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ASUU Strike ’ll Affect 2019 Polls -INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says the lingering strike by Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU) will have serious impact on  preparations for the conduct of the 2019 general elections.
Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Mr Festus Okoye, made this known in Abuja at a one-day seminar on Media and Gender Sensitive Reporting of Elections.
According to Okoye, it is next to impossible for the members of the National Youth Service Corp to provide all the ad-hoc staff needs and requirements of the commission.
He said that over 70 per cent requirement in some states of the federation were drawn from students of federal tertiary institutions.
“For the 2019 elections, INEC will recruit and deploy over one million adhoc staff made up of lecturers and students in federal tertiary institutions and corps members.
“These category of adhoc staff will serve as returning officers, collation officers, supervisory presiding officers and assistant presiding officers.
“The bulk of assistant presiding officers will be drawn from students of institutions, INEC is presently organising root training for corps members and wants to begin that with students.
“So it is important and imperative that they are in school a month before the election for this to happen.,” he said.
Okoye therefore called on ASUU and the Federal Government to quickly and genuinely resolve the lingering impasse that led to uncertainty in the education sector.
He said the resolution of the problems that led to the strike would be in the national interest and Nigeria’s democracy.
Dr Adekunle Ogunmola, Chairman, Outreach and Partnership Committee INEC, said that the seminar was organised to brainstorm on new ways to use media to promote gender equality in the electoral process.
Ogunmola said that the commission understood the indisputable role of the media in setting and resetting the mindset of electorates to make the 2019 elections more gender sensitive.
He said that beyond the freedom to vote and adherence to electoral laws, a free and fair election was also about a participatory process where voters were well informed to make right choices.
Ogunmola added that the media serve this role through objective and impartial reporting of political events which help to shape public opinion and deepen democracy.
He urged the media to plan contents that would support gender in their reportage of the electoral process to ensure inclusiveness.
Mr Lansana Wonneh, representative of UN Women, said that when politics is inclusive and women participate, the results would be better.
Wonneh said that Nigeria leads Africa in almost everything except in terms of female participation in governance and politics where Nigeria was among countries with the lowest number.
“We are several weeks away from the general elections and this seminar could not be more appropriate.
“At UN Women, we are working with INEC to make sure that there are efforts in making elections free and fair and inclusive especially gender inclusive,” he said.
He urged the media to use it’s power to promote women in politics to change the narrative.

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Bayelsa 2019 Guber Primaries: Again, Diri Floors Alaibe, As Supreme Court Dismisses Appeal

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the appeal filed by former managing Director of the NDDC and governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2019 Bayelsa State Governorship primaries, Chief Ndutimi Alaibe, challenging the emergence of Governor Duoye Diri as the party’s standard bearer.

A panel constituted of Five Justices of the apex court headed by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour stroke-out the appeal.

Alaibe’s  counsel, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe, withdrew the appeal after the panel members pointed his attention to the fact that the issues raised in the appeal were not about the primary election but about an internal affair of the party.

Alaibe, who had lost the suit at both the Federal High Court in Owerri and the Port Harcourt Division of the Court of Appeal, had in the suit challenged the participation of two delegates who voted in the primary that produced Diri as the party’s Governorship flag bearer.

Meanwhile in the preliminary inquiry preceding the hearing on Tuesday, the Justice Rhodes-Vivour panel informed Adedipe that his case could not be categorised as a pre-election case that a court could entertain but about an internal affair of the party which the court lacks jurisdiction to hear, this The Tide learnt made Adedipe to withdrew the suit and was struck out by the court.

By Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa.

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Bayelsa Assembly Committee on Environment To Curb Unlawful Sand Dredging Activities.

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With various complaints and pettitions by communities impacted by the activities of illegal sand dredging and mining in the Bayelsa State, the state House of Assembly has organised a public hearing on a bill to regulate the operations of sand dredging to ensure that the environment is not adversely impacted on.

The bill tagged ” Regulation of Sand Dealing and Dredging Operations Bill 2019″  according to the House Committee on Environment is aimed at gathering inputs from experts, technocrats and the public in order to formulate a people-friendly bill that will serve the best interest of Bayelsans.

The House Committee Chairman on Environment and member representing Nembe Constituency one, Hon. Ebi  Ben Ololo noted that the public hearing became necessary on the need to remediate the environment and tackle the challenges posed by sand dredging operations in the state.

” The importance of this bill cannot be overemphasized because it can save lives. You are aware a number of times so many communities and their representatives have sent pettitions to this House, specifically the  Chairman House Committee on Environment as per the environmental degradation that has taken place as regards the illegal sand dealing and dredging activities in various communities all around the state”, he said.

“With those number of complains and pettitions we thought it wise to put up a bill to take care of those issues. Most important thing is that we all know that public hearing is a mechanism by which parliamentary Committees obtain information, deal with the information obtained and also exchange views with experts and the public so as to fine-tune whatever bill there is for the public hearing to come up with a top class bill that will be people- friendly and also save lives of the people in Bayelsa”, he added.

” Lots of suggestions, contributions, opinions and interactions have been made as regards this very important bill, like we have assured the representatives of the various groups that we will go back in our committee, look at those very important areas where they have suggested and also fine tune the bill. So that in no distant time we will come up with a very formidable bill that will stand the test of time. That the people will benefit from”, Ololo reassured.

He lauded participants for their insightful contributions and opinions during the public hearing, promising that the Committee would do justice to come up with a bill that would meet the expectations of Bayelsans.

In her contribution, House Chief Whip and member representing Yenagoa Constituency 2, Hon. Ebiowu Koku Obiyai lamented the deliberate connivance between communities and the sand dealers, warning that if nothing is done to regulate the activities of sand dredgers Bayelsa communities will be eroded away.

The House Whip also expressed concerns on the activities of companies carrying out dredging business near bridges and sued a delibrate efforts by all in order to save the bridges from collapse.

By Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa.

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COVID-19: Dep Speaker Empowers PPE Producers, Underprivileged In Ahoada East LGA …Ready To Partner UNICEF

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The Deputy Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Edison Ehie, has stated that his office has contributed to ensuring that the impact of the hardship warranted by effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is lessoned in Ahoada East Local Government Area (LGA).
Ehie, who was speaking to the RCCE Media Team, stated that the measures taken to achieve this came in two-fold: providing necessary finance to producers of Personal Preventive Equipment (PPE) in the area to enable them mass produce, and buying same off them to give to people in the grassroots.
The other measure, he said, was the provision of financial Palliatives to the tune of #5,000 each to identified underprivileged in the LGA. This include the elderly, pregnant women, widows and widowers, and generally the vulnerable.
According to Ehie, towards this end, about #5 million has been expended so far in the first phase, while preparation is being made for the next phase to commence.
The Deputy Speaker explained that his decision to empower people who already have the expertise to produce the PPEs was necessitated by the need to provide the finance for them to mass produce their products, and to provide the products to those who need them.
“So, we give you (them) the  finance to produce hand sanitizers, face masks, etc., then we buy them from you (them) to make sure you (they) profit, then we supply (the products) to the people at the grassroots”, he said.
He also stated his preparedness to partner with UNICEF in any way required to ensure the safety of lives of Rivers people.
Ehie revealed that in addition to what is being done, his office is also preparing for the challenges of post COVID-19 among the people of his constituency.
“We’ve started brainstorming on how we can also support the people as regards the post COVID-19 era. That is going to be another very challenging period for our people because when the pandemic gradually phases out, that’s when the reality of hardship will come on.
“We’re trying to put our heads together to see how we can intervene again at that stage”, he said.
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