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LG Chairmen And Re-Election Fever

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With the inauguration of a new Rivers State Electoral Commission forthnight ago, it is now clear that local government election will hold next year.
Among the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) led states, Rivers State seems to be in the lead in constitution of local councils. This posture exemplifies the posture of the state governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, who has given attention to grassroot governance and ensuring that democracy  flourishes at all levels of government.
He told the eight member RSIEC- led by Justice   George Omereji, to ensure that the LG election was done in compliance with the Local Government Law as amended.
The law provides that LG elections will be conducted every three years.
By June next year, the current local government chairmen and councillors will complete their first tenure. And with the pursuit of the elections there might be  caretaker committee in the various councils for the transition period.
It’s against this backdrop that the governor counselled the new RSIEC to ensure there were no loopholes, as he reminded them that , “ some people will be looking for loopholes but do your work first.”
Mindful of antics and possible distraction by the opposition , especially the All Progressives Congress(APC), the governor urged the State Electoral body to be transparent and firm.
His charge is to ensure that all logistics and shortcomings of previous LG elections are curbed and at the same time make sure , the election is credible.
Against this backdrop, Chief Wike challenged them to be committed and focused to deliver on their mandate.
But while primaries are yet to be conducted by the parties, the major challenge now from The Tide investigations is the area of controversies surrounding the de- registration of some political parties.
Recall that shortly after 2019 elections some parties were de-registered.
Before now there used to be over 90 political parties. But the parties were trimmed down to 18. About 22 political parties affected by the axe of  the  Independent  National Electoral Commission(INEC) went to court.
The parties lost at the High Court but got judgement at the  Court of Appeal which called for status quo.
According to the Rivers State Chairman of the Young Democratic Party(YDP), Ronarth Dappa, that is a big challenge.
“Currently only 18 parties are recognised, but the controversy is, will INEC accept the Court  of  Appeal’s ruling? ”Dappa querried.
Already, it was learnt that INEC has appealed the matter at the Supreme Court, “ and we are expecting a favourable outcome,” said the YDP chairman.
“Since RSIEC most times works with INEC template, it’s likely that it’s the 18 recognised political parties that will be in the ballot next year”,  Dappa added.
Dappa’s YDP was de-registered, including 21 others who had participated in the last LG elections.
 Another area of concern for stakeholders is in the selection of candidates and other internal party matters.
With this in view, the ruling PDP has announced its template for candidates who will qualify for primaries.
Though the primaries are yet to commenced the state chairman of the PDP, Ambassador Desmond Akawor, said that only performing LG chairmen might have the chance to  contest  for second term.
Though he said that would be determined by the people, he told a delegation led by Ikwerre LG Chairman, Engr Samuel Nwanosike  during a courtesy call in his office in Port Harcourt, in September,  that performance in the first tenure was key.
Akawor reiterated the same view when the leadership of a pro- PDP group, “Wike for Positive Change” visited him earlier this month.
He stressed that  only local government chairmen with proven records of performance would be given a second chance and urged members of the party to await the decision of the party leadership before deciding on who to support during the governorship election.
According to him, the control of the third tier of government is being driven at the grassroots,  hence all Local Government chairmen must ensure good governance touches their people.
The state PDP chairman opined that managing humans was a Herculean task, as he urged the Ikwerre LG Chairman to ensure all persons were carried along to ensure peace, order and development in the area.
The PDP chairman revealed that leadership of the respective local government areas would decide, and not the party, but that performance would be used as a factor to adjudge those fit for second term.
He blamed the opposition for the crisis in Ikwerre LGA, as he urged the council chairman to display tact and wisdom to ensure that the party remained united and free from crisis.
Consequently, many local government chairmen have begun frantic lobbying and networking on how to beat the hurdle, but the reality remains that happenings in the next few months will be key on who will fly the party’s flags in the primaries.
Though RSIEC is yet to unveil its election timetable, serious underground campaigns have begun by chairmen and other candidates to get endorsement from the party leadership before the primaries.
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2023 Guber Poll: Group Denies Rift Between Okowa, Ibori

