The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may bow to pressure to extend the Friday, February 8 deadline for the collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), for the 2019 general elections.
Although INEC has constantly maintained that the deadline for collection of the PVCs is sacrosanct, the leading opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had on Wednesday appealed to the electoral commission to extend the collection date.
However, INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, who hinted at the possibility of extending the deadline at the National Stakeholders’ Forum on the 2019 general elections in Abuja, yesterday noted that the final decision would be taken after the meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in the 36 States of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT to review the collection.
Yakubu further assured Nigerians that the elections would not be postponed as being speculated in some quarters, emphasising that INEC had already implemented most of the programmes outlined for the 2019 polls.
“I want to assure stakeholders that INEC is prepared for the election. Let me reassure stakeholders and the nation that the Smart Card Readers will be deployed for the 2019 general elections. The next issue is voters register and the PVCs. We have a lot of complaints from citizens, however, the complaints are coming from those who have damaged their PVCs and require replacement, as well as those who applied for transfer and relocation but the cards, have not been found.
‘Some of you will ask that the last day for the correction of PVCs is Friday, February 8. The commission will meet yesterday after this forum and the next meeting we are going to hold is with security agencies and where it is necessary we will review the arrangement for the collection of PVCs. No Nigerian is going to be disenfranchised for no fault of theirs.
“We have three categories of ad hoc staff; we have the supervisory presiding officers’ category. We have the presiding officers and assistant presiding officers 1, 2 and 3. The third category is the collation and returning officers.
“Our state offices are responsible for the recruitment and training of the first two categories. We are satisfied with the processes and we are going to do refresher training before the election,” Yakubu said.
He further announced that 148 observer groups have been approved for the election with 119 domestic and 28 foreign observer missions, making a total of 90, 000 observers that would be going around pulling units across the country on the election day.
The INEC Chairman who explained that RECs had been mandated to meet with commissioners of police in their respective states to decide on the deployment of security, said they were to meet state chapters of Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers to implement the earlier signed MoU to ensure that election staff and materials were moved to various pulling units before the arrival of voters at 8 am on the election day.
Also speaking, the Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, disclosed that the six Deputy Inspectors General of Police (DIGs) would be deployed to the six geopolitical zones, 24 Assistant Inspectors General of Police (AIGs) would be deployed across the zones while 36,000 tactical personnel would also be deployed in addition to regular police to beef up security on the election day.
“In the tactical unit, over 24,000 mobile police personnel will be deployed, 4,000 counter-terrorism personnel will be deployed and about 8,000 special protection personnel will be deployed.
“I work tirelessly with the INEC, with the office of the National Security Adviser and other security agencies to make sure that 2019 election is done in a secured manner, in a professional manner, in a way that a level playing field is provided for every political party and this indicates that all the security agencies will be impartial in the conduct of the 2019 general elections.
“All the commissioners of police in the states were made to identify the flashpoints within their states to identify those that will cause what will lead to the disruption of elections and make sure that we bring them to order before the elections. That has been done.
“We have done the threat analysis in all the state commands. The state commissioners of police are also going to identify all the polling units and voting points within their commands in cooperation with the RECs to make sure that all the polling units are known before the day of the election.
“Apart from the regular police officers and other security agencies posted, we have our tactical units like the mobile police force, the counter-terrorism unit and our special protection unit are all deployed to give additional security,” he assured.
The acting IGP further noted that all the Squadron Commanders of Police Mobile Force, Special Protection and Anti Terrorism units would escort sensitive election materials to the states branches of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Registration Areas and accompany INEC staff and poll officials especially National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members to their duty posts.
He added that there would be no police escort for VIPs to pulling units but INEC state and local government offices, collation centres, NYSC members lodges and public utilities would be protected by armed police personnel while three unarmed security personnel would man each polling unit on the day of the election.
The police boss promised that before the election day, phone numbers of all Police Public Relations Officers, AIGs, Commissioners of Police, Assistant Commissioners of Police and other officers involved in the conduct of the polls would be made available to the public, noting that security personnel would be professional and impartial to provide a level playing field for all political parties.
Earlier, ECES Project Coordinator, Rudolf Elbing, urged stakeholders in the electoral process to support the growth of Nigeria’s democratic system and work with INEC to ensure that democracy is sustained and elections conducted in the most peaceful atmosphere.
“The forum provides electoral stakeholders with the necessary tools to ensure that elections are conducted with operational and logistical efficiency. At the same time, dialogue- development and dialogue-based decision making throughout the electoral cycle have been enhanced.
