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Jonathan Now Chairman Of Continental Body, Tasks AU On Appointment Of Credible Election Umpires

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Former President Dr Goodluck Jonathan has urged African Union (AU) to set minimum acceptable standards for appointing the leadership of electoral commissions as a means of building citizen confidence and ensuring credibility of elections on the continent.
The former President stated this last Friday at the International Leadership Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he emerged as the chairperson of the newly inaugurated International Summit Council for Peace (ISCP), a body made up of mainly African former Presidents and ex-Heads of State. The two-day conference tagged ‘Africa Summit and Leaders Conference 2019’ had in attendance government officials, former African Heads of State, clergy and traditional rulers from across Africa. South African President was represented by Mr Gwade Mantashe, national chairperson of the African National Congress (ANC) and Minister of Mines and Energy.
In a keynote speech titled ‘The Need for Good Governance and Peaceful Electioneering Process in Africa’ former President Jonathan noted that the credibility and legitimacy of electoral processes are hugely dependent on the competence, impartiality and independence of electoral management bodies (EMBs).
He also stressed that many African nations face election-related crises in cases where the citizens have no confidence in the electoral process, especially when they suspect that the election umpires do the bidding of the partisan appointing authorities.
The former President said: “It is interesting that almost all the EMBs in Africa are identified with the prefix ‘Independent’, but the jury is still out on whether these agencies are truly independent as their names imply.”
As a means of deepening democracy on the continent Jonathan therefore urged the African Union to establish minimum standards and benchmarks for constituting electoral management bodies and encourage member-nations to ratify such declaration.
He said: “The AU should, through its Political Affairs Department, set up a team of electoral experts to study different models and recommend the system they consider best for the continent.
“Such benchmark should also take cognizance of the need to review the election of judicial processes to ensure that, where election tribunals are set up to specifically handle election cases, one judicial officer do not handle the role of appointing all members of the tribunals.
“Since neutrality of the security services is absolutely necessary in ensuring free and fair elections, it is also important that the Africa Union should establish a code of conduct guiding security officials in charge of elections. All these recommendations should be accommodated in AU’s procedures for elections that should serve as guidelines for election observers.”
Jonathan praised South Africans for the peaceful conduct of last May’s national and provincial elections, adding that the credibility of the process stemmed from the fact that all the stakeholders in the elections had confidence in the electoral commission and the security systems.
He said further: “Once you get to that point where all role players in elections can express confidence in the umpire and the security systems, you would have solved more than 70% of your electoral challenges. Sadly, not many African countries have got to this point. The point where they can beat their chest and boast of political freedom, inclusiveness, independence of the electoral management body and credibility of the political process.”
As the Chairman of International Summit Council for Peace the former President is expected to lead the charge for the association’s crusade for peace and good governance on the continent.
Speaking further Jonathan argued that “Africa’s leadership problem has more to do with weak institutions than the case of leaders serving in office for long periods of time. When the democratic institutions are strong they will develop firewalls that will resist attempts to alter the constitution and manipulate electoral processes for selfish reasons.”
According to the President: “Democracy is not about holding periodic elections but conducting credible, transparent, free and fair polls. African elections must meet minimum acceptable standards for democracy to be beneficial to the people of the continent.
“African nations must improve their electoral processes by establishing systems that will support and deliver credible elections. That is the impetus the continent needs to achieve lasting peace that will catalyse growth and sustainable development.”

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Celebrate, We’re Liberated, Fubara Tells IYC …Says Detractors Now Victims Of Their Ploys

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has acknowledged with delight the assurances of brotherly support from the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), and urged Ijaw Nation to key into the on-going celebration of the liberation the State is enjoying now.
Governor Fubara gave the charge while addressing the national and state leadership of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), who were on solidarity walk to Government House in Port Harcourt yesterday.
The solidarity walk was staged as part of activities to celebrate the heroic exploits of the late Major Isaac Adaka Boro, 56 years after his death, which is observed on 16th May every year.
Governor Fubara noted that Major Isaac Adaka Boro genuinely stood for equity, justice, and fair play, and pursued his course to ensure liberation for the Ijaw people and their clans.
The Governor emphasised that every genuine Rivers man is a liberator, adding that he was delighted to receive them on such auspicious day to re-enact the common purpose of liberation that they shared.
Governor Fubara, who thanked the large crowd for their assurances of being available to respond to his call and stand by him, should the need arise, said there would not be any need to cause disruption of the peace, as according to him, the enemies of the State have been defeated already.
He said, “Because he stood for that unique thing, even after his death, we still celebrate him because he was a liberator.
”Every Rivers man, it doesn’t matter whether you are Ijaw or upland, the most important thing is that every genuine Rivers man must be a liberator.
”And I’m happy that you have come here today. I have also received you because we have one common purpose: to liberate our dear State. We are not going back on that.”
Governor Fubara said: “I am happy that you’ve told me this morning that when I call on you, you will respond. But there is nothing to call on you for. Because we have already defeated them.
”By the special grace of God, what they thought that they would have done to us while we were celebrating our one year in office, they are the ones sleeping with their two eyes open. It shows that we have the Ijaw blood. And what is that blood: it is the blood of action; less talk, more action.”
Governor Fubara appealed to Ijaw youths to conduct themselves peacefully as they celebrate the Major Isaac Adaka Boro Day, and also be good ambassadors of the entire Ijaw Nation.
He emphasised that it should be done in the same spirit that had enveloped the State now celebrating victory over his political detractors.
Governor Fubara promised to support the IYC Eastern Zone to have a befitting Secretariat in Rivers State.
In his speech, the National President of IYC, Mr Jonathan Lokpobiri, described the day as historic because Ijaw people were meeting with their Governor on Major Isaac Adaka Boro Day of memorial.
Mr Lokpobiri said it affirms that the gods of Ijaw people are at work, and warned all detractors to retrace their steps, and allow the Governor, who has the full mandate of the people, to discharge his duties to Rivers people.
He commended Governor Fubara for his courage, bravery and commitment to good governance, insisting that his struggle and triumph resonates with the hope of all Ijaw people.
On his part, Chairman of IYC, Eastern Zone, Mr Tamuno Kpokpo, clarified that their visit is not to signify an ethnic war but to lend support in protection of the interest and continuous development of Rivers State.
Mr Kpokpo said IYC will stand to resist anybody or group of persons anywhere who dare to cause any distraction of governance anymore in the State, and appealed that the Governor be allowed to govern the State peacefully.

