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Electoral Act: Rumbles In Senate Over Card Reader, Results’ Electronic Transmission

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The plan to save the nation’s electoral process from malpractices by making card reader and electronic transmission of results compulsory during polls, is currently generating controversy in the Senate.
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that the Senator Kabiru Gaya-led Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, based on input from Nigerians during the public hearing on the ongoing amendments to the Electoral Act, has included the compulsory electronic transfer of votes and card reader, in its report.
The report of the Electoral Act 2010 Amendments Bill is billed for submission any moment from this week, according to a source, who is a member of the INEC panel.
There are, however, strong indications that some forces from outside the chambers have started lobbying their political allies in the Senate to oppose the provision for electronic voting.
A Senator from the South-East geopolitical zone, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue, confided in our correspondent that there were actually moves to scuttle the use of electronic transmission of results in the 2023 general elections.
He said, “We all agreed at the commencement of the amendment exercise that we should include electronic voting in the bill but since INEC has told us its limitation regarding that for now, we settled for mandatory use of card readers and electronic transfer of results from the polling units to INEC central server.
“However, the feelers we are getting from some of our colleagues indicate that some people are warming up to reject the inclusion of the proposal in the bill by opposing it during third reading at plenary.
“I wonder for how long some people want to be manipulating election process in Nigeria to their advantage. The peoples’ vote must count. We won’t continue to allow some people to be writing results and imposing them on INEC.”
Another Senator from the South-West geopolitical zone, who also craved anonymity, said he was aware of surreptitious moves by some of his colleagues to oppose the issue of electronic voting and card reader.
He said, “ It is our wish that the card reader and electronic transfer of results be made compulsory by including it in the Electoral Act that we have just amended but some of our people are already opposing that novel idea.
“We have also made up our minds to mobilise our colleagues who have the interest of the country at heart to oppose any evil and wicked plans to rubbish the 2023 elections. The peoples’ vote must count.”
However, some senators who spoke with our correspondent on record said any plan to frustrate the use of electronic voting in the 2023 polls would fail.
They expressed delight that the INEC committee had included the mandatory use of electronic voting as part of their recommendations in their final report which would be presented to the Senate at plenary very soon.
They insisted that passing the amendments to the Electoral Act without specific provision for mandatory use of electronic voting would not make the National Assembly to achieve the intention of the current amendments.
Senator Matthew Urhoghide said he would vote for electronic voting anytime the report of the INEC committee is presented at plenary.
He said, “I’m not pessimistic, I am very optimistic that the electronic voting will be passed  with the Electoral Act amendments. I will vote for it.
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“The sanctity of the ballot paper must be upheld. Anybody who subverts it is worse than armed robber.
“What we are saying is that once the vote is cast, it must be transmitted immediately to the server.
“We are insisting that the transmission of results must be done electronically to the server right from the polling unit”.
Also Senator Gershom Bassey said the electronic voting remained the best aspect of the electoral reforms.
He said, “We have not seen the report of the INEC committee yet so it is not good to speculate.
“We will have to wait and see but if we go by what happened during the eighth Assembly when the document was passed and sent to the executive for assent, the issues of electronic transfer of results and compulsory use of card reader was captured.
“It is my expectations that if we want free and fair elections in this country, it is a very crucial aspect of the electoral reforms.
“It is important that when people vote, as we saw in Edo State, as soon as you vote,  the results at the polling unit are sent to the central server.
“It is that aggregation without any interference,  from collation centres, and all sorts of funny things. It is possible to aggregate the results from the polling unit and come up with the results for the constituency”
Similarly, Senator Frank Ibezim said, “Electronic voting is the way to go  because it is what the electorate want.”
Senators Abba Moro and Chukwuka Utazi also held similar view.
They insisted that the use of electronic voting remained the best way to achieve a free, fair and credible elections in the country.

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APC, PDP Bandy Words Over Buhari’s Fresh Loan Request

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The ruling All Progressives Party (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have argued over President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for approval to borrow $4 billion and €710 million to fund the deficit in the 2021 budget.
Recall that the president made the request in a letter he addressed to the National Assembly on Tuesday.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in reaction to the development, cautioned the NASS against approving the request, saying it could set the country’s debt profile skyrocketing without a feasible repayment plan.
With the approval to borrow $8.3 billion and €490 million loans by its legislative body barely two months ago, Nigeria’s debt profile risks reaching over N40 trillion.
“More alarming is that the debts that APC is hanging on Nigerians are for nebulous projects whose scopes, utilities, locations and contractors are largely vague; a development that validates apprehensions of a huge swindle on our nation at the expense of innocent Nigerians, including generation yet unborn. 
“Our party holds it as an act of wickedness that individuals who know that they will be leaving office in less than two years will be accumulating debts instead of seeking ways to reduce the liability they have brought upon our nation.
“The APC knows it will not be around after May 29, 2023. That is why it is pushing our nation into a deeper economic quagmire with foreign loans, which are largely diverted to the personal pockets of their corrupt leaders,” the opposition PDP said in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Tuesday.
But responding to the PDP’s criticism, the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Wednesday, said the loans are for “the good of the country” and well-being of the citizenry.
The ruling party also accused the opposition party of looting foreign loans obtained during its 16 years rule rather than spending on infrastructure and economic growth as, according to it, Mr Buhari-led government is doing.
“It was in PDP’s era that loans to fund power generation, purchase arms and ammunition to fight a raging insurgency were misappropriated and diverted to fund PDP activities; and the borrowed money ultimately found its way to the pockets of cronies, friends and family members of administration officials. Nigeria is still servicing a $460 million loan taken from China to fund a phoney Abuja Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) contract awarded in August 2010.
“Nigerians should also reflect and recall that the PDP had in its 16 years of misrule pushed the country into a dark ditch of insolvency, and a period in which most state governments could not pay workers salaries, not even the minimum wage, or settle contractors’ bills and cater for patients in hospitals, to name a few,” the APC interim National Secretary, John Akpanudoedehe, said.

