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INEC Insists On Using Technology For Elections

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has again expressed its preference for the deployment of technology in managing Nigeria’s complex electoral process, saying it is better than the best manual process.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed this, yesterday, in Abuja during a meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) said with its Automatic Biometric Identification System (ABIS), INEC has been able to weed out multiple registrants in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) ahead of the area council polls.

INEC position comes hours after President Muhammadu Buhari withheld assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill which contained clauses on the use of electronic transmission of results and imposition of direct primaries on political parties.

Yakubu added that the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal and the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) which has now replaced the Smart Card Reader for verification and authentication of voters have come to stay.

He said, “As you are aware, the commission piloted two important technological innovations in the Anambra State Governorship election.

“The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) was deployed for the first time in a major election after the successful pilot in the Isoko South I State Constituency in Delta State in September this year.

“The BVAS has replaced the Smart Card Reader for verification and authentication as part of our improved voter accreditation process. The new technology was designed in-house by INEC engineers.

“Like every new technology, glitches were observed and important lessons learnt.

“We wish to assure Nigerians that the commission has reviewed the performance of the BVAS in Anambra State and there will be a tremendous improvement leading to optimal performance in future elections.

“The BVAS has come to stay. So too is the uploading of Polling Unit results on the INEC Result Viewing IReV portal in real-time on Election Day.

“We are convinced that the introduction of technology in voter accreditation and result management is better than the best entirely manual process.

“It also increases public confidence in the process. We will continue to deepen the use of technology in our elections.

“The second technological innovation introduced in the Anambra Governorship election went virtually unnoticed by many Nigerians.

“For some time now, dedicated portals were created by commission to handle a different aspect of the electoral process.

“For instance, the nomination of candidates by political parties, including the uploading of nomination forms, is now done online.

“So too is the accreditation of election observers and the media. In addition, and for the first time in the history of the commission, the accreditation of polling and collation agents nominated by political parties was done online.

“This has ensured that all such agents were provided with identification tags bearing not only their party logos, names and other personal details but personal photographs as well.

“In all, the commission issued 63,745 identification tags to agents of the 18 political parties that sponsored candidates for the election.

“This has sanitised the process and made the identification of ghost party agents easier. We will maintain the same arrangement for all forthcoming elections, including the 2023 General Election.

“Turning to the CVR, we have now completed the Second Quarter of the exercise which commenced online in June and physically at designated centres in July. We have also been giving Nigerians weekly updates for the last six months.

“The Third Quarter of the exercise will commence in January next year. The commission is aware that Nigerians would like to know when the exercise will be devolved beyond our state and local government offices to enable more citizens to register.

“Secondly, for those already registered, they would like to know when their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) will be available for collection. The commission is working on these concerns and issues and will issue a comprehensive schedule for both activities early in the New Year.

“Meanwhile, in view of the forthcoming Area Council Elections in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) scheduled for 12th February, 2022, involving 68 constituencies to elect 6 Area Council Chairmen and 62 Councillors, the CVR exercise was suspended nine days ago i.e. 60 days to the election as required by law.

“A total of 42,986 Nigerians completed their registration in the FCT. The commission has diligently cleaned up the data using our new Automatic Biometric Identification System (ABIS) to weed out multiple registrations.

“As a testimony to the efficacy of our ABIS process, 14,665 (34.1%) multiple registrations were detected and rejected. Consequently, the number of new valid registrants in the FCT is 28,321.

“Added to this figure are requests for transfer of registrations to FCT, replacement of lost or damaged PVCs and update of voter records, making an overall total of 39,208 new PVCs to be printed.

“I am glad to report that all the PVCs will be available for collection from 6th January, 2022 until 4th February, 2022. The FCT Office of the commission will provide full details of the locations and procedure for the collection of the PVCs in earnest.

“I urge all new voters to seize the opportunity to collect their voters’ cards ahead of the deadline and avoid last minute rush that characterized such exercise in the past.

“You may recall that in June this year, the commission released the timetable and schedule of activities for the Ekiti Governorship election holding on 18th June, 2022, and the Osun Governorship election scheduled for 16th July, 2022.

“A major activity for the two governorship elections is the conduct of primaries by political parties for the nomination of candidates for the election.

