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2019 Presidential Poll: NDI, IRI Report Show Election Was Rigged -PDP …Nigeria Must Enforce Electoral Laws …Elections Not Transparent, CACOL Affirms

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The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday said the report by the National Democratic Institute, NDI, and the International Republican Institute, IRI warning of possible apathy in future elections shows that the 2019 Presidential poll was rigged in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The party stated this in reaction to the report on the 2019 election by the United States of America based institutions, which was publicly presented in Abuja last Tuesday.
In a chat with newsmen, Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Diran Odeyemi described as shameful the fact that “it is foreign observers that have told us the errors in our electoral system and democracy.”
According to him: “The report vindicates the position of our party that the electoral system is in danger and democracy is under threat. The Presidential election was rigged and that is why we are at the tribunal to prove to the world that the election failed credibility test.
“Buhari has muzzled the judiciary and we all remember the way the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen was eased out of the way. Now he has imposed Tanko Mohammed. Last week, they imposed their preferences of leaders at the National Assembly in the persons of Senator Ahmed Lawan and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, all in a bid to have their way all the time. We will retrieve our mandate.”
Meanwhile, the Joint Nigeria International Election Observer Mission, the International Republican Institute, IRI and National Democratic Institute, NDI, jointly presented the final report on the 2019 general elections, saying that it has become very imperative for Nigeria as a country to put in place, measures that would help strengthen the electoral system.
The Observers have urged the the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to start the process of conducting five Presidential elections that would adjudged free, fair and credible and not only preparing for 2023 election.
According to IRI and NDI, if Nigeria as a country must get it right in areas of party politics and the conduct of its elections right, there was the urgent need for national dialogue, an opportunity for stakeholders to brainstorm on elections in Nigeria and come up with an acceptable blueprint.
Speaking yesterday at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja during the presentation of the report, Elizabeth Lewis of IRI and Dr. Christopher Formunyoh of NDI called on INEC to come up with measures where there will be the enforcement of electoral laws that would help in the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of election related criminal acts.
They said that INEC should thoroughly investigate and prosecute election officials who engaged in electoral offenses, just as they asked security agencies, including the military to investigate and sanction security personnel who violated rules of engagement during the 2019 elections.
In the report, the Observers also advised on having a workable legal framework and election dispute resolution technique that would enable the electoral body, INEC and political stakeholders pursue a comprehensive, inclusive and expeditious electoral reform process.
The Observers have also called for the establishment of time limits for the adjudication of pre-election petitions to ensure that judgements are rendered before election day and early enough not to interfere with INEC’s election preparations.
The report was a comprehensive analysis of the electoral process and it included important recommendations ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The report read, “the 2019 general elections highlighted for many Nigerians the need for a national conversation about the country’s democratisation since the 1999 transition to civilian rule. We hope this report may both spur and contribute to enriching that national conversation.”
Other recommendations in the report included early preparation for elections so as to mitigate against and last minute shortcomings, just as they called on INEC to continue to improve coordination between security agencies on the provision of Electoral security, adding that the process of constituency delimitation and identification of necessary polling units at least one year before the next elections.
Responding to the observations and recommendations, the National Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, said “the Commission will study your recommendations in detail and will continue to partner with you to improve the electoral and democratic processes in Nigeria.”
“We have already embarked on our own internal reviews. Your report is coming at the right time. I wish to assure you that we will implement aspects of your recommendations that require administrative action by the Commission beginning with the forthcoming Bayelsa and Kogi Governorship elections scheduled for 16th November 2019.”
Yakubu also assured that the commission will work with other institutions on aspects of the recommendations that require consequential action beyond the mandate of the Commission.”
The INEC boss who noted that the joint team IRI and NDI were among the 39 Foreign organisations accredited by the Commission to observe the 2019 general elections, said, the joint team reportedly deployed 40 international observers to 16 States of the Federation for the Presidential and National Assembly elections and 20 international observers to 10 States of the Federation for the Governorship and State Assembly elections.
“You observed the 2019 general elections on the invitation of INEC. Your long-term and continuous presence in the country means that our partnership with you predated the 2019 general election and will hopefully continue to the next general elections and beyond.”
Meanwhile, the Centre for Anti-corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), has told President Muhammadu Buhari that it was duly informed that the 2019 general elections lacked transparency.
The group called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies and the Federal Government to reform the nation’s electoral process.
This was contained in a statement signed by CACOL Executive Chairman, Debo Adeniran, and made available to newsmen, yesterday.
The statement reads, “According to the reports and information at our disposal, lack of transparency and inconsistent numbers during the collation of results by the INEC cast a long spell over the integrity of the 2019 elections.
“Numerical discrepancies and anomalies on polling unit results forms were identified and were mostly corrected by collation officers on the spot, but without a clear system of record-keeping.
“Also, leading parties were at fault in not reining in acts of violence and intimidation by their supporters and abuse of incumbency at federal and state levels.
“Inconsistent numbers during collation, lack of clear checks and explanations, and insufficient public information undermined, to a large extent, the integrity of the elections.
“Citizens did not have sufficient means to scrutinize results. INEC did not provide centralized information on the declared results for the different locations and has not posted complete results data on its website.
“Similarly, there was a lack of disaggregated results by local governments, wards or polling units, which would allow thorough checking of results. All of these are not meant to happen and we seriously concur with international observers’ position that, the discrepancies coupled with insufficient public information were not in line with international standards, especially on access to information and public accountability.
“According to the European Union (EU) report, it was noted that such reform needs political leadership that is dedicated to the rights of Nigerian citizens, and an inclusive process of national dialogue involving state institutions, parties, civil society and the media.
“This needs to be urgently undertaken to allow time for debate, legislative changes and implementation, well in advance of the next elections. It was added that INEC should considerably strengthen its organizational and operational capacity as well as its internal communication, noting that the inter-agency body responsible for electoral security should work more transparently and inclusively with regular consultations with political parties and civil society.
“The mission said the seven areas of priorities for electoral reform included requirements in law for full results transparency with data easily accessible to the public.
“In similar spirit, we aver that the EU recommendation calling for the introduction of a legal requirement for parties to have a minimum representation of women among candidates, faulting the low number of female candidates for the polls is in good taste as it rhymes with the global policy of inclusiveness and affirmative action towards rebuilding the nation for progress and sanity.
“We agree too that election tribunals should cover pre-election cases in order to improve access to remedy and to avoid petitions being taken to different courts, all at the same time.
“One of the best ways of getting around the inevitability of these proposed reforms is for this government to consider the political reforms bill sent in by the last Legislature by dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s while it works with all Nigerian citizens, state institutions, parties, civil society, the media and other experts to make sure that these and other recommendations by the EU, other cognate institutions are implemented, and with areas of concern adequately addressed.”

