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Feb Polls: To Be Or Not To Be?

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The recent call by the
National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), for a postponement of the February polls has brought Nigeria to another phase of electioneering. For all the intrigues it has offered so far, one certainty it has proved is the preparedness of key stakeholders, particularly the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP,  and the main opposition, All Progressives Congress, APC, to ensure free, fair and acceptable 2015 general elections. At least going by what they say they stand for.
To an extent, the modus operandi adopted by all concerned may have ended up opening a can of worms, but all are hell bent on holding their own in their conviction of what the Nigerian populace either desire, or need. In their bid to push forth their stand, some pertinent questions are ostensibly raised. An example is the reason given by Dasuki for postponement of the elections,
Speaking at the London think-tank Chatham House, during a lecture entitled, “Nigeria’s Insecurity: Insurgency, Corruption, Elections and the Management of Multiple Threats”, Dasuki said “INEC had distributed 30 million cards in the past year but had another 30 million to hand out.”
He said INEC had assured him it would achieve this on time for the February elections, but he thought it would make more sense to take more time, as there is a 90-day window during which the election could legally take place.
“It costs you nothing; it’s still within the law”, he said.
While supporting this stand, the highly respected pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, said, holding credible poll is not feasible considering that majority of voters are yet to collect their Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs).
In a communiqué issued after a meeting in Akure, the Ondo State capital, chaired by the leader of the group, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, and read by the Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, the group emphasized that as far as postponing the election would still meet the May 29 handover date, the sacrifice would be worth the trouble.
“The constitution says election should hold not earlier than 150 days to handover date and not later than 30 days. INEC has chosen February 14. For us, May 29 is sacrosanct; there is no controversy over this.
“Within those days, between February 14 and 30 days to May 29, INEC has a window to make sure that most voters are not disenfranchised. If  INEC can give all registered voters their PVCs before February 14, all well and good.
Moreover, they added, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, has not demonstrated enough determination to conduct free and fair elections.
“The meeting viewed with seriousness the sheer incompetence on the part of INEC. The INEC that wanted to create 30,000 polling units few weeks to the election has yet to distribute almost 30 million voter’s cards. When you look at the table INEC has given, what they tell us is that in each state, this is the PVC received, hiding the total number of registered voters.
“As at today, over 15 million voters out of the ones collected have not received their cards. This is 54 million. There are 14 million voter’s cards that have not arrived in the country. If we put them together, almost half of the total electorate is yet to collect their voter’s cards.
“The assurance by the INEC chairman that he will distribute cards a day to the election is not reassuring. If you have failed to do it before now, what is the assurance that he is going to do it now?
“We want to warn that any election conducted on the basis of disenfranchising almost half of the electorate, the outcome will not be credible or acceptable”, Odumakin said.
One argument that has been put forth against the postponement is that at no point in the history of elections the world over that all registered voters had voted in an election. In the words of the House of Representatives spokesperson, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, “there is nowhere in the world where 100 per cent of registered voters vote in an election”.
Stating the stand of the Lower House, Mohammed said “the call for postponement of the elections is a decoy for third term agenda and as a House of the Nigerian people, we will resist it”. The reason, as he puts it, is that “It will be a breach of the constitution to postpone the polls by whatever guise. This is a ploy and we know where it is coming from.”