“For Ekiti State, the exercise begins in the next two weeks on 4th January, 2022, and ends on 29th January, 2022.

“In the case of Osun State, party primaries begin on 16th February, 2022 and ends on 12th March, 2022.

“In addition, there are eight pending bye-elections involving three Federal Constituencies (Jos North/Bassa in Plateau State, Akure North/Akure South in Ondo State and Ogoja/Yala in Cross River State) and five state constituencies (Shinkafi in Zamfara State, Ekiti East I in Ekiti State, Akpabuyo in Cross River State, Pankshin South in Plateau State and Giwa West in Kaduna State).

“The commission wishes to remind political parties that in choosing their candidates for these elections, they must abide by the provisions of the law, INEC’s regulations and guidelines as well as their constitutions and guidelines.

“INEC will monitor the primaries as required by law. Political parties must therefore hold themselves to the same high standard of free, fair, transparent and credible elections that they expect from INEC during general elections.

“Any political party that fails to conduct democratic primaries within the timeframe provided in the commission’s Timetable and Schedule of Activities cannot be expected to submit the names of candidates to INEC for elections.

“In addition to these off-cycle elections, we must also continue to prepare for the 2023 General Election.

“We have so many physical facilities to rebuild, materials to replace, regulations and guidelines to work on, consultations with stakeholders to strengthen, capacity of our staff to enhance and several aspects of election administration to improve upon. Next year is therefore going to be a very busy year for us”, he added.

 

 

 

 

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RVHA Dismisses Amaewhule’s Resolution On Rivers Govt Expenditure

