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INEC To Introduce New Technologies

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says  it is  reviewing its  adopted technologies for elections, with a view to introducing new ones to improve conduct of the elections ahead of 2023.
The INEC Director of Voter Education and Publicity Department (VEP), Mr Nick Dazang, disclosed this yesterday at a workshop for the department on the “Review of National Voter Education Manual” held in Keffi, Nasarawa State.
The five-day workshop is organised by INEC in partnership with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD).
Dazang, speaking with newsmen on the sideline of the workshop, said INEC began the process for electronic voting since 2004 when it introduced optic map registration forms.
“After that in 2010, the commission introduced the use of direct data capture machines, and then expanded the use of the machines in the conduct of the 2011 election.
“So, we have started the process as far back as 2004, culminating in the use of the Smart Card Reader (SCR) and the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) that we also used in 2015.
“But the commission is reviewing this process with a view to upgrading and improving the conduct of elections in 2023.
“The commission wants to introduce new technologies that will help deepen the conduct of the elections, and also improve on them. So the commission is working assiduously on that.
“Very soon, when the commission has taken a position, it will come out and explain to Nigerians how this is going to be done,” Dazang said.
He said that in introducing the new technologies, INEC would revisit the use of card readers and likely to introduce other technologies that will work seamlessly with electronic voting in 2023.
“The commission has been working on that in the past few months and God’s willing in the next few months the commission will make its position known to the public.”
He said that INEC would continue to introduce new technologies to the electoral system, not for the fancy of it, but the technologies that worked.
He noted that the commission had no regrets on the technologies it had so far introduced for the conduct of elections in Nigeria as they had helped in deepening the process and the transparency.
Dazang said that the commission was also reviewing its voter education to enable it to explain better the planned technologies to Nigerians.
“In reviewing our voter education, we are looking at certain dynamics including the technologies that the commission intend to introduce.
“We have to be on top of the matters so that we can explain the application of these technologies to Nigerians as we did when we introduced SCR, direct data capturing machines and PVCs.
He described voter education as key part of the electoral process that needed concerted efforts not just from INEC, but all stakeholders.
“If you look at what is happening around the globe including Nigeria, so many changes are happening that necessitate the urgency to review voter education.”
This, according to him, include the issue of changes in technology and COVID-19, saying we need to change our communications process to respond to the changes.
“We need to change our communications in response to growing youth population. We need to use strategies that resonate with the youth and women population.”
On the amendment of the Electoral Act, Dazang said that the commission was working seriously with two committees of the National Assembly, adding that substantial gains were being made on the amendment.
He expressed optimism that the NASS would rise to the challenge in meeting up with its promise to Nigeria to amend the Electoral Act before the end of the first quarter of 2021.
On the Anambra governorship election, Dazang said that the commission would at the appropriate time issue the date and timetable for the conduct of the election, latest by six months to the conduct.
He urged the staff members of the commission to always upgrade themselves on new technologies as well as continue to obey the COVID-19 safety protocols.
The WFD Country Representative in Nigeria, Mr Adebowale Olorunmola, expressed the foundation’s continued determination and support for INEC to deepen voter education in Nigeria, especially at the grassroots.
He said that the foundation started its partnership journey with INEC in 2015 in ensuring more inclusion of women and people living with disability in electoral process.
Olorunmola commended INEC for deepening voter education and more inclusive electoral process for women and people living with disabilities.
He said that the workshop was key in enhancing voter education from the current way to wider and deeper ways to improve on future elections.
“There is nothing like advanced democracy anymore, but work in progress.
“If you look at what has been happening in U.S. even with their decades of practising democracy they are still moving to deepen voter education.”
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2023: Wike’ll Not Foist Successor – Akawor

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Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) in Rivers State, Ambassador Desmond Akawor says the Governor Nyesom Wike will not impose any successor in the state.
He gave the assurance when he appeared on a radio programme tagged “Viewpoint” in Port Harcourt at the weekend.
The PDP chairman said the process of succession would be open to all the party members and stakeholders.
In his words,” the governor has made it clear that he cannot on his own decide who is going to succeed him. He runs a collegiate system and for now the time has not come.”
With a hitch- free local government elections concluded, Akawor noted that it was a prelude of what would obtain in 2023 as the PDP will consolidate its stronghold in Rivers State.
“ We believe that in 2023 we will tell Rivers people what we have done and not what we will do. There is no local government area that the governor has not completed up to two projects,” he remarked.
On the alleged furore between Wike and PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, the State PDP chairman said such claims were mere insinuations and not true.
He recalled that at a recent party function Wike and Secondus were seen together, and wondered where such stories were coming from.
Besides that, Akawor was of the view that disagreements were bound to happen in politics ,but that there was no love lost among the leaders currently.
He flaked the opposition for fanning embers of disunity amongst the people through propaganda which often pointed the state in bad light and discouraged investors.
Akawor called for continued support for the present administration in the state considering the huge investment on infrastructure and other sectors to boost the economy.

