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W’African Countries Want INEC’s Election Monitoring Tool – Yakubu

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says  many countries in West African have shown interest in studying and adopting its innovative tool on election monitoring and support system for their use.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this at the weekend at the opening of a two- day retreat on “the Optimisation of the Election Monitoring And Support Centre (EMSC) operational structure” held in Keffi, Nasarawa.
Yakubu said that the EMSC had become a vital tool in the monitoring, implementation and management of Nigeria’s electoral plans and activities.
He said when his led-commission was first inaugurated in November 2015, its resolve was to consolidate on the gains of the last commission (2010-2015) in building systems for the continuous and effective management of the electoral process.
Yakubu said the goals were not only to address the challenges encountered during the 2011 and 2015 general elections.
He said it was also to develop proactive and knowledge-driven systems that would address those challenges in 2019, as well as continue to support the commission’s efforts in the planning, conduct and management of elections.
“The continuous search for innovative and better systems for the management of our electoral process crystalised into the 2017-2021 Strategic Plan (SP)/Strategic Programme of Action (SPA), the 2019 Election Project Plan (EPP), as well as the EMSC.
“Consequently, the commission has, over the years, continuously expanded the frontiers of electoral management and governance by introducing innovations and knowledge-driven systems. The EMSC is one of such innovations.
“As an electoral early-warning, monitoring, implementation and management tool, the EMSC, relying on field offices and personnel across the 36 states and the FCT, alerts the commission to the challenges, identifies electoral risks/threats and provides real-time information on the status of an election.
“In doing so, the EMSC makes available to the commission the necessary information in making real-time interventions to avert or mitigate potential risks or threats to an election,” he stated.
Yakubu added that in the build-up to the 2019 general election, it became increasingly clear to INEC that a coordinated early warning, monitoring and implementation system was necessary.
This, according to him, was to track hundreds of inter-related electoral activities in the Election Project Plan for the 2019 general election.
He said that accordingly, INEC accepted the recommendations of the 2019 Election Project Plan Committee (EPPC) to integrate the three monitoring mechanisms of the commission into a single unit called the EMSC.
He listed the three monitoring mechanisms as the Election Management System (EMS),  Electoral Risk Management (ERM) and Election Operations Support Centre (EOSC).
“The EMSC has greatly helped the commission in managing the electoral process.
“As a testimony to its robustness as an election management tool, many countries in the West African Region and beyond have shown interest in studying and adopting the system for their use.
“The Ethiopian and Malawi Electoral Commissions are already considering the deployment of some aspects of the tool in the management of their elections.
“The EMSC may well be another contribution of INEC (and indeed Nigeria) to election management in the world,” he noted.
Yakubu said that pioneers and INEC needed to keep pushing the frontiers of the system, fortifying its strengths, addressing its challenges and expanding its reach, in the conduct and management of elections.
“Having deployed it for the 2019 general election, the commission has certainly seen its advantages as well as its challenges.
“The advantages need to be strengthened and improved upon while resolving the anticipated challenges before the 2023 general election, which is just 560 days away,” he said.
The INEC boss further  noted that the retreat was therefore crucial to the EMSC and the commission.
He urged participants to work round the clock during the period of the retreat, suggest novel ways of tweaking the EMSC, addressing its challenges and formulating comprehensive policy guidelines for its operation.
“It must be repositioned to discharge its most primary responsibilities of providing early warning, identifying threats/risks, monitoring the implementation of election activities.
“(It must) reposition in ensuring real-time and accurate information to the commission on all field-related activities that have a direct bearing on elections,” he stated.
Mr Hamza Fassi-Fihr, Project Coordinator, European Centre for Election Support (ECES), said monitoring of processes was integral to the success of any system and a commitment toward ensuring accountability and transparency.
Fassi-Fihri, who represented Dr Isiaka Yahaya, ECES Senior Electoral Administration Expert, commended INEC’s effort at ensuring effective electoral management and promotion of electoral integrity through the innovative tool.
“It is clear that the EMSC has come to stay as an indispensable and integral part of Nigeria’s electoral system and a process to be exported across EMBS in the African region and beyond,” he said.
On his part, Ahmed Mu’azu, National Commissioner and Chairman Planning, Monitoring and Strategy Committee (PMSC), said the retreat was critical as INEC prepared for the 2023 general elections.
Mu’azu said that the EMSC had been key to the process adding that that it was the reason it had remained in the fore burner for INEC,  since it had become a strategic implementation framework in the electoral process.
Also Prof. Ikechukwu Ibeanu, INEC National Commissioner, and Chairman Electoral Operations and Logistics Committee (EOLC), described EMSC as an important aspect of INEC commitment to the use of technology to deepen electoral process in Nigeria.
He said the adoption of technology had helped in tracking and ensuring compliance in the electoral processes.
Ibeanu noted that it had  also helped in improving efficiency, as well as reduced negative human interference in the electoral process.
INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, in Nasarawa Uthman Ajidagba said the retreat was timely and apt as the commission prepared for the 2023 general elections.

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Sanwo-Olu Signs Anti-Open Grazing Bill Into Law

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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.

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Okowa Tasks NASS On True Federalism

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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.

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Reps Query Presidential Committee Over Assets Seized From Past Leaders

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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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