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Nigeria’s Electoral Woes

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Nigeria has learnt nothing from its long and chequered train of electoral woes. Nigeria has a very unusually queer habit of ignoring its historical antecedents and facing the future blindly having learnt nothing from her past mistakes.
The first major crises that nearly tore Western Nigeria into shreds with spillover effects to other parts of Nigeria was resultant from a mismanaged election. In fact apart from the 1993 Federal elections, Nigeria has not conducted any credible, free and fair elections. But instead of etching his name in letters of gold in the annals of Nigeria’s history, the then Head of State General Ibrahim Badamosi Babaginda cancelled the most successful and the most popular election in Africa and passed on the winner, Chief M.K.O Abiola to Gen. Sani Abacha to arrest, incarcerate and waste. General Babangida’s reason for cancelling the election then was that many of his top army Generals did not support the Presidency of Chief M.K.O Abiola. What rubbish, what nonsense.
Elections all over the world are always contested with so much gusto and enthusiasm. Let us use this example from the United States of America and even our neighbouring Ghana to show Nigeria the way forward. The American Presidential Election of November 7, 1876 is still till date one of the most disputed elections in American history especially in the States of Louisiana, South Carolina, Florida and Oregon. All over America, the Democratic candidate Samuel J. Tilden won by more than a million popular votes but this was overturned by the Electoral Board (which was controlled by the Republican Party) in favour of R. B Hayes. The 1876 Presidential election dispute gave rise to a crisis, the like of which the United States had never seen. Many Democrats who felt that they had been cheated threatened “Tilden or war”. Congressman Henry Watterson from Kentucky even declared that an army of 100, 000 men was prepared to storm Washington if “Tilden was denied the Presidency.”
Since the American Constitution then was not explicit enough on how to resolve disputes from Electoral colleges, the Senate and the House of Reps voted to establish a Federal Electoral Commission Bill to tackle the existing crisis. And on January 29, 1877, President UIysses S. Grant signed the Electoral commission bill into law. The 15 members of the commission were made up of five Democrats, five Republicans and five Supreme Court Judges. None was appointed by the President.
Despite great opposition from the Democrat-controlled House of the Representatives, the new Electoral Commission voting on party lines (eight Republicans, seven democrats) awarded all 20 disputed electoral votes to the Republican candidate and thus R. B Hayes was sworn in as America’s 19t and most disputed President on March 5,1877. Most bitter democrats later referred to Rutherford B. Hayes as “Rutherfraud” “His fraudulence” and “His Accidency”. An extensive incursion into the American example is to demonstrate man’s ingenuity and ability to conquer his environment and solve his problems as pronounced by God Almighty.
But by far the greatest electoral frauds and manipulations occur more rampantly in African countries. There is really no African country that has not tasted of this bitter pill of electoral violence and crises at one time or the other in its history. Togo, Uganda, Rwanda, Benin, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and the most guilty apart from Nigeria. On the other hand also, there are only few countries in the world without electoral violence and crises. But most of these countries have overcome their electoral crises by either constitutional amendments’ or electoral bills, Americans solved the 1876 debacle by amending their constitution in just four days because it was an emergency. In Africa, Ghana and South Africa have had the best record of credible elections for some time now.
The Electoral Commission of Ghana is the official body responsible for all public elections in Ghana. It was established by the Electoral Commission Act of 1993. The seven founding members including its Chairman, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan are all still serving their 16 year on the commission. The members are not political appointees neither are they appointed by the Ghanaian President. Their independence is guaranteed by the Ghana Constitution of 1992.
Dr. Afari-Gyan who was invited last week by the Nigerian Democratic Institute and the Nigerian National Assembly to educate them on the way out of Nigeria’s permanent Electoral logjams advised managements of electoral bodies in Africa to “imbibe” transparency and openness to ensure true democracy in Africa.” He chided African politicians for taking elections as a do-or-die affair and that this desperate quest for power at all cost has placed the Electoral Commission in Africa in a difficult position before, during and after the conduct of elections.
He also encouraged and appealed to Civil Society Organisations or NonGovernmental Organisations to actively support and ally with the Electoral Bodies all over Africa. Ghana has a credible electoral body because Ghana has been able to reduce her tolerance level for corruption to zero, while Nigeria’s corruption level still stands at about 95 per cent. Nigeria encourages, pampers and rewards its corrupt officials while Ghana jails any official or even minister who is found guilty of corruption. Today, without mincing words or being sentimental Ghana, is Africa’s best model for democracy and strong democratic institutions.
By far the greatest area of difference between Nigeria and Ghana is the conduct and management of credible elections. While Ghana’s last two elections have been excellent, Nigeria’s last two elections are the worst in the annals of Nigeria’s electoral history, and in Africa as a whole. Nigeria has a litany of electoral woes and unsettled electoral petitions arising from the May 2007 elections.
Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State was lucky he got back two years of his stolen mandate. The Action Congress gubernatorial candidate for Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayerni is still challenging the incumbent governor before the Ado-Ekiti Election Petition Tribunal in the third year after the May 2007 election. Alhaji Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State has accused the incumbent governor of a stolen mandate and has given enough evidence to declare him the new governor of Osun State.
Hopefully the court will decide that. We all still remember how the Ekiti re-run election was rigged in the glare of television cameras. Comrade Adams Oshiornhole was lucky too; he got his stolen mandate from the avaricious People’s Democratic Party.
Various efforts to reverse electoral mismanagement and fraud have proved abortive as President Umaru Musa Yar Adua has bluntly refused to implement the Justice Uwais Electoral Reform Committee recommendations.
Nanaghan is editor’s guest

