The leadership of the Rivers State House of Assembly, yesterday, debunked views that it was being influenced by the Executive but was rather joining hands with the Chief Nyesom Wike-led administration to provide democracy dividends to citizens of the state.
It, however, congratulated the governor on his victory at the election tribunal on Monday, as the case filed by the candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Engineer Biokpomabo Awara was struck out by the court.
The Speaker, Rt. Hon Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani made the declaration when he addressed newsmen, yesterday, at the Assembly Complex in Port Harcourt.
Ibani said the state Assembly does not believe in antagonising the Executive, as he explained that the principle of separation of powers does not say that the Legislature should attack but rather cooperate and support with the other tiers of government to enhance good governance.
In his words, “We carry out our legislative business as it is supposed to be. We know our beat, and there is no external influence whatsoever.”
Ibani argued that many people believe that the Legislature should be antagonistic, which he observed does not encourage development but stifles the democratic system.
Rather than being antagonistic, he said the state Assembly has always adopted a cooperative stance even though it still asserts itself without confrontation, adding that, “we cooperate where the need arises, and we also carry out oversight functions.”
Congratulating the governor for his victory at the tribunal on Monday, the Speaker averred that flooring the candidate of the AAC was an affirmation that the people voted and supported him.
Ibani said, “The judgment is a victory for democracy and people of Rivers State.”
He pledged that the Assembly was poised to support the governor to succeed in his electoral promises and provide good governance for Rivers people.
In the same vein, the Rivers State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bro Felix Obuah has reiterated that the re-election of Governor Nyesom Wike in the 2019 general election was divine.
This is as Obuah celebrated with the governor on his tribunal victory against the African Action Congress (AAC) and its governorship candidate in the last poll, Engineer Biokpomabo Awara, whose petition was dismissed, last Monday.
The state PDP chairman stated this in a statement issued by his media aide, Jerry Needam and made available to The Tide in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The statement recalled that Awara, who had filed a petition at the Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Governor Nyesom Wike and the PDP, had his petition thrown out not only for being found incompetent, but also for failing to meet key procedural requirements, including applying for pre-hearing information.
Obuah also noted that the judgement has proved that the mandate of Rivers people to Wike as their governor remained sacrosanct, and could not be reversed or distorted under any guise.
He stated, “When humans and God are of one accord concerning any issue as is the case with the re-election of Governor Wike, it is usually victory all the way for the just and greater fall for the unjust.”
He thanked Rivers people for their steadfastness against the ‘force and fury of hell’ unleashed on them by the undemocratic elements throughout the election period, and enjoined them not to relent or allow enemies of the state any point of entry.
The PDP chairman also reassured the people and residents of the state of the resolve of the PDP-led government to remain on the path of good governance and economic emancipation of the people.
Also reacting to the tribunal judgment, a federal lawmaker and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon. Chinyere Igwe, said that the affirmation of Governor Nyesom Wike’s victory at the Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal shows a reflection of the peoples’ wishes.
Igwe, representing Port Harcourt Federal Constituency 2 at the House of Representatives, stated this during a telephone chat with The Tide, yesterday, adding that the outcome was not a surprise.
The federal lawmaker, who was former commissioner for urban development and later energy commissioner in Rivers State, however, advised the governorship candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Engineer Biokpomabo Awara to sheath his sword and close ranks with the governor to move the state forward.
“We are very happy. The tribunal ruling is a reflection of the voice of the people. That is the voice of the people speaking, and the mandate which they freely gave the Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike during the last general election.
“Let me also add that the outcome is not surprising because the governor has a huge support in Rivers State. I will advise him (Awara) to sheath his swords and join the governor for the continued development of the state. Rivers State is in dire need of development, and seeing the good works the governor is doing there in terms of development, I think he should support the governor to succeed.
“He should continue with the good works he is doing so that Rivers State will move to the next level. I have no doubt that at the end of his administration, the state will be better than he met it,” Igwe said.
Asked the state of things with the minority leadership of the House, Igwe said that the lower chamber, like the PDP leadership, is handling the matter internally.
Recall that the House witnessed a rowdy session last week when Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila ignored the choice of the PDP which adopted Hon. Kingsley Chinda as its Minority Leader, to announce fellow party member, Ndudi Elumelu to fill the position.