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Army To Mobilise Troops, Military Equipment For Crocodile Smile IV

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The Nigerian Army, yesterday, alerted the public that troops and military equipment would be mobilised frequently as Exercise Crocodile Smile IV kicks off in Lagos and Ogun states.
This was contained in a statement released by acting Deputy Director of Army Public Relations, Major Kamurudeen Adegoke for the 81 Division.
He appealed to residents of both states to stay calm at the sight of such movements noting that the exercise would run from November 19 to December 23.
Adegoke said exercise will commence with Beach Landing at Takwa-Bay Island on Tuesday morning, adding that Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu will conduct the flag off.
“The event is aimed at enhancing troops ‘operational proficiency, inter-agency cooperation and civil-military coordination. Others include effective training on Rules of Engagement, handling of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in line with international best practices.
“The exercise is also designed to curb the prevalent contemporary security challenges such as kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism, ritual killing, and pipeline vandalism among others within the division’s Area of Responsibilities (AOR)
“During the period of the exercise, there will be free medical outreach, maintenance of some selected roads as well as donations of educational materials to some schools within Lagos and Ogun states. Participants will include members of the military, paramilitary and other security agencies.
“In view of the above, 81 Division wishes to advice members of the public not to panic on sighting troops and movement of military”, he added.

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‘Buhari, Redeem Six Years Of Failed Power Privatisation’

