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2019: INEC Releases Election Details …Says Parties Must Present Presidential Candidate, Dec 3

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has issued the time table and schedule of activities for the 2019 general elections, fixing the conduct of party primaries including the resolution of disputes arising from primaries for August 18, 2018 to October 7, 2018, for national and state elections while that of the FCT Area Council is slated for between September 4, and October 27, 2018.
Speaking with journalists, yesterday, in Abuja, INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu said the commission arrived at the schedule of activities after its meeting held on the same day.
INEC equally said it would go ahead with its earlier plan to conduct the Anambra Central election on January 13.
“We are going by the orders of the Court of Appeal that INEC should conduct a fresh election within 90 days and the position of the court has not changed. So, there will be elections in Anambra Central on January 13, 2018”, Yakubu stated.
According to him, “The Publication of Notice of Election for National and State Elections would be on August 17, 2018 while that of the FCT Area Council Elections would be done on September 3, 2018. Collection of nomination forms by political parties for national and state elections begins from August 11 to 24 while that of the FCT Area Council elections would be between November 3 and 10, 2018. Commencement of campaign by political parties would be November 18 for.
“Presidential and National Assembly Elections; December 1, for Governorship and State Assembly elections and December 2, for the FCT Area Council elections. The last day for the submission of nomination forms to INEC is December 3, 2018, for Presidential and National Assembly Elections; December 17, for Governorship and State Assembly and December 14, 2018 for the FCT Area Council Elections.
“INEC equally fixed the last day for campaigns for February 14, 2019, for Presidential and National Assembly Elections as well as February 28, 2018, for Governorship, State Assembly and FCT Area Council Elections.
“Today, it is exactly 402 days to the opening of polling units nationwide at 8am on Saturday 16th February 2019. As political parties and candidates canvass the support of the electorate, the Commission wishes to appeal to all and sundry to eschew bitterness and conduct their activities with decorum. The 2015 General Election was a watershed in the history of our democracy. The Commission is determined to build on this legacy by ensuring that our elections keep getting better”, Yakubu pledged.
INEC had on March 9, 2017, announced the dates for the 2019 General Elections.
“In a clear departure from past practice when dates were announced close to elections, the Commission decided that henceforth our Presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on the 3rd Saturday of the month of February of each election year, while Governorship and State Assembly elections will hold two weeks later.
“When the end of tenure of the FCT Area Councils coincide with the general election, the FCT Council elections are to be combined with the Governorship and State Assembly elections. By these decisions, the Commission fixed Saturday, 16th February, 2019, as the date for Presidential and National Assembly elections while Governorship and State Assembly elections will hold on Saturday, 2nd March, 2019.
“Since the end of tenure of FCT Chairmen and Councillors will end in 2019, the Area Council elections will also hold on Saturday 2nld March 2019.
“Consequently, while other Nigerians elect their Governors and Members of State Assemblies, citizens in the FCT will elect Chairmen and Councillors for the Area Councils”, the INEC boss recalled.
According to him, the decision of the commission to fix election dates is to engender certainty in the nation’s electoral calendar and to enable all stakeholders to prepare adequately for elections, as is the case in many mature and developing democracies.
“Already, the commission has concluded its Strategic Plan and the Strategic Plan of Action for the current electoral cycle and beyond covering the period 2017-2021 as well as Election Project Plan. The commission is moving away from the culture of quick fix, tire brigade approach to the management of elections in Nigeria.
“As our democracy matures, the planning and implementation of electoral activities should be predictable and systematic. This is all the more pertinent given the size and population of the country, the terrain, logistical requirements, the increasing number of political parties, security challenges and number of constituencies for which elections are to be held.
“For instance, in 2019 the commission will conduct elections for 1,558 Constituencies made up of one Presidential Constituency, 29 Governorship constituencies out of 36 (7 Governorship elections are staggered and conducted off-cycle), 109 Senatorial Districts, 360 Federal Constituencies, 991 State Assembly Constituencies, 6 Area Council Chairmen as well as 62 Councillorship positions for the FCT”, Yakubu added.
He said INEC will today also issue certificates of registration to 21 new political parties who were registered last month.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) has declared that parties must submit names of candidates for Presidential and National Assembly elections by December 3, 2018.
Unveiling timetable and schedule of activities for 2019 general elections, yesterday at a press briefing in Abuja, INEC chairman, Professor Mahmoud Yakubu, also gave December 17, 2018, as the final date for submission of nomination forms for candidates for the governorship and State Assembly elections.
The final list of candidates for the Federal Capital Territory Area Council elections which will hold simultaneously with national assembly and governorship elections must also reach the Commission by December 14, 2018.
Giving further insight into the timetable, Professor Yakubu said collection of nomination forms by political parties for presidential, governorship, national and state assembly elections must be done between 11th-24th August 2018.
The INEC chairman also disclosed that conduct of party primaries, including resolution of disputes arising from such primaries for national and state elections must be concluded between 18th August-7th October 2018.
He further revealed that political parties would be allowed to commence the campaign for votes, starting with presidential and national assembly candidates on 18th November 2018. Candidates for the governorship and state assembly will also be given same liberty, effective from December 1, 2018.
The INEC chairman also restated the reason why his Commission gave 16th February 2019 as the date for conduct for presidential and national assembly elections, while governorship and state assembly would hold on 2nd March 2019 .
‘’The decision of the Commission to fix election dates is to engender certainty in our electoral calendar and to enable all stakeholders to prepare adequately for elections, as is the case in many mature and developing democracies. Already, the Commission has concluded its Strategic Plan and the Strategic Plan of Action for the current electoral cycle and beyond covering the period 2017-2021 as well as Election Project Plan.
‘’The Commission is moving away from the culture of quick fix, fire brigade approach to the management of elections in Nigeria. This is all the more pertinent given the size and population of the country, the terrain, logistical requirements, the increasing number of political parties, security challenges and the number of constituencies for which elections are to be held. For instance, in 2019 the Commission will conduct elections for 1,558 Constituencies made up of one Presidential Constituency, 29 Governorship constituencies out of 36 (7 Governorship elections are staggered and conducted off-cycle), 109 Senatorial Districts, 360 Federal Constituencies, 991 State Assembly Constituencies, 6 Area Council Chairmen as well as 62 Councillorship positions for the FCT.’’

