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Maurice Iwu And The Clamour For His Sack

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As the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu released the political timetable for  the 2011 general elections, pressures are mounting for his immediate removal as the as the electoral body’s chairman.

Members of civil societies, the organised labour movement and some opposition political parties especially the Action Congress and the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) have called on the government to throw Iwu out of INEC. The clamour for the removal of Iwu as Nigeria’s chief electoral umpire began shortly after the 2007 general elections in which local and foreign observers in their findings and observations during the elections had indicted the INEC’s boss and the commission for the electoral lapses that characterised the elections. The conduct of the elections was widely criticised as falling below acceptable democratic standards.

Maurice Iwu was appointed to succeed Dr. Abel Guobadia as INEC chairman on June 2005. But soon after the appointment as INEC’s chairman, some politicians and civil society groups called for his immediate removal over his controversial statement that only foreign election observers not foreign monitors would be allowed during the 2007 general election.

Though, INEC said the election was credible, foreign observers disagreed, saying the election lacked any measure of credibility. Consequently, Iwu came under the hammer  of the organised Labour movement, civil society and the opposition political parties for alleged bias in the conduct of the poll and non adherence to its guiding principles.

The commission and its helmsman have been accused of not showing enough transparency, integrity, credibility, impartiality and dedication in their relations with the various political stakeholders.

Going by the guiding principles of INEC, the commission shall be open, transparent, truthful and honest in dealing with the people of Nigeria and its political stakeholders. On credibility, INEC had promised to ensure that the people of Nigeria and the various political stakeholders will readily accept the commission actions and activities.

The INEC had also promised to create a level playing field for all political actors towards providing the highest quality election services to the people of Nigeria.

But these turned out to be Herculean tasks for INEC to achieve in Nigeria. No wonder therefore that as the preparation for another round of general elections comes 2011 gather momentum, the opposition towards the continuing INEC chairmanship of Iwu had become more intense with each day not passing without a call for Iwu’s removal.

Iwu is being adjudged as not competent enough to conduct free, fair and credible elections in the polity. There is also the allegations that INEC lacks the necessary integrity and  credibility score sheet under Iwu leadership to conduct any credible elections in Nigeria.

The latest call for the sack of Iwu is coming from the leadership of the organised Labour Movement in Nigeria. The Nigeria Labour Congress had planned mass rally to sensitise and raise the consciousness of Nigerians that the incumbent INEC boss cannot organise an unbiased free and fair elections.

The organised Labour, civil society and the oppsition political parties believe that the only solution towards the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria is for the government to change Maurice Iwu and reform the Electoral System.

Recently, during INEC chairman’s visit to the leadership of the Senate, David Mark re-echoed the need for INEC under Iwu to improve in its performance. The Senate President’s comment on INEC, no doubt re-enforced the clamour for leadership change in the nation’s electoral body and the need for electoral reforms in accordance with international best practices.

While Maurice Iwu was leaking his wound from David Mark’s unsavoury remark on INEC, the organised Labour released another onslaught on Iwu. In a communiqué after the Nigeria Labour Congress National Executive Council meeting in Kaduna, the NLC called for the removal of the chairman of INEC. According to the communiqué, the call for change of leadership in INEC is necessitated by the onviction of the Labour movement that Iwu has overstayed his welcome in the commission which has led to his poor performance in the outings of INEC.

In a statement jointly signed by the NLC National President, Abdulwaheed Omar and secretary Comrade John Odah respectively, the organised Labour listed Iwu’s monumental failures in the conduct of the 2007 general elections, the re-run gubernatorial election in Ekii State and the February 6, 2010 Governorship election in Anambra State.

“The National Executive Council of the  Nigeria Labour Congress is of the view that Iwu has inflicted enough damage on the electoral integrity of the nation that all patriots must work to have the INEC boss removed and prevented from presiding over the preparation for the next general elections,” the statement declared.

The NLC mandated its NEC to fix a date for the National Mass Action to drive home the Congress Point that Iwu msut go as INEC’s boss.

The NLC mandated its NEC to fix a date for the National mass action to drive home the congress point that Iwu must go as INEC’s boss.

The NLC leadership equally canvassed the urgent implementation of the report of the Justice Muhammadu Uwais Committee on Electoral Reforms and condemned the delay in the process by the National Assembly ahead of the 2011 elections.

Be that as it may, the primary concern of many Nigerians and the organised Labour is the need to re-constitute and re-organise the nation’s electoral body in accordance with the 1999 constitution and the Electoral Act to make the commission more efficient, proactive and responsive to the fundamental and structural challenges of Nigeria’s electoral process.

Meanwhile, the Action Congress (AC) believes that continuous involvement of Iwu in any process leading to the conduct of 2011 elections would endanger the march to a credible 2011 general elections which is the desire of Nigerians and the International Community.

According to the National Publicity secretary of AC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed,” election rigging is not carried out only on election day. It is a culmination of a series of processes, including voters registration,” adding that a biased and incompetent electoral umpire should not be allowed to handle the registration process not to talk of the elections.

The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), agree that for Nigeria to have a very transparent electoral process in 2011, Iwu must be relieved of his job. The CNPP spokesman Osita Okechukwu said the removal of Iwu will re-build the confidence of Nigerians and the political stakeholders in the electoral processes come 2011 elections.

But the INEC’s boss, however, picked the gauntlet and fired back at his critics wondering why people would call for his removal after he had successfully conducted a free and fair elections in 2007.

