Ahead of Wednesday’s general elections in Sierra Leone, former President Goodluck Jonathan has urged the people of the West African nation to conduct peaceful and credible polls.
The former President who is leader of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) Observer Mission to the March 7 elections gave the advice while meeting with different stakeholders in Freetown.
A statement by Jonathan’s media adviser, Ikechukwu Eze said he had met with Sierra Leonean President Ernest Bai Koroma, chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Mohammed Conteh, chairman of the Political Party Registration Council (PPRCpresidential candidates as well as leaders of the international community, youth associations, media unions, security outfits and civil society organisations.
While advising the stakeholders to ensure non-violent processes during elections, Jonathan also stressed “the need to sustain the peace that the good people of Sierra Leone have been enjoying since the end of the civil war.” “As Africans, we have to avoid the temptation of playing politics of desperation.
It should be played without bitterness or rancour, with our mind focused on development and the welfare of our people.” He added that the mission was in the country to support “the integrity of the electoral processes through diligent observation of the polling activities in line with the rules and code of conduct for international election observers.”
While welcoming Jonathan to his office, the PPRC boss, Justice Hamilton thanked the former President for his roles and contributions to the growth of democracy in Sierra Leone.
He said: “I believe that the reason you are here is to see that we have something similar to the credible and transparent elections you organised as President of Nigeria.”
Speaking in the same vein, the presidential candidate of the main opposition party, Sierra Leonean Peoples Party (SLPP), Brig. Gen Julius Maada Bio (rtd), noted that the presence of Jonathan and other “former African Presidents in Sierra Leone was an indication that democracy is on the rise on the continent.”
Meanwhile the international Election Observation Missions (IEOMs) present in Sierra Leone yesterday issued a joint statement urging the people of the country to ensure that these elections “are transparent, credible and conducted in accordance with prescribed laws and regulations.”
The statement issued by Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union (AU), The Commonwealth, Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), European Union(EU) and the Carter Center (TCC). reads: “We recognise that the 2018 elections in Sierra Leone, the fourth since the end of the Civil War, are critical to the maintenance of peace and stability in the country.
Based on consultations with Sierra Leonean stakeholders over the past weeks, have noted the efforts of the National Electoral Commission, the Political Parties Registration Commission, the Judiciary, the Office of National Security, the Sierra Leone Police, civil society, the media and other key institutions towards the conduct of peaceful and transparent elections.
“We call on the political leaders, parties and their supporters to ensure peaceful elections and respect for the rule of law as they go to the polls tomorrow (Wednesday) and through the elections.
Fashola Faults ‘Coat Of Arms’ Display On National Flag
Former Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has cautioned Nigerians from inscribing the coat of arms on the national flag, saying doing so is a misuse of the national colours.
Fashola said this on Monday, during a live appearance on Channels Television’s Empowering Tomorrow: A New Vision for Nigeria, a special programme on the 63rd anniversary of Nigeria’s independence celebrated annually on October 1.
“Just this afternoon, I was asked to hoist a flag of Nigeria. By the time the flag unfurled, I saw that there was a coat of arms in the middle and I whispered to my host that ‘this is not the flag of Nigeria’. Nigeria’s flag does not have a coat of arms in the middle. It is green, white, and green”, Fashola said.
The former minister also said that Nigerians should pay attention to “some of the small things that matter”, adding that national symbols are to be rendered during recognised events for the country at large.
“When I was in primary school, these were the symbolisms of those Independence Day parades, Children’s Day parades, and this was how we were taught to stand up or maintain our position whenever we heard Nigeria’s national anthem being rendered,” Fashola said.
“You sit today and you shudder in your skin what happens today, what people have been taught when the national anthem is rendered”, he added.
The former governor of Lagos also spoke out against the rendition of the national anthem “at every little event”, including when the president appears at a social event, saying it is to be sung as the symbol of the country’s sovereignty.