Ben Nanaghan

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Buhari Seeks Return To Family Values In Rebuilding Nigeria …Wike, Tambuwal, Other Govs Attend Ikpeazu’s Son’s Wedding

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President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the reason why there were so many problems in the Nigerian society was because of a diminishing emphasis placed on the importance of family values.
Buhari said this, yesterday, at the wedding of Mr. Jachimike Ikpeazu, son of Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu at the International Conference Centre in Umuahia, Abia State.
At the event, the groom wedded his heartbeat, Miss Thelma Chidinma.
The wedding was also attended by the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, Sokoto State Governor, Hon. Aminu Tanbuwal, and several other dignitaries.
Others present at the wedding service that was conducted by the Seventh Day Adventist Church were Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel; Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki; Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri; Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed; Ebonyi State Governor, Engr. David Umahi; and Enugu State Governor, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
Also at the event were the immediate past governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi; and National Secretary-elect of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Sam Anyanwu.
Buhari, who was represented at the occasion by the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uche Ogah, decried the situation where parents and guardians who should have paid greater attention in inculcating good character in their wards, have abdicated that responsibility.
He sued for a collective effort across tribes and regions towards restoring family values and giving it its rightful place.
“Marriage is family value, character. The reasons why there are issues in the society, today, is because families are broken. When values are enshrined in families, the entire society will be good.”
Buhari charged the couple to build their family on the word of God, have a regular family altar of prayers, and give good attention to building enduring character.
Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, who was represented by wife of the Ebonyi State Governor, Mrs. Rachael Umahi, told the couple to know that marriage is where love is celebrated.
She urged them to continue in the training given to them by their parents, and learn to love themselves more so that their home can be a blessing and impact positively on others around them.
In his sermon, Pastor B. E. O. Udoh, admonished the couple not to allow their love for each other to diminish.
He further urged them to be tolerant, support each other to become their best, build and cultivate goodly character.
In his remarks, Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu said it was delightful to watch his son take a wife to himself, and prayed God to make their union fruitful.
Ikpeazu expressed gratitude to Buhari and his wife, his brother governors, political associates and friends who attended the event, for honouring him with their presence.

