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Let The Votes Count

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Never in the political history of Nigeria that certain parts of the country are put in suspense just to hear the announcement of who will be the governor of their state that is almost one month after the elections that were supposed to produce who will govern us at the state level as well as those to preside at the state Houses of Assembly.
Up till now, states like Rivers, Adamawa, Benue, Bauchi, Kano and Sokoto are yet to get governors-elect. From all indication, this quagmire is not just the fault of INEC alone, but the brigandage exhibited by some members of the APC-led Federal Government and at the state level.
The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), I believe is in a dilemma as some of the major actors have now resorted to be shopping for courts that will give them favourable judgements to hold the democratic system to ransom. Already, there are injunctions on INEC not to collate any result in Bauchi state, that of Rivers State was not granted, and we won’t be suprised if this copy cat syndrome will not spread to other states.
To those who are familiar with the political terrain proper, all these injunctions are an abuse of the judicial process as they are post-election matters and not pre-election issues. It is only an election tribunal under the law that can handle issues like this. Well, but this is Nigeria where rules are bent and intimidation and harassment of those who don’t do the bidding of the powers that be can be accused of corruption at any given day.
According to the German philosopher, Frledrich Nietzsche, “The value of a thing sometimes lies not in what one attains with it, but in what one pays for it, what it costs us.” The behaviour being exhibited by those who lost out in the last governorship election has not shown exemplary conduct. And their actions are not just costing the states good governance but also creating uncertainty especially in investment opportunities.
One begins to wonder, for how long some individuals will continue to be allowed to truncate or slow down the democratic process of free choice and making our votes count. The handover date for new governors is just about two months from now and are we certain that with all these delays and now legal ambush being unleashed by desperate politicians, the May 29th handover date will be sacrosanct? No one envisaged that the 2019 general elections in some parts of the country will turn out to be very ugly with broad day light ballot box snatching in vogue and security personnel playing active role in the process.
The problem is not just in the conduct of the elections but how to present the outcome to the public. From various reports which emanated from those who monitored the elections, it seems that there are a lot of discrepancies in the results submitted by collation officers from that gotten from the voting units. Just recently the collation officer for Tafewa Balewa local government area was replaced following threats to her life. This indicates that most results announced so far are highly questionable. This could be the reason state governors from Bauchi, Kano and Adamawa who contested to return for a second term had to go to the conventional court to get injunctions instead of the mandatory election tribunals. To those with understanding of how things work in Nigeria, this is just a delay tactic to prevent those who probably have the highest votes cast from being declared winners of the election.
But the big question is, for how long will this continue? Despite the arm-twisting and other overt strategies that might be used to postpone the eventual outcome, one thing is clear, there is always a terminal date for every elected public officer. The office of governor is not the reserve or birthright of any individual but for those who have the mandate of the people through a legitimate, electoral process.
It seems that Nigerians love the theatre of the absurd more than what is real and can move the society forward. Since 1999, elections have been conducted and results were either accepted or challenged in the courts. But why is it that today things are suddenly different 20 years after. If some say that we are still learning about democracy, the answer is strongly no! We are not learning anything new rather, we are dismantling our democratic institutions one-by-one with the aim of destroying the society if we don’t achieve our selfish interest. And this attitude must change. How can someone still claim that after learning to cast his vote 20 years ago, he is still doing the same learning 20 years after?
For now everywhere there is suspense, people are talking, questions are being asked, even little children are worried and are apprehensive as to when all these charade and Nollywood movies will end so that we can get back to reality. What we need now are people of integrity, of strong will, who can withstand intimidation, bullying, seduction and do the right thing so that those who truly won the elections will be announced. Nigeria is by far greater than the whims and caprices of individuals with inflated ego who want to play tin gods of our politics.
If this situation is allowed to linger more than necessary, the spiral effect will not only affect the individual states but also the federal government as people including foreigners are sad that the 2019 election had set a bad example for democracy in Africa. Were the five sets of elections from 1999 to 2015 a wasteful exercise? Why is it that announcement of election results has become such a herculean task that it will take more than a month to make such?
If the task has become quite difficult maybe it is time to outsource the duties of our electoral umpire to that of Benin Republic to manage, which I believe will do a better job. Benin Republic has had elections which can be described as the pride of Africa. This is a country where a dictator turned democrat lost an election, came back years after and won. This is a country where an Independent Presidential candidate without a political party contested against established political parties including a candidate of the ruling party and won and at the end of his second tenure in office gracefully bowed out of the political scene.
Why can’t we learn from these little countries? Can we say that we have anything to teach the like of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Senegal, the Gambia, Malawi, Namibia Seychelles, Zambia or Cape Verde? Our political class seems not have changed as we make the same mistake year in, year out. Nigeria is a country where critics of government interprete what is the truth based on their economic need. When he is hungry and in the opposition nothing is good but when he gets into office it is the opposition that is bad.
The solution to this logjam of the present situation is for INEC to conclude the collation process and announce the results and if a political party and its candidates are not satisfied they know where to get justice, the election tribunals. The tribunals, right from 1999 have been handling such cases and we should stop every pretence that such courts do not exist. The APC chairman, Adam Oshiomohle, or Peter Obi, the Iroko of Ondo politics, Olusegun Mimiko and a few others are all products of the election petition tribunals. So it is not out of place for election losers to go that way.
As a Nigerian, I don’t envy the INEC chairman Professor Mamoud Yakubu. First of all, he is truly under pressure and secondly his integrity is at stake. This is because the job is a thankless one. To midwife an election if we reflect back, has always been full of tension, accusations of being biased, inducement and outright partisanship against the incumbent chairman. From Eyo Esua in 1960, Michael Ani Ovier Whiskey, Eme Awa, Humphry Nwosu, Okon Ewa Sumner Dagogo Jack, Ephraim Akpata Abel Goubadia, Michael Iwu and Attahiru Jega, it has not been easy.
Let’s hope that by the time Mamood Yakubu concludes his assignment, he would put his experience in a book form so that future generations and scholars will learn a lot from him and understand why Nigeria is a strange country.