“I have had cause to ask people not to sing the anthem for me, either as governor or minister, because I’m not a sovereign. It’s a projection of our minds,” he said.
“These are, for me, the important things to talk about and that’s why I say this anniversary provides an opportunity for reflection and, indeed, inflection”, Fashola added.
NCDC Records 1,968 Lassa Fever Cases In 28 States
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has registered 1,068 Lassa fever infections across 112 local government areas in 28 states of the federation.
The NCDC said this yesterday, via its official website in its Lassa Fever Situation Report for Week 37 (September 11 -17, 2023).
The centre indicated that 75 percent of the cases were detected in Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi states.
Lassa fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus. It is primarily found in West Africa, particularly in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria.
The virus is transmitted to humans through contact with the urine or feces of infected rodents, specifically the multimammate rat.
According to the NCDC, there are currently 7,352 individuals with suspected cases and the infection has resulted in the unfortunate loss of at least 181 lives in the country.
The centre said that the case-fatality ratio of the infection stood at 16.9 percent.
“Cumulatively from week 1 to week 37, 2023, 181 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate of 16.9 percent which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2022 (19.1 percent).
“In total for 2023, 28 States have recorded at least one confirmed case across 112 local government areas.
“Seventy-five percent of all confirmed Lassa fever cases were reported from these three states (Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi) while 25 percent were reported from 25 states with confirmed Lassa fever cases.
“Of the 75 percent confirmed cases, Ondo reported 35 percent, Edo 29 percent, and Bauchi 11 percent.
“The predominant age group affected is 21-30 years (Range: 1 to 93 years, Median Age: 32 years).
“The male-to-female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:0.9. The number of suspected cases increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2022,” it said.
It said that in 2023, Lassa fever infected 49 healthcare workers across the country.
The agency said that the National Lassa Fever Multi-partner, Multi-sectoral Emergency Operations Centre had been activated to coordinate the response activities at all levels.
It added that prevention of Lassa fever involves avoiding contact with rodents and their droppings, practising good personal hygiene and taking precautions when caring for infected individuals.
The NCDC said that early diagnosis and prompt medical care are crucial in managing the disease and preventing complications.
Army Orders Investigation Into Allegation Of Troops’ Poor Feeding
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, has ordered an investigation into an allegation of poor feeding of frontline troops in the North East Theatre of Operations.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, made this known in a statement in Abuja, yesterday.
Nwachukwu said that the welfare of troops had been given premium by the present leadership of the Nigerian Army and was one of the vital pillars of the COAS Command Philosophy targeted at motivating the Force.
“The Nigerian army therefore takes these allegations very seriously and COAS has directed immediate investigation into the complaints to ascertain its veracity and unravel the circumstances,” the army spokesman said.
Nwachukwu assured the public and all army personnel that a thorough investigation would be conducted to get to the bottom of the claims.
He said the Nigerian army had always prioritised the welfare of troops, including their nutrition, adding that it has a comprehensive feeding system for troops, especially those serving at the frontline.
“We, however, acknowledge that there may be isolated incidents where lapses occur, and we are determined to squarely address them.
“An internal investigation has already been initiated to ascertain the truth behind these allegations.
“We will thoroughly examine the supply chain, the quality of food provided, and any other factors that may have contributed to this situation,” he said.
Nwachukwu stressed that the Nigerian army remained committed to transparency and accountability, and would not condone any form of negligence or misconduct.
“If any culpability is detected, it will attract appropriate disciplinary action and immediate corrective measures to ensure that such incidents do not recur in the future,” he assured.
Nwachukwu called on Army personnel to report any grievances or concerns they might have regarding their feeding arrangements through the established channels for feedback, assuring that prompt action would be taken to address any legitimate complaints.
He said that the Army would continue to be resolute in the fight against insurgency and other security challenges, and would ensure that its soldiers were provided with the necessary support and care to carry out their duties effectively.
“We are committed to ensuring that our troops are well-fed, motivated, and equipped to defend our nation,” he added.
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