The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, says it has concluded the process of conversion of voting points to polling units across the 23 Local Government Areas in the State.
The National Commissioner Supervising Bayelsa, Edo and Rivers States, May Agbamuche-Mbu made the announcement during a stakeholders’ meeting on the expansion of voters’ access to polling units with political parties, security agencies, Civil Liberty Organisations, and others at the commission headquarters in Port Harcourt.
She emphasised that the proximity of people to the voting centers necessitated the commission’s move to convert voting points to polling units.
In a remark, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in the State, Obo Effanga said the converson of voting points to polling units was one of the administrative activities of the commission.
According to the Electoral Commissioner, polling units are also the creation, ownership of INEC and not any community, family or individual.
Effanga stated that the Polling Units in the State had been increased from 4,442 to 6866.
He affirmed that the exercise was necessary given that it was coming 25 years since the last time new polling units were created in Nigeria.
“At the end of the field work in Rivers State, we converted 2424 Voting Points to Polling Units. When this is added to the current figure of 4442 Polling Units; Rivers State will have a total of 6866 Polling Units for its current voter population of 3,215,273.”
Explaining further on the due diligence of the expansion exercise, Effanga noted that “in carrying out the conversion of Voting Points to Voting Units, we deployed technology, specifically the Geographical Information System (GIS) to plot with specificity, the location of all our polling units.”
He added that “the outcome of the fieldwork has since been subjected to verification by a team from the INEC Headquarters and the state office to ensure that the outcomes reflect our guideline.”
Also speaking, the Commissioner of Police, CP Friday Eboka said the assurance of equitable security during electoral process was important to retain participants’ confidence and commitment to any election.
CP Eboka who was represented by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Operation, Muazu Muhammed outlined the challenges faced by the command and urged the commission to notify the command one month ahead of any poll.
In his contribution, the Chairman of the State chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Desmond Akawor commended INEC for a job well done, advising the commission to give consideration to the need for increase in logistics, especially, in the area of security since there were more polling units.
Akawor also harped on the need for the full elections timetable to be out in time to avoid a fire brigade approach to elections by political parties, while calling on INEC to continue mounting pressure on the National Assembly to pass the amendments to the Electoral Act into law to have the right framework for conducting the next election.
A representative of Isaac Ogbobula, the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the State, Celestine Akpobari raised concerns on why Khana LGA with 19 wards would have 64 polling units while Obio/Akpor LGA with 17 wards now has 852 polling units.
The State Chairman of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Young Ayo-Tamuno, who advocated for the commencement of comprehensive orientation of the populace before the next elections.
Also speaking, the Chairman of Persons Living with Disabilities in the Sate, Kie Obomanu called on INEC to make special preparations for his members so as not disenfranchise them in future elections.
Monarch Denies Knowledge Of Kalabari Meeting In His Community
The Amanyanabo of Abalama Community in Asari Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, King Atkinson B Tom Tom VIII, says he was not informed of any meeting of the Kalabari people in his community on the 5th of August 2023.
The meeting, initially slated to hold at Abalama, was later moved to Obuama, Degema LGA where it later held.
Speaking with newsmen in Port Harcourt, King Atkinson said he refused the organisers from holding the meeting in his community because he was not officially informed of the purported meeting.
The monarch also denied receiving money and drinks from the organisers of the meeting.
“I was not officially informed by anybody that a meeting slated to be held at Abalama on Friday, 5th August 2022 was initiated by anybody, organisations or group of persons.
“There was no official letter or personal contact by the organisers of the meeting before the scheduled date.
“Surprisingly, I heard about the meeting through rumour and based on this premise, I consciously went home on Thursday, 4th of August, 2022 to see whether or not a courtesy call will be made at my palace”, he said.
King Atkinson further said the Chairman of Asari Toru LGA also contacted him on phone to know whether he had knowledge of the meeting.
“I responded that I was not informed of the purported meeting as there was no formal or due process adhered to by the organisers.
“In like manner, the local government chairman further informed me that he was not also informed of the meeting as the Chief Security Officer of the LGA”, he said.
