At last, the tension in Nigeria over who becomes President and governor has reduced drastically, as almost all the elections have been concluded and results announced except that of Rivers State.
An overview of what really happened nationwide on the general conduct of the elections really leaves much to be desired. It is true that there were intimidations, this is irrefutable. It is also true that in Nigeria, elections are rigged, there has always been violence but that notwithstanding after much hues and cries some would go to court to get redress, whether they win or lose at the courts or election tribunals that would be decided by the tribunal members after much deliberation.
But the major headache in the electoral system has always been working out modalities on how to checkmate desperate politicians who will go all out to subvert the system. It seems that the politicians in Nigeria are more creative in election rigging than in other clique. Here it has become a profession that sometimes is not done with finess.
The worst of such elections was the supplementary vote in Kano State where election observers were prevented from doing their job, security agents were helpless or indifferent to their primary assignment allowing thugs to hijack the process in full glare of the public.
Reacting to the charade in Kano, The Coalition of United Political parties (CUPP) called for the cancellation of the election following violent activities by thugs who took over the accreditation process. On its part the Nigeria Civil Society situation room, condemned the abuse of the Nations electoral process by politicians inspite of the deployment of top-level police officers to Kano in particular.
Spokesman for the group, Clement Nwankwo said “it was ironic and curious that the level of violence and political thuggery would occur with the quantum of Senior Police Officers deployed to Kano.
Invariably, what this mean is that thuggery can only be stopped if the nations security agents are really serious with their statutory duties. The situation whereby people mandated to protect lives and property shy away from their responsibilities raises more questions than answers and paints such institutions as unrealiable and untrustworthy.
Notable Nigerians apart from social activits including clerics have condemned the inherent disruptive tendencies of some Nigerian politicians, especially the Notion of cutting corners by riggers themselves into power stressing that elections should always be seen as a vehicle for sustainable development. This view is apt as hooligans use the opportunity created by their masters to bring shame to the country.
Politicians continue to blame the past military government and past civilian administrators for the nation’s short-comings, but what have they really done to eliminate the evils of the present day such as electoral malpractices. Are they also offshoots of the military governments?
What Nigerians should be thinking now is how to go out of the whirlpool of primordial politicking and fast forward ourselves to think like 21st century social scientists who have all the modern gadgets to get things right. But this not really hard, the problem has always been the mindset of the average Nigerian politician or those in authority to cheat. Maybe if we continue to wobble and fumble it will get to a situation where we will have to invite our neighbouring counties to assist us especially in conducting our elections as a critical look at the governorship elections has shown that the new slogan “Inconclusive” has become the hallmark of our electoral system.
Collation and announcement of results are now uphill tasks that will take weeks and huge manpower to conduct. No loser is ready to accept defeat even if the collacted results shows that his opponent is leading him with a huge margin. No wonder people describe Nigerian as a country of contradiction. “a society where the best are never given the opportunity to serve but only excel outside the country.
This year marks 20 years of uninterrupted democratic governance but we seem to have learnt nothing, seen nothing and have given out nothing to the younger generation except cheating, riggings, stealing and deceit. For how long can we as a people be honest to ourselves and collectively do what is right?
To be fair to INEC the fallout of the electoral process is not its fault but the problems created by the political class. And for the first time an the country’s political history elections in seven states were declared inconclusive which nobody envisaged.
However in Rivers State INEC is being looked at with suspicion in some quarters that it might not do what is right by announcing the clear winner of the election but rather call for a re-run. From available records it was only in Abua/Odual local government area that collation was not allowed to take place as the army hijacked the process.
INEC should not keep the people in suspense any longer and do the needful by announcing Chief Ezenwo Nyesom Wike as governor re-elected to govern the state. Because to do otherwise would be seen as a conspiracy between the APC led federal government at the centre and INEC to truncate the will of Rivers people.
Why should the case of Rivers State be different that it should be treated last? Are there hidden truths that INEC does not want the people of Rivers State to know? Or is INEC and the federal government perfecting plans so that a scenario would be created whereby the governor’s tenure will expire creating room for the appointment of a Sole administrator?
We hope that INEC will not allow itself to be used to formed injustice and instability in Rivers State.
