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INEC: Preparing For March 19 In Rivers

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L-R: Head of Departement,Voters Education, INEC, Rivers, Mr Godfrey Achebe; Administrative Secretary, Rivers, Mr Tom Ongele and Rivers Resident Electoral Commissioner, Elder Aniedi Ikoiwak, during a meeting with  Rivers INEC Staff in preparations for the March 19  re-run Election in Port Harcourt, recently

L-R: Head of Departement,Voters Education, INEC, Rivers, Mr Godfrey Achebe; Administrative Secretary, Rivers, Mr Tom Ongele and Rivers Resident Electoral Commissioner, Elder Aniedi Ikoiwak, during a meeting with Rivers INEC Staff in preparations for the March 19 re-run Election in Port Harcourt, recently

From Abua to Andoni,
Opobo/Nkoro to Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni, from Khana to Akuku Toru, Etche to Eleme, they converged on the state headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Aba Road Port Harcourt. The date was Tuesday, March 8, 2016.
They said their gathering was to have a family meeting and when the roll call was taken, not one of the Electoral Officers (EOS) of the 23 Local Government Areas of Rivers State was missing. They came in their  full number. They came in their full strength with an appreciable compliment of their staff at the local government offices.
This was not the first time the premises of the INEC Office on Aba Road was hosting critical stakeholders in the electoral process in Rivers State in preparation for this week’s re-run legislative elections in the state. A meeting of all the political parties and their candidates  for the elections with the management of INEC had held earlier.
Ditto for security agencies and their operations, and civil society groups in those meetings, INEC engaged with the stakeholders as the one of the helm of affairs, to acquaint them once again with the guiding rules and regulations of process and to extract from them a commitment to abide by the rules of engagement for a free, fair and credible exercise . In talking about expectations from the stakeholders, the commission was also mindful to make commitments with regard to its own expectations.
The meeting of March 8, was therefore part of the commission’s own strategy of equipping and organising itself to face the challenges of delivering its own side of the bargain to achieve a successful outcome of the March 19 outing. To underline the importance of the meeting, all offices were ordered to be closed and all officers surmounted to be part of the gathering. Little time was spared for any protocol except a brief praise, worship, and prayer session to invite the Spirit of God for direction and divine enablement for the enormous task shead.
Like a responsible head of the family who has a firm grasp of the issues confronting the group, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Elder Aniedi Ikoiwak, did not only resolve to speak the truth with his members but to render it bare and undecorated.
Indeed, he spoke like one with the conviction that only the acquaintance with the truth of how far they had deviated and thereby put themselves in much jeopardy  could bring them back to the path of rectitude and redemption.
In no uncertain terms, the REC told his staff that they had strayed from their core values of independence  and non-partisanship. He said it was unacceplable that division along political lines had been allowed to creep into the commission thereby weakening the commission and making it vulnerable to the intrusion and manipulation of politicians.
Elder Ikoiwak said elections will remain a mirage if INEC personnel find it difficult to distance themselves from politicians and desist from aiding and abetting them to corrupt the system, noting that it was no longer hidden that staff of the commission sometimes engage in delivering electoral materials to politicians  in hotel rooms and such other unlawful places to their shame and damnation.
The INEC boss charged them to derobe themselves of all vestiges of bias and allegiance to any other interest and work as officers who are proud of their job and worthy of their engagement by the commission. He said that, beginning from the coming elections, staffers of the commission will continually be under surveillance by independent monitors  whose reports will determine their fate.
He emphasized that he will not hesitate to deal decisively with any recalcitrant personnel whose conduct or misconduct compromises the responsibility of the electoral umpire, adding that sanctions will include but not hinted to, dismissal from office of such staff.
“At the end of this election, I hope nobody will come to my office and roll on the ground begging for forgiveness because I will personally see to it that any staff who engages in anything unlawful to embarrass the commission and compromise the fidelity of the electoral process is taken out of the system,” he warned.
To demonstrate the commission’s resolve to strictly adhere to its guiding rules, Elder Ikoiwak said the old practice of receiving application from intending adhoc staff had been jettisoned.
In its place, he said, requests had been made to the heads of federal institutions including the NYSC, University of Port Harcourt, Federal College of Education, Otuoke, and the Federal University. Otuoke, Bayelsa State for personnel to undertake the assignment.
He explained that even though INEC was not involved in the direct recruitment of the adhoc, staff, the commission retains the responsibility of protecting and being accountable for its materials and charged his staff to rise up to the challenge of safe keeping of the materials and ensuring that they are delivered only to those whose duty it is to handle them.
He assured the staff that everything necessary and needful was being done to enhance their effective and efficient performance and implored them to also prepare themselves to make necessary sacrifices to achieve success. The REC urged them to take no satisfaction in any other than the pride of delivering on the mandate of the commission to superintend over a free, fair and credible poll.
At the end of his address, there was total agreement and endorsement of all he had said. Ass it were, the REC did not only succeed in correctly identifying the gaps that exist within the electoral body and how to bridge them, he also succeeded in bringing the staff to making a commitment to turning a brand new leaf towards achieving the overall goal of a transparent, open, and acceptable conduct of the March 19, 2016 re-run legislative polls in Rivers State in particular.
Speaking on the development, the Rivers State Director of the National Orientation Agency, NOA, Mr Oliver Wolugbom, expressed the view that the March 19, re-run elections present INEC with a golden opportunity to redeem its badly smeared image in the state.
Mr Wolugbom said it was encouraging that INEC was talking to itself and reviewing its activities and performances in the past with a view to making amends and rededicating itself to delivering on its core mandate.
“INEC must stand its ground and take responsibility and charge over this election,” he said adding that to this end, the commission should have only its personnel as collation officers in all the 319 electoral wards in the state.
For the purpose of accountability, the NOA boss proffers that the bulk of the adhoc staff should be staffers of INEC so that the commission can have a greater grip of the activities and performance of the personnel. To achieve this objective, he said, it would not be out of place for the electoral body to empty itself into Rivers State from Surrounding states.
According to Mr Wolugbom, the more non-staffers of the commission are engaged in the exercise  the greater the chances of comprise in the system, insisting that whosever is engaged must be impressed upon to do only that which is fit and proper to deliver a desirable outcome.
The NOA Director reiterated that  the groundswell of misgivings against the commission has aggravated the need  for  it to acquit itself creditably and enjoined the electoral umpire to adequately equip and educate all its personnel to be deployed for duty.
In truth, the eventual outcome of the March 19, re-run elections in Rivers State is a shared responsibility among the stakeholders including the security agencies, civil society organizations, the political parties and their candidates and the Independent National Electoral Commission. However, it cannot be gainsaid that no one singular role or function is as vital as that of the umpire whose statutory responsibility is to coordinate all others to achieve the desired end.
It is worthy of commendation that the Resident Electoral Commissioner and his staff realise and appreciate this fact. But just being aware and appreciating the task in only the half of the job. The other and the most important part is the practical demonstration of the rhetoric. Nigerians are watching and Rivers people cannot wait for INEC to either redeem itself and shame its critics or to disappoint itself and prove the critics right and earn the damnation of condemnation of the people.

