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2023: ActionAid Releases Report, Asks INEC To Address Challenges

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International civil society organisation, Action Aid Nigeria, has released its initial reports from its observation of the Presidential and National Assembly elections, which were held last Saturday across the country.
According to the report, AAN had deployed 510 observers of the trained 650 to Lagos, Kano, Enugu, Rivers, Jigawa, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Niger, Delta, Ekiti, Kwara, Gombe, Taraba, and Yobe States.
To facilitate the processing from the field, ActionAid established a technical room that fed into the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room with processed data.
Part of the observations included cases of evidence of late arrival of INEC staff and election materials, arrival of INEC staff at polling units without security personnel and reported cases of disruption and violence in some polling units in Kogi, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, and Enugu states, and the FCT.
While commending INEC for its one-day extension of the Presidential and National Assembly polls in some affected areas which had voting challenges, the group called on the electoral body to critically examine the challenges, to avoid a repeat during the state elections, which are only weeks away.
The report read in part, “Our field observation reveals the following: Evidence of late arrival of INEC staff and election materials in many polling units, with some polling stations opening as late as 11.30am such as in Rivers State, Ward 17 under Obio/Akpor LGA and Okumagba II in Warri South, Olodi Primary School, Delta State at 2.30pm.
“INEC staff arrived at some polling units with sensitive materials without security personnel. Evidence of unsealed election materials with some already thumb-printed ballot papers (e.g. LEA primary school, Saburi, a suburb of DeiDei in FCT).
“Some polling units continued voting till the early morning of Sunday 26th while others, especially women may be disenfranchised because of the late-night voting. This is evident in Gwarinpa Estate 2, Tipper Garage polling unit, SunnyVale Estate, and Lugbe Ako, all in FCT. This may lead to fatigue and stress on INEC officials and subsequently irreversible errors and omissions during the voting, sorting, and counting processes. The extension of voting hours into the early hours of Sunday has also contributed to a delay in uploading results on INEC portal. The security of both INEC staff, Voters and voting materials could be compromised because of late-night voting.
“Reported cases of disruptions and violence in Dekina LGA, Kogi state, and in Ikpanya Ward in Ibio Ibom LGA of Akwa Ibom where thugs disrupt and destroy electoral materials. Ballot boxes in two polling units in Mafoluku by Ijaiye area, Lagos were reportedly burnt, and some INEC’s ad-hoc staff were assaulted for reportedly being involved in some electoral offences, leading to disruptions in some polling units in places like Abakpa, Enugu State and Lugbe in FCT.
“ActionAid commends INEC for extending the Presidential and Senate election by a day in some locations with voting challenges. This largesse needs to be extended to more locations across Nigeria where voting commenced late and all registered voters at the polling unit are yet to vote.
“Nevertheless, we enjoin INEC to critically examine the challenges experienced today so that a repeat of the same at the state level elections are avoided. And the locations where elections continue today or may be combined with the gubernatorial elections should be made public”.

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Delta Poll: PDP Sweeps All 25 LGs

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The Peoples Democratic Party has won all seats in Saturday’s Local Government election conducted across 500 wards in the 25 Local Government Areas of Delta State.
The election was contested by ten political parties, who fielded candidates for chairmanship and councillorship positions.
Declaring the results, the Chief Electoral Officer and Chairman of Delta State Independent Electoral Commission, Dr Raphael Agbaike, said the PDP contested and won in 24 LGs in the July 13 2024 election.
‘’However, the chairmanship candidate of the PDP in Udu Local Government Area was returned unopposed.
“The PDP candidates for councillorship positions contested and won 499 electoral wards while the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) won one electoral ward in Oshimili North Local Government Area” he declared.
Certificates of return were presented to 25 council chairmen.
Meanwhile, TAF Africa has commended the Delta State Independent Electoral Commission for their exceptional efforts in ensuring a more inclusive and secure election environment, particularly for those with disabilities.
The Founder of TAF Africa, Mr Jake Epelle, made the commendation on Sunday while giving the foundation report in Asaba after the 2024 Local Government election.
“Our observations from the field highlight both the positive strides made and the areas needing improvement to promote a truly inclusive democratic process,” he said.
Epelle listed some key observations including adequate security and peaceful conduct, low voter turnout due to apathy, disfranchisement due to new polling units, inclusive voting practices, and non-conduct of elections in specific areas.
He highlighted the need for SIEC to consider relocating these voters to polling units closer to their homes for better convenience and mobility.
On his part, the Programme Officer of TAF Africa, Mr. Adeolu Kilanko explained that voter apathy posed a significant threat to the democratic system, adding that the impact was more pronounced in people with disabilities.
“Voter apathy can lead to their voices being further marginalized. It is essential to ensure that the electoral process is not only inclusive but also perceived as trustworthy and transparent.
“We can encourage greater participation from all segments of society including persons with disabilities, by rebuilding confidence in our elections”, Kilanko stressed.
Also speaking, TAF Senior Communication Manager, Lynn Agwuocha called on all electoral management bodies to prioritize rebuilding public confidence and to make necessary adjustments to facilitate easier access to voting for all citizens particularly those with disabilities.