Still On Security Votes
When Mr Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), spoke at the induction programme for returning and newly-elected governors, he did not mince words in accusing governors of misusing security votes.
He alleged that some governors deliberately fuelled insecurity in their states just to collect more money as security votes.
He noted that some of the governors “now covertly promote insecurity as justification to inflate their security votes.”
Magu also alleged that there was a link between corruption, banditry and terrorism.
His allegations were contained in a paper, titled, “Imperative of Fighting Corruption/Terrorism Financing in Nigeria.’’
Magu told the session that a debate on the legality of security votes enjoyed by the governors was ongoing.
“We have also seen evidence of theft of public resources by some state governors, cashing in on the insecurity in their states.
“Insecurity has also offered the required oxygen for corruption to thrive as evident in the $2.1bn arms procurement scandal involving top military commanders both serving and retired.”
A study carried out by the University of Nigeria, agreed with Magu on the abuse of security votes.
The study is titled “Legitimising Corruption in Government: Security Votes in Nigeria.’’
It was authored by Obiamaka Egbo, Ifeoma Nwakoby, Josaphat Onwumere and Chibuike Uche, of the Department of Banking and Finance, University of Nigeria.
“The tendency among Nigerian politicians, particularly the executive arm at the various levels of government, to manipulate security issues for political and economic gains is widespread.
“This has been fuelled by the abuse of security votes, an ‘opaque fund’ reserved for the executive which is not appropriated, accounted for or audited through the legislature.
“ Sometimes, a state governor could (mis)appropriate as much as N100 million monthly as security vote.
“Such slush funds are channelled into the secret funding of militias and gangs of government enforcers.’’
The appropriateness or otherwise of security votes was at the centre of discourse at the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) second Quarterly Anti-Corruption Policy Dialogue Series.
The dialogue focused on Accountability for Security Votes.
ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, who spoke, agreed with Magu that security vote is an easy and attractive route for stealing public funds.
According to him, it is also a veritable avenue for abuse of public trust, escalation of poverty and underdevelopment and ironically the escalation of insecurity.
“It has pushed up insecurity somehow, that is not to say we do not need security vote.
“In the 2019 budget as appropriated, for example, 162 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) had money appropriated for them as security votes.
“These MDAs span boards, centres, committees, ministries, commissions, councils, hospitals, schools, law enforcement agencies, obviously the armed forces and intelligence offices.”
Owasanoye said that the number and categories of MDAs given security votes, suggest that something was wrong with the parameters for determining those who are entitled to security votes.
“This then provokes some question as which MDAs are entitled to security votes and how should security votes be accounted for?
“It is clear from our present approach, that we do not have any rational principle being followed at the moment.
“If there is one, I will be happy that my ignorance will be diminished and removed,” he said.
The chairman explained that it was clear from the current approach to budgeting for security votes, that no principle was being followed.
He said that this is clear from the quantum and range of sums appropriated in the 2019 budget for MDAs, where the lowest amount for security vote was N3,600, while the highest amount was N4.20 billion.
“What on earth can anyone do with N3, 600, and I am not talking of an individual.
“If the N3, 600 is the security vote of an individual, most likely it will take him from somewhere to his house. That is the safest place to be.
“But what on earth can an agency do with N3, 600 as security vote, as appropriated?”
With this disparity, what then should security votes be used for?
Owasanoye opined that it was pertinent because MDAs with budgets for security votes also have separate budgets for other security related matters, such as the production or procurement for security or defence equipment.
“In the case of defence and core security and law enforcement agencies, some of these items and the votes are undoubtedly justified. But the quantum and use is open to scrutiny,” he said.
He, however, explained that it was apparent that security vote was not for any of those other security items mentioned, because they were often separately covered in the budget.
“There is the erroneous impression that security votes are not being accounted for with our recent experience as a country, that almost lost a geo-political zone to insurgency.
“Whereas billions of dollars were appropriated for security, but diverted by corruption to matters like engaging prayer warriors demands that we reflect very closely and ask ourselves whether we can afford to continue on the same trajectory of lack of accountability for security votes.
“We need security votes; we should give the votes to those who deserve to have security votes and we should demand some framework for accountability,” he said.
On his part, Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, said that security vote was subject to audit and “if it is not done, it is wrong”.
He said that the votes were not votes for defence and were also not meant for the armed forces.
