Political stakeholders in Plateau State have advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure timely preparation towards more credible general elections in 2023.
The stakeholders gave the advice last Monday at a Post-Election Community Dialogue, organised by the Centre for Advocacy of Justice and Rights (CAJR) in Jos, in conjunction with other international agencies.
Some of the stakeholders identified poor preparation on the part of INEC, failure of smart card readers, vote buying, under-age voting, as some of the major challenges faced during the just concluded general polls.
They, therefore, called for a total overhaul of the electoral system.
Mr Steve Aluko, a public affairs analyst, called on INEC to begin building a more sustainable synergy with relevant organisations and engage critical stakeholders at all levels to ensure free, fair and credible polls come 2023.
Aluko also called for a total reform of the electoral law in order to address some loopholes that often hindered a smooth electoral process in the country.
The analyst, who frowned at the late preparations by the electoral umpire, called for timely approval and release of budgetary allocation to the commission to enable it make adequate preparations for elections.
“For us to have credible and successful elections in 2023, there must be total overhaul of the entire electoral system in Nigeria.
“INEC as the electoral umpire, must begin to build and sustain strong synergy with organisations, both government and private, and critical stakeholders at different levels to ensure peaceful and successful polls.
“Government must ensure timely approval and release of the commission’s budgetary allocation to enable it prepare adequately for the task of conducting free, fair and credible elections in the country
“So, the right time for INEC to prepare for 2023 elections is now, not three months to the conduct of the polls,” Aluko advised.
On his part, Mr Bulus Shanding, Programme Officer, Plateau Chapter of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JNAPWDs) called for the inclusion of the persons with disabilities in the electoral process.
Shanding commended INEC for modalities put in place to ensure the PWDs participated in the just concluded polls, but noted however, that the arrangements were inadequate.
“No doubt INEC did well in giving the PWDs first class attention during the just concluded general elections compared to previous ones, but it was not enough as most of our members were disenfranchised.
“So, my call on INEC is to ensure that PWDs are carried along during the 2023 General Elections because they are also part of the society and have the right to vote and be voted for,” he said.
On her part, Miss Chudung Sheku of the Youth Initiative Against Violence and Human Rights Abuse (YIAVHA) called on INEC, political parties and all critical stakeholders to engage in aggressive electoral education.
Sheku noted also that electoral education for the just concluded polls was poor.
“There was poor sensitisation of citizens before the 2019 General Elections, and that has affected the smooth conduct of the polls.
“So, I want to call on INEC to ensure timely and adequate sensitisation of people before the 2023 polls,” she said.
She further called on the security agencies to begin immediate training of its personnel on professionalism towards ensuring peaceful and successful polls in 2023.
Earlier, in her welcome address, Miss Etty Peter, the Executive Director of CAJR, said the meeting was aimed at reviewing the challenges faced during the 2019 General Elections with a view to proffering possible solutions.
“We are stakeholders in our various communities and orgnaisations, so, we are here to brainstorm on our experiences during the just concluded polls,” Peter said.
That the event was in conjunction with the International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES) with support from UK Agency for International Development (UKAID) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (UKAID).
NAN also reports that the meeting had community and religious leaders, PWDs, CSOs, the Media, and security agents as participants.
Protest Rocks Kano Over Appeal Court Judgment
Protests erupted in Kano city and its environs on Monday afternoon with the demonstrators denouncing the recent judgment of the Court of Appeal that sacked the state Governor, Abba Yusuf.
The Tide’s source reports that uneasy calm pervaded the state capital following a contradictory Certified True Copy of the Appeal Court that affirmed the prayers of both the appellant and the respondent in the contentious Kano governorship, though the judiciary had since cleared the air.
In what appeared like a coordinated action on Monday, huge crowd of protesters had stormed strategic positions in the city as it visited temporary hiccups on commercial activities.
Kano- Zaria Road, Maiduguri Road by Muhammadu Buhari’s interchange, and Kantin Kwari (Kano textile market) were taken over by hundreds of youths who called for justice for Abba Yusuf.
Some of the placard read: “Kano my city my state”, “Justice for Kano”, “ Justice for Abba”, “Abba’s mandate was stolen in 2019, we will not allow it happen in 2023″.
The protest came on the heels of discovery by the Police that “some faceless group are bent on unleashing violence in Kano”, stressing that the police were on top of the situation.
Cp Hussaini Gumel told newsmen in Kano on Monday that already 7 suspects had been arrested and would be arraigned soon.
Gumel revealed that “we have the understanding with the leadership of the contending political parties, and they have signed a peace pact. In view of that, therefore, any one found outside this arrangement will be treated as common criminal”.
However, normalcy had since returned to the ancient city following the peaceful protest that lasted several hours.
NASS To Receive Tinubu’s 2024 Appropriation Bill, Today
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu will today, present the 2024 budget to the joint session of the National Assembly.
Secretary, Research and Information of the National Assembly, Dr Ali Barde Umoru, confirmed this on Monday to journalists while requesting the list of those to be allowed into the chamber during the budget presentation.
This will be the first budget estimate President Tinubu will present to the National Assembly in person.
He had earlier transmitted two supplementary budgets, 2022 and 2023, to the National Assembly, which the parliament speedily approved.
President Tinubu had, weeks ago, also forwarded to both chambers of the National Assembly, the 20224-2026 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) where the sum of N26.1 trillion was proposed as the total expenditure for the 2024 fiscal year.
The Senate, following the recommendation of its joint committee, which scrutinised the document, approved the MTEF/FSP.
It approved the N26.1trn proposed as the 2024 budget and other parameters as proposed by President Tinubu.
It approved the new borrowings of N7.8 trillion, pegged the benchmark of oil price for 2024 at $73.96, and oil production volume per day at 1.78 million barrels.
Other parameters approved are a GDP growth rate of 3.76%, an inflation rate of 21.40%, an exchange rate of N700 to $1 dollar, and a projected budget deficit of N9.04 trillion.
Muslim Clerics Offer Prayers For Tinubu, Kwankwaso In Kano
Over 1,000 Islamic clerics have offered special prayers for President Bola Tinubu and the NNPP national leader, Rabiu Kwankwaso, for peace, progress and political stability in Nigeria.
Abdulmumin Kofa (NNPP-Kiru/Bebeji) hosted the ulamas at Kiru for the success of Governor Kabir Yusuf of Kano State at the Supreme Court, according to a statement by the lawmaker’s media aide, Sani Paki, on Monday.
During the prayer session, the clerics recited the Qur’an 1,101 times and prayed for peace, progress and political stability in the country.
Mr Kofa said his relationship with the president was no secret, noting that Mr Kwankwaso is his mentor. He said he would continue to support and promote a harmonious relationship between Messrs Tinubu and Kwankwaso.
Mr Kofa described NNPP as a promising party open to collaboration, alliance and merger with the APC and even with the People’s Democratic Party, Labour Party or any other party that showed interest, so long as it is for the good of Nigerians.
He also promised to deploy his modest political network to reach out to gladiators in Kano politics towards resolving all resolvable issues and to de-escalate the current tension in the state due to the Kano governorship seat.
Also, after the prayer session, the legislator hosted 5,000 primary school kids across his constituency, as he often does, and provided them with school kits.
According to the statement, Mr Kofa assured the pupils of the good plans of the federal and state governments, especially on free education and free school feeding programmes.