The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has again expressed concern over the insecurity in the country ahead of the 2023 general election.
Yakubu, who described the 2023 general election as significant to Nigeria, said the first concern of INEC was the insecurity in different parts of the country, compounded by thuggery during elections organised by some of the political actors.
According to a statement issued, yesterday, the INEC boss said this at an event organised by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in Washington DC, United States.
“Elections are conducted by human beings. We worry about the security of our officials, voters and the materials to be deployed.
“Without them, we cannot conduct elections. We have spoken to the security agencies; they have assured us that the situation will improve before the elections. So, fingers crossed.
“Those who are supposed to secure the environment have assured us that they will secure the environment for us to conduct elections. Our responsibility is to conduct election,” the INEC chairman.
He further expressed concern over fake news, saying the commission was harmonising available opportunities to address fake news which he said has impact on elections.
Similarly, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said 95million voters would determine President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor in the 2023 presidential election.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said this at an event organised by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in Washington DC, United States.
Yakubu, in a statement made available to newsmen, yesterday, described the 2023 general election as significant to Nigeria, adding that 95million Nigerians were expected to vote in 176, 846 polling units across the country.
“The election is significant because the incumbent President is not eligible to run, this being his second and final term.
“There are 18 political parties in the race to produce the next President to be elected by 95 million voters. We had over 84million registered voters in 2019.
“But with last Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), we are going to add at least 10million Nigerians and that will take the Register of Voters to 95million.
“Each time Nigeria goes to the poll, it is like the whole of West Africa voting.
“In West Africa, there are 15 countries including Nigeria. But the total number of registered voters in the 14 countries combined is 73million.
“In Nigeria, it’s going to be 95million. So, there will be 22million more voters in Nigeria than the whole of West Africa put together,” the INEC chairman said.
Yakubu stated that INEC has learned a lot of lessons from the 2015 and 2019 general election as well as 103 off-cycle elections and bye-elections conducted after the 2019 general election.
The INEC chairman added that a lot of innovations have been introduced to increase transparency and ensure the credibility of the country’s electoral process.
“The new Electoral Act with its many progressive provisions has provided legal backing to the innovations.
“These innovations are now provided for and protected by law, especially those leveraging on technology to improve voter registration, voter accreditation, result management, and the promotion of inclusivity for marginalised persons such as women, youths, and persons with disability,” he said.
Yakubu said the introduction of online voter registration was part of the innovations, saying it was very helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He noted that the online registration was done alongside physical registration from June 2021 to June 2022 when it lasted, saying 12,298,944 voters completed their registration.
He said the figure was more than the voter population in the Republic of Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Cape Verde.
Yakubu stated that NEC has completed the cleaning up of the data of newly registered voters using the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) that combine the fingerprint and facial authentication of registered voters.
The INEC chairman said those who registered twice and those who were underage or have no reason to register as provided by law have been weeded out.
“The exercise was completed a few days ago. We have not even shared the information with Nigerians, but we have 2.7million invalid registrants and they have been weeded out.
“We will continue to take steps necessary to protect the integrity of the Register of Voters because it is fundamental to the conduct of elections. There can’t be credible elections without a credible register of voters,” he said.
Yakubu said Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) would be available for new registrants by November, adding: “We are looking at early to the middle of the month to make the cards available.
“We have already printed over 50percent of the cards but we haven’t delivered them to the states yet.
“As we clean the data, we also print the cards. Nigerians who have registered should be rest assured that they will have their cards ahead of the general election.
“We also need to do so in good time because the law now requires us to publish the number of cards collected per polling unit.”
Yakubu added that INEC also introduced other portals for accreditation of observers, media organisations, nomination of candidates by political parties, and nomination of polling agents by parties.
He said the innovations have also been helpful in reducing the level of litigation arising from the conduct of political parties.
On BVAS innovation, Yakubu said the use of the technology in Nigeria’s electoral system has come to stay, noting that there was no going back.
The INEC boss stated that the technology has helped to eliminate multiple accreditations that were observed in previous elections, increased public confidence in the outcome of elections, and eliminated the use of the Incident Form.
“Another innovation that we introduced is the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal. We are perhaps one of the few countries in the world that transmits polling unit-level results in real time on Election Day.
“Proudly, I can say we are the first to introduce it in Africa,” he said.
