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2023 And Emerging Challenges

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In preparation towards the nation’s general elections, the year 2022 is expected to witness a surge in array of political activities. Political permutation and scheming by political gladiators, parties and regional interests could upshot inflammatory statements, inter/intra party conflicts, assassination and thuggery.
Furthermore, internal conflicts within political parties, if not properly managed could lead to increased defections,new alliances and/or formation of political parties thereby overheating the polity.Inadvertently, underlining threats such as terrorism, banditry, kidnapping among others will be exacerbated while regional agitations, organised crimes, arms proliferation and activities of unknown gunmen are expected to escalate. And because political support for election in Nigeria is generally divided along geographical lines, the possibility of ethno-religious crises is imminent. The year could also witness rejuvenation of the civil society space and infiltration of these groups by opposition parties within and outside the country to advance subversive interests.
On a general note, gubernatorial elections in the South-West region, particularly in Osun and Ekiti States,scheduled for June and July, 2022 respectively, will mark the start of the 2023 elections.
In Osun State, with the incumbent governor on the ballot, it will be a close-fought battle due to the political infighting in the All Progressives Congress (APC) structure in the State.The region would also witness tense political wranglings between the camps/loyalists to Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Vice President and Ekiti State Governor over speculated Presidential aspirations. In addition, heightened secessionist agitations by coalition of Yoruba Nation groups may evolve.
Likewise, the political arena in the South-East is expected to be dominated by increased unscrupulous activities of the outlawed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) leading to amplified acts of civil disobedience.
Also, unrelenting politicians may continue to exploit Nnamdi Kanu’s detention to attract sympathy and political gains. The power tussle between the erstwhile Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, his son-in- law, Uche Nwosu and the current Governor, Hope Uzodinma could worsen the security situation in the state and the region in general.Although the declaration of interest by the duo of Anyim Pius Anyim and the Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, though in different parties, will no doubt pith their supporters against one another. This and the quest by the PDP in Ebonyi State to retake power from the APC may heat up political activities in the days to come.
Similarly, the South-South is rife with speculations on the return of former president, Goodluck Jonathan which is generating varied public reactions that could also overheat the polity in the region. The political atmosphere in Cross River State is envisaged to be tensed especially with the decamping of the state governor to the ruling APC. This is moreso that the PDP may intensify political gimmicks to clinch back power.
The rift between Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi coupled with the intra-party conflict in the APC may degenerate with implication for peace and stability of the State.
In the North Central, though Yahaya Bello has not formally declared interest to run for president, his posture and sideline campaigns, suggest that he is undoubtedly going to contest. The perceived intra-party squabbles between Bello’s loyalists and that of Tinubu could snowball into violence in the State.
The Nationalities Alliance for Self-determination Group (NINAS) may also intensify clamour for secession in the region premising on perceived marginalisation and inequitable distribution of resources. On the other hand, activities of bandits in Niger, Nasarawa and Benue States may disrupt electioneering processes and public order/ and safety.
Equally, considering that all the Governors in the North West except the Governor of Zamfara State will be finishing their tenures, it is projected that some of them may vie for National Assembly positions, which may cause major disaffection between the governors, serving Senators and party loyalists. Similarly, the issue of anointing a successor may likely generate clashes between the Governors and party executives in the States.
Lastly, though the political arena in the North East is relatively peaceful,the threat of terrorism in Borno, Yobe and part of Adamawa could affect electioneering process. Also, the APC may attempt to reclaim power in Adamawa and Bauchi States, which may heat up the political atmosphere.
That aside, it is worthy to note that as political factors shape the year’s activities, citizens remain the most viable tool for manipulation by some political actors to pursue self-centred motives. At this stage in Nigeria’s democracy, citizens must adopt and demonstrate an awakened attitude, taking into cognizance the fact that sustainable growth and development of the country lies in electing credible leaders.
By 2023, Nigeria’ democracy will have advanced to the point where citizens should not allure current manipulation by some politicians to use them to promote electoral malpractices and other acts of civil disobedience.
In the interest of peace and national stability, politicians must strictly play by the rules and have it at the back of their minds that rulership is only possible if the country is peaceful. Like wise,the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as the electoral umpire, should be conscious of its actions as it will dictate the tone of the nation’s socio-political atmosphere before and after the elections. Security agencies should remain professional in discharging their duties and also properly analyse emerging threats and come up with measures to manage them. Therefore, a strong collaboration is recommended for the critical stakeholders.

By: Gani Abdullahi

Abdullahi, a veteran journalist, resides in Abuja.

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PDP Reschedules NEC Meeting For Sept 26

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has slated September 26 for its second National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the year.
The date was announced by the party through its 2024 adjusted timetable and schedule of activities for congresses, which were released to party members and stakeholders on Monday.
Ahead of the September NEC meeting, the party has slated July 27 for the conduct of ward/delegate congresses to elect ward executives as well as three ad hoc delegates in 23 out of the 36 states of the country, including Abuja.
The timetable also disclosed that, among other things, the NEC is expected to ratify the list of executives that will emerge from the congresses.
According to the timetable, local government congresses to elect council executives and national delegates in 21 affected states are expected to follow on August 10th.
Recall that in April, the PDP held its first NEC meeting after acrimonious elections in 2023, where many of its high-profile members were involved in anti-party activities.
The party remains polarised, with some members supporting former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the party, and others queuing behind the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) minister, Nyesom Wike.
The outcome of the election and issues surrounding the role played by its leaders led to the suspension of the National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, by his Igyorov Ward executives from the Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State.
However, the effort to remove the Acting National Chairman, Ambassador Illiya Damagum, to allow the North Central region where Ayu hails from to produce its successor was deferred to the next NEC meeting earlier slated for August, which has now been shifted to September.