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A’Ibom Gov Signs Anti-Open Grazing Law

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Akwa lbom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, has signed into law a bill to prohibit open rearing and grazing of livestock and provide for the establishment of ranches in the state.
The Speaker, Aniekan Bassey, with the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Uko Udom (SAN), presented the bill for signing on Wednesday at the State Executive Chambers, in the Governor’s Office, Uyo.
The governor, after signing the bill into law, stated that the new law was no respecter of persons irrespective of status or calibre.
He instructed relevant authorities of government to ensure that the law was implemented and enforced to the letter with strict compliance, stressing that, culprits must be brought to book accordingly.
The new law will promote modern techniques in animal husbandry, prevent the destruction of farms by wandering cattle while reducing clashes and killings between herders and farmers in the state.
It will also promote international best practices in livestock administration, regulation and control in the state, among other things.
The state Assembly passed the bill on Tuesday, and the Speaker, Aniekan Bassey, directed the Clerk of the House, Mrs Mandu Umoren, to communicate the decision of the House to the Governor for his assent.
Also at the Executive Chambers, the Speaker who was accompanied by the Leader of the House, Udo Kierian Akpan, and the Clerk of the Assembly, Mrs Mandu Umoren, to the signing ceremony witnessed the inauguration of two C\committees by the Governor.
The committees are the Akwa Ibom State Gender Based Violence Management Committee, chaired by the First Lady, Mrs.  Martha Udom Emmanuel, and Akwa Ibom State Road Safety Management Committee, chaired by the Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo.

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NASS S’East Caucus Moves To Reconstruct Federal System

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Members of the South East Caucus of the National Assembly have resolved to join hands with other patriotic Nigerians across regional, religious, political, and ethnic divides to reconstruct a federal system where the rights, happiness, and prosperity and those of unborn generations are guaranteed. 
Making their feelings known in a communique issued at the end of an extraordinary meeting held at the Apo Legislative Quarters, Abuja last Wednesday, the law makers said the topic of the meeting centered on review of developments in the South East, particularly the security situation in the region vis-à-vis the sit-at-home orders by members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB) and  the detention of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
  “We expressed solidarity with our people of the South East over the marginalisation of the region in the scheme of things within the Nigerian commonwealth. The Caucus feels the pains of our people and their quest for equity, justice, and protection of their lives and property in every part of the country. The Caucus, therefore, resolved to continue to fight for a level-playing ground and an enabling federal system where Ndigbo are able to develop their homeland at their own pace and equally pursue their happiness and actaulise their enormous potentials in every part of the country, unmolested.
 Reviewing the sit-at-home orders by the IPOB and the mayhem some nefarious elements have seized the opportunity to visit on the lives, properties, and psyche of the people, the Caucus equally reviewed and rued the incalculable economic losses and hardships these have brought upon the region.
They, however, condemned in strongest terms the disruption of the ongoing Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination in some parts of the South East, particularly the incident at Comprehensive Secondary School, Nkume, Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State, where the English examination organised by the West Africa Examination Council, WAEC, on Monday, September 13, 2021, was ruthlessly scuttled by armed men, who chased away the students, teachers, and examiners before setting ablaze motorcycles belonging to the teachers. 
“This is certainly not who we are as a people. On the contrary, we are a people, who have always cherished and encouraged learning from the ages. We are a people that fully appreciate the place of education in the liberation and enlightenment of the human mind and the socio-economic and political emancipation of a people”.
The South East legislators equally condemned in strongest terms the incessant killings in the South East, adding “This must stop immediately. We call on the security agencies to unravel the culprits behind these wicked acts and ensure that they are brought to book to serve as a deterrent to others.
“ Noted with delight that IPOB has called off the Monday sit-at-home order and resolved to ensure that nobody uses them as façades to bring ruination on Igbo land.
“ Call on our people to go about their lawful businesses and enjoin our governors and the security agencies to rebuild confidence in our people by not only ensuring the security of their lives and properties, but also ensuring that our people feel safe as they undertake their legitimate businesses.
 ”Elaborately discussed the issue of Mazi Nnamdi and resolved to intervene. To this end we resolved to set up a committee to constructively interface with relevant stakeholders, the Federal Government and its relevant agencies towards finding a political solution. We will keep Ndigbo abreast of developments in regard.
 “Appeal to our people not to allow anyone to destroy the South East region. The post-war South East was not built through government patronage, but largely by the sheer determination and sacrifices of our people, who refused to resign to fate or bow their heads in defeat. 
“It is in Igbo land that you easily find hospitals, schools, roads, and other social amenities built by individual or communal efforts of the people, home and abroad, through the instruments of the town unions and other community organisations such as the age grades, Umuada, etc. 

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