Yakubu said IReV has increased transparency in result management and helped to eliminate the falsification of results from polling unit level to the collation centres.
“We have deployed the IReV in 105 off-cycle and bye-election.
“We believe that the system is robust and we are taking additional measures to safeguard and fortify our web resources generally against threats of attack,” he said.
On inclusivity, Yakubu said INEC has created a new Department for Gender and Inclusivity in the commission.
He added that within the limits of available resources, INEC has also provided assistive devices for Persons with Disabilities, such as braille ballot guide and magnifying glasses for the vision impaired and those living with Albinism.
Ikwerre Set To Deliver Two Projects Per Ward
The Chairman of Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, Engr. Samuel Nwanosike, has noted that his administration was ready to commission two projects in every ward before the end of January, 2023.
Nwanosike stated this when he received in audience the Rumuepirikom Kingdom Council Executive at his office, Isiokpo.
According to him, “My President did mention that we have done projects in all the political wards. I can announce to Mr. President that before the end of January, it will be clear that we have completed two projects in each of the 13 political wards.
“So, we have passed the stage of saying one project per political ward. As we speak, if not that we have entered the electioneering period, we would have had five projects lined up for commissioning”.
Nwanosike, while describing the courtesy visit as the most important since he assumed office on June 18, 2018, as chairman of Ikwerre LGA, thanked Governor NyesomWike for grooming and giving him and his team the opportunity to change the narrative of their people by managing their affairs.
He, however, narrated the achievements of his administration via the five-point agenda unveiled during his campaigns to the executive members of Rumuepirikom Kingdom Council.
The Ikwerre LGA chairman listed the achievements as building and furnishing of health centres, return of peace and sanity through the help of the Governor of the state, Chief NyesomWike, and the security agents, sending the farmers back to farm, sending the youths back to school, building of police station at Ubima, building of markets at Elele, Omerelu and Apani, construction of more than 1.5km drainage at Elele, building of town halls at Isiokpo and Omagwa, building and furnishing of schools at Aluu and Omademe, among others.
He added that many more projects were under construction and would be delivered in due time, especially NYSC members Lodge at Isiokpo, etc.
“We don’t just talk; we do what we say we will do. Because if you don’t do it, the people will not understand that there is work to be done”, he said.
On the other hand, Nwanosike praised Wike for choosing a technocrat like Sir SiminialayiFubara to succeed him and continue the NEW Rivers Vision, reiterating that Ikwerre Local Government was already SIMplified.
He promised to assist in the renovation of Rumuepirikom Kingdom Civic Centre by giving his entire December imprest.
Speakingearlier, the Chairman of Rumuepirikom Kingdom Council Executive, Chief Emma Okas-Wike, said they were in Ikwerre to pay the chairman a courtesy visit on behalf of the Paramount Ruler and Nyewe Eli Rumuepirikom, Eze Barry OparaOwabie, in order to identify with him as one of their own and specially thank him for always supporting their son, ChiefNyesomWike.
Okas-Wike said, “It might not be easy for somebody to talk about the footsoldiers of our leader, the Governor of Rivers State, Chief NyesomWike, without mentioning your name because when this fight started about 2007, we did the first fight, did the second fight, you were one of those that were inside caucus, inner caucus of those fights.
“I want to thank you that you did not abandon our leader and our brother and our son. That’s why we felt that it is proper for us to come and pay you this courtesy call”.
He used the opportunity to congratulate Nwanosike on his infrastructural development, political and academic achievements, especially the acquisition of doctorate degree.
“Information available to us, not just us but to the public, shows that you have, just like the governor is doing, you have affected almost all the whole wards in Ikwerre Local Government. And when we look at the record, we find out that the projects you are executing are not just minor projects that will just be something that somebody will say what is this one, is it not what somebody can do? No. These are landmark projects and we want to commend you for that”, the chairman of Rumuepirikom Kingdom Council Executive avowed.
While saying that Nwanosikewas part of Rumuepirikom Kingdom, Okas-Wike encouraged him to do more in order for his name to be spoken more within and outside Rivers State.
He appealed for his financial assistance in the renovation of Rumuepirikom Kingdom Civic Centre.
Those present during the courtesy visit were the Vice Chairman of Rumuepirikom Kingdom Council Executive, Chief Raymond Owabie; the Secretary, Sir Chief AllwellEgwurugwu; the PRO, Engr. Kingdom A. Johnson; the Legal Adviser, BarristerAmadi G. Nyebuchi; the Rumuepirikom Youth President, Engr. Samuel John Amadi; amongst others.