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Nigeria Lacks People Who Speak Truth To Power – Obi

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The 2023 presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, has regretted the dearth of courageous people who can speak truth to power.
Obi who spoke last Saturday, during the 10th anniversary of Alaigbo Development Foundation in Umuahia, Abia State, regretted that the country had abundance of praise singers who tell leaders what they what to hear.
The former Anambra State Governor who recalled how he judiciously managed public funds while in office, also charged public leaders to use public funds for the people.
He further charged them to make people-centred policies, and pursue programmes that promote public peace.
Mr Obi blamed the woes of Nigeria on avarice and insatiable quest for wealth among public office holders.
He, therefore, challenged Nigerians to speak truth to power and stop hero worshipping.
Mr Obi said: “What we lack in Nigeria is people who can tell you you are wrong when you are. Leaders are bound to listen to the people because the people put them in the office.
“ Leaders must use public money for public purpose”.
Continuing, he said: “When I was in public office, I used public money for public purpose. I made sure I used the peoples money for them.
“ I did not spend any Kobo for personal gain. I didn’t take it owing pensions, gratuities. I did not owe any contractor. Now in private life I can do whatever I like with my money.”
The former Anambra State Governor who said he left office without owing workers including pensioners and contractors, disclosed that he also left behind $150m for the state.
Mr Obi solicited continued prayers for leaders so they would serve the people with the fear of God.
The former Anambra Governor who advocated role for traditional institution, advised Government to partner socio-cultural organisations for the development of society.
He further encouraged ADF to continue its advocacy and sensitisation of Ndigbo for advancing the cause of the Igbo nation.
Obi also preached unity among Ndigbo.
In his remark, the pioneer President of ADF, Professor Uzodinma Nwala, said the objective of ADF had been to galvanise Igbo stakeholders for the development of Alaigbo.
The new national President of ADF, Nze Coleman Emeka Chukudelunzu, called for unity among Ndigbo to rebuild Igbo land.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Chairman of the event, Maj General Chris Eze (retd.), commended the doggedness of Ndigbo to overcome the challenges of the civil war.

 

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S’Court Verdict On LG Autonomy, Sheer Judicial Conspiracy – Afenifere

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The Pan Yoruba Socio-Political Group, Afenifere, has faulted the Supreme Court verdict that granted fiscal autonomy to local government areas.
It lamented that the apex court’s verdict has “done incalculable injury” to the Nigerian state.
This was contained in a statement signed by the leader of the group, Pa Ayo Adebanjo and its National Publicity Secretary, Prince Justice Faloye, and made available to newsmen in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
Entitled “Tinubu and the Grand Conspiracy Against Democracy and True Federalism in Nigeria”, the statement declared that “Afenifere views the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case filed by the Federal Government on the so-called Local Government autonomy as sheer judicial conspiracy in cahoots with the Tinubu administration against the Nigerian state and its foundational principles of federalism.
“Rather than interpret the constitution to uphold its elementary but overriding federal principle which recognises only a two-tier federal structure of the central government and federating states, the Supreme Court played to the gallery and wittingly allowed itself a most retrogressive declaration that the power of the government is portioned into three arms of government, the federal, the state and the local government.
“For the avoidance of any doubt, Afenifere makes bold to say that in line with its negotiated basis of existence, Nigeria is a ‘Federation consisting of States and a Federal Capital Territory’ as affirmed by Section 2 (2) of the 1999 constitution.
“While Afenifere frowns at corruption and misuse of public funds at levels of government, it condemns in most unmistaken terms  the subjugation of the states and its constitutional roles including the Local Government system to the whims and caprices of the federal government by any means including obvious manipulation of the federation account as in the present case.
“The 1999 constitution, which in spite of its flaws, gives life and power to the Supreme Court provides in Section 162 and particularly subsection (6) that “each state shall maintain a special account to be called “State Joint Local Government Account” into which shall be paid all allocations to the local government councils of the state from the Federation Account and from the Government of the state”.
“Against this unambiguous provision the Supreme Court held that “demands of justice requires a progressive interpretation of the law.
“ It is the position of this court that the federation can pay Local Government allocations to the Local Government directly or pay them through the states.
“ In this case, since paying them through states has not worked, justice of this case demands that Local Government allocations from the federation account should henceforth be paid directly to the Local Governments .
“Contrary to this invented alternative routes, Section 162 of the Constitution is not ambivalent about the process and route through which “all allocations to the local government councils of the state from the Federation Account and from the Government of the state” shall become payable to the Councils.
“In other words, the interpretation does not require a voyage into jurisprudential  sophistry leading to the absurdity of deliberate judicial amendment of the grundnorm.
“By wittingly or inadvertently equating the Nigerian Federation with the Federal Government in the erroneous belief that both expressions are used interchangeably, such that the President may withhold funds to the credit of the Local Governments from the Federation Account, under the guise of having no democratically elected officials, which is obviously subject to the interpretation by the Federal Government.
“ The apex court has not only done incalculable injury to the Nigerian state, it has  lent itself to setting aside its precedent in the  hallowed judgment against the President Obasanjo administration withholding funds to the credit of Local Governments in Lagos State even when the Supreme Court agreed that the Local Council Development Authorities (LCDA) created by then Governor Tinubu were inchoate and fell short of constitutional requirements.
“ It is becoming stridently eloquent that with just over a year of its inauguration, the Tinubu government,  more than even the military administrations, is uncannily determined to unitarise the Nigerian Federation.
‘Part of the unitary package is the creation of the Ministry of Livestock Development which is the audacious euphemism for the re-introduction of Cattle Colony, RUGA and those other policies by which the Buhari administration sought to appropriate lands in the states contrary to the provisions of the Land Use Act and the Constitution which vest land in the state in the Governor in trust for the people.
“Afenifere insists that the way forward for Nigeria is not the confusing rudderless tinkering but holistic restructuring of the polity to re-enact the fundamental principles of true federalism as agreed by the founding fathers.
‘ This includes the fact that the Local Government system is an exclusive preserve of the states, either by direct constitutional provisions or residual powers in a federation.”

 

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