According to Iwu, there is no perfect electoral process without imperfection, noting that lessons and mistakes are part of block building process in the march to efficient electoral system in Nigeria.

However, no chairman of Nigeria’s electoral body has gone with a clean slate. In each electoral outing, they had had their own peculiar controversy superintending over the conduct of an acceptable elections right from the period of Chief Esua to Chief Michael Ani, Justice Victor Ovie Whisky, Prof. Eme Awa, Prof. Humphrey Nwosu, Prof Okon Uya, Chief Sumner Dagogo-Jack, Justice Fajuyitan Oluyemi, Justice Ephraim Akpata, Dr. Abel Guobadia and the incumbent Electoral Commission’s chairman, Maurice Iwu.

As Iwu first tenure gradually winds up in June 2010, political observers believe that getting a second term is dependent on the thinking of the Presidency.

Nigerians generally expect nothing short of transparent, and credible elections comes 2011 from and unbiased Electoral body.  

 

Phillip-Wuwu Okparaji

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CAN Accuses El-Rufai Of Hidden Agenda

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The Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has accused Governor Nasir El-Rufai of engaging in politics with civil servants and residents of the state.
This was contained in a statement issued on Tuesday by the state chairman of CAN, Rev. John Joseph Hayab, in the aftermath of the pronouncement of a four-day work week by the governor.
El-Rufai had said the state government would begin implementing the transitional arrangement in the public service starting from December 1, 2021.
However, the CAN Chairman urged caution, stating that the citizens of the state had been subjected to pains by this government through some of its unpopular policies.
He advised civil servants in the state not to celebrate the policy yet until they were convinced that there was no hidden agenda behind it.
“Workers must be sure that the policy is not aimed at reducing their salaries.
“They must be convinced that the government will not wake up one day with another shocking news of salary reduction since the five working days have been reduced to four.”
“How can a state that is not secured talk about giving workers time for agriculture and be with family when bandits move about freely, terrorising people in their homes, on the farms, and on the highways!
“How can one spend time with family when you have nothing to feed them or provide for their basic needs?” he said.

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Meagre Allocation Stalls Adamawa LG Polls

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The Adamawa State Independent Electoral Commission (ADSIEC) has postponed the December 4 local government council polls indefinitely due to  lack of funds.
ADSIEC Information Officer, Innocent Daniel, said on Monday that the commission was awaiting funds from the government to conduct a free, fair and transparent election.
“Among the major challenges that led to the postponement of the election was the meagre allocation to the commission in the state’s 2021 budget.
“The allocation is too meagre for the commission to organise and conduct the election.
“Also, the re-usable election materials such as ballot boxes, duty vests, bags and kits were completely vandalised during the #Endsars protest,” he said.
The Information officer said that the commission was also faced with the problem of handling the new polling units that were converted from voting points by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He said that the conversion had raised the polling units in the state from 2,609 to 4,104.
“This development will lead to an increase in facilities and ad hoc staff. The ongoing registration of new voters will also have a resultant increase in ballot paper requirements.
“It is in this regard that the preparations for the local government council election for December 4, is hereby suspended to give the government time to source for funds,” Mr Daniel said.

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2023: Northern Youths Urge Old Politicians To Steer Clear

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Politicians above 60 years of age have been urged to stay away from the presidential race come 2023.
The appeal was made by the leadership of the Concerned Northern Youth Forum (CNYF) in Kaduna yesterday.
They argued that in developed nations, people of that age and experience were mostly engaged in charitable activities, free consultancy services and other forms of selfless services.
The spokesman of the group, Comrade Abdulsalam Moh’d Kazeem, called on youths to take advantage of the “not too young to rule”  to participate actively in the political arena.
Also, a north-based group has tasked Nigerian youths to join politics to free the country of bad governance.
Coordinator of the group, National Youth Movement for Good Governance, Nasiru Aliyu, who disclosed this at a news briefing in Kaduna, said Nigeria requires young hands that can work assiduously to address its developmental challenges.
Meanwhile, some stakeholders in the North Central zone and bigwigs of the PDP in the region, have thrown their weight behind the candidature of Bukola Saraki in the 2023 presidency.
The group, led by Professor Iyorwuese Hagher, stated this on Monday during the advocacy committee meeting for Saraki with party members and delegations from across the zone at the Nasarawa State party secretariat in Lafia.
An associate of Saraki, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, urged the party to consider Saraki as its presidential candidate for 2023 to salvage the country from total collapse.
Also, the campaign team of a former presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Monday met with the party’s officials and stakeholders from the three senatorial districts of Benue State over the 2023 general elections.
The leader of the team, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, said they were in Benue as forerunners of Atiku to consult with the elders of the PDP in the state and ask them for support for their principal who will be contesting the presidential poll in 2023.
Similarly, a support group, Tinubu Legacy Forum (TLF), has said the national leader of the ruling APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is not too old to contest the presidency.
While 69-year-old Tinubu has not formally declared his presidential interest, his recent visitations and series of support groups, rooting for him, show his interest in contesting the 2023 presidency, probably under the APC.
Addressing newsmen on Monday in Abuja, the Coordinator, TLF, FCT Chapter, Barrister Abdullahi Awwal Muhammad, said Tinubu was not too old to contest for the presidency.
In Lagos, a Yoruba group yesterday endorsed the former Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha as the next president. The group, under the aegis of Oduduwa Sons and Daughters for Equity and Justice, declared that the Yoruba people have decided to support a South-Easterner as successor to President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

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