But Igwe said, “Well, it is a House issue, the House is addressing it with its internal mechanism, just like the party (PDP) is on the issue too. It is not a personal issue. So, we don’t need to dwell much on it”
Speaking further on the tribunal verdict, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) called on the governorship candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Engineer Biokpomabo Awara to embrace the inclusive government promised by Governor Nyesom Wike.
The State Organising Secretary of the PDP, Fyneman Ohaka, made the call while speaking exclusively to The Tide in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Ohaka, who was reacting to the victory of Governor Wike at the State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which threw out the petitions of Awara, described the decision of the court as a welcome development and victory for democracy.
According to him, “It is a welcome development and victory for democracy because from the very beginning, his party, and the APC that is supporting him, had nothing to offer. What was he going to the tribunal to do when he lost the election fair and square?
“If I were him, I would not have gone to the tribunal because the position of the law is that you must have something to hold before approaching the tribunal. They say he who goes to equity must do so with clean hands.
“Their hands are not clean. From the very day they decided to file that motion at the tribunal, they knew they had lost the election because he (Awara) is not popular. So, I believe it is victory for democracy. I knew that PDP has no case to answer in that matter”, Ohaka stated.
He further said that he sees the AAC as APC in disguise, pointing out that Awara and his party were hitherto unknown before the elections, even as he noted that the position of the law was very clear, which explains why the motion was thrown out for lack of merit.
“Awara, who is being supported by the APC because I see Awara as an APC candidate since the APC did not field candidate in the ballot. Even if he goes to Appeal Court, he will lose because the position of the law is clear”, he added.
Asked what the PDP will do if the AAC decides to approach the Appeal Court, the PDP organizing secretary said, “They (the AAC) will still lose at the Appeal Court, even if they decide to go to the Supreme Court because the position of the law is clear, it cannot be changed.
“The learned judges who constituted the tribunal were not made judges in vain. They did not just throw out the matter. They did so because it lacks merit. He who asserts must prove. The governor has said he will run an inclusive government. What he and his followers should do is to take advantage of it.
“So, I will advise him (Awara) to forget going to the Appeal Court because he will still loose. If he has ideas, let him bring it to the fore; join the governor to move the state forward. That you are in opposition does not mean that you cannot offer anything good.
“More importantly, if you have a governor like Chief Nyesom Wike that is running an inclusive government, then, the advice from the opposition is needed. So, he should embrace the Olive branch offered by the governor to move the state forward”, Ohaka added.
It would be recalled that the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal, last Monday, dismissed the petition filed by the African Action Congress (AAC) governorship candidate in the 2019 general election, Engineer Biokpomabo Awara, against Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Governor Nyesom Wike and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The tribunal, presided over by Justice K. A. Orjiakor, dismissed the petition on the ground that it was deemed abandoned on the ground of Paragraph 4 of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act.
According to the tribunal, the petition was deemed to be technically abandoned because the AAC and its candidate failed to meet key procedural requirements as to applying for pre-hearing information.
The three-man panel led by Justice K. A. Ojiakor declared that the petition number EPT/RS/GOV/03/2019 was incompetent, and therefore, dismissed it.
Earlier, the tribunal struck out applications by the AAC governorship candidate, seeking that he be separated from all joint applications previously made with the party.
Recall that the AAC recently adopted Mr Henry Bello to represent it at the tribunal after the former counsel, Tawo Tawo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, withdrew from the matter, with a notice of change of counsel filed before the tribunal.
This application came in after the AAC brought in another counsel to handle its matter at the tribunal.
Meanwhile, the collation agents of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) have told the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal that they did not receive reports from their polling agents that indicated that the 2019 Governorship Election was marred by illegal thumb printing and ballot materials snatching.
The defeated Rivers State Action Democratic Party (ADP) Governorship Candidate, Mr Victor Fingesi, had filed a petition at the tribunal, challenging the victory of Governor Nyesom Wike.
Speaking at the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal under cross examination by lawyers of Governor Nyesom Wike, Chief Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), Okey Wali (SAN) and the PDP, Chief Godwin Obla (SAN), the collation agents stated that there was nowhere in their witness statements on oath where they indicated that they received reports that the election was marred by violence and illegal thumb printing.
Kevin Nengia, Dennis Naku
Rivers State Needs College of Education-Don
Following the upgrade of the former College of Education to a university, a university teacher has sued for the establishment of a new college of education to replace the old one.
