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CSOs Push For Quick Passage Of Electoral Bill Before Annual Recess

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A group of nine civil society organisations (CSOs) has called on the National Assembly to quickly pass the Electoral Act (Amendment) 2021 Bill before it embarks on its long annual recess.

The CSO made the appeal, yesterday, while addressing newsmen outside the gate of the National Assembly complex in Abuja, after submitting a letter to the leadership of the National Assembly.

The Co-Convener of the Centre For Liberty, Mr Ariyo-Dare Atoye, who spoke on behalf of the nine organisations, said Nigerians were eager for an inclusive electoral reform.

”We are waiting for new electoral act that will improve the country’s electoral system, and tested in off-cycle elections ahead of the 2023 general election,” he said.

Atoye said the undersigned CSOs were highly concerned that the 9th National Assembly has failed to pass the Electoral Act (Amendment) 2021 Bill in spite of various appeals, rallies and protests from the Nigerian people in support of the piece of legislation.

“The National Assembly must agree that elections remain the most critical aspect of democracy the world over.

“It has become inevitable that we must address the deficits in the electoral system to entrench enduring electoral reforms and strengthen the capacity of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct free, fair, credible and transparent elections, and guarantee electoral integrity.

“Electoral reforms now represent a major Citizens Charter of Demand to the National Assembly for good governance and charismatic leadership.

“Eleven years after the Electoral Act 2010 was passed with subsequent amendments, Nigerians are eager to have Electoral Act 2021 (Repeal and Re-enactment) that will be tested and perfected in off-cycle elections before 2023.”

Atoye said that citizens’ participation in the electoral process was necessary for democratic sustenance.

“While INEC succeeded in increasing the number of registered voters to 84million in 2019, only about 29million voted, signifying a mere 35 per cent of the registered voters voted in the past election!

“Thus, this statistics should be a source of concern to representatives of the people and direct beneficiaries of the electoral system like your humble self.

“More importantly, at this time, the unity of the Nigerian state is seriously challenged by separatists and secessionists’ drive due to injustice, poor governance, and made worse by bad leadership. Nigeria cannot afford another flawed general election.

“That is why the countdown to 2023 and other off-cycle polls, has required a greater certainty about the electoral legal framework for achieving a more credible and improved electoral process.”

Atoye said that there was no better legacy for the 9th NASS than to give Nigerians a new Act before it embarks on its annual long recess.

“With the modest effort already made by the 8th Assembly on Electoral Reforms, in which the current principal officers were major actors, the people believe that Electoral Act 2021 ought to be a ‘walk in the park’ for the 9th National Assembly.

“In this vein, it is our hope that the 9th National Assembly, under your joint-watch, will write its name in gold by passing the Electoral Act (Amendment) 2021 Bill and transmitting same to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent as the president while receiving the leadership of INEC recently, expressed his willingness to sign the bill when it is passed by the National Assembly.”

Atoye said that an early passage of the bill by the National Assembly would prevent any excuse from the Executive, and also ensure that INEC prepares adequately before future elections, especially the 2023 polls.

“In conclusion, the passage of the said bill will further reawaken the hope of Nigerians who have already given up on the system and put Nigeria on the map of countries committed to a transparent electoral system.”

The CSOs includes, the Electoral Hub, Speak Out Africa Initiative, To Build a Nation; and Centre for Development Alternatives Research and Studies.

Others are Raising New Voices, Ready To Lead Africa, Centre for Impact Advocacy, Aspilos Foundation.

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Senate Urges NDDC To Complete Okitipupa Power Sub-Station

