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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.  


Phillip-Wuwu Okparaji

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Rivers Crisis: PDP Chairman Hails Jonathan’s Call For Truce



The Lagos State chapter Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Philip Aivoji, has described former President Goodluck Jonathan’s call to end the political crisis in Rivers as commendable.
Mr Aivoji commended Jonathan  in an interview with The Tide‘s source on Monday in Lagos.
Recall that Jonathan had on Monday implored Governor Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers  and his predecessor, (the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT) Chief Nyesom Wike, to sheathe their swords in order to douse the political temperature in the state.
The former president, who spoke at the inauguration of the N222.1 billion Trans-Kalabari Road construction, emphasised the necessity for Fubara and Wike to collaborate to promote the  progress and prosperity of Rivers State.
He noted that the political tension in the state was excessive and worrisome, and would not contribute to  development.
Jonathan said that destabilising Rivers State would adversely impact the Niger Delta region and could also trigger crises across the country.
Reacting to Jonathan’s admonition, Mr Aivoji described the former President as a man full of experience in mediation and conflict resolution, even at the international level.
“Jonathan is a leader in the party and a leader from South South; there is nothing wrong stepping in to broker peace. It is a good one,” the PDP boss said.
He, however, said that the former President should go further to speak the truth to the warring parties and point out  to each of them where they had erred.
“This is the way to settle issues. If we want to resolve it, we must tell the truth to them.
“The ex-President is an elder, he is an experienced person, who has been meditating in international affairs. Let us see how it goes,” he added.
According to him, the former President, being experienced mediator, must dig deep and probe the cause of the crisis.
“He (Jonathan) has seen it all. Peace of graveyard will not help the matter, they should resolve issues.
“We hope that the nitty-gritty will be looked into and the constitution of the party will be followed if they are true members of the party,” Aivoji said.


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Group Carpets Amaewhule Over Political Crisis In Rivers 



A group, Coalition of Rivers State Leaders of Thought (CORSLOT) has blamed the former Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt Hon. Martins Amaewhule, for the escalation of the political crisis in the State.
The coalition, which stated this at a media briefing in Port Harcourt, said Rivers State would not have been in its current political situation had Rt Hon Amaewhule played the sacred role providence bestowed on him.
The text for the briefing which was read by the Convener, High Chief Sunnie Chukumele, and co-signed by Prof (Mrs) Reginah Azunwena, Odinaka Osundu, George Ijoma and Elder Anuage Menegbo, also commended Governor Siminalayi Fubara for his peaceful disposition despite the crisis, adding that this disposition has marked the governor as a man of peace.
“Pitiably under him, the world saw a legislative arm of government that was vehemently out to frustrate the executive arm with all sorts of negative actions against the governor and the government of Rivers State.
“Had Martins Amaewhule seen the state as sacred, he would have mediated in whatever were the issues between our former governor, His Excellency, Chief (Barrister) Nyesom Wike. Amaewhule failed woefully to play a stabilizing role which his exalted office gave him ample role to play”, they said.
The Coalition also called on former Governor Nyesom Wike to have a rethink on the political crisis in the state as he has a cardinal role to play in the resolution of the impasse.
“CORSLOT wishes to advise trouble entrepreneurs and eye service politicians of Rivers State origin to take note that power belongs to God Almighty and the people.
“Rivers people are taking note of these political actors.
“Rivers State is owned by Rivers people and not  self seeking politicians”, they said.
“We begin by appreciating the governor of Rivers State, Sir Siminalaye Fubara, for working assiduously for peace by embracing and working with the Presidential Peace Accord of 2023 and to state that it is in recognition of this that the governor has won awards and honours within the state and Nigeria”
The Coalition also thanked the Governor for attending to the needs and welfare of citizens of the state, particularly the welfare of civil servants and the planned employment into the Civil Service.
“CORSLOT further recognizes the governor’s attention on infrastructural development in the state with his continuation of projects he inherited from previous administrations and indeed his bold initiatives of new ones.
These come with spiraling advantages”, they added.
They also urged the governor to take immediate steps to fill his cabinet with men and women who have the capacity to add value to the State.

By: John Bibor

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Council Boss Hails Fubara Over Successful Project Commissioning



Following the successful commissioning of the  Andoni Section of the Ogoni-Andoni- Opobo Unity Road by Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, the Chairman of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area, Hon. Enyiada Cookey-Gam has commended the number one citizen of the state for his multiple  infrastructural development projects that have direct bearings on the lives and well -being of Rivers people, especially in NgoTown, headquarters of Andoni Local Government Area and its adjoining environs.
The Chairman maintained that the road, as commissioned, will provide connectivity between coastal communities, cities, and hinterlands, facilitating the movement of people, goods and services, which enhances trade, commerce and tourism, and also contributes to local economic development and the local government area’s internally generated revenue (IGR).
On the event, Hon. CookeyGam lauded the efforts of the initiator of the project, 24 years ago, Dr.Peter Odili, former governor of Rivers State, for his determination and love for the people that found expression in the initiation of the Unity Road project which has been able to connect the catchment local government areas of Khana, Andoni and Opobo/ Nkoro, including the neighbouring states.
He described both Dr. Odili and Governor Fubara as beacons of infrastructural development.
The Chairman of Council also urged Andoni people to guard against vandalization and theft of the facilities that have been put in place for their betterment.
He further admonished the people of Andoni in particular, and Rivers people in general, to support the good work the Governor has come to do despite distraction from some politicians in the state who do not mean well for the people.

By: Bethel Toby

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