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Contrary to all expectations, the power sector privatisation has turned out to be an unreserved fiasco. The optimism of economic and social revolution touted as an inevitable accompaniment of a steady and uninterrupted electricity supply has come to naught. Six years after the privatisation was pulled off by the Goodluck Jonathan administration, Nigerians are now yearning for an urgent intervention to save the sector from an utter collapse, which could be only a matter of time.
Encumbered by a public power sector that reeked of corruption, ineptitude and facility decay, Nigeria had readily embraced an option of reform, which could only be effectively implemented through privatisation. “To the Nigerian people, who have demonstrated such great patience and confidence, putting up often with darkness…I say better days are coming,” Jonathan had boisterously promised. But rather than carry out a transparent bidding process that would have attracted not just the much-needed investible funds but also the technical know-how, the exercise was mired in opacity.
In place of the experts and foreign investors that privatisation set out to attract, a motley group of Nigerians with practically no antecedent in power sector business and lacking the financial muscle was thrown up as the new investors. The result is now obvious; instead of an effective and efficient power sector that would guarantee constant electricity supply to light up homes and fire the industries, boosting the economy, Nigerians are now saddled with an albatross.
As currently structured, the power sector stands on a wobbly tripod, made up of the Generation Companies, the Transmission Company of Nigeria and the Distribution Companies. While it is the duty of the GenCos to generate electricity, the TCN, which is still wholly owned by the government, takes the responsibility for the transmission to the grid, from where the DisCos can then sell to the consumers. But none of them has been able to inspire confidence.
When the power assets were handed over to private investors on November 1, 2013, the electricity generated in Nigeria that day was 3,712.4 megawatts, from an installed generation capacity of 12, 910.40 MW and available capacity of 7,652.60 MW, according to data attributed to the Nigerian Electricity System Operator. For a population of 171.8 million then, this was ridiculous. But despite the generation capacity of 12,910.40 MW, the transmission could only boast a wheeling capacity of 8, 100 MW, while 5,375 MW remained the peak that had ever been generated.
Six years down the line, with a population of about 200 million, very little has changed. The distribution capacity is still estimated at around 4,000 MW, barely over the 3.712.4 MW of November 1, 2013. The Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, was quoted in a report two months ago as saying that installed power generation had improved to 13, 427MW (as against 12,910.40 MW in 2013), while the TCN Managing Director, Usman Mohammed, said the national grid had the capacity to transmit 7,000 MW.
These figures remain mere academic, as long as they do not translate into improved electricity supply to consumers. What is however undeniable is the fact that the DisCos, which directly interface with the consumers, have emerged as the weakest link in the electricity supply value chain. They keep complaining about cost-reflective tariff, even though they have been found wanting through and through.
They whine over the reluctance of consumers to pay when more than 55 per cent of those consumers are not metered, and access to electricity remains a mirage. For sure, the GenCos are not generating enough and the TCN is not transmitting adequately, yet, even the little that is available is rejected by the DisCos. For example, 9,310.64 MW of electricity was reportedly rejected between August 13 and August 20.
Rejecting loads when there is not enough to go round may sound outrageous but there are other weighty issues that pointedly betray the investors as utterly out of their depth. Particularly, funding has remained a knotty issue. Having raided the local banks for money to buy the firms, the local investors have not been able to fund the needed facility upgrade that should have brought about improvement in electricity supply.
Although a REUTERS report put the cost of the purchase of the power assets in 2013 at $2.5 billion, the TCN MD said the DisCos alone would require a whopping $4.3bn investment to make the desired impact. Shorn of credit options, following challenges in servicing their loans, the investors are now at their wits’ end – uncertain of what step to take next, except perhaps to let go of their majority shares and pave the way for a takeover by capable foreign investors.
As the designated revenue collectors on behalf of other operators in the industry, the DisCos are heavily in debt and have failed to remit money collected to the others. As of July, the TCN said it was being owed N270 billion by the DisCos. The former Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, had also said last year that the Discos’ indebtedness to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Company stood at N500 billion. “NBET also owes GenCos N325.784 billion, which can be settled if NBET collects what the DisCos are owing,” he said.
This debt burden has completely thrown the power sector off balance. Admitting that it would be difficult to pay, the Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, Sunday Oduntan, said only a monthly revenue of N725 million by each of the DisCos could guarantee them meeting the 35 per cent threshold remittance requirement. Yet, the regulatory authority, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Authority, appears helpless.
As Osinbajo has contended, only a recapitalisation can solve the problem. The government has already made some strides in this direction by bringing in Siemens, whose three-phased road map is expected to ultimately deliver 25,000 MW. The deal involves the German government and Siemens collaborating to increase electricity transmission and distribution capacities in Nigeria.
Although the government, which owns 40 per cent equity in the DisCos, has been castigated for not discharging its responsibilities satisfactorily, it has still taken some notable steps to pull the power sector out of its current mess. Apart from a loan intervention of N213 billion in 2014, another sum of N701 billion was announced two years ago to guarantee the NBET to be able to pay GenCos for two years. In August, President Muhammadu Buhari announced another intervention of N600 billion.
It is time for President Buhari to intervene decisively in the power sector logjam. The government cannot just continue to shell out public funds in this manner for a sector that has been privatised. Nobody needs to be told now that the privatisation was shoddily done but something drastic has to be done to salvage the situation in the national interest. The government has to take advantage of the performance review due in December to see whether to continue with the status quo or not.
Power remains a big incentive for economic and social development. When the government manages to get rid of the current investors, efforts should be geared towards targeted foreign investors, as is currently the case with Siemens, to get replacements. In Singapore, the system of Open Electricity Market is adopted. It allows consumers to migrate to other companies if they are not satisfied with the services they are getting. Nigeria will benefit immensely from such a system. What obtains now is still a monopoly that was in place before privatisation.