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North Can Live Without VAT Accruals, NEF Boasts …Backs Wike, Southern Govs On Fiscal Federalism, Restructuring

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The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has boasted that the North was a rich region, and can survive on its resources without the “billions” accruing to Southern states.
The NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, made this known, yesterday, when he featured on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ breakfast programme.
He was reacting to the tussle between states and the Federal Government on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).
VAT is a consumption tax paid when goods are purchased and services are rendered, and charged at a rate of 7.5 per cent.
Although Rivers and Lagos states have started the process of collecting VAT within their territories, the Court of Appeal, in a ruling on September 10, ordered that status quo be maintained pending the determination of an appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) against the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt.
Apart from Lagos and Rivers states, Ogun State has also started the process of passing a bill on VAT in its House of Assembly.
At the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in Enugu, last Thursday, the 17 governors insisted that they have the constitutional mandate to collect VAT, and vowed to ensure that the rule of law prevails in the matter.
While some northern governors like Aminu Masari (Katsina), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), amongst others, had kicked against the move, the 17 Southern Governors led by Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) had unanimously supported the position that “the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.”
Speaking, yesterday, during the television programme, Baba-Ahmed said, “I will advise that we wait to hear what the court says. However, even the fact that it has become an issue suggests that we really do need to address the fundamentals and the manner in which the federation works.
“We have always supported restructuring. We have always asked that a major and genuine shift initiative either by groups or the National Assembly so that matters like this be addressed properly.
“If we don’t do that now, then, we should get a leader that would do that in 2023. This administration appears not to understand the importance of restructuring; we do in the North, we recognise the fact that we need to change the manner in which we generate wealth and allocate (it).
“The thing is: the North wants restructuring; the North wants fiscal federalism. We are a rich region, and we can live on what we have, even if we don’t have the billions that accrue to others states. Our poverty is not a kind of problem that we would break this country over.”
According to him, the VAT war is a wake-up call to northern governors who need to recognise the fact that VAT or no VAT, they need to develop their resources and develop the human capital of the North.
The NEF spokesman added, “North, you said you have many people but you are under-developing your own people – the biggest liability of the North is that we have a huge population that is under-developed. You need to develop the human capital that you have.
“We need leaders; the current governors don’t recognise this. Otherwise, they won’t be involved in this argument; allow the court to decide.
“But for goodness sake, (they should) begin to think — what else can we do if the court decides now that Rivers State is right, Lagos State is right, and the Southern states are right, and they won’t be getting all these billions coming in from VAT? What happens?”
Baba-Ahmed said the Northern governors at this stage should not be sleeping, noting that the North is “sitting on wealth, we have massive resources in this country, we have to fight insecurity first, and the Federal Government has to help us, we need to clear the bushes, the forests and all the criminals that are there, and we need to go back to farming.
“Agriculture is a major asset; we have land, we have water, we have livestock, we have minerals that are literally begging to be picked from the ground but our governors are too focused on the pittance that they are getting. This is wrong”, he argued.