The plea was made by a lecturer in the political Science Department of the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Dr. Iwarimie Uranta.
Uranta who made his views known in an interview with The Tide pointed out that College of Education if established will address the middle manpower in the educational system of the state.
For now, Uranta said “there is a vacuum,” National Certificate of Education (NCE) will help bridge the gap of middle manpower in the teaching profession.”
He continued”, it will boost the teaching of core courses, because NCE teachers are trained as teachers in those courses”.
The university don pointed out that currently there is a limited number of people who wants to do education. It reduce pressure on the universities and reduce social vices by the youths, Uranta stressed.
Besides, he said the current reforms in the educational system will benefit as many private schools will have manpower to recruit instead of engaging quacks in their schools.
In a similar vein, Head of Educational Psychology/ Guidance and Counselling in the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Dr. Sunday Ordu has commended the State Government
for the policy to sanitise privately schools in the state.
“A lot of private schools don not have professional teachers so the policy is in the right direction.
It will improve manpower faculties to enhance educational growth. The environment must be conducive” he added.
RSG Implements TSA To Block Revenue Leakages, Soon …Tasks State Internal Revenue Service To Grow Monthly IGR To N10bn …Seeks Informal Sector’s Support Through Payment Of Prescribed Taxes
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has announced that the state government would soon commence the operation of Treasury Single Account (TSA) to boost its revenue base.
Wike also charged the Rivers Internal Revenue Service (RIRS) to grow the state’s monthly Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to N10billion.
He spoke during the flag off of Informal Sector Tax Drive with vehicles donated by Access Bank Limited at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The governor said: “We will initiate the Treasury Single Account to block revenue leakages. I assure that very soon, the Treasury Single Account will become operational.
“The Treasury Single Account will be implemented to checkmate what is presently going on. It is not good to have several accounts which lead to unnecessary leakages.
“Our revenue base fluctuates. The board has been directed to expedite action for the state to hit N10billion Internally Generated Revenue every month.”
Wike explained that the Treasury Single Account will be diligently implemented in the interest of Rivers State, and restated that his allegiance was to Rivers people who voted him, because he was not sponsored by any group.
He urged the informal sector to support the Rivers State Government by paying their taxes as prescribed by the Rivers Internal Revenue Service (RIRS).
“The drive for informal sector tax is key. I believe it will boost our revenue base, and we need it”, he said, and thanked Access Bank Limited for supporting the revenue drive of the state with the donation of 10 buses.
In his remarks, the Chairman of Rivers State Internal Revenue Service (RIRS), Mr Adoage Norte said that the flag off of the informal sector tax drive would ensure that informal sector entrepreneurs pay their taxes.
He said that at present, the informal sector has not been paying taxes, explaining that the flag off would unlock the tax potentials of the informal sector.
Norte lauded Access Bank Plc for supporting the informal tax drive of the Rivers State Internal Revenue Service with the donation of 10 buses, pointing out that the buses would be used across the state.
He added that the service was also in dire need of branded kiosks for point of sales transactions, and suggested the operation of Treasury Single Account to optimize revenue generation in the state.
Representative of the Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Mr David Tinad, thanked the Rivers State Government for the opportunity to partner on revenue generation.
He assured the Rivers State Government that Access Bank Plc would continue to support efforts by the state government to improve its revenue base.
Fake Policemen Disrupted Polls In Bayelsa, Kogi, IGP Admits …Says We’re Aware People Planned To Wear Police Uniforms …As Senate Moves To Okay E-Voting For Future Polls
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, has said that ‘policemen’ alleged to have disrupted Saturday’s governorship polls in parts of Bayelsa and Kogi States were “fake” and not the personnel officially deployed for election duties.
Adamu stated that all security personnel, who worked during the polls had “special identification tags”, adding that anyone without the tags was on illegal duty.
He spoke with State House correspondents after President Muhammadu Buhari and security chiefs held a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.
However, he said an investigation was ongoing, while 11 arrests had been made.
Similarly, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu, yesterday, said that the police were aware of the plan by politicians to sew police uniforms for their supporters during the Kogi and Bayelsa States governorship elections.
The IGP also said that ‘policemen’ alleged to have disrupted the November 16 governorship polls in parts of the two states were “fake” and not the personnel officially deployed for election duties.