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Ex-Rivers Lawmakers Have Forfeited Their Seats, PDP Insists …Denies Pressure To Restore Ex-Lawmakers

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has dismissed claims that it was under pressure to compromise its position on the status of former members of the Rivers State Assembly who forfeited their seats on account of their decision to dump the party.
National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, said this in a statement in Abuja, yesterday.
He declared that nothing will make the party change its position on the vacation of seats by former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly who defected from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ologunagba said, “The Party also clarifies that it is not under pressure from any quarters to compromise its position in Court wherein it had already clearly stated that the former Rivers State lawmakers are no longer members of the Rivers State House of Assembly from December 11, 2023, when they publicly announced their defection from the PDP to the APC.
“This clarification is a refusal of a mischievous report in a section of the social media falsely claiming that there are plots to compromise the party’s position and provide an unattainable lifeline to the former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly to return to their seats which they have constitutionally vacated.
“Our party therefore stands by its position that the affected members have since lost their seats in the Rivers State House of Assembly having arrogantly committed an unpardonable constitutional breach.”
He further stated that, “For the avoidance of doubt, the PDP in its Counter Claim by its National Legal Adviser, Kamaldeen Ajibade SAN in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1681/2023 filed at the Federal High Court Abuja stated clearly that the former Rivers State lawmakers “are no longer members of the Rivers State House of Assembly from December 11, 2023, when they publicly announced their defection from the PDP to the APC.
“For emphasis, the PDP in the said Suit seeks among others the following Declaration/Orders against the former Rivers State lawmakers.
“A Declaration that by provisions of Section 109 (1)(g) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the seats of the plaintiffs have been vacant since 11th December 2023 when the plaintiffs announced their defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“A Declaration that the plaintiffs are no longer members of the Rivers State House of Assembly having defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on 11th December 2023.
“An Order directing the first defendant (INEC) to conduct bye-elections in the respective constituencies of the plaintiffs in compliance with the provisions of the laws.
“An Order of perpetual injunction restraining the plaintiffs from parading themselves and/or further parading themselves or from performing or further performing the functions and duties of members of Rivers State House of Assembly…”
Ologunagba further said, “Happily, there are plethora of Judicial decisions from the highest court in our country in support of the position taken by our party.”

 