Tonye Ikiroma-Owiye

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…Urges Ondo Gov To Shelve N2bn Gov’s Lodge Project

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has advised the Ondo State government  to shelve its plans to build a new governor’s lodge at the cost of N2 billion in the interest of the state.
Mr Fatai Adams, the state PDP Chairman said this when he spoke with newsmen at the state party secretariat in Akure, yesterday.
Adams expressed concern over mass resignation of doctors in the state due to poor remuneration.
“We are seriously alarmed by the unfortunate resignation of over 109 doctors from the state public service over the inability of the government to pay their due salaries and hazard allowances as at when due.
“I’m sure you will all recall that Ondo State was the destination for medical tourism in the South West because of the first class service delivery found here under the PDP administration.
“According to the Nigerian Medical Association records, no medical house officer has been employed by the state government since 2019, a situation that is responsible for the poor services rendered in the hospitals.
“The present administration has a backlog of unpaid salaries of workers, it is proposing to build a N2 billion new governor’s lodge in Akure. This is not only ridiculous but the surest evidence that the government has completely lost direction,” he said.
Adams added” “Dr Olusegun Mimiko, Oluwarotimi Akeredeolu’s predecessor built a very befitting governor’s Lodge in 2013, a few years before Akeredolu assumed the reins of government.
“To spend N2 billion of tax payers money on another lodge at this time is the height of callousness and wastefulness,” he said.

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Senators Rate 9th National Assembly High