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IYC Tackles Amaechi Over Warri Port Dredging Accuses Minister Of Anti-N’Delta Activities

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The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) has taken a swipe at the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi over his poor handling of the dredging of Warri Port in Delta State, accusing him of playing anti-Niger Delta politics with the project.
In a statement signed by the IYC President, Eric Omare, Esq, and made available to newsmen in Port Harcourt, yesterday, the Ijaw youth think-tank said that Amaechi’s behaviour portrayed him as a politician who was against the development aspirations of the Niger Delta people.
The statement read, “The attention of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) has been drawn to a statement credited to the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to the effect that he would have stopped the planned dredging of the Warri port, if he was not from the South-South region over youth disturbances.
“Amaechi was reported to have made the comment at the Palace of the Ovie of Uvwie in Delta State during the reception in honour of the Minister of State, Labour and Productivity, Chief Festus Keyamo on Thursday, November 14, 2019. When the story was reported in the media, we had initially thought that the minister was quoted out of context. However, having waited for more than three days without a correction from the minister’s media office, we wish to correct the wrong impression created in the said media report.
“That the IYC completely condemn the statement made by Rt. Hon. Amaechi that youths are disturbing the commencement of the proposed Warri Port dredging because it is very far from the truth and calculated to paint the youths of the Niger Delta region in the wrong light before the Nigerian public.
“On the contrary, we state clearly without fear of contradiction that there is no existing contract to dredge the Warri Port that is being delayed by youth disturbances.
“For the purpose of clarity, we state that sometime in 2018, the Federal Government announced its intention to carry out dredging of the Warri Port channel so as to allow bigger vessels use the Warri Port and make the port functional.
“In response and to create the conducive environment for the project to take-off, the youths of Ijaw and Itsekiri under whose area the dredging was supposed to take place at their own initiative and expense organized a sensitisation workshop and indeed set up an advocacy team which went round the communities affected to allow for peaceful dredging in the interest of the Warri economy. This initiative was widely reported by the media and the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) management was excited by the initiative of the youths.
“The Warri Port dredging was supposed to be in three phases; which are the dredging of the Escravos bar, construction of the breakwater and the dredging of the Warri Port channel from Escravos to Warri.
“After the sensitisation workshop organized by the Ijaw and Itsekiri youths, there was supposed to be a meeting between the affected communities and stakeholders with Federal Government officials before the commencement of the first phase of the work which is the dredging of the Escravos bar.
“However, instead of meeting with the communities and stakeholders, Rt. Hon. Minister Amaechi as Minister of Transportation directed and handed over all community rights to a party chieftain from Delta State from one of the ethnic groups at the expense of the generality of the communities and stakeholders without regard to the multi ethnic sensitivity of the Warri area.
“However, the Ijaw leadership saw that this was another attempt by Rt. Hon. Amaechi to create room not to go on with the dredging as he is now doing. Therefore, the affected communities did not raise any issue and allowed the dredging of the Escravos bar to go on without any problem. In this dredging, the communities and stakeholders were not involved in anyway, hence they are not in a position to know if the dredging was actually done up to specification or not.
“The Escravos bar dredging was done without any disturbances whatsoever despite Minister Amaechi’s provocative conduct. Therefore, we are amazed that Hon. Amaechi is now accusing youths of the South-South especially from the Warri area of acting as hindrance to the Warri Port dredging. If we may ask Amaechi, who are the youths disturbing the Warri Port dredging and when did the engagement with the youths took place? Is there a contract in place to dredge the Warri Port by the Federal Government and who is the contractor and when was the contract awarded?
“To the best of our knowledge, after the dredging of the Escravos bar, the next phase ought to be the construction of the Escravos breakwater and then dredging of the channel from Escravos to Warri and none of these contracts has been awarded. So, which dredging contract and youth disturbances is Amaechi talking about? Who are the youth or community representatives that have been arguing with Amaechi over the Warri Port dredging in the past six months?
“It is obvious that Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi despite being from the South-South is allergic to anything development of the region. He always hide under spurious reasons to opposed any developmental initiative of the region just as he did with the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko.
“Consequently, we call on the general public, especially President Muhammadu Buhari to completely disregard the claim by Minister Amaechi that youths are obstructing the dredging of the Warri Port channel. On the contrary the youths have been very supportive of the Warri Port channel dredging but the Minister Amaechi seems to be playing politics with the dredging.
“However, Minister Amaechi should remember that he would not be Minister of Transportation forever and at the end of this tenure he would be asked what he achieved for the South-South region just as he used to ask former President Jonathan”, Omare added.

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