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.
PDP Women Protest, Demand Justice For Slain Party Leader
Women stakeholders in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Wednesday, protested to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Abuja, demanding justice for Mrs Salome Abuh who was killed in Kogi State.
Mrs Abuh, the PDP Women Leader of Ochadamu Ward in Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi State, was murdered in her house on November 18 in a post-election violence.
The women led by PDP National Women Leader, Hajiya Mariya Waziri, told newsmen that they would not rest or relent until justice was secured for the deceased.
“Today, Nigerian women have gathered to continue our mourning and agitation over the death of an innocent woman, our sister, friend and mother, Mrs Abuh who was killed in cold blood in Kogi for participation in politics.
“We are here today to find answers to these nagging questions: Why are the murderers of our sister Mrs Abuh who are well known in their community still walking free?
“How long will justice continue to be delayed and denied for Mrs Abuh?
Who killed Salome Abuh? Who killed Abuh, this innocent mother?” she asked.
Waziri said that no mother deserved to be killed in cold blood, not even after enduring the pains and strife of motherhood.
The national woman leader described the killing as the ‘height of humiliation’, suppression of women in Nigeria, and a huge setback for women participation in politics.
Waziri called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take major action that would bring the perpetrators to justice, while also calling on Nigerians to raise their voices in solidarity for justice for Abuh.
Executive Secretary of NHRC, Mr Tony Ojukwu, receiving the protesting women, said that the Commission commiserated with them in their moment of grief.
Ojukwu said while it was expected that Nigeria’s elections should be improving, unfortunately the improvement in the electoral system in the past seemed to have been rolled back during the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.
“Everybody has attested to this. It behoves on all of us to make sure that we take steps to deepen our democracy in making sure that things like this did not go unchecked.”
Ojukwu said that was why Justice Uwaise electoral reform committee advocated that an Electoral Offences Commission be established to ensure that electoral offenders were tried and prosecuted for justice to prevail.
Abia IPAC To Formulate Dev Plan For Good Governance
The Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) in Abia State says it would develop a 25-year development plan that could facilitate good governance and overall transformation of the state.
The Chairman of the council, Mr Ceekay Igara, said this last Wednesday, when he unveiled the newly elected officials of the council to newsmen in Umuahia.
Igara said that as the name implied, IPAC should advice the ruling Peoples Democratic Party on the best ways to administer the state.
“We want to join hands with the ruling party to develop the major cities of Umuahia, Aba and Ohafia with the development plan we shall produce.
“We cannot continue to do one thing the same way and expect a different result.
“IPAC is not supposed to play the role of opposition. Our role is advisory and we shall be advising rather than fighting the government.
“If we fight the government, then the citizenry will suffer because fighting will stall development, “ Igara said.
He said that his leadership was determined to do things differently from what obtained in the past, using different strategies to achieve result.
He said that as a major stakeholder in the affairs of the state, IPAC would evolve a robust plan to guide the government to ensure that it delivered the dividend of democracy to the people.
He said that the new leadership would devise new techniques of getting its advice across and acceptable to the government.
Igara said that IPAC under his watch would educate and reorientate the chairmen of all the political parties on ways to meet the people’s expectations.
He said that the council would establish effective communication with traditional institutions and religious organisations to sensitise and mobilise the citizenry for their active participation in the electoral process.
He wondered why less than half-a-million of the two million registered voters in the state voted in the 2019 polls and blamed the development on people’s apathy and lack of confidence in the ability of the Independent National Electoral Commission to discharge its duties creditably.
Public Hearing: Atiku Decries Congestion In Higher Education Sector
Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, has said that Nigeria’s higher education sector is overburdened by population growth.
He suggested the establishment of more tertiary institutions across the country to cope with the country’s growing population.
He stated this at a public hearing on a bill to establish Modibbo Adama University Yola, held at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja yesterday.
The bill which passed second reading in the Senate on November 13 seeks to convert the Modibbo Adama University of Technology (MAUTech) Yola, a mono-disciplinary institute to a multi-disciplinary and engaging institution of higher learning.
Abubakar said that the higher education sector was also overburdened by a significant youth bulge.
“More than 60 per cent of the country’s population is under the age of 24 years; almost one in four Sub-Saharan people reside in Nigeria, making it Africa’s most populous country.
“From an estimated 42.5 million people at the time of independence in 1960, Nigeria’s population has more than quadrupled to 186,988 million people in 2016 (UN projection).
“The United Nations anticipates that Nigeria will become the third largest country in the world by 2050 with 399 million people,’’ Atiku said.
The former vice-president said that with such projections, Nigeria’s exponential population growth was exerting immense pressure on the country’s resources and overstretching public services and infrastructure.
Abubakar further explained that record from Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) indicated a wide disparity between the number of applications and the actual number of successful admission in the nation’s tertiary institutions.
He said that converting MAUTech Yola to a conventional university would expand the chance of qualified candidates to get placement beyond the limited confines of engineering and sciences.
“The conversion of the university to a conventional university which in addition to courses in science and technology will have the mandate to run courses in medicine, pharmacy, law, the arts and social and management sciences, among others.
“This indeed is the surest way to accelerate access, quality, relevance and equity for our people in Adamawa.
“I formally join fellow compatriots in the advocacy for the conversion of the university from a specialised entity to a conventional one,” Abubakar said.
He, however, appealed to members of the National Assembly to review the law on compulsory basic free education, alleging that the funds given to states to develop education were being diverted.
Sponsor of the bill Sen. Aishatu Dahiru (APC-Adamawa Central) said that the world was moving from mono-disciplinary institutions to multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary institutions of learning.
“In keeping with this, it will also have well-grounded students of technology with knowledge of the social sciences and humanities and not just technology robots,’’ she said.
In his remark, Chairman, Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TetFund Sen. Ahmad Kaita, said that the institution would provide the much needed technical knowhow that would aid the country’s technological advancement.
President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan while declaring the public hearing open said that the institutions were central to the growth and development of the much needed workforce in the country.
Lawan who was represented by the Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege said that the institution would be useful to the proposed catchment areas of Adamawa.
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