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Boxing: Joshua Facing Toughest Test In Usyk?

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Boxing champion, Anthony Joshua could face his toughest test yet when he fights Oleksandr Usyk in London on Saturday, says ex-world champion George Groves.
Joshua, 31, puts his WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world heavyweight titles on the line against Usyk, a former undisputed cruiserweight world champion.
The 34-year-old Ukrainian has won all 18 professional fights, beating Tony Bellew and Derek Chisora on that run.
“Technically, Usyk is brilliant,” said Groves . “He showed that in unifying the cruiserweight division in great fights and I believe he could be Joshua’s toughest test to date. This is the first fight when I wouldn’t be surprised if Joshua got beaten.
“Joshua has fought [Wladimir] Klitschko and been in with Joseph Parker and also been beaten [by Andy Ruiz] and the only question mark for Usyk Is he big enough to compete with AJ?
“If Usyk keeps a high pace and makes Joshua miss with a lot of shots, that will work to Usyk’s advantage as he has probably got a better engine.
“Joshua is a phenomenal athlete with tremendous punching power and strength but has a tendency to tire out if the pace is uncomfortable for him.”
A crowd of more than 60,000 is expected and it will be the largest attendance Joshua has fought in front of since his win over Alexander Povetkin with 80,000 at Wembley Stadium in September, 2018.
Since then, Joshua has lost to Ruiz in New York before winning the rematch in Saudi Arabia and gained a ninth-round victory over Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena last December, with only 1,000 fans attending because of Coronavirus restrictions.
Both Joshua and Usyk won gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, at super-heavyweight and heavyweight respectively, with the Briton going on to win 24 of his 25 professional fights, including 22 inside the distance.
Meanwhile, Dillian Whyte, who lost to Joshua in 2015 and is pushing for a rematch with him or a shot at WBC champion, Tyson Fury, believes the key to beating Usyk on Saturday is to adopt an attacking strategy.
“I think it’s a great fight and Joshua will stop him in the first six or seven rounds,” Whyte told Tidesports source.
“Usyk will start fast and Joshua should be cagey as Usyk is a bit lighter. Joshua can sometimes lack confidence but hopefully he goes back to the old him, starts pressing, being the bigger, stronger guy and gets the job done early.
“If Joshua sets the pace, he can get an early knockout and if he is strong, confident and walks him down, then I don’t see Usyk’s punches troubling Joshua.”
Groves, who held the WBA Super-Middleweight belt in 2017 and 2018, added: “If I was Joshua, I would take control of the ring and try to dominate and bully off the front foot.
“Usyk will want to be off the back foot for the first couple of rounds, then try to pepper Joshua.
“If I was in the Joshua camp, I would say: You want to keep this guy in his box. You don’t want Usyk having any confidence, so hit him hard and early.
“In the first three rounds, you want to land something big on him.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn also suggested Joshua could get an early victory.
Hearn said: “I’m always nervous for an Anthony Joshua fight, especially when you’re fighting someone that really believes he is going to win”.

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2022 AFCON: ‘Cameroon On Track’

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The Confederation of African Football (CAF) President, Patrice Motsepe, has said that Cameroon is “on track” to successfully host the Africa Cup of Nations early next year after visiting Olembe Stadium in Yaounde last weekend.
The venue will host the opening match and final of the AFCON in January and February of 2022.
A CAF delegation, including President Motsepe and General Secretary, Veron Mosengo-Omba, were joined by Cameroon’s Sports Minister, Professor Narcisse Mouelle Kombi in inspecting progress made at the Olembe Stadium and various other facilities in the capital city.
“I’m very satisfied with the briefing I got and what I saw. I saw the Olembe Stadium and it is world class; we should all be proud as people of Cameroon and as Africans,” said Motsepe, as quoted by CAF’s website.
“We must applaud Cameroon [for] building such infrastructure. In partnership with the Government, the Minister of Sports, LOC, FECAFOOT President and CAF administration under Veron [Mosengo-Omba], I’m certain that in January next year, the rest of the world will be impressed. I’m very satisfied with what I have seen. We are on track.”
Motsepe continued: “The quality of football that will be played here will once again show the world that Africa has the quality to one day win the FIFA World Cup, that is the ultimate goal. The AFCON is special and I think it is important for us to set the tone in Cameroon.”
Mosengo-Omba also heaped praises on Olembe Stadium: “The infrastructure and architecture of the stadium is world class and can be compared to many other famous stadiums globally. In Cameroon, we have six beautiful match venues. Our job now is to ensure that we are ready with everything else.”

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