By: Kevin Nengia

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PDP Berates Kogi Gov

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The National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Kola Ologbondiyan, says Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State cannot point to any development project he implemented for the benefit of the people.
A statement signed by the Assistant Director (Head of Unit) Publicity Department of PDP, Richard Ihediwa, and made available to newsmen yesterday quoted Ologbondiyan as having said this during his tour of PDP formations in the state at the weekend.
He lamented that Governor  Bello had “turned Kogi into the most backward state in the country, with infrastructural decay.”
“Yahaya Bello has done absolutely nothing to merit any form of commendation,” Ologbondiyan  insisted.
He urged Bello to “utilise the resources of the people of Kogi State for their benefit, including infrastructural recovery as well as paying workers and pensioners.”
However, the state Commissioner for information, Kingsley Fanwo, while reacting to the statement, said that the state government did not need to react when his Kabba people are already pointing to the massive road constructions in his home town.
He described Ologbondiyans statement as “reckless and false” who does not deserve the luxury of response from a serious government whose own people have seen the massive works going on in that part of the state and others.
“We thank his people in Kabba for coming out to point to the recklessly false statement by Ologbondiyan.
“His party recently said they were afraid of GYB ahead of 2023. So, they have possibly started hatching their plans. Unfortunately, they have started on a wrong note,” Fanwo noted.
“Continuing, he said, “When PDP was in power in Kogi, a governor refused to put electricity in his home town. GYB did it.
“In Ologbodiyan’s Senatorial District, GYB established the best rice mill in Nigeria, apart from other infrastructure like roads, schools, hospitals, water facilities and others.
“Today, over 200 communities are to be connected to the national grid in Kogi East in the next couple of months, as the project has reached 95 percent completion.
“Look at the massive road projects in Kabba, Omala, Olamaboro, Okene as well as healthcare infrastructure springing up everywhere.
“The Ganaja Junction Flyover is emerging into a masterpiece. We sympathise with Kola Ologbondiyan and his sinking party.
“Yahaya Bello has done and also doing what their parties failed to do over the years.”

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Soludo: ‘INEC Must Redeem Self’

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The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has urged the  Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to redeem itself and recognise  ‘legitimate’ candidates of the party in the November 6 governorship election.
National Chairman of the party, Mr Victor Oye , who made the call on Saturday while briefing newsmen in Abuja  said that there was only one APGA,  which was led by him, with Labaran Maku as National Secretary.
The Tide reports that INEC had originally received  the names of Chukwuma Soludo and his running mate, Mr Onyekachi Ibezim as candidates of APGA.
However, citing a court ruling, the electoral umpire dropped the names and replaced them with Chukwuma Umeoji and Obiageli Orogbu as the new candidates of APGA.
Reacting to the development, the APGA national chairman faulted the action of INEC in  recognising an illegal body and illegal candidates.
He said that the party was one, had no faction and its leadership which came on board in May 2019 was the legitimate body of APGA at the national level.
“Our leadership was duly elected on May 31, 2019, in a well organised national convention in Awka, and  attended by all the organs of the party expected to be at the convention.
“On the roll, we have 608 members of NEC but what you saw on June 25 was a contraction, they gathered men and women from the streets not up to 50 and they called it NEC meeting .
“Again, what INEC did, we were the first political party that uploaded the particulars of our governorship candidate and deputy to INEC on July 2, in accordance with the electoral act.
“According to section 313, of the electoral Act 2010 as amended, INEC is expected to have published that name within seven days of uploading of those particulars but they waited till July 15, 13 days after to concoct what they did on July 16, 2021.
“For me, the only way INEC can redeem their image is to reverse itself immediately, they should not wait for one minute.
“After all, there is a court judgment from Awka that has given them a soft landing, the judgment from Awka was very clear .
“The judgment solved all the legal puzzles you could ever think of, so what is holding INEC from implementing that,” he said.
He expressed hope that INEC in its proposed meeting on Tuesday, would reverse itself and recognise the right candidates.
Oye used the opportunity to stress that there was no crisis in the party, adding that APGA remained one and united.
He described those parading as a faction of the party as mere invaders.
“The thing is that we have  invaders, they invaded our party, street urchins ‘with a master plan to destroy the party for the benefit of a particular aspirant’.
He said the aspirant in question had bought forms, attended the screening and was screened out, wrote a petition which was dismissed before resorting to forming a phantom group which he called the opposition of APGA.
“APGA has no other national chairman and no other national leadership except the one led by me as national chairman and his Mr Labaran Maku as the National Secretary.
“No other faction so to speak has the right, constitutional, legal or legitimate right to speak for our party.
“So the truth of the matter is that, out party is waxing stronger and stronger despite the distractions because the whole essence of what is happening is to distract us from focusing on victory in Anambra.
“They know that a united and undistracted APGA will win the election massively, they knew what happened in 2017 so they are afraid it will be  repeated in 2021,” he said.
The APGA chairman, however, stressed that the party was taking due steps to ensure the right thing was done by INEC.
He said  the party under his leadership had served INEC the court order which he noted that the commission had minuted to the relevant quarters.
“We have also written the Chairman of INEC, drawing his attention, calling all the legal odysseys, we had embarked upon from 2019 till date.
“Do not forget that we have a subsisting court judgment flowing from the Anambra Judiciary Awka division,” he said.
“The judgment was given in November 2019, giving the legality to the national convention conducted by our party that the convention that produced us as national officers of the
party, held on May 31, 2019.
“Why did INEC not bank on that judgment to publish the names of our candidates, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo and his deputy Dr Onyeakachi Ibezim.
“Why should INEC consider a judgment from Birnin Kudu Jigawa, 9,046 kilo meters from Akwa.
“That judgment did not say anything about me, the judgment was talking about Edozie Njoku. So the court sacked Edozie Njoku, it did not sack me. Edozie Njoku has never been the national chairman of APGA .
“There was a court order from Federal High court Awka, directing INEC to maintain the status quo and publish Soludo’s name as given to it on July 2, 2021 but INEC did not obey that court order.
“We served INEC the court judgment from Awka on November 2020, it did not obey it. INEC must do the right thing and publish the names of  legitimate candidates of the party,” he said.

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