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The Senate yesterday in Abuja urged the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to complete the installation of a transmission power sub-station in Okitipupa council  of Ondo State.
According to the Senate, completing the installation of the transmission power sub-station is  urgent in order to restore electricity to Ondo South Senatorial District comprising Okitipupa, Ilaje, Ese-Odo, Irele and Odigbo Local Government Areas (LGAs).
This was contained in a statement signed by Mr Olumide Akinrinlola, the media aide of Senator Nicholas Tofowomo, representing Ondo South at the senate.
He said that the senate acted on the motion filed by Tofowomo on, the urgent need to restore power back to the affected area before the end of the year.
The  Senator, who is of  the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), lamented that the Southern Senatorial District was hosting the Omotosho Power Plant in Okitipupa LGA with a capacity of 512.8MW and 451MW Net since 2005 without residents benefitting from power supply.
“The situation is embarrassing  because I continue to wonder if Ondo South is part of Nigeria because suffering from electricity blackout for about 14 years has grounded many economic activities.
“Almost 90 per cent of my people have been deprived of electricity since 2007 and since put them uninterrupted darkness.
“The district is hosting the Omotosho Power Plant in Okitipupa LGA with a capacity of 512.8MW and 451MW Net  since 2005 without the people benefiting from the distribution of electricity.
“The intervention came in 2012 by NDDC in a contract; 132KV transmission and 132KV/33KV sub-station and line were  awarded in Okitipupa LGA.
“As at today, 85 per cent of the job has been completed and all the 145 Transmission Line Towers from Omotosho Power Station to the Sub Station has been completed.
“The sub-station’s outstanding works remain 15 per cent of which can be accomplished without delay if all the necessary machinery are put in place.
“The substation can be ready for transmission to the federal feeders in Irele, Odigbo, Ilaje, Ese-Odo and Okitipupa LGA within the shortest possible time,” Tofowomo told the senate.

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Delta Assembly Passes Anti-Grazing Bill

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The Delta State House of Assembly yesterday passed a Bill for a Law Prohibiting Open Grazing, Indiscriminate Breeding, Rearing and Marketing of Livestock in Delta also known as “Anti Grazing Bill”.
The passage of the bill followed a motion for the third reading moved by the Majority Leader of the House, Mr  Ferguson Onwo, during the plenary of the Assembly in Asaba.
The motion which was unanimously adopted by the house, was seconded by the Minority Leader of the Assembly, Mr Innocent Anidi.
Earlier, the Chairman of House Committee on Special Bills,  Mrs Pat Ajudua, had presented the report on the bill on the floor of the House, which was received and adopted.
Ajudua, while presenting the bill,  said that inputs of stakeholders formed part of the proposed law.
She noted that the bill when signed into law would  prohibit the carrying of firearms, either licensed or otherwise, by residents or individuals in the state,  just as it seeks to address the arbitrary rearing and movement of livestock.
In his reaction, the Speaker, Chief Sheriff Oborevwori, expressed happiness over the development, saying that the people and residents of the state would be very happy that the bill was passed.
“Dear colleagues, I congratulate all of us on the passage of this very important bill.
“Today, the house has fulfilled the commitment of our dear state to the agreement reached at the South-South Governors’ meeting held here in our state capital, Asaba.
“By virtue of this bill, this house has demonstrated its resolve to protect the people of the state from the menace of clashes between herders and farmers.
“I must therefore, commend all the sponsors of this bill, for recognising that the security of lives and property of the people of the state as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) are sacrosanct,” Oborevwori said.
Oborevwori said that with the passage of the bill, well-meaning persons who seek to carry on the business of breeding, rearing and marketing of livestock should do so within the boundaries of the law.
“Also, farmers can now go about their businesses without fear of anyone grazing on their crops.
“This for sure will boost food production in the state; dear colleagues, this Bill is a right step in the right direction as our women can now go to their farmlands without fear of molestation.
“Once again, I thank you all for your untiring support as always and for your resolute commitment in the passage of people oriented bills, such as this.”

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FG Tasks Media On Fight Against Fake News, Misinformation

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The Federal Government has urged the media to complement the government’s efforts in the fight against fake news and misinformation in the country.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha gave the advice yesterday at a training of “Communication Managers on Fake News and Hate Speech’’ in Abuja.
The training was organised by the Bureau of Public Service Reforms.
Mustapha, represented by Mrs Veronica Agugu, the Director, Public Affairs Department in the office of SGF, described fake news as false and misleading information presented as news.
He urged media practitioners and managers to assist in bridging the divide between governments and citizens in terms of implementation of government reform policies and programmes.
“Strengthening transparency in governance will require public sector to public communication as a tool to systematically raise citizens awareness which in turn would reduce the potency of hate speech in the country,’’ Mustapha said.
Dr Bala Muhammad, a lecturer at the Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano State, described media managers as media literates.
He urged them to unite against fake news and misinformation to promote peaceful co-existence in the country.
Muhammad said that most of the users of social media were not media literate, hence they easily fall for fake news and misinformation in the country.
Mr Yushau Shuaib, one of the resource persons, expressed concern over the huge number of social media users who were not media literate.
Shuaib stressed the need for relevant stakeholders to redouble their efforts in regulating the activities of social media in the country.
Mr Dasuki Arabi, the Director-General, Bureau of Public Service Reforms, said the training was to tackle the growing incidences of fake news, and hate speech occasioned by internet technology in the country.

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