The Independent Na
tional Electoral Commission (INEC) and other relevant organisations are not leaving any stone unturned in the quest to boost voter education ahead of the 2015 polls.
To this end, a National Inter-agency Advisory Committee on Voter Education and Publicity (NICVEP), has been set up to beef-up voter education campaign.
According to a recent statement signed by Mr Oluwole Osaze-Uzi, INEC’s Director of Voter Education and Publicity, the members are drawn from 15 organisations.
The organisations are: INEC, National Orientation Agency (NOA), News Agency of Nigeria, Nigerian Television Authority, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Nigerian Guild of Editors, Nigeria Labour Congress, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Federal Ministry of Information, among others.
Osaze-Uzi said that the committee to be headed by the National Commissioner in Charge of INEC Information and Publicity Committee would ensure effective dissemination of information and enlightenment of the electorate for credible elections in 2015.
In order to keep the electorate informed about its activities, INEC recently brought to public domain, timetable for the distribution of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and Continuous Voter Registration.
The first phase of the distribution of the PVCs and Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) which started in 10 selected states in May, would be carried out throughout the country in phases.
The states covered under the first phase were: Taraba, Gombe Zamfara, Kebbi, Benue, Kogi, Abia, Enugu, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa
The second phase of the exercise which covers 11 states and the FCT commences from Friday, July 18 to Sunday, July 27.
The states are: Yobe, Bauchi, Jigawa, Sokoto, FCT, Kwara , Anambra, Ebonyi , Ondo, Oyo, Delta and Cross River
The third phase which commences on Friday, Aug.22 and ends on Sunday, Aug. 31 covers Adamawa, Borno, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Plateau, Nasarawa, Niger, Imo, Lagos, Ogun, Edo and Rivers
Mr Kayode Idowu, Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, in a statement urged voters to cross-check their names in the displayed voter register.
He also advised those who registered before but did not see their names in the displayed voter register to re-register during the continuous voter registration.
According to Idowu, those who may change location are expected to write to the Resident Electoral Commissioner in their new states of domicile, “well before the election, as no transfer will be approved less than 30 days to the election’’.
For those who lost their cards or whose cards were damaged, he said they should apply for replacement in writing, addressed to the Resident Electoral Commissioner through the INEC Electoral Officer of the Local Government Area where they registered.
INEC is also not relenting in sensitising voters in Ekiti and Osun, ahead of the June 21 and Aug. 9 governorship elections respectively.
Prof. Lai Olurode, INEC National Commissioner in-charge of South West, advised politicians to accept the outcome of the governorship elections in Osun and Ekiti, whichever way the results tilt.
“Politicians must have a positive mindset that they want to go into elections; they must have the spirit of sportsmanship and not the spirit of winning at all cost because what they want to do is for the good of their state.’’
According to him, INEC has been doing a lot on voter education to restrain people from resorting to violence.
The INEC commissioner advised that election campaign should be issue-based and not about personalities, adding that if this was done, violence would be avoided.
The commissioner also stressed need for people not to misplace their voter cards.
He warned against voters selling their cards, adding that quality leaders would only emerge through transparent voting.
Olurode urged security agencies to be alert to their responsibilities, adding that INEC alone cannot secure an electoral process.
“We need the cooperation of every security agent to deliver a credible free and transparent election.
“Security operators must not give in to any compromise under any circumstances; they must be the agent of the rule of law and not the agent of powerful politicians who are not interested in any free election,’’ he said.
Mr Solomon Akaya, National Coordinator, Men and Women of Action Campaign Team, a non-governmental organisation, appealed to NOA and other stakeholders to upscale sensitisation, ahead of the 2015 general elections.
He said that the 2015 elections were crucial to Nigeria’s unity, progress and socio-economic development.
Akaya said that mass participation of eligible voters in the elections would enhance the credibility of the 2015 polls.
“The National Orientation Agency and other government agencies responsible for voter education should begin to sensitise Nigerians on why they should participate in the 2015 elections.
“Mass participation through voting during the elections will be a good indication of how democracy has deepened in Nigeria,’’ he said.
“Elected officials on the platform of a party who decamp to another party while in office are shortchanging the electorate who voted them into office,’’ he said.
On his part, Mr Mike Omeri, the Director-General of NOA, said the agency would partner with INEC to ensure free and fair elections in 2015.
He said that NOA would continue to work with INEC in the area of voter education, adding that their partnership would extend beyond election period.
Analysts want INEC to provide the necessary tools to the National Inter-agency Advisory Committee on Voter Education and Publicity, to enable it perform.
The selected bodies are tested in public enlightenment and will deliver if given the desired backing.
Chijioke Writes from News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
APC, PDP Bandy Words Over Buhari’s Fresh Loan Request
The ruling All Progressives Party (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have argued over President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for approval to borrow $4 billion and €710 million to fund the deficit in the 2021 budget.
Recall that the president made the request in a letter he addressed to the National Assembly on Tuesday.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in reaction to the development, cautioned the NASS against approving the request, saying it could set the country’s debt profile skyrocketing without a feasible repayment plan.
With the approval to borrow $8.3 billion and €490 million loans by its legislative body barely two months ago, Nigeria’s debt profile risks reaching over N40 trillion.
“More alarming is that the debts that APC is hanging on Nigerians are for nebulous projects whose scopes, utilities, locations and contractors are largely vague; a development that validates apprehensions of a huge swindle on our nation at the expense of innocent Nigerians, including generation yet unborn.
“Our party holds it as an act of wickedness that individuals who know that they will be leaving office in less than two years will be accumulating debts instead of seeking ways to reduce the liability they have brought upon our nation.