“Electoral administration is not a job left to an election management body alone. There are many other important stakeholders who play vital roles in ensuring the successful delivery of the electoral process.
“It is expected that this dialogue will strengthen the long-term capacities of participants and the commission to effectively deliver the coming general elections on February 16 and March 2, through the provision of requisite information on how far the INEC has fared in its planning and implementation of the election project,” he added.
Move Your Hqtrs To N’Delta, Senate Orders Oil Firms
Nigerian Senate, bent on ensuring that Nugeria’s Law in Local Content amongst others are strictly adhered to, Tuesday ordered international oil companies, IOCs to with immediate effect relocate their corporate headquarters from Abuja and Lagos back to their former base in the Niger Delta region.
The Senate’s order came after a meeting between the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition and a group under the aegis of Peace Development, Security and Humanitarian Rights Association of Niger Delta in the National Assembly , Abuja.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee, Senator Ayo Akinyelure ( Ondo Central), in his remarks at the meeting urged the multinational oil companies to read and apply their local content laws on not just the employment scheme but on every other issues of concern .
His words “ Read your local content laws and let it apply to Nigerians in the Niger Delta region . All the international oil companies must relocate their headquarters to the area where they operate so that the state governments can get their tax to improve their internally generate revenue, IGR.
“So that people will get employment because the power houses are currently relocated to Lagos. We are aware that their headquarters are either moved to Lagos or Abuja.
“The people in the Niger Delta want you to relocate to Niger Delta so that their state governments can collect their tax for the development of their states. The people of Niger Delta wants you back to the region.”
Senator James Manager (Delta South) in his contribution lamented that “most of the headquarters of the international oil companies are located outside the Niger Delta areas” as he bluntly noted the people of the region were not happy about the development
“I hope and pray that it wouldn’t degenerate into something else subsequently. I don’t know if representatives of the IOCs here are competent speak on this on behalf of their headquarters because the Niger Deltans as far as we are concerned that in so doing that we can never be tolerated any longer.
“We are aware that it was the unrest in the Niger Delta that forced them out of the region to relocate to somewhere else but there is peace in the region as we speak. Niger Delta is not like the North East, peace has since returned to region. So, why are you still outside the Niger Delta. We can no longer tolerate that, you need to relocate to Niger Delta.”he stated
Earlier in his submission, Secretary General of the group, Comrade Lucky Ovigue Ohwahwa, had listed among other issues, the inclusion of indigenes in the employment scheme of the IOCs, provision of electricity, establishment of youth/women acquisition, training and employment centers in every oil and gas producing local government areas and other basic social amenities to the host communities in the Niger Delta region.
It was also gathered that most of the IOCs , some years back moved their corporate headquarters from Niger Delta region to Lagos and Abuja respectively owing to alleged escalation of youth restiveness and kidnapping in their areas of operations
Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja
Reps Fear Insurgents’ Attack On NASS, Calls For Tight Security
The House of Representatives has mandated its committee on internal security of the National Assembly to overhaul the existing security setup of the National Assembly over report of possible insurgents attack.
Hon Barwa Beji, who moved the motion, cited a newspaper report on possible attack by the insurgents on the National Assembly.
Moving the motion, Beji said that media report has it that several unknown persons have been seen around the National Assembly but claimed to be visiting their lawmaker.
He called for the cooperation of his colleagues to tackle the danger.
“Several suspicious people have been seen around National Assembly. The cooperation of the lawmakers will be really important, since those people have been linked to us,” he said.
The lawmaker also accused the security agents at the National Assembly of compromising the security of the complex by collecting bribe at the gate to allow people in.
“We are aware of the compromise by security agents, who collects tokens to allow such people to entre. Also aware of the delay in giving identity cards to the people who are coming into the national assembly,” he stated.
The House, therefore, resolved to mandate the management of the National Assembly to speed up the process of issuing identity cards to vendors operating at the national assembly and to investigate the report.
The green chamber also asked the management of the complex to install CCTV camera around the complex and more shuttle should be provided.
HURIWA Blasts Buhari Over Planned Energy Tariff Hike
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has accused the Federal Government and the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) of committing what it called “electricity terrorism.”
A prominent civil rights advocacy group, HURIWA, made the remark while urging Nigerians to publicly protest the proposed hike in the electricity tariffs as proposed by NERC to commence on April 1, 2020.
It accused NERC of conniving with shylock and corrupt private sector operators in the electricity industry to inflict unquantifiable agony and pains on Nigerians who are at the receiving end of what can possibly be described as ‘electricity terrorism’.