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Insurgents Planning To Attack Military Bases, DSS Alerts

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The Department of State Services (DSS) has issued an alert over planned attacks by insurgents on Ogun border communities and other border communities in Nigeria.
In a letter signed by the State Director of Security, Ogun State Command, M.B. Abdullahi, DSS warned that it has intelligence that the insurgents were plotting to attack military bases in border towns.
The DSS also advised customs and other security agencies in the country to put counter-measures in place to frustrate the plot by the insurgents.
The letter titled, ‘Plans by insurgents to launch attacks on military bases in various border communities’ read, “Available intelligence indicates plans by insurgents and criminal elements to carry out simultaneous attacks on military posts and bases in various border communities across the nation anytime from now.
“In view of the foregoing and the likelihood such attacks not limited to the military personnel only, all law enforcement and security agencies with operational bases at border communities are advised to take note of the above threat and emplace countermeasures with emphasis on personal security of operatives to frustrate the planned attack.”

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PAP Partners NNPC To Sustain Peace In N’Delta

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Towards attaining sustainable peace in the Niger Delta region, the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) have agreed to work together to tackle pipeline insecurity, unemployment and other challenges in the region.
The agreement was reached when PAP’s Interim Administrator, Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd) led a delegation to visit the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, in Abuja, over the weekend.
In a statement signed by the Special Adviser on Media to the Acting Administrator, Mr Neotaobase Egbe, PAP said the meeting was strategic and in line with the objective of programme to partner with all relevant stakeholders for the full implementation of the amnesty programme.
He said PAP was courting willing partners to have robust synergy to drive the Niger Delta Recovery Plan (NDRP) to fruition.
The statement noted that though PAP was executing its own role in reintegrating 30,000 ex-agitators captured by the Presidency, there was a need to strengthen partnership between sister agencies of government for the sustainable development of the Niger Delta.
He said the NNPC like other institutions of government had roles to play in oil assets redistribution, infrastructural development and environmental remediation.
Dikio said that there was a need to control disruptions in oil production, saying destructive energies could be channelled into productive ventures through re-orientation and sustained advocacy.
He also said that PAP had made efforts to cut down irrelevant trainings and had become intentional about successfully empowering its delegates.
He said trainings over the years had become contractor-driven and were not meeting the beneficiaries’ needs.
Dikio maintained that the PAP was targeting functional businesses that had the capacity to train, employ and mentor delegates into becoming successful business owners.
He said: “For instance, if we have someone that has a commercial poultry farm and we partner with them to train our delegates, they will be employed after their training. In the course of two years and five months they will be taken through the ropes of poultry farming before they are sent out to start their own poultry.
“It is a win-win for everybody. We did the research and we discovered that the cassava plant in Bayelsa needs about 20,000 metric tons of cassava daily, so there is ample opportunity for our delegates to go into that kind of business.
“Again, palm oil when sold in international markets is above $1,000 a ton, and here, we are in the region only focusing on oil and gas”.
Dikio further said there were arrays of businesses the PAP was looking to inject delegates into, adding that exceptional graduates under the PAP scholarship scheme had more opportunities for employment.
In his remarks, the NNPC GMD, Mele Kyari, commended Dikio for the efforts to ensure peace in the Niger Delta, and emphasised the need to sustain the peace through accommodation and inclusiveness of Niger Delta youths.
He bemoaned the inability of the oil industry to fulfil its obligations to the region over the years, saying that it was one of the reasons the amnesty programme had prolonged.
He said: “As we speak today, we have seen a number of increasing incidents of unrest; cases that remind us of the past we don’t want to recollect again.
“Therefore, everything you have said points to the fact that inclusion, support and empowerment for young people particularly in the Niger Delta will bring peace and development to the Niger Delta. No amount of resources available to you will give you peace except there is alignment with the respective players in the space”.
Kyari said the award of licences to investors to begin production on about 57 marginal oil fields within Niger Delta in 2022 was designed to support businesses that originated from the region because most of the beneficiaries from the marginal field programme were indigenes of the Niger Delta.
He said working together would bring lasting peace to the region, explaining that the number of experienced technical people produced from the programme, would easily fill employment opportunities.
He said: “Once you create opportunities and investments return, more employment opportunities will come. I think it is a good thing that we work together, both the amnesty programme and all other actors in this space to bring the lasting peace to the Niger Delta and across our country, where people can benefit because ultimately if we cannot give, there will be nothing to show in another five to ten years, that is the reality that we are in.”

By: Akujobi Amadi

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