 

Opaka Dokubo

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2023: ‘Unknown Persons’ Stole My Academic Certificates, Tinubu Tells INEC

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The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has told the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that his academic certificates were stolen by unknown persons while he was on self exile.
Tinubu, a former Lagos State Governor, was one of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) Chieftains who fled the country under the regime of the late General Sani Abacha.
Abacha had clamped down on academics, activists and other technocrats opposed to his regime.
In his sworn affidavit in support of his nomination form for the office of the president, Tinubu said he “went on self exile from October 1994 to October 1999 (and) when I returned and discovered that my property including all the documents relating to my qualification and my certificates in respect of paragraph 3 above were looted by unknown persons.”
While Tinubu skipped information regarding his primary and secondary education in the INEC form, he, however, said he attended University of Chicago between 1972 and 1976, where he obtained B.Sc in Economics.
He also said he had B.Sc in Business and Administration, as well as certificate in Public Account.
Tinubu’s latest claims appear to contradict his previous election submissions, especially in 1999, when he ran and won the Lagos State governorship election.
He had said then that he attended St Paul Children’s Home School, Ibadan, between 1958 and 1964; while his secondary education was at Government College Ibadan (GCI), between 1965 and 1968.
Following a backlash, the former governor withheld his primary and secondary schools academic records when he recontested in 2003.
He had claimed that from Ibadan, he proceed to Richard Daley College, Chicago, from 1969 to 1971.
He finally said he attended both Chicago State University and the University of Chicago.
All the submissions were, however, challenged as fraudulent by a prominent Nigerian lawyer, late Gani Fawehinmi.
Fawehinmi, who argued the matter up to the Supreme Court, which dismissed the case on technical grounds.
In his forms, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, presented the Master’s degree he obtained in 2021, as his highest educational qualification.

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PDP Chieftain Hails Aduda’s Emergence As Senate Minority Whip

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A chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Honourable Hellen Taiwo-Adebakin, has congratulated Senator Philip Tanimu Aduda on his emergence  as Senate Minority Whip
Adebakin, while rejoicing with the Senator said, Aduda’s elevation was a great honour for the good people of the FCT that he represents, who daily yearn for effective inclusion in the affairs of Nigeria.
Hon Adebakin, Secretary of the former and current ex-National ex-officio members of the PDP also described the new feat attained by the Senator as a product of loyalty and consistency to the PDP.
“I am using this opportunity to rejoice with one of our leaders in PDP, Senator Philip Aduda over his emergence as the Senate Minority Whip. Your elevation to this enviable position was a product of hard work, commitment to legislative duties and loyalty to the party. I pray to God Almighty to continue to guide as you assume this position,” Adebakin said.
She, therefore, urged him to continue to be a good ambassador of the party, stressing that the Senator will move to a higher position in the Red Chamber when the PDP returns to power at the centre in 2023.

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Senate Lauds Gbajabiamila’s House Leadership As Speaker Turns 60

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The Senate has lauded House of Representatives’ Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila on his 60th birthday.
The Senate gave the commendation in a statement by its spokesman and Chairman, Media and Public Affairs Committee, Senator Ajibola Basiru in Abuja.
The statement reads: “The upper legislative chamber, Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria wishes to congratulate an outstanding achiever, an astute legal light, a man of exemplary social standing and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Right Honorable Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila on his 60th birthday.
“Achieving this major milestone – a perfect 10, six times, over which you have attained calls for recognition and celebration; especially having achieved so much for yourself, the society and the nation.
“The Senate recognises you as a man of good upbringing and a well-bred personality who had traversed the universe in search of education and had achieved so much in your chosen legal career before making outstanding pursuits in legislative politics.
“Your services as an extraordinary lawmaker have been impeccable rising from being a member of the House of Representatives to becoming the minority leader, majority leader and then holding the prestigious position of the Speaker of the elite Assembly”.
“Your being one of the two longest-serving members of the House of Representatives also calls for all accolades that can be showered on you today.
“You have surely had many adventures in life but we still see you travelling farther to further stabilise the Nation’s polity and we pray for long life and good health for you as all things get better with age for you.
“While we rejoice with you, we hope you will have an amazing birthday. Congratulations!”

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