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Senators on Wednesday at plenary commended the 9th National Assembly at the mid-term assessment of its performance in the last two years.
The lawmakers, who spoke during a special session to mark the second year anniversary of the 9th Senate, commended the various legislative interventions of the National Assembly, especially on  security, economy and governance.
The lawmakers, who spoke included the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC-Kebbi); Deputy Leader, Ajayi Boroffice (APC-Ondo); Deputy Whip, Aliyu Sabi (APC-Niger), and Adamu Aliero (APC-Kebbi).
Others were Yahaya Oloriegbe (APC-Kwara); Gabriel Suswam (PDP-Benue); Chukwuka Utazi (PDP-Enugu); Solomon Adeola (APC-Lagos), Olubunmi Adetumbi (APC,-Ekiti), Ibikunle Amosun (APC-Ogun), and Suleiman Umar (APC-Kwara).
The rest were Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo (APC-Bayelsa); Nicholas Tofowomo (PDP-Ondo); Istifanus Gyang (PDP-Plateau); Sam Egwu (PDP-Ebonyi); Teslim Folarin (APC-Oyo); Nora Daduut (APC-Plateau); Jibrin Isah (APC-Kogi); Abdullahi Adamu (APC-Nasarawa), and Francis Fadahunsi (PDP-Osun), amongst others.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in a speech delivered at the special session, said 742 bills were introduced by the ninth Senate in the last two years.
According to him, out of the total number of bills introduced during the two sessions of the Assembly, 58 have been passed, while 355 bills have gone through first reading.
Contributing, Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, said the realignment carried out on the budget cycle by the National Assembly was to insulate businesses and the economy from going into recession.
Deputy Whip, Sen. Aliyu Sabi, said: “As we celebrate two years, we are guided by the legislative agenda.
“The unity of purpose which we have worked for, has enabled us to achieve those great strides.
“The Production Sharing Contract (PSC) is a testimony on how the National Assembly has been able to work in unity in the interest of the nation.
“We need to work together to find common grounds to problems that beset the country,” Abdullahi said.
In his own remark, Sen. Garbriel Suswam, said: “Inspite of challenges and shortcomings, the 9th Assembly had taken major steps to achieve some of its legislative agenda.”
He said that the executive has been intransigent in implementing the resolution of the National Assembly.
He appealed to the Senate President to ensure that the Electoral Bill presently before the National Assembly was passed transparently, while accommodating provisions for the use of electronic card readers and electronic transmission of results during elections.
Senator Chukwuka Utazi, on his own part, described Executive-Legislative relations under the ninth Assembly as a good one.
The lawmaker, who  called for the introduction of State Police, to curb rising insecurity in the country, also advised that the constitutional review exercise, be used to bring the South East region at par with other parts of the country.
Sen. Solomon Adeola similarly said that the Senate had on two occasions rescued Nigeria from a looming economic crises when it slid into recession.
He added that such a prompt response was extended by the National Assembly to the issue of insecurity amid its recommendations to the Executive arm of government, which were aimed at tackling the spate of insecurity faced by the country.

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PDP Inaugurates E-Registration Committee

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday inaugurated e-registration Committee to facilitate electronic registration of its members nationwide.
The committee is Chaired by the Governor of Edo, Mr Godwin Obaseki, while Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State is the Vice Chairman.
The party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, at the inauguration of the committee in Abuja, said that the e- registration was a project dear to the party and had been on the card since 2010.
Secondus said that the party decided to digitalise its membership for proper database, due to its size, reach and to move with time.
“When we say that PDP is the largest party in the continent, we are not grandstanding but stating the obvious.
“There is no nook and cranny of this country that you won’t find PDP members.
“In 2019 general elections, the PDP was the only political party that fielded candidates in all the positions: Presidency, Governorship, Senate and House of Representatives and in all the 36 states’ Houses of Assembly.
“Even in states where we are not in power, our members still out number even the ruling party in such states.
“We are the only party since inception in 1998 that has been consistent in name, motto, manifestos and logo,” he said.
Secondus said that reports available to the party across the country showed that many more Nigerians want to join PDP and that the exercise would provide them such opportunity.
Secondus advised members of the committee to use their wealth of experience to deliver on the mandate assigned to them.
“In appointing you as the Chairman of this project, the party took into consideration your background and your love for data and record keeping.
“We have absolute confidence that you and your team will deliver in this assignment that is expected to update the database of our party across the country.
“Membership registration into our party is a continuous programme, what we are embarking on is to digitalise it for proper analysis of issues.
“The place of women and youths in our party cannot be over-emphasised and this programme is going to help toward proper planning in our party,” Secondus said.
Obaseki, in his remarks promised that the committee would reach out to PDP members across the nation.
He promised that the exercise would be all inclusive to the men and women, especially youths who were living in the digital world.
Obaseki said the committee would leverage on the existing platform of the party and produced a membership register that the party would be proud of .
“It is very worthy that our party being a big party has decided to digitalised membership and position the party to take over in 2023,” he said.
The party’s National Organising Secretary, retired Col. Austin Akobundu is the Secretary to the Committee, while the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan; Agbi Emmanuel, Prof. Wale Oladipo, Sani Kutigi, Cyril Maduabum and Hon. Austin Opara will serve as members. 

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