Another strong opposition to the postponement came from the 26 registered political parties in the country. They recently met in Abuja with the electoral body and asked INEC not to postpone the elections.
Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), the body of the registered parties, Yunusa Tanko, said all the registered political parties were already on the field canvassing for votes.
Speaking with journalists at the quarterly meeting of INEC with the leadership of the registered political parties ahead of the general elections, Tanko declared that all the political parties  were ready and fully prepared for the polls.
He added that a lot of human and material resources had been committed towards having successful elections in the country.
Meanwhile, Tanko noted, INEC, as the electoral umpire, has not said the February 14 and 28 dates for the general elections cannot be met “As we speak, INEC has not come out to tell us that the elections will be shifted; INEC has been carrying the registered political parties along in all the preparations for the February polls.
“Though there may be challenges in the distribution of the PVCs, this is not enough to postpone the elections. To us, it remains agitation and we are not in support of the idea.”
Noting the importance of not disenfranchising qualified voters, he urged INEC to approach the Federal Government for possible declaration of public holidays to enable all eligible voters who are yet to collect their PVCs to do so before the elections.
INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, had during the meeting with IPAC, agreed on certain salient points aimed at ensuring free and fair elections. Such points include relocation of some polling units that are located at areas where undue influence could affect voting.
The meeting, Jega said, was an opportunity not only for INEC to brief the political parties but also to listen to their concerns and observations so as to take them into account in the final preparations for the elections.
“I want to also assure you that we are committed to ensuring that the elections will be much better than the elections we conducted in 2011,” he stated.
The crux of agitations for and against the postponement is registered voters taking possession of their PVCs, which is genuine. But the opposition’s stance is based on the timing and who is calling for the postponement. They express the belief that there is more to the call for postponement than meets the eye. Accussing fingers are being pointed at the ruling PDP seeking to maneuver the polls shift to its advantage.
Moreover, the opposition reasoned that such call for postponement should come from the umpire, INEC, not a partisan in the fold of Dasuki. And since INEC had emphasized on the feasibility of the February 14 and 28 dates for the elections, based on which so much has been invested, such postponement, the opposition fear is  capable of fueling crisis.
Going by the intrigues, all stakeholders have proven to know their onions in the country’s political arena. The basic concern now is the extent to which these agitations are powered by a genuine concern to build a better and united Nigeria, noting that anything less than that could spell doom for the country.
As the former Governor of Anambra State, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, recently put it, “the outcome of the election would affect the fortunes of the country. Getting the election right would unlock the country’s potentials, while getting it wrong would mean hard times ahead.
“We are at crossroads: we do it right, we’ll get our country perfect, peaceful (and) united. We do it wrong, it may not be the end of Nigeria, (but) difficult times will be ahead”.
From the perspective of the spokesman of Afenifere, Odumakin, one way to get it right is not just to clamour for change, but to do so knowing that the most important change that Nigeria desires this time is one that would restructure governance.
“Most of the issues that are confronting us – insecurity and corruption – have their link with the faulty constitution that we have and to change the constitution is the most important change that we need”, hence “the change that ignores the restructuring of Nigeria is not a change”.

