Seventy-five (75) political parties have passed vote of confidence on , Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Prof. Yakubu Mahmood.
The parties made this known in a communique issued at the end of a two-day National Roundtable for the 2019 General Election Review, organised by Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA), held last Monday in Abuja.
The communique was jointly signed by the Acting Director, CTA, Ms Faith Nwadishi and National Chairman, Coalition for Change (C4C ) Party, Mr Geff Ojinika.
The conference with the theme: “The Role and Performances of Stakeholders in the 2019 General Elections: Issues, Challenges and Prospects,” was in conjunction with Chairmen of Nigerian Political Parties.
According to the group, Yakubu did well in the conduct of the just-concluded elections and deserved to be commended.
“While thanking the INEC management for a well-planned and carefully executed 2019 General Elections, the roundtable passed a vote of confidence on the INEC Chairman.
“It equally calls for a more regular roundtable discussion on the improvement of our electoral process,” the communique noted.
The group recommended the need for INEC to strengthen the capacity of its polling staff through training and retraining particularly on the handling of the card readers.
They called on the National Assembly to immediately re-present to President Muhammadu Buhari, the amended Electoral Bill and urged the President to do the needful to ensure that the amended Electoral Bill was signed into law.
The roundtable demanded the establishment of electoral offenses tribunal to punish electoral offenders and should be structured to take off in less than a month after the conclusion of election petition tribunal hearings.
They also said that political parties and young people should leverage on the provisions of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Act to increase political participation of youth in subsequent elections.
The communique noted that efforts must be intensified to ensuring proper coordination of Inter Agency Committee on Election Security (ICES) and the non-partisan deployment of security personnel to all the polling units to ensure peaceful conduct of polls.
The parties said that in order to address dwindling turnout of voters after the first election and increase the zeal to elect credible leaders, the conduct of the three principal elections should be done on the same day.
This, they said, would curb voter apathy.
They added that that it would also save cost, ensure emergence of quality leadership, the integrity of the ballot, large voter turnout and guarantee improved security on election day.
The group also urged political parties to maintain internal democracy and engage in transparent primaries to select their candidates with less rancour, and minimise defections.
The communique also advised parties to review their manifestoes to strengthen their ideologies and loyalties and stem intra-party conflicts that bedevilled the nation’s polity.
“Freedom of Information Act should be given life so that media outfits and journalists will be adequately protected while carrying out their legitimate duties during elections.” it said
NAN reports that some of the political parties at the event included, Labour Party (LP), Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA), Accord (A), National Conscience Party (NCP), among others.
Kogi Poll: APGA Guber Candidate Wants Probe Of N10bn Project Fund
The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance in Kogi State, Sheik Ibrahim Jibril, has urged the National Assembly to thoroughly investigate the N10. 069 billion presidential funds for projects allegedly executed by the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello.
Sheik Ibrahim who kicked against the release of the money urged the National Assembly to discharge their duties with the fear of God and the interest of the people of Kogi State, saying the National Assembly should insist on seeing the projects for which Governor Yahaya Bello is requesting the fund.
He said the last N30billion bailout funds to the state were not used for the purpose of paying salaries, noting that a probe into how the money was spent will be instituted if APGA assumes office after the election in the state.
The APGA governorship candidate questioned the timing of the fund request and noted that it would not be out of place to accuse the governor of planning to use the money for purchase of votes having realised that he is bound to lose the election.
He claimed that it was obvious that APC and the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari did not care about the welfare of the people rather they are more interested in foisting an incompetent and non-performing Governor on the people.
He stressed that ordinarily, such financial initiative ought to be a source of joy to the Kogi people “but for the incompetent leadership of Bello who also has a penchant for diverting public funds.”
Huge Cost Of NASS Maintenance Worries TUC
Rivers State chapter of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), has called on the Federal Government to reduce the costs of governance in the country, noting that it cost the country billions of Naira to maintain the National Assembly alone.
The State TUC, chairman, Austin Jonah who spoke when he appeared as guest on a live Radio programme in Port Harcourt monitored by The Tide stated that the cost of governance in Nigeria is very expensive and not attainable.
Jonah further said the federal government will have enough funds to pay the minimum wage when they reduce the salaries and allowances of political office holders.
“Look at the welcome pack of the National Assembly members. N4.6 plus billion for accommodation and furniture. A Senator is going home with about N10million, while the member of House of Representatives is taking N9million plus.
“If you calculate with 360 persons in the House of Reps, plus 109 in the Senate, that is about 469 people and they have severance gratuity. They have so many things they are going home with plus their salary. You see, if you look at governance and cut down expenditure in governance this money, they have already taken the money that are talking about.
“They have taken it in the sense that they want to increase communication tax, such as that every call you make you pay tax, sms you pay tax, data you pay tax and even cable Television,” Jonah lamented
The State TUC chairman said what the labour union negotiated with the Federal Government was not the minimum wage but consequential adjustment.
“What we were negotiating was the consequential adjustment. Now from N18, 000 to N30, 000, the difference is N12, 000, which is 66 per cent. That 66 per cent was what we negotiated. By right we are not supposed to negotiate.
“If you trace the history of minimum wage in Nigeria, it started in 1981 during the Alhaji Shehu Shagari Government. Whenever you finish with minimum wage, the consequential adjustment is based on the percentage of the difference.
“The first minimum wage presented by the NLC was N300, but at the end of the day N125 was agreed,” he said.
NASS Promises Better Funding For Nigerian Army
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume and his House of Representatives counterpart, Mr Abdulrazak Namdas, have promised to ensure adequate funding for the Nigerian Army in the 2020 budget.
They made the promise on Saturday in an interview with newsmen during the Passing Out Parade (POP) of 78 Regular Recruits Intake at the Depot Nigerian Army, Zaria, Kaduna State.
They said that the army needed to be adequately funded to be able to effectively tackle the prevailing security threats in the country.
Ndume, who agreed that the N100 billion proposed for the defence in 2020 budget was inadequate, said that the committee on army was looking at how to help to enhance the funding.
He said that the national assembly was aware of needs of the army that needed to be provided to enable its personnel to perform their duties effectively.
“We are going to do something despite the fact that the resources are scarce but security is first and everybody has agreed to that.
“We are looking at the budget critically to place our priorities right so that the right things will be done first.”
Namdas said that the joint committee had embark on fact finding tour to army formations across the country and realised that the army had challenges.
According to him, they are really on ground, they have done so much and now that the National Assembly is considering the budget we can appropriate for the army.
“We will see how we can be able to adjust and see how that can be able to cope with the challenges at hand,” he said.
Namdas also disclosed that a motion to provide for special funding for the armed forces was currently being considered on the floor of the House of Representatives.
He added that the armed forces could not be adequately funded only by the budget, adding that there was need to look beyond the budget to finance the operations of the armed forces.
“That motion has been taken and we are looking to it and by the special grace of God, even after the budget we will look for special funding for the armed forces generally,” he said.
The Depot Nigerian Army on Saturday graduated a total of 4832 regular recruits who would be deployed to various formations of the army.
Similarly, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, urged the graduating soldiers to always uphold the oath of allegiance they had taken to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
Olonisakin also tasked them to display total loyalty while pledging that the prevailing security challenges would soon be over through the commitment of the military.
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