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Don’t Hurt Anybody, Else You Won’t Be Forgiven, Fubara Warns LG Chairmen …As Mbata Flags Off 33.5km Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has warned that any out-going local government chairman in the State who hurts any well-meaning Rivers person will not be forgiven.
The governor pointed to an event that happened on Tuesday, where miscreants attacked some persons who attended the inauguration of the Aleto-Ogale-Ebubu-Eteo Road project, on their way home, and said such show of animosity was utterly needless.
Fubara gave the warning at Egbeda community, venue of the ceremony for the official flag-off of the Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road project in Emohua Local Government Area, yesterday.
The governor, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Nelson Chukwudi, said, “Let me also say this here. When we left Aleto the other day, some people went there and attacked our people. There is no need for that.
“Nobody has the monopoly of violence. I should even be the one who should come out and shout that I will do this and that. But I don’t need to do that because both sides belong to me. I have taken oath to protect all.
“So, I am advising those people who call themselves local government chairmen: you have a few days in office. Please, conduct yourselves in a peaceful manner.”
Fubara drew the attention of the local government chairmen to the reality of life after office, which should help them to become more circumspect.
He said, “Politics will come, politics will go, but we will still live our lives. Let nobody deceive you, if you deliberately hurt anybody, because of expressing your useless support, nobody will forgive you. You will pay for it.
“So, I’m begging everyone, please, conduct yourselves. As a matter of fact, I am the one that is most hit, and abused as a Governor who doesn’t know what to do with power. Is it not? Have I said anything?
“So, please, just endure until when you finish, then you go your way. I don’t want trouble. I don’t want anything that will bring any problem in this State. I know what they want to do, but we will not give them the opportunity”.
Fubara further said: “We have made our promise to our leader, who happens to be the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, that we will take the path of peace and that is the part we are taking.
“We will continue to take that path. Don’t mind what they say. Don’t mind what they do. Peace remains the path to take. While taking the path of that peace, it does not mean that we won’t defend ourselves, or let me describe it this way: we will not just be like a tree seeing someone coming to cut it down, and won’t do anything. No, no no. We need to also protect ourselves in a lawful manner.”
Commenting on the project, Fubara said that what is being done is to let the world know that his administration means well for Rivers State, and was transparently accounting for every kobo that had been received.
Fubara explained that the Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road project would be funded with savings from the Internal Generated Revenue (IGR), adding that 50 percent of the total cost of N80.8billion has already been paid.
He said, “Why did we pay 50 percent? We understand the fluctuation of prices as a result of exchange rate uncertainties, and we don’t want to find ourself in a situation of too much variation. So, we sought EXCO approval, and EXCO approved that we should pay 50 percent, and we have done that.
“And, what is it that we are saying to the world? We are telling the people that we are transparent. That we are a Government that is ready to serve. We are a Government that thinks about the people first.
“This road is a 33.5kilometer road that has a bridge. It is a road that would connect Ikwerre, Emohua and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Areas.
“When this road is completed, commercial activities will become very easy, no more wasting of manhour on the road. And that shows that we are thinking about the people, and also caring for the well-being of the people.”
Fubara urged residents of communities in the three LGAs to support the contractor to deliver the project within the stipulated 24 months.
The governor said the contractor had already pledged to ensure the project was completed and ready for inauguration before his third year in office.
He said, “I know strongly, having confirmed the reputation of the contractor, I have no doubt that they will deliver. So, I want to thank everyone of you for your patient, continue to support us, we mean well for our people.
“This is not different from the Renewed Hope Agenda of Mr President. Our mission is not different from the mission of Mr President.
“Mr President’s mission is to give hope to our people. And we are here to give hope to the people of Ikwerre, Emohua and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Areas, genuinely.
“Genuinely, not because we have any economic interest here, not at all. We are doing it as a service to our people. We have started our journey in showcasing our interest, wishes, and what we have done in the past one year.”
Flagging-off the project, Senator John Azuta Mbata, who represented Rivers East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, described the dual carriage road project as the type within the capacity of the Federal Government to award but now being done by Governor Fubara.
He said, “We are, indeed, extremely delighted to have a Governor of your calibre. We salute your leadership on this occasion. We salute your humanity on this occasion. We salute your humility on this occasion.
“We salute your propensity and preference for peace and tranquility. We are very delighted to be associated with your humble self and our very presence here today, I believe, makes the point that we are your supporters.
“We don’t have to talk too much about it. Anybody who is a politician understands that my standing here means I am making a grand political statement.”
Senator Mbata further said: “We are the face of the people that are behind, and we are many, millions of people, Rivers people, chiefs, traditional rulers, elder statesmen, and businessmen. We make the silent majority that are behind, supporting the effort of the Government to emancipate the people and to bring development to Rivers State.
“I want to take the opportunity to call on all and sundry, all our people, wherever you are, to give your utmost support to the Government because for the very first time, Government has moved away from the time when the Governor was seen as a tin god, a time when the Governor demanded worship, so to say; to a time when the Governor has become a symbol, a rallying point for the people.
“A rallying point for accountability of resources of our people. A rallying point for bringing all our people into the same boat. We are in an era where there is massive and extensive consultation going on. This is the order of the day, when nobody’s view is thrown away.”
On his part, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works, Engr. Atemea Briggs, said the Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road project is a state highway that will be connecting two separate Trunk-A federal roads.
He explained that it will be constructed as a dual carriageway with solar-powered street lights to provide associated benefits of improving the fortunes of the people who will be using the road.
Also speaking, General Manager of the contracting firm handling the project, Craneburg Construction Company, Mr Elie Aden, said the road is a 33.5KM dual carriageway, adding that it will have culverts, street lights and 99 meters long bridge.
He said that about 7KM length of work has already been accomplished, and promised that they will complete the project within agreed deadline.
In his welcome address on behalf of the communities, Chief Charles Bekee, recalled how the road, once reconstructed in 2001, collapsed a decade after, due to increased volume of vehicular traffic that plied the road.
Chief Bekee noted that the road remained deplorable for a long time until Governor Fubara graciously awarded the contract for the reconstruction, leading to the flag-off ceremony.
He assured that the benefiting communities in the three LGAs that the road traverses are already resolved to protect the project with high level of cooperation to give the contractor the impetus to achieve its mandate, adding that they will sustain unalloyed support of the people to the governor.

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