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A political pressure group, Movement for Stronger Delta (MSD) says there is no fight between former Governor James Ibori and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa over who governs the State in 2023.
The group in a statement by its National Coordinator, Dr. Festus BomoPatani, said: “The attention of the Movement for Stronger Delta, MSD, has been drawn to a recent publication by a pan-Delta online platform, titled: “DELTA 2023: Okowa, Ibori Fight Dirty Over Successor”, and posted on several social media groups and portals on Sunday, January 16, 2021.
“As a conscious and proactive Movement, determined and committed to ensuring a stronger, peaceful, and united Delta, in the run-up to the 2023 elections and beyond, it behoves us to set a few records straight, concerning this publication, as our own way of educating and informing Deltans with accurate, verifiable information on the true position of affairs and also protecting ourselves from misleading misinformation that is capable of heating up the polity and instigating unnecessary and avoidable conflicts, provocations and conflagrations in the State.
“The original story was first published with the title: “DELTA 2023: Okowa, Ibori face up on successor…•Gov takes charge but counter-attack looms”, written by Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South and Published in Saturday Vanguard, January 15, 2022.
“The online publication in question, copied the story verbatim, and then proceeded, for reasons best known to the publisher, to change the headline from the original, without informing the readers or even acknowledging the source and author of the original story; and this, from every professional standpoint, is a crass and brazen display of unethical journalism, bordering on plagiarism. Journalists must be cautioned to avoid sensationalism and inaccurate reportage intended to deliberately mislead the people, especially when they copy stories from other more seasoned and recognized mainstream publications.
“There is a fundamental headline difference between: “Face up” in the original story and “Fight Dirty” in the copied online version, which every journalist worth his salt, especially those knowledgeable enough in the basic use of the English language, which is the major tool and instrument of the profession, should know and apply in their proper contexts.
“For the avoidance of doubt and for the purposes of educating the Journalist against future ignorances: “face up: means ‘To confront or deal directly with someone or something previously avoided”, while “fight dirty means, ‘To use every possible way and especially the most treacherous way, to beat someone in a fight’

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PGF-DG Tenders Resignation Letter

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The in-fighting between the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF) and All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee over the conduct of its national convention took a fresh twist on Monday following the resignation of the PGF Director-General, Salihu Lukman.
Lukman tendered his resignation letter to the Chairman of the Forum, Abubakar Bagudu, on Monday.
In the letter, he slammed the committee over its shoddy handling of matters relating to the national convention.
He had earlier accused the Mala-Buni committee of frustrating the party’s plan to hold the convention in February.
The APC leadership and the governors had agreed last year to conduct the convention next month in a bid to strengthen the party ahead of the 2023 general election.
The committee had been under tremendous pressure to step aside following the crises that trailed last year’s congresses where several factions conducted parallel congresses in defiance of the party’s directive.
The latest development has further confirmed that all may not be well with the ruling party with just 13 months to the next national election.
Lukman said: “Progressive Governors, like all party members, will not associate themselves with any act of disrespect to decisions validly taken in consultations with President Buhari.
“They will not take the responsibility for actions or inactions of the CECPC. Every responsibility of organising the convention is vested with the CECPC.”

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Jega Tasks Buhari, NASS On New Electoral Law

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Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, has  called on the National Assembly and President Muhammadu Buhari to pass the Electoral Bill so that INEC can hit the ground running towards the 2023 elections.
Jega stated this during a panel discussion at a town hall meeting organised by Yiaga Africa on the passage of the Electoral Amendment Bill on Monday.
Jega, who said it is difficult to conduct elections in Nigeria, added that since 2010, there has not been a significant improvement in the electoral framework.
He said while there could be some grey areas in the Electoral Bill that President MuhammaduBuhari declined assent to, there are other good things in the bill, arguing that the baby should not be thrown away with the bath water.
“I believe Nigeria should go into the next elections with a new law as there are many good things in the bill that will improve the integrity and conduct of elections.
“As I have said earlier, since 2010, we have not had significant improvement in the electoral framework.
“Speaking on direct and indirect primaries, some people believe that governors do influence the outcome of indirect primaries and some feel direct primaries is a way out of this, but the question is, how many parties have credible register of members?
“Give INEC the law to begin preparations for the 2023 elections. Any governor that manipulates direct primaries under this present condition will also have the capacity to manipulate indirect primaries.
“What we are saying is that you cannot throw the baby away with the bath water. Let’s think more carefully. The good things in the bill should be signed into law immediately so that INEC can start serious work for the 2023 elections.”
He lamented that the commission has a short period to put a lot of its mechanisms together for the conduct of the elections.
He called on the National Assembly to resolve all issues and give INEC the law within 10 days of resumption to enable it operate it seamlessly for the 2023 elections.
According to him, INEC made 31 recommendations to the amended 2010 Electoral Act to conduct credible elections, but NASS only approved 25 of the recommendations.
“Give INEC the law to begin preparation for 2021. Drop issue of direct and indirect primaries and let’s move forward,” he said.
Also speaking, the governor of Nasarawa State, AbdullahiSule, said the 36 governors are not afraid of direct primaries as being alleged by some Nigerians.
Earlier in his welcome address, Yiaga Africa Executive Director, Samson Itodo, explained that the town hall meeting would specifically discuss key provisions of the Electoral Bill and their implications for election management, election security, electoral integrity and voter participation as well as legislative and executive action required to conclude the amendment process.

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