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Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo, has dismissed the purported resolution passed by Martin Amaewhule and his co-travellers wherein they claimed to have barred the Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, and the State Government from withdrawing money from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State.
This is contained in a statement signed by the Clerk of the House, Dr G. M. Gillis-West, on Tuesday.
In his opening speech before the start of legislative business at plenary in Port Harcourt, on Tuesday, Rt. Hon. Oko-Jumbo wondered the basis of such audacity by Amaewhule and his cohorts when their seats had been declared vacant on December 13, 2023, by the immediate former Speaker of the 10th House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Edison Ogerenye Ehie.
Oko-Jumbo stated: “The House states as follows: On the 11th Day of December, 2023, at the 87th Legislative sitting of the House, former Speaker, Martin Amaewhule and the 24 former members defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“By virtue of Section 109(1)(g) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution, which are self executing, and consequent upon their defection, on the 13th Day of December, 2023, Rt. Hon. Edison Ogerenye Ehie, DSSRS, Esq, PhD, as the then duly recognised Speaker of the 10th Rivers State House of Assembly, by virtue of a court order granted by Hon Justice Danagogo on the 12th Day of December, 2023, in Suit No. PHC/3030/CS/2023, and pursuant to Section 109(2) of the 1999 Constitution, declared their seats vacant.”
The speaker, therefore, said it is laughable to have heard and seen the news of the illegal sitting of the 25 former members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, led by Amaewhule on television screens and
social media space on the 15th Day of July, 2024.
Recall that Amaewhule and 24 others had passed a resolution to the effect that Governor Fubara was not permitted to authorize the withdrawal of moneys from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State.
The resolution further threatened that the Amaewhule led House would declare a shutdown on expenditures, until an Appropriation Bill for the 2024 fiscal year is presented and passed by the group.
The purported resolution also directed the governor to desist from further authorization of withdrawals from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State, while directing all Rivers State Government Ministries, Commissions, Agencies, Departments and Extra-Ministerial Departments to desist from spending taxpayers’ funds until the 2024 Appropriation Bill is laid before the former lawmakers.
Decrying the Amaewhule-led Assembly directives, Oko-Jumbo insisted that “Consequent upon constitutional provisions and the declaration of their seats vacant, the recognised 10th Rivers State House of Assembly is the one led by Rt. Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo.
“Thus, the Rivers State Government has ceased paying any form of salaries, allowances or statutory remunerations to the former members.
“The 10th Rivers State House of Assembly, which is the legitimate House under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo is the only one recognised by law and the Rivers State Government, and thus, has been receiving all statutory allocations due the House of Assembly.
“And has been discharging its financial obligations by paying the salaries of the recognised Honourable members of the House, their aides, and allowances of the public servants in the Rivers State House of Assembly.”
Rt. Hon. Oko-Jumbo said Amaewhule and the 24 ex-lawmakers had hinged their resolution on Section 122 of the 1999 Constitution, which empowers a State Governor to continue to make appropriations for six months, from the budget of the previous fiscal year, where for any reason, he was unable to present an Appropriation Bill to the House.
He noted, “May I remind the defected members that His Excellency, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, GSSRS, presented the 2024 Appropriation Bill to the Rivers State House of Assembly, under the leadership of the then Speaker, Rt. Hon. Edison Ogerenye Ehie, DSSRS.
“And it was duly passed on the 13th Day of December, 2023, and assented to on the 14th Day of December, 2023.”
Rt. Hon. Oko-Jumbo said further: “This House awaits to receive from His Excellency, the presentation of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for the next three financial years, pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers State Fiscal Responsibility Law, No 8 of 2010, in order to prepare for the 2025 fiscal year.
“The general public is, therefore, called upon to disregard and ignore those misguided former members, and also discountenance their illegal actions.
“I once again call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to expedite preparations towards the conduct of a bye-election to fill the vacant seats created in the Rivers State House of Assembly by the defection of Martin Amaewhule and 24 others.”
Rt. Hon. Oko-Jumbo explained that the position of the Rivers State House of Assembly led by him has been communicated to the Deputy Governor of Rivers State, the Secretary to the Rivers State Government, the Head of the Civil Service of Rivers State, the Accountant-General, and Auditor-General of Rivers State.
Other institutions that have also been communicated, according to Oko-Jumbo, include the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria; Chairman of Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission; Accountant-General of the Federation; Group Managing Director/CEO, Zenith Bank PLC; and Managing Director/CEO of Access Bank Group.
At the commencement of legislative business, member representing Opobo/Nkoro State Constituency and Deputy Speaker, Hon Adolphus Orubienimigha, proposed the Rivers State Vocational and Technical Training Institute Bill 2024, which passed first reading.
The bill seeks the establishment of a comprehensive training institute where Rivers youths, including women can access to learn and acquire requisite and industry-based skills to become self-reliant or employable where such skills are needed.
Also at plenary, the House entertained the motion to Prohibit Public Defecation, which was proposed by Deputy Speaker, Hon Adolphus Orubienimigha, demanding the declaration of public health emergency on public defecation in order to protect public health, dignity of lives and ensure environmental responsibility in the State.
The House also received a petition from the Ataba Community in Andoni Local Government Area over ongoing land dispute between Bonny and Ataba communities, with the House Speaker referring the petition to the Committee on Public Complaints headed by the member representing Ahoada West State Constituency and Leader of the House, Hon Sokari Goodboy Sokari.

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N70,000 Minimum Wage: How Tinubu Convinced Labour Leaders