“Strictly speaking, if you look at security votes in the true context, it is not meant to tackle insecurity.
“We have funding for Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces. If you have budget lines for these services and organisations, then why security votes?
“However, it can be used for security; but it is not meant to solve insecurity,
“There are other votes which are constitutional which include the contingency fund,” he said.
Buratai explained that even though there was security vote that was generally applied, it must follow the Public Procurement Act 2007.
The chief of army staff said that if security vote was made constitutional and proper guidelines set out on utilisation, the issue will be laid to rest
Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, described security vote as the budgetary or extra budgetary allocation ostensibly for security, received by the President, Governors and Local Government Chairmen.
This allocation he said, is spent without legal obligation to account for how it is spent.
Fayemi said that security votes have not been widely accepted by citizens, because of the assumption that such funds are being abused by state governments.
He said that the problem really is not about the security vote but about its usages and the character of the people administering it.
“Security votes attract more attention because of the seemingly non accountable nature of the expenditure under the budgetary provision.
“There is widespread belief that the appropriation of security votes in Nigeria is unconstitutional and thus illegal.
“This is not correct because in the Nigerian constitution, the executive is entrusted with the responsibility of preparing a budget which is then sent to the legislature for ratification.
“The fact that huge amount of monies are routinely being budgeted and expended in the name of security vote does not make it an illegal practice
“The act of approving any sum allocated to such a heading, covert or overt, legalises the concept. The insinuation that such money is not budgeted for is not true,” Fayemi said.
Like Magu said, the legality or otherwise of security vote is ongoing, and must continue until it properly defined. The earlier the better to avoid misuse and diversion of public funds in the guise of security vote.
Sharang writes for the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Grudges Not Healthy For Our Music Industry –PMAN President
Voombalistic Uncle P, National President, Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), says grudges among Nigerian musicians is not healthy for the music industry.
Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) is an umbrella organisation that guides, protect and promotes the interests of musicians in Nigeria.
Dr Obi Okwudili Casmir, popularly known as Voombalistic Uncle P, who spoke with our source in Lagos, advised musicians to shun grudges to avoid resentment in their relationships.
“Grudges amongst musicians is not healthy for our industry and will only create further resentment in their relationships as musicians and may affect what we represent or present to the public.
“Being emotionally immature when composing or writing your songs means you can not control your emotions or reactions towards your colleagues.
“Having quarrel is a fact of life amongst best of friends but you don’t take it too hard on yourselves because it might graduate to what happened in the case of 2pac and Biggie.
“I advise we settle our differences internally if we have any, rather than taking them to the studio and then streets/homes. That doesn’t project us in good light,” he said.
It was gathered that Nigerian rappers Jude Abaga popularly known as M.I and Olanrewaju Ogunmefun (Vector) are currently expressing grudges against each other in songs which had been trending on social media platforms.
The grudge, which reportedly began over supremacy in the rap category of the music industry, has being described as publicity stunts, while some saw it as real disagreement between the two rappers which had been brewing over the years.
Rescind N5,000 Fee For National ID, PDP Tells Buhari
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, charged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to recind the N5,000 fee for national identity cards immediately.
The PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the new fee is repressive and an attempt by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government to further impose hardship on the citizens.
The opposition party noted that the idea of an ID card fee is offensive to the sensibilities of Nigerians, as it amounts to stripping Nigerians of their constitutional rights in their own country..
“Our party holds that issuance of national identity card to citizens, as an obligation of the state to its citizenry, must remain free as established by the PDP. The N5000 levy must be immediately rescinded before it triggers restiveness in the nation.
“Already, the fee is generating tension in the country as Nigerians have continued to register their rejection in the public space.
“The PDP notes the increasing penchant of the APC administration to impose all sorts of taxes on suffering Nigerians.”
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has signed five bills passed by the 8th National Assembly into law, Mr Umar Yakubu, his Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives) has said.
Yakubu who made the announcement at a news conference last Wednesday in Abuja, said that the Acts were to ensure good governance in the country.
The bills include the Obafemi Awolowo University Transitional Amendment Act, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi Amendment Act, the University of Maiduguri Amendment Act, the National Fertiliser Quality Control Act and the Nigerian Council of Food Science and Technology Establishment Act.
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