“The APC knows it will not be around after May 29, 2023. That is why it is pushing our nation into a deeper economic quagmire with foreign loans, which are largely diverted to the personal pockets of their corrupt leaders,” the opposition PDP said in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Tuesday.
But responding to the PDP’s criticism, the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Wednesday, said the loans are for “the good of the country” and well-being of the citizenry.
The ruling party also accused the opposition party of looting foreign loans obtained during its 16 years rule rather than spending on infrastructure and economic growth as, according to it, Mr Buhari-led government is doing.
“It was in PDP’s era that loans to fund power generation, purchase arms and ammunition to fight a raging insurgency were misappropriated and diverted to fund PDP activities; and the borrowed money ultimately found its way to the pockets of cronies, friends and family members of administration officials. Nigeria is still servicing a $460 million loan taken from China to fund a phoney Abuja Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) contract awarded in August 2010.
“Nigerians should also reflect and recall that the PDP had in its 16 years of misrule pushed the country into a dark ditch of insolvency, and a period in which most state governments could not pay workers salaries, not even the minimum wage, or settle contractors’ bills and cater for patients in hospitals, to name a few,” the APC interim National Secretary, John Akpanudoedehe, said.
A’Ibom Gov Signs Anti-Open Grazing Law
Akwa lbom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, has signed into law a bill to prohibit open rearing and grazing of livestock and provide for the establishment of ranches in the state.
The Speaker, Aniekan Bassey, with the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Uko Udom (SAN), presented the bill for signing on Wednesday at the State Executive Chambers, in the Governor’s Office, Uyo.
The governor, after signing the bill into law, stated that the new law was no respecter of persons irrespective of status or calibre.
He instructed relevant authorities of government to ensure that the law was implemented and enforced to the letter with strict compliance, stressing that, culprits must be brought to book accordingly.
The new law will promote modern techniques in animal husbandry, prevent the destruction of farms by wandering cattle while reducing clashes and killings between herders and farmers in the state.
It will also promote international best practices in livestock administration, regulation and control in the state, among other things.
The state Assembly passed the bill on Tuesday, and the Speaker, Aniekan Bassey, directed the Clerk of the House, Mrs Mandu Umoren, to communicate the decision of the House to the Governor for his assent.
Also at the Executive Chambers, the Speaker who was accompanied by the Leader of the House, Udo Kierian Akpan, and the Clerk of the Assembly, Mrs Mandu Umoren, to the signing ceremony witnessed the inauguration of two C\committees by the Governor.
The committees are the Akwa Ibom State Gender Based Violence Management Committee, chaired by the First Lady, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel, and Akwa Ibom State Road Safety Management Committee, chaired by the Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo.
NASS S’East Caucus Moves To Reconstruct Federal System
Members of the South East Caucus of the National Assembly have resolved to join hands with other patriotic Nigerians across regional, religious, political, and ethnic divides to reconstruct a federal system where the rights, happiness, and prosperity and those of unborn generations are guaranteed.
Making their feelings known in a communique issued at the end of an extraordinary meeting held at the Apo Legislative Quarters, Abuja last Wednesday, the law makers said the topic of the meeting centered on review of developments in the South East, particularly the security situation in the region vis-à-vis the sit-at-home orders by members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB) and the detention of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“We expressed solidarity with our people of the South East over the marginalisation of the region in the scheme of things within the Nigerian commonwealth. The Caucus feels the pains of our people and their quest for equity, justice, and protection of their lives and property in every part of the country. The Caucus, therefore, resolved to continue to fight for a level-playing ground and an enabling federal system where Ndigbo are able to develop their homeland at their own pace and equally pursue their happiness and actaulise their enormous potentials in every part of the country, unmolested.
Reviewing the sit-at-home orders by the IPOB and the mayhem some nefarious elements have seized the opportunity to visit on the lives, properties, and psyche of the people, the Caucus equally reviewed and rued the incalculable economic losses and hardships these have brought upon the region.
They, however, condemned in strongest terms the disruption of the ongoing Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination in some parts of the South East, particularly the incident at Comprehensive Secondary School, Nkume, Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State, where the English examination organised by the West Africa Examination Council, WAEC, on Monday, September 13, 2021, was ruthlessly scuttled by armed men, who chased away the students, teachers, and examiners before setting ablaze motorcycles belonging to the teachers.
“This is certainly not who we are as a people. On the contrary, we are a people, who have always cherished and encouraged learning from the ages. We are a people that fully appreciate the place of education in the liberation and enlightenment of the human mind and the socio-economic and political emancipation of a people”.
The South East legislators equally condemned in strongest terms the incessant killings in the South East, adding “This must stop immediately. We call on the security agencies to unravel the culprits behind these wicked acts and ensure that they are brought to book to serve as a deterrent to others.
“ Noted with delight that IPOB has called off the Monday sit-at-home order and resolved to ensure that nobody uses them as façades to bring ruination on Igbo land.
“ Call on our people to go about their lawful businesses and enjoin our governors and the security agencies to rebuild confidence in our people by not only ensuring the security of their lives and properties, but also ensuring that our people feel safe as they undertake their legitimate businesses.
”Elaborately discussed the issue of Mazi Nnamdi and resolved to intervene. To this end we resolved to set up a committee to constructively interface with relevant stakeholders, the Federal Government and its relevant agencies towards finding a political solution. We will keep Ndigbo abreast of developments in regard.
“Appeal to our people not to allow anyone to destroy the South East region. The post-war South East was not built through government patronage, but largely by the sheer determination and sacrifices of our people, who refused to resign to fate or bow their heads in defeat.
“It is in Igbo land that you easily find hospitals, schools, roads, and other social amenities built by individual or communal efforts of the people, home and abroad, through the instruments of the town unions and other community organisations such as the age grades, Umuada, etc.
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