, whose businesses are online and must necessarily transact businesses in the US dollars.
“It also reduces real wages. In a period of low wage growth, a devaluation that causes rising import prices will make consumers feel worse off “.
Four West African Countries To Buy Nigeria’s Unutilised Electricity
Four West African countries, Niger, Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso, are collaborating to buy the unutilised power produced in Nigeria.
The Chairman of the Executive Board of the West African Power Pool (WAPP), Sule Abdulaziz, disclosed this at the WAPP meeting on the North core project in Abuja, on Wednesday.
Abdulaziz, who is also the acting Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), said the four countries were collaborating to make the power purchase from Nigeria through the North core Power Transmission Line currently being built.
He explained, “The power we will be selling is the power that is not needed in Nigeria.
“The electricity generators that are going to supply power to this transmission line are going to generate that power specifically for this project. So, it is unutilised power”.
He said Nigeria was expecting new generators to participate in the energy export for the 875km 330KV Northcore transmission line from Nigeria through Niger, Togo, Benin to Burkina Faso.
Abdulaziz said, “In addition, there are some communities that are under the line route, about 611 of them, which will be getting power so that there won’t be just a transmission line passing without impact”.
The WAPP chairman noted that the project, funded by World Bank, French Development Council and the African Development Bank, had recorded progress, adding that the energy ministers would be addressing security issues for the project at another meeting in Abuja.
He said, “Nigeria has the greatest advantage among these countries because the electricity is going to be exported from Nigerian Gencos (generation companies).
“So, from that, the revenue is going to be enhanced and a lot of people will be employed in Nigeria”.
The Secretary-General, WAPP, Siengui Appolinaire-Ki, said the cost of the project was about $570 million, adding that part of the investment in each country would be funded by that particular nation.
According to him, the countries in the partnership, including Nigeria, are also being supported by donors.
He said the funding agreement was ready as partner countries were awaiting the disbursements.
Appolinaire-Ki, however, said the donor agencies had said they needed a Power Purchase Agreement between the buying and the selling countries to be executed before releasing the fund.
Reps Probe N275bn Agric Loans Under Yar’Adua, Jonathan, Buhari
The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate the disbursement of loans and credit facilities by the Federal Government in the agriculture sector since 2009.
The period under review covers the administrations of the late Umaru Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan as well as the present President, Muhammadu Buhari.
The resolution was sequel to the unanimous adoption of a motion moved by Hon. Chike Okafor at the plenary last Wednesday, titled ‘Need to investigate disbursements of all agricultural loans/credit facilities to farmers from 2009 to date to enhance national food security’.
Okafor said, from 2009 to date, the Federal Government had approved the disbursement of funds to farmers in various schemes to the tune of over N275billion, ranging from Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme to the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, to help farmers improve agricultural production and guarantee food security in Nigeria.
The lawmaker also noted that apart from increasing food supply, the schemes were to grant agricultural loans to large and small-scale commercial farmers to lower the prices of agricultural produce, generate employment and increase foreign exchange earnings.
He said, “The House is aware that since the approval, most farmers have not been able to access the loans due to stringent requirements being demanded by banks from prospective borrowers and the alleged siphoning of over N105billion meant for farmers by management of NIRSAL.
“The House is concerned that food production has not attained the expected level, despite the approval of over N275billion facilities to farmers.
“The House is worried that the projected diversification of the economy from oil production to agricultural production and increase in agricultural output, food supply and promoting low food inflation will not be achieved if farmers are unable to access loans meant to increase agricultural production”.
Adopting the motion, the House resolved to mandate the Committee on Banking and Currency to “investigate disbursements and compliance of all agricultural loans/credit facilities to farmers from 2009 to date to enhance national food security in the country”.
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