Dismissing the proposed hike in electricity tariff as the biggest April Fool’s scam by any government agency, the rights group asked Nigerians who are “sleep-walking” into involuntary servitude being imposed by the current totalitarian regime, to demand accountability from the Federal Government on how several billions of public fund frittered away packaged in the guise of dubious grants to the private entrepreneurs in the electricity power sector as a condition precedent before any national dialogue can take place on the way forward towards improving the dwindling and poor electricity power supplies to Nigerians.
A statement by HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, noted that any upward review of tariffs of electricity can only be an imposition of “slave tariffs for the darkness that envelopes most parts of Nigeria at night following constant failures of the distributors to meet up with their business obligations to the consumers of electricity.”
The statement reads: “Nigerians must realize that what is needed for a dictatorship to take root is for the masses to accept hook, line, and sinker every unimaginable and toxic policy for good or for evil introduced by government without asking intelligent questions to ensure that there is transparency and accountability always.
“Nigerians should ask the federal government to explain how the N37billion grants for prepaid meter supply it gave to a private sector operator to supply meters to interested distribution companies were utilized since millions of electricity consumers are still without those meters even in the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja.”
HURIWA recalled that in 2028, the then Power Minister, Babatunde Fashola, disclosed that N37 billion was distributed as meter grants just as he made the announcement at the 28th monthly meeting of power stakeholders in Kaduna.
The rights group quoted Fashola, who did not mention the name of the company, as saying that the Federal Government provided the fund based on the demand for meters, given the increasing power generation, transmission and distribution in the country.
HURIWA, however, insisted that there was no empirical evidence to show what the unnamed company that benefitted from the political largesse of N37billion did with this humongous public cash given that millions of homes can’t find electricity meters for their use, thereby exposing them to extortion rackets run by the different regional DisCos that still charge estimated billings.
“Nigerians should also ask the Federal Government to render account on the N1.095trillion federal intervention fund distributed to DisCos by the Central Bank of Nigeria since 2018 even when power supplies are still poor and indeed over 80 million Nigeria families are still without electrical power.
“According to public information made available by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s annual report for 2018, the apex bank had as at the end of 2018, granted total credit of N1.095trillion to the power sector under three different schemes it set up.
“The schemes were Nigerian Electricity Market Stabilization Facility (NEMSF) worth N213.417billion meant to settle outstanding payment obligations due to market participants during the interim rules of the market as well as legacy debts owed by the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to gas suppliers; the N300billion Power and Airline Intervention Fund (PAIF); and the N701billion Payment Assurance Facility (PAF) extended to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) to settle invoices of generation companies (GenCos) to a minimum level of 80 per cent,” the statement added.
The rights group condemned the opaque system in operation within the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Power Ministry because two years after, there are no available body of knowledge to justify or rationalise how these huge public funds were spent.
HURIWA said: “We call on Nigerians in their numbers to reject the decision by NERC to hike the tariffs of electricity power to be paid by Nigerians with effect from April 1 even without accounting for how government utilized the quantum of cash paid out to the private businesses in the electricity sector even without any form of improvements.”
Recall that NERC had recently directed the 11 electricity distribution companies, DisCos, to hike their tariffs by average of 50 per cent on April 1.
Ikeja Electric (IE) Plc, which made this disclosure in its memo to the commission, noted that the directive is “in order to meet the tariff shortfall funding target from 2020 by the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
Owing to the directive, the 50 per cent tariff increase is expected to raise the average tariffs from the current level of 27.30 N/kWh to 40.95 N/kWh, according to the Chief Executive Officer, Anthony Youdeowei.
The memo was dated February 12, 2020.
The power distributor titled the document: “Re: Addendum to Ikeja Plc’s Performance Improvement Plan and application for extraordinary tariff review of MYTO-2015.”
NERC, according to the IE document, said: “The objective for the extra-ordinary tariff review of MYTO-2015 is to ensure Ikeja Electric adjusts its tariff in line with the commission’s directive that current average allowed tariff shall be grossed-up 50 per cent from April, 2020.”
IE informed the commission that in line with the directive, “we have designed the tariffs based on the MYTO tariff model contained in the document, ‘Ikeja DisCo Tariff Model January, 2020’ shared with IE by the commission.
“In this application, we intend to create a new tariff class, called Bilateral; a class that is being created for customers that IE has a signed Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with under a willing-buyer-willing seller arrangement. In order to provide an efficient and reliable service to customers in this tariff class, cost-reflective tariffs are required to cover the cost of service delivery.”
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