 

Soibi Max-Alalibo

INEC Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega

INEC Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega

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I’m Not Against Araraume’s Appointment – OBJ

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Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has condemned attempts by those he called “political busybodies” to drag him into issues bothering on the appointment of Senator Ifeanyi Araraume as the chairman of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC).
The former president who spoke through his lawyer, Dr. Tunji Abayomi, said stories on some social media platforms accusing him of being responsible for the “immediate suspension” of the inauguration of the new NNPC board of directors inauguration were false.
Some social media platforms had claimed that Obasanjo influenced the suspension of the board’s inauguration because he wanted Araraume to step down as chairman of the board.
But this was despite an explanation by the secretary to the government of the federation, Boss Mustapha, that the inauguration would be held at a later date.
Reacting however, Oba-sanjo’s lawyer, Abayomi, in the statement, said the former president was preoccupied with efforts to better the lots of Nigerians locally, internationally and economically and as such had no time for frivolities.
Abayomi said whatever misunderstanding between Araraume and Obasanjo had in the past was over and that both had been in touch with each other and would continue to do so in the interest of the country.

Describing Araraume as an astute businessman and leader who would certainly handle the NNPC well, the statement warned against attempts by certain individuals to drag Obasanjo into the conflict in Imo State politics.

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I Have No Link With APC – Fayose

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Former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose has described as “campaigns of calumny” by some aspirants, linking him with the All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, as “dead on arrival,” pointing out that it will not guarantee anyone the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship ticket.
The former governor who reiterated his endorsement of the immediate past PDP chairman in the State, Otunba Bisi Kolawole, declared that he owed no one no apology as he was convinced that he (Bisi Kolawole) has what it takes to win the election and govern Ekiti better.
In a statement on Friday, by his spokesperson, Lere Olayinka, Fayose said those moving from house to house in Abuja, calling him names would by now be celebrating him and calling him “Saint Fayose” if they were the ones he was supporting.
The statement issued on Friday, read; “Linking me with APC and Tinubu in the desperation of some aspirants to clinch our party ticket, is dead on arrival.
“In and out of office, Nigerians can attest to my commitment to the PDP and opposition to the APC government in defence of the ordinary Nigerians.”
“We have seen sitting governors defecting to APC, but in and out of office, I remained steadfast with the PDP even in the face of undeserved harassments.
“When did visits and interactions of our political leaders across party lines become evidence of anti-party?
“As for the race for the PDP governorship ticket, I want to make it expressly clear once again that I have no apologies for supporting Bisi Kolawole.

“Those going from house to house in Abuja, looking for shortcuts to the governorship ticket should rather go back to Ekiti and seek the support of the delegates who will decide the fate of our party’s aspirants.
“To our party stakeholders, whenever they come to you in Abuja with tales by moonlight about Fayose, let them be reminded that I am not an aspirant, but cannot be wished away. They should rather go back home and seek the necessary support as all politics is local. No shortcut!
“Eni ifa o to si lo npe ni haram (It is those who did not get the endorsement that are calling it haram).
“If they were the ones I endorsed, I will be ‘Saint Fayose.’
“I want to make it expressly clear once again that I stand with Otunba Bisi Kolawole, without apologies because he has what it takes to govern Ekiti and with the support of God and Ekiti people, he will surely win.”

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Accountability’ll Be PDP’s Watchword – Ayu

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The National Chairman-elect of the Peoples Democratic Party, Prof. Iyorchia Ayu, has said the party under his leadership would remain accountable.
He also expressed preparedness to review the reports of various committees set up by the outgoing Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee and ensure that their recommendations were implemented.
Ayu said this while presenting the communique of the two- day national retreat held for newly elected NWC members and other party stakeholders, in Abuja, on Thursday.
In response to a question on the concerns raised by a former National Chairman of the party, Dr. Okwesilezie Nwodo, about the lack of transparency in the management of party funds by successive administrations, Ayu promised to be different.
Nwodo, who left office in 2011, had in a paper titled ‘Political Party Funding,’ which he presented during the retreat, said, “…today, we seem to have lost it. I handed over eleven billion in fixed deposits and eight hundred million in the current account when I left as National Chairman after seven months.
“I don’t see what was done with that money. Millions were raised to finish our National Headquarters; we don’t seem to have a trace of where all that money went. Our headquarters is yet to be completed. Today we don’t even have a party account.
“We have to get back to strict monitoring of our party accounts. Our internal audit department needs to be strengthened and supported by the party leadership.
“Very strict sanctions must be imposed on mismanagement of party funds; I suggest that we include inviting EFCC to probe erring officers and members and prosecution of those found culpable. This is the only way to create deterrent”.
Responding to a question on the subject, Ayu said, “by the time we come to office, accountability will remain our watchword and I want to assure all of you that we will run the PDP administration as transparently as possible.
“The outgoing NWC has set up different committees to look into different areas, we shall take up all the reports, review them, look at the facts and then attend to each issue according to the facts available to us.
“I want to assure you that we shall try to clean our house no matter who is going to be affected, we shall try to clean our house following due process and that due process also includes exhausting all internal conflict resolving mechanisms before we bring in any external intervention when we cannot resolve the issue”.
Earlier, while reading the communique, Ayu observed among other things that, “the terrible security situation in the country threatens Nigeria’s corporate existence, the collapse of national security has made Nigeria to begin sharing sovereignty with terrorist gangs and rogue elements.
“The lack of vision, capacity, ability and competence on the part of the ruling APC has driven Nigeria towards a failed state. Through incessant borrowings, the Muhammadu Buhari regime has returned Nigeria to the status of ‘a beggar and debtor-nation.”
In order to regain public confidence, the communique recommended that, “the incoming Ayu-led NWC of the PDP should hold periodic retreats and round-table dialogues to clarify its position on issues affecting the country, the NWC should commence sustained dialogue with the Nigerian Electorate before the next round of elections.

 

“The PDP should engage different segments of the voting population, especially to encourage youths and women demographics in the rescue.

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