Maurice Iwu And The Clamour For His Sack
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.
Reps Summon Army, Defence Chiefs Over Benue ‘Assault’ By Troops
The House of Representatives has summoned Lucky Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff, and Faruk Yahaya, Chief of Army Staff, over the alleged involvement of some soldiers in the assault of residents in Gboko, Benue LGA.
The lower legislative chamber passed the resolution during the plenary session on Wednesday following the adoption of a motion sponsored by Mark Gbillah, the lawmaker representing Gwer East/Gwer West Federal Constituency of Benue State.
Speaking on the motion, Gbillah alleged that on March 18, officers of the 401 Division invaded Old Barn Hotel, Gboko, in army trucks and “viciously assaulted and brutalised several persons and guests”.
He said the officers, about 20 in number, were dressed in military uniforms but “without any identifiers such as nametags, any form of personal identity or ranks”.
“The military men ordered all persons within view to move, gather in groups and squat on the ground without explaining such cruel and inhuman treatment,” he said.
Gbillah said Kpam Sokpo, a lawmaker representing Buruku Federal Constituency was also attacked by the soldiers.
“Despite introducing himself as a serving member of the House of Representatives, the soldier rather poured more invectives on the honourable and ordered his subordinates to slap him and in an attempt to defend himself from the unprovoked assault, about 20 soldiers pounced on him and others with guns and brutally assaulted them. This resulted in serious injuries on his head, face, shoulders, chest, back, both arms and legs.
“This same team of soldiers were allegedly responsible for the extra-judicial killings of at least two persons in Gboko in two separate instances on the same day”, he said.
The motion, which was not debated, was adopted when Idris Wase, the presiding officer, put it to a voice vote.
The army and defence chiefs are expected to explain to the lawmakers the circumstances behind the “unprovoked attack and why these military officers did not carry proper identification or inform the civilians about their mission.
“And to brief house about actions currently taken by military authorities to investigate the unprovoked assault on residents of Gboko, including honourable Kpam Jimin Sokpo and the shooting to death of two persons in Gboko on 18 March 2023.”
Kalabari Voted Massively For PDP In Appreciation Of Gov Wike’s Goodwill – Council Boss
The Chairman of Degema Local Government Area, Hon. Michael John Williams, has stated that the people of the Kalabari Ethnic Nationality voted massively for the Rivers State Governorship Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sir Siminialayi Fubara, and all the National and State Assembly candidates of the party in the just concluded general elections, to show appreciation to Governor Nyesom Wike.
The Council Boss, who disclosed this during the commissioning ceremony of the first phase of the Trans-Kalabari Road, noted that the Kalabari people have benefited more from the Wike led administration than they had done from any other government since the creation of the State.
He said that though some persons from the Kalabari extraction threw their hats in the ring in the governorship election, the Kalabari people rather opted for Sim Fubara to demonstrate their appreciation to the governor for his magnanimity towards them.
The DELGA helmsman further stated that the Kalabari people were overjoyed with the actualisation of the first phase of the road project, adding that the crowd of people at the event came to say ‘thank you’ to the governor for linking six island communities, that were hitherto inaccessible by road, to the mainland.
Earlier in his address, the Amanyanabo and paramount ruler of Abonnema, King Disrael Gbobo Bob-Manuel, Ekineye Gbobo, Owukori IX, while thanking Gov. Wike for the milestone achievement, noted that the governor had lived up to the title of Se-Ibidokibo 1 of Kalabari (one who does good for the Kalabari people), bestowed on him during the grand civic reception, held in his honour by the people of the ethnic nationality.
The Monarch, who is also the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council of Benue State University, particularly thanked the governor for elevating several chieftaincy stools in Kalabari and recognition of incumbents, as well as executing several notable projects in Kalabari land and prayed God to give the governor the grace to continue to stand by and support the Kalabari people, even after he leaves office.
In his address, Rivers State Governor, Chief Barr. Nyesom Wike thanked the Kalabari people for what he described as their “wonderful performance” during the just concluded governorship election.
“Let me use this opportunity to thank the people of Kalabari, making up the three LGAs for the wonderful performance you showed in the last election”’ he said.
Former Deputy Leader Hails Gov Wike Over Sir Fubara’s Emergence
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has received commendation over his examplary leadership qualities that led to the emergence of Sir. Siminialayi Fubara as Governor-Elect elect in the State.
Former Deputy Leader of Ikwerre Local Government Legislative Assembly, Hon. Amadi Jacob made the commendation while exchanging views with journalists on Wednesday at Elele in Ikwerre Local Government Area.
According to him, the victories of Sir Fubara, Allwell Onyesoh and Boniface Omerengwa in their respective positions was a clear testimony of good leadership by Gov. Wike.
“ I sincerely thank the electorates for coming out en masse to vote for all Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidates in the State, especially in Elele town.
“I use this forum to congratulate the Governor-elect, Sir Siminialayi Fubara , Chief Allwell Onyesoh and Boniface Omerengwa for their landslide victories at the polls.
“We have no doubt that they will perform creditably in their respective positions”, Jacob said.
The former Deputy Leader who is also one of the leaders in Ward 4 in the area expressed the confidence that Sir Fubara would consolidate the good works of Governor Wike following his track record as a civil servant.
“I also thank the Chairman of Ikwerre Local Government Council, Hon. Samuel Nwanosike for his role during the elections.
“Besides, the appointment of Chief Mike Elechi as member of the Rivers State Civil Service Commission is highly welcomed”, he stated.
By: Tonye Orabere
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