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Edo, Ondo 2024: INEC Warns Personnel Against Corrupt Practices

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the success of any election largely depends on the professionalism and competence of those responsible for conducting it.
INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said this while warning its personnel against unethical and corrupt practices in the upcoming Edo and Ondo governorship elections.
He spoke on Monday in Abuja at a lecture in honour of late Abubakar Momoh, former director-general of The Electoral Institute (TEI), from August 2013 to May 2017.
Prof. Yakubu, represented by the National Commissioner, and Chairman, Board of Electoral Institute, Prof. Abdullahi Zuru, warned that any unethical practice before, during and after those elections would incur severe punishments under the law.
The theme of the lecture was: “Achieving Professionalism Among Election Personnel Through Effective Training in Preparation for the Edo and Ondo Governorship Elections.’’
He advised electoral officers to be guided by the principles of integrity, impartiality, transparency, professionalism, gender and disability sensitivity.
He said it was important for electoral personnel to be knowledgeable, skilled and well-equipped with relevant competencies to handle the complexities and challenges of the electoral process.
“Moreover, the crucial role election personnel play in upholding the integrity of our democratic processes cannot be overstressed.
“The manner in which they discharge their duties and responsibilities affects the degree of confidence voters will have in the electoral process, which will impact their participation and turnout,’’ he said.
Prof. Yakubu said that to ensure credibility and trustworthiness in elections and build trust among the electorate, INEC had always prioritised the professional development of its election personnel.
He said the commission identified effective and efficient electoral training as the key to unlocking professionalism among election personnel.
“The commission’s involvement in effective training programmes has empowered its staff to uphold the highest standards of integrity and professionalism in order to strengthen our processes and procedures to serve the interests of all Nigerians,’’ he said.
The Director General of TEI, Dr Sa’ad Idris, in his remarks, said that INEC, in pursuit of its mission and vision, had prioritised professionalism toward achieving free, credible, transparent and inclusive elections.
“As we prepare for the 2024 Edo and Ondo off-cycle governorship elections, the commission is assured that the outcome of effective training of election personnel will manifest in a high level of professionalism”, he said.

 

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Reps Propose Rotational Presidency, Six-Year Single Term

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A bill seeking a single term of six years for the President and state governors was brought up on Monday by 35 members of the House of Representatives.
The bill also canvasses the rotation of the presidency among the six geopolitical zones of the country.
The 35 legislators, under the auspices of Reform-minded Legislators, said the proposition would lead to a reduction in the cost of governance.
Addressing a press conference at the National Assembly Complex on Monday, the spokesman for the group, Ikenga Ugochinyere, added that the move would unite the country and ensure a seamless transition and unprecedented development for the country.
Hon Ugochinyere emphasised the need to interrogate the challenges facing the Nigerian state, saying, “We should not be afraid to meet and discuss our problems, challenges, fears, aspirations, and prospects as a people. We should not discuss in fear and we should never fear to discuss.”
Speaking on the bill, Hon Ugochinyere, who represents Ideato North/Idaeto South Federal Constituency of Imo State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said, “On governance, we are proposing a constitutional alteration to provide for the rotation of executive powers among the six geopolitical zones to ensure equal representation and reduce the desperation and tempo of agitation for the creation of states. We are proposing to amend Section 3 of the constitution to provide for the recognition of the division of Nigeria into six geopolitical zones.
“And also, to amend the constitution to provide for a single tenure of six years for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the state governors. This will bring about a reduction in government spending and wastage; promote efficiency in governance, and national stability by providing a single term of six years for the President and the governors.”
The lawmakers drawn from different political parties are also seeking amendments to the constitution “to create the office of two Vice Presidents from the southern and northern parts of Nigeria.”
Hon Ugochinyere explained that the First Vice President would be a succession vice president, while the Second Vice President would be a minister in charge of the economy, and both shall be ministers.
Hon Ugochinyere said the 35 lawmakers were also pushing for a “constitutional amendment to provide that the President and the First Vice President shall come from the same part of the country (North or South) and the First Vice President shall become President whenever the President becomes incapacitated, that is, VP (succession), VP (Administration and Economy).”
The bill also seeks financial autonomy and accountability of local government councils by prescribing an independent Consolidated Local Government Council Account solely superintendent by Local Councils. It prescribes long-term imprisonment for any misuse of local government funds.
On electoral reforms, the group proposed amendments to the relevant sections of the Electoral Act to ensure “that all elections (presidential, governorship, National Assembly, state Houses of Assembly, and local Governments) are held on the same day.”
Hon Ugochinyere said, “We are pushing for amendments to relevant sections of the Electoral Act to provide that no declaration of a winner of an election shall be done by the relevant Independent National Electoral Commission officials until such officer has compared the results with the list of accredited voters and ensured that the results to be declared are in tandem with the list of accredited voters and the B-VAS machine or any other electronic device.
“Amend the Electoral Act to provide that any INEC officer who declares a false result will be liable for civil and criminal action personally brought against him by parties in the elections.
“An amendment to the Electoral Act to provide that all election-related litigations must be resolved and determined by the Elections Petitions Tribunal, Appeal Courts, etc before the winners are sworn into the respective elective offices.

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