Briefing State House correspondents after a security meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, Adamu stated that all security personnel, who worked during the elections were given “special identification tags”, adding that anyone without the tags was on illegal duty.
The IGP, who said that the security situation in the country was stable, however, said investigation was ongoing to unravel the identities of those that caused violence during the elections, adding that 11 arrests had been made.
On the alleged police extortion of motorists in South East by police officers at checkpoints, he advised that people should always copy the names of such police officers and report them to the police hierarchy in the area.
Meanwhile, the Senate has begun a fresh electoral reform which has mandated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to adopt the much-awaited electronic voting method for future polls.
The lawmakers also compelled INEC to operate an electronic database into which all results in an election should be transmitted.
A bill to amend the Electoral Act 2010 through which the reform would be achieved has already been published in an official gazette and debate on its general principles may begin on the floor of the Senate during the week.
A copy of the bill, made available to newsmen, also stipulates that data of accredited voters must be transmitted to the central data base upon the conclusion of the accreditation of voters which would be done through the use of the card reader.
“At the end of accreditation of voters, the presiding officer shall transmit the voter accreditation data by secure mobile electronic communication to the central database of the commission kept at the national headquarters of the commission.
“Any presiding officer who contravenes this provision shall be liable, on conviction, to a minimum of imprisonment of at least five years without an option of fine,” the bill also stipulates.
It prevents INEC from shutting down the central data base until all petitions arising from the elections are determined by a tribunal or court.
“In respect of data of accreditation of voters, including polling unit results, for an election, the commission shall not shut down its central database kept at its national headquarters until all election petitions and appeals pertaining to that election are heard and determined by a tribunal or court.”
On the specific provisions for the adoption of the central database, the bill, which is being sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege and Abubakar Kyari (APC, Borno State), seeks amendment of Section 65 of the Electoral Act 2010 by introducing a “National Electronic Register of Election Results.”
It states: “The commission shall compile, maintain and update on a continuous basis, a register of election results to be known as the National Electronic Register of Election Results which shall be a database of election results from each polling unit, including collated results of each election conducted by the commission.
“National Electronic Register of Election Results shall be kept by the commission at its national headquarters and any person or political party may obtain from the commission, on payment of reasonable fees as may be determined by the commission, a certified true copy of any election result kept in the National Electronic Register of Election Results for the federation, a state, local government, area council, ward or polling unit, as the case may be and the certified true copy may be in printed or electronic format.”
On electronic voting, the Electoral Reform Bill seeks amendment of Section 52 (2) of the 2010 Electoral Act and introduced a new provision stating that “the commission may adopt electronic voting or any other method of voting in any election it conducts as it may deem fit.”
It was learned that many lawmakers are not comfortable with the additional clause which permits INEC to use any other method it deems fit and may delete that option during the consideration of the bill.
The current law completely prohibits the use of electronic voting as it states: “The use of the electronic voting machine, for the time being, is prohibited.”
The reform bill has also slashed the nomination fees charged by political parties.
Presidential aspirants are to pay not more than N10million while governorship aspirants are to pay N5million.
Specifically, the bill states: “For the purpose of nomination of candidates for election, the total fees, charges, dues and any payment howsoever named imposed by a political party on an aspirant shall not exceed: N150,000 for a ward councillorship aspirant in the FCT; N250,000 for an area council chairmanship aspirant in the FCT; N500,000 for a House of Assembly aspirant; N1,000,000 for a House of Representatives aspirant; N2,000,000 for a senatorial aspirant; N5,000,000 for a governorship aspirant; and N10,000,000 for a presidential aspirant.”
The Bukola Saraki-led National Assembly had attempted the electoral reform but failed to get the presidential approval at the end.
The bill sought to strengthen internal democracy, reduce the cost of politics, widen political participation and the conduct of free fair and credible elections through technological innovations and an electronic database.
However, there were concerns raised over the enforceability of some of its provisions.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in refusing to sign that bill, had said: “I am declining assent to the bill principally because I am concerned that passing a new electoral bill this far into the electoral process for the 2019 general election, which commenced under the 2015 Electoral Act, could create some uncertainty about the applicable legislation to govern the process.
“Any real or apparent change to the rules this close to the election may provide an opportunity for disruption and confusion in respect of which law governs the electoral process.”
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