The monarch also accused the organisers of the meeting of inciting the public against him by misinforming the public that he was duly informed . He, however, said despite the misinformation, Abalama would continue to remain the conference room of the Kalabari people.
Atkinson used the occasion to call on the people to disabuse their minds of the misinformation.
By: John Bibor
Six Division Wins Army Proficiency Competition
The Six Division Garrison, Nigeria Army, Port Harcourt, last Friday won the division’s Inter-brigade Combat Proficiency Competition featuring 60 soldiers from four brigades in the South South.
The garrison emerged overall winner at the competition held at the division’s headquarters in Port Harcourt with 560 points.
The 63 Brigade, Asaba, came second while 16 Brigade, Yenagoa, took the third position as 2 Brigade, Uyo, came last.
The participating officers and soldiers competed for the top prize in map reading, 2.3 kilometre race, weapon handling, shooting and skills at arms in the five-day exercise.
Other events were open-river swimming, obstacle crossing as well as leadership training and lectures.
Addressing soldiers at the competition’s closing ceremony, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) Six Division, Maj.-Gen. Olufemi Oluyede, praised the participating brigades.
He said the competition was organised to enhance the combat proficiency and professional qualities of officers and soldiers under the division.
“This competition is part of commitment to train and retrain personnel to boost esprit d’ corps, regimentation and endurance that is necessary to tackle challenges facing the army.
“The participants have gained physical fitness, determination and teamwork in view of the fact that training develops the requisite capacity of troops to function effectively,” he said.
Oluyede said the competition targeted mainly personnel on the ranks of major and below, describing them as critical to army operations across the country.
“These categories of officers are important in our counter terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and sundry crime operations in the country.
“The involvement of femaleofficers in the training and their competitiveness is another perspective and ingenuity added to the competition.
“Aside this, the competition brought together participants from various formations and units of the division, promoting mutual cooperation and comradeship,” he said.
The GOC said the competition was one among several other training exercises organised by the division to improve physical and combat readiness of troops.
He called on the participants to remain sharp and dedicated to duty, urging them to share their newly acquired knowledge and skills with junior colleagues in their respective units.
NYSC DG Hails Wike Over 5,000 Capacity Auditorium
Poised to upgrade facilities at the state’s National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) camp, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has handed over the 5,000 capacity state-of-the-art Auditorium built by his administration to the corps in the state.
Inaugurating the project at the Orientation Camp, Nonwa-Gbam, Tai, last Thursday, the Director General, NYSC, Brigadier General Muhammad Kaku Fadah, described the project as representing an architectural masterpiece and urged other state governors to emulate the gesture.
Fadah, who doubled as the Special Guest at the occasion noted that no NYSC camp in the country has such auditorium, expressing hope that the other state governors would borrow a leaf from the Rivers State governor and ensure a comfortable stay of corps members on camp.
While noting the numerous people-oriented projects of governor Wike to the scheme in the state, Fadah stated that the governor was indeed”setting the pace in terms of commitment to providing critical infrastructure needed to create a conducive environment for corps members undergoing training during orientation course exercises in the state to have a sense of belonging and well-being”.
The NYSC boss expressed deep gratitude to the governor for giving the state orientation camp a face-lift with the ultra modern auditorium.
“Governor Wíke has done a lot for us. This occasion offers us a unique opportunity to appreciate your numerous people-oriented projects. It is also heart-warming to note that the state government under your able leadership has done a lot for NYSC”, he said.
Earlier at the Passing-Out Ceremony of the 2022 Batch B, Stream 2 Corps Members, Fadah charged the corps members to remain security conscious at all times and shun acts that are capable of endangering their lives, including staying out late, taking ride from strangers and attending night parties.
Fadah said, “the scheme is in constant liaison with security agencies and other critical stakeholders to ensure your safety always as well as in addressing other essential needs that will enable you have a fulfilling service year”.
A total of 1,288 corps members successfully completed the orientation exercise in the state.
By: Lady Godknows Ogbulu
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