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President Bola Tinubu yesterday increased the Federal Government’s offer on the national minimum wage from N62,000 to N70,000, with an assurance that it will be reviewed after three years, instead of five years.
Tinubu said he had to intervene in the negotiations, knowing the economic challenges faced by many Nigerians, and the need to provide urgent succour.
He said this at a meeting with the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), at the Presidential Villa, in Abuja.
“I have heard all your presentations. You came here with the intention to get something on behalf of your members. It has been tough globally. And if you review my track record, I have never been found wanting in ameliorating the problem of workers.
“I belong to the people and to all of you in leadership. Without you, this job is not interesting,” the President said, in statement by Chief Ajuri Ngelale, his spokesman.
He said the labour leaders challenged the thinking faculty of leadership, “and we have reviewed the position. I have consulted widely, and when the tripartite committee submitted their reports, I reviewed them again and started to think and rethink.
“Last week, I brought the workload to you because we have a timeline. We have a problem, and we recognise that you have a problem too.
“We are in the same economy. We are in the same country. We may have different rooms, different addresses, and different houses; we are just members of one family that must care for each other.
“We must look at the parameters of things. Here, I have a speed limit, and I must pay attention to traffic warnings; slippery when wet, curved roads, and be careful not to have an accident. That is why I went as far as having this meeting today.”
He said the government and labour leaders were driving the economy together.
“Let us look at the tenure of review. Let us agree on that, and affirm three years. Two years is too short. We affirm three years. We will review.
“I am going to move from the tripartite committee. I am going to edge a little bit forward, looking at the review that we have done.
“Yes, no one in the federal establishment should earn less than N70,000. So, we are going to benchmark at N70,000,” he said.
Tinubu explained that renewing the hope of Nigerians extended to providing infrastructure that would improve their livelihoods and create an inclusive economy that all could participate and benefit.
The President said the government was committed to reducing the cost of transportation with the introduction of Compressed Natural Gas-powered buses, which would be cheaper and efficient.
He also assured the labour unions of providing buses that would be deployed across the country.
President Tinubu also said the entitlements of members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Allied Institutions would be considered.
He urged the Ministries of Finance, and Budget & Economic Planning to look at the possibilities of clearing the backlog.
At the meeting, Sen. George Akume, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, thanked the President for his consideration of issues as the “Father of the Nation” and scheduling two meetings to resolve the initial impasse.
“Mr President, at the tripartite meeting, and the resolutions of the government, Organised Private Sector and labour unions; we were all united as one family to promote and grow our economy, and deepen our democracy, by implication to the benefit of all.
“Basically, that is what we are saying today. We have a listening President here,” said Akume.
Comrade Joe Ajaero, the NLC President, and Comrade Festus Osifo, his TUC counterpart, thanked the President for creating time to host two meetings on the review of the national minimum wage.
The two labour leaders acknowledged that at the last meeting, the President directed the rescheduling of an official trip in order to attend the second meeting.
The labour leaders also expressed their appreciation to the President, applauding him for his clear show of commitment to the welfare of Nigerian workers.

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Rivers Crisis: Sanction Wike Before He Throws Nigeria Into Chaos, Momodu Tells Tinubu

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A 2023 presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dele Momodu, has called for stricter discipline within the administration, particularly regarding the ongoing political situation in Rivers State.
Dele Momodu made this known in an open letter to President Bola Tinubu, yesterday.
“You must enforce Discipline as a leader,” Momodu stated in the open letter, The Tide gleaned from his X handle.
He specifically addressed the actions of the former governor of Rivers State and current Federal Capital Territory minister, Nyesom Wike.
“Your new disciple, Nyesom Wike, has publicly disrespected you in the Fubara matter,” Momodu wrote.
Momodu warned of potentially severe consequences if the situation is not addressed promptly, stating, “You need to sanction him before he throws Nigeria into total chaos.”
In his letter, Momodu, despite being a member of the opposition, positioned himself as a concerned friend with a long-standing relationship with the President.
Momodu wrote, “Nigeria is in big trouble. Our economy has virtually collapsed. And what’s the way out? You’ve been wasting too much money at a time that requires absolute frugality. Please, stop this reckless propensity for wasting scarce resources.
“Purchasing Presidential jets, building outlandish monuments, distributing cash as palliatives, etc, are signs of a failed and careless government. If you can curb the excessive spending of your government, you will free up a lot of resources for serious development.”
He criticised what he perceives as wasteful spending by the administration, urging for absolute frugality in these challenging times.
He said, “I believe you’re frittering away our resources because you desperately crave a second term. But the best assurance of a second term is Performance. Nigerians are not expecting you to turn water into wine but they don’t want you to turn their wines into water.
“Here are my tips: invest in vocational skills for our highly talented youths who can demonstrate their capacity for hard work. Invest heavily in local agriculture. Upgrade our institutions of learning. Giving cash to politicians to distribute is unhealthy and unhelpful. It is the height of cluelessness.”
Momodu also cautioned against the influence of sycophants, particularly in the National Assembly, advising the President to be wary of those who worship him.
He wrote, “In the name of God, beware of those hero-worshippers at the National Assembly who have turned you into God. NDUME is your best friend. Listen to him. There’s danger ahead.
“You must enforce Discipline as a leader. Your new disciple, Nyesom Wike, has publicly disrespected you in the Fubara matter. You need to sanction him before he throws Nigeria into total chaos.”

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