Highlight of the visit was a tour of some projects, including the NYSC Lodge being constructed by his administration at Isiokpo.
CDC Chairman Warns On Likely Crisis In Rumuagholu
Community Development Committee (CDC) Chairman of Rumuagholu in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, Comrade Amadi Okechukwu, has warned that there could be a breakdown of law and order in the community if the actions and utterances of certain individuals were not checked.
Okechukwu, who gave the hint while addressing journalists in Port Harcourt, yesterday, called on the Rivers State Governor,Chief Nyesom Wike, and security agents to call one NyegwaKiniganwo, to order to avoid breakdown of law and order in Rumuagholu.
Amadi said this had become necessary following recent radio announcement wherein Nyegwa addressed himself as Rumuagholu paramount ruler, while the matter was still pending in court.
The CDC chairman noted emphatically that Nyegwa’s actions could create serious crisis, if not checked.
Amadi said on no account should Nyegwa parade himself as a chief, let alone Rumuagholu paramount ruler.
He hinted that Nyegwa’s recent falsehood and blatant lies followed steps taken by the three communities that make up Rumuagholu to share some part of their land.
Amadi said the three communities: Rumuochukwuoke, Rumuowolu, and Rumuochukwualu, as a sign of indivisible entity, decided to work together to dispose some of their ancestral land.
The CDC chairman reiterated that Nyegwa’s action amounted to contempt of court, having been served court document to stop parading himself forthwith as a paramount ruler.
He said there was a court order instituted by Eze Bekwele Atam, stopping the accused from parading himself as paramount ruler, adding that until such orders are vacated, his actions and activities in respect of the land amounted to contempt of court.
Amadi warned the general public to desist from transacting business concerning the community with Nyegwa forthwith, and pointed out that anybody who transacted with him on behalf of the community did so at his peril.
He further hinted that such businesses should be channeled to him as the constitution empowered him as the CDC chairman to oversee the affairs of the community, including land issues.
He said Rumuagholu people were peace-loving but warned that such should not be taken for granted by Nyegwa and his cohorts, especially during this annual wrestling season which holds this week.
By: Chidi Enyie
FG Saves $300m Annually From Ban On Barite Imports
The Federal Government has said its ban on importation of Barite, an essential mineral in oil drilling, has saved the country $300million (about N195billion) annually.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, disclosed this in Abuja at the ninth edition of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration Scorecard 2015 to 2023 series organised by the Ministry of Information and Culture.
The scorecard series was launched as part of the efforts of the ministry to showcase the numerous achievements of the administration.
Presenting the scorecards of his ministry, Adegbite said the ban on barite importation was part of the efforts of the Federal Government to ensure the downstream mineral policies took effect.
“When we came into office in 2019, we realised that the oil and gas industry use barite in their oil drilling and they were importing the mineral from Morocco to the tune of $300million every year.
“We also realised that the country has abundance of barite deposits but the problem was that we were not processing it.
“So, the ministry took it upon itself as a project and in 2021, we were able to produce made in Nigeria Barite with American Petroleum Institute (API) standard.
“Now, nobody is importing barite in to Nigeria anymore saving the country $300million annually that was being spent on imports of barite to the country,’’ he said.
The minister said within a year of production, Nigeria had attained excess capacity of barite and making plans to export the mineral into places like Ghana and South Africa.
“These are places that have just discovered oil and of course they need barite as well.
“We will ensure they can get it cheaper to buy from Nigeria than to go to northern part of Africa,’’ he said.
The minister also disclosed that his ministry had discovered new minerals that they did not know existed in the country.
According to him, the minerals included nickel, cobalt chromium and tracks of lithium.
He said the newly discovered minerals were called the “Future metals’’, adding “this is where the whole world is headed’’.
The minister also disclosed that they were auctioning bitumen blocks to 26 serious investors which had shown interest in its mining.
Adegbite said the process would culminate in concession of some of the blocks to the investors which would be given fairly limited time to start producing in Nigeria.
He said the process would make the country sufficient in bitumen, lower the cost of building roads and create import substitution.
According to the minister, Nigeria has sufficient quantity of bitumen deposit in Edo, OgunOndo and Lagos states.
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