The Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) in Lagos State said yesterday that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) needed to do more on voters’ education and mobilisation to deepen Nigeria’s democracy.
The IPAC Chairman, Femi Olaniyi, scored the electoral umpire low following poor voter turnout at Saturday’s Lagos East Senatorial and Kosofe Constituency II House of Assembly by-elections.
Olaniyi, who is Lagos State Chairman of Social Democratic Party (SDP), however described the conduct of election as peaceful, free and fair.
“The total turnout was very low, INEC has not done very well in terms of sensitisation and voter education regarding these by-elections in Lagos State.
“The percentage of people that turned out for these elections is abysmally low, far below 25 per cent of registered voters.
“This is not encouraging at all, and we need to do more.
“We urge INEC to really work diligently in sensitisation of electorate, working with civil society organisations, political parties and every other agency that can reach out to the grassroots.”
On reasons for the apathy, Olaniyi said that many voters still believed that their votes would not count, while some politicians had dashed the hope of others.
He urged the opposing parties to accept the election results in good faith, while preparing for future elections.
The IPAC chairman noted that political parties that had been in government usually did well in elections because they had financial muscle to prosecute the process.
“There is no financial capability from any source to boost the performance of smaller opposition parties in elections. Before now, INEC used to finance agents aspect of elections, which was stopped.
“I think INEC should go back to the record and start doing the needful. INEC has to sponsor parties so as to be able to pay for their agents,” he said.
According to him, smaller parties in most cases could not even finance party agents across all polling units in election, and consequently, could not tell what happened in those polling units.
The Tide source reports that less than 10 per cent of total registered voters in most polling units came out to exercise their franchise on Saturday.
Out of the total registered voters of 1,261,673 in the Saturday’s Lagos East Senatorial District, the total number of accredited voters was 104, 894, the total vote cast was 104, 405, the total valid votes was 102, 336, while the rejected votes were 2,069 in the election.
In Kosofe Constituency II House of Assembly by-election, out of 280, 363 total registered voters, the total votes cast was 15,124.
INEC earlier on Sunday declared Mr Tokunbo Abiru and Femi Saheed, both candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winners of Lagos East Senatorial and Kosofe II by-elections, respectively.
Abiru polled a total of 89, 204 votes to defeat his closest rival from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Babatunde Gbadamosi, who scored 11,257 votes, while Saheed polled 12,494 votes to beat his closest rival, Mr Sikiru Alebiosu of PDP, who got 2,068 votes.
Sanwo-Olu Signs Anti-Open Grazing Bill Into Law
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Monday, signed the bill to prohibit open cattle grazing and trespass of cattle on land in the state into laws.
With the law, Lagos has joined some states in southern Nigeria that have anti-open grazing laws in place.
The law is coming more than two weeks after the September 1 deadline set by the Southern Governors Forum for states.
The governor also signed the Lagos State Domestic And Sexual Violence Agency Bill, into Law.
Meanwhile, the state government has said it is committed to tackling the menace of drug abuse frontally to reduce the ravage among youths in the state.
Sanwo-Olu stated this on Monday at the Lagos House, Ikeja, during a courtesy visit by the delegates of Anglican Communion Church of Nigeria, led by the Archbishop Metropolitan and Primate, Most Reverend Henry Ndukuba.
Sanwo-Olu said his government was building a massive rehabilitation hospital at Ketu-Ejirin to tackle drug abuse, adding that his administration would partner with the Church to ensure that the people lived a better life.
He said governance started from the leadership of spiritual homes, noting that government and church can jointly build a community that would outlive all, while restating the commitment to improve the movement of people on road, water as well as building rail infrastructure to make Lagos a livable city.
Speaking earlier, Ndukuba thanked the governor for partnering with the church in the welfare of the people and commended him for his outstanding performance in tackling Covid-19.
Also present at the courtesy visit were the Deputy Governor, Obafemi Hamzat, Chief of Staff to the Governor, Tayo Ayinde, Secretary to the State Government, Folashade Jaji, Commissioner for Information, Gbenga Omotoso, among other dignitaries.
Okowa Tasks NASS On True Federalism
Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, has called on the National Assembly to embody in the 1999 Constitution being amended, true federalism and independence of Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
The governor made the call on Monday at a nationwide sensitisation on the review of the existing revenue allocation formula held at Unity Hall, Government House, Asaba.
He explained that an independent RMAFC would carry out its functions independently, including laying its proposals directly before the National Assembly for approval.
According to the governor, the current practice where recommendations of the commission are presented to the President has led to the non-review of the revenue allocation formula since 1992 as no President demonstrated the political will to forward the amendments to the parliament.
He commended RMAFC for ongoing sensitisation of the states before a zonal exercise where recommendations from the states would be received.
“For quite some time a lot of talks have gone on in the revenue allocation and it’s very unfortunate that in this country we are still operating a revenue allocation formula that was actually reviewed in 1992.
“As we look forward to a new revenue allocation formula, we hope that you come out with something that is fair, justifiable and equitable.
“But, the challenge is that when you have done all this work, you are going to eventually, by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, lay this before the President and the President ought to lay it before the National Assembly.
“There is a challenge there and there has always been a challenge there, because what is there in our laws that will ensure that the President lays the recommendations of RMAFC before the National Assembly?
“We hope that the National Assembly takes a look at this amendment because RMAFC is supposed to be an independent commission, a commission on behalf of all federating units and component parts of the federation.
“They cannot tie your hands; the constitution ought to be amended to enable chairman of RMAFC to directly lay before the national assembly whatever review it has come up with so that nobody stands it down,’’ he said.
Okowa stated that the National Assembly must do what was right because “a nation is a nation.
Reps Query Presidential Committee Over Assets Seized From Past Leaders
The House of Representatives on Monday ordered the Presidential Implementation Committee (PIC) on Landed Property to produce reports of all assets seized from former Nigerian leaders.
Members were more particular about the late Head of State, Sani Abacha, whose property and money were recovered by the Federal Government.
The chairman, ad-hoc Committee on Abandoned Property, Ademora Kuye, said the House wanted a report on all assets seized from Nigerian leaders in and out of Nigeria, particularly Abacha.
He said this when the Executive Secretary of PIC appeared before the committee in Abuja.
“We need to know the state of those property and to also know if the property have titles of deed,’’ Mr Kuye said.
The committee also queried the sale of federal government’s assets held in trust by the PIC.
Mr Kuye said the committee discovered that some of the property the PIC claimed to have sold were either not sold or were not paid for, contrary to claims made by the PIC.
He added that some of the seized houses which the PIC claimed were vacant were still being occupied.
He directed the PIC to furnish the House of Representatives committee with up-to-date reports of federal government’s assets sold, amount realised from the sales, those yet to be sold and those under litigation.
Mr Kuye also asked that the PIC must state the amount of money remitted to the federal government from the sales with evidence of remittance, adding that all assets pointed out to the committee but not included in its first report should be forwarded to the House of Representatives committee.
Responding to Mr Kuye’s submissions, the Executive Secretary, PIC, Bala Samid, stated that some of the people occupying government quarters had refused to vacate them.
He added that as soon as the occupants were approached for payment or to vacate the houses they went to court to obtain injunctions restraining the PIC.
“We approached the federal government to report them and the federal government said that we should give them time”.
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