Be Neutral, All Eyes On Us, INEC Chair Charges Electoral Officers
Electorate Eager To Vote Amid COVID-19.
CDD: Blame INEC, Police, Politicians If Anything Goes Awry.
Edo South- 1,281,414 Voters, Edo North – 564,122, Edo Central- 364,998
Godfatherism, 2023 Dominate Poll
There was uneasy calm yesterday in most parts of Edo State ahead of the governorship election holding today.
Though a total of 14 political parties are participating in the polls, the battle for Osadebe House seems to be between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC)- battle for the soul of the state, with intermittent clashes of members and supporters, especially during the campaigns.
A late evening rain in some parts of the state yesterday helped to douse the atmosphere, as the people prepared to troop out to cast their votes this morning.
Ahead of the poll, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has charged the Commission’s staff to be neutral in today’s governorship election in Edo State.
Yakubu in a message to the electoral officers deployed for the poll, yesterday, said: “All eyes are on INEC to deliver a free, fair and credible process.”
He urged the electoral officers to ensure that no political party or candidate is accorded any advantage over the other, adding that the international community is watching.
He said: “I have no doubt that our staff members will rise to the occasion. We have done it several times before and we can do it again.
“The Commission deeply appreciates the never ending sacrifices made by our staff at all times, often beyond the call of duty, to ensure that we carry out our mandate. The management will continue to improve the welfare and conditions of service of staff within the available resources.
“Let me appeal to all of you to remain steadfast and committed to the ideals of the Commission; Nigerians and the international community expect so much from us. They are watching. It is important that we all remain above board in the performance of our respective duties.
“We must ensure that no political party or candidate is accorded any advantage over the other. We must be neutral at all times and stick strictly to our code of conduct and oath of neutrality to which we have all subscribed. For, at the end of the day, we would have all contributed to the sustenance of democracy and a strong electoral process that all Nigerians can trust.”
The main actors in today’s governorship election, apart from the voters, particularly the INEC, security agencies, led by the Police, and politicians would determine how the exercise pans out.
On Thursday, the Police organised a show of force, while INEC distributed materials, but despite the diligent deployment of materials from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) office in Benin City, there were reports of intimidation in some areas.
INEC had always complained of logistic challenges, in term of terrain, and how far the commission sustains the transparent distribution of its men and materials this morning would determine how prepared they are to organise a credible process.
Executive Director of Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Idayat Hassan, told The Guardian on phone that the actors in the election management should be blamed if anything goes awry today.
Hassan noted that the show of force by the Police was not well perceived in some quarters, stressing that reports of intimidation, false and unverified reports on the social media helped to sustain tension.
She observed that barring any logistic challenges or sabotage, INEC has earned an average performance to win public support, adding that the distribution of materials today would give a clear picture of INEC’s capacity to deliver on its mandate.
She stated: “Things remain tense, activities are ongoing as INEC is distributing materials. A lot of false reports, substantiated and unsubstantiated videos, releases from the political parties, especially unverified claims, are not encouraging.
“These things circulating on the social media give cause for worry, but I think everybody is hopeful. We expect to see how things will pan out in reality.”
The CDD director said judging by the way materials were distributed, INEC has shown signs of readiness, noting, however, that the Commission has the reputation of perennial complaint about logistic issues.
She noted: “INEC kept saying they are ready, but by 8.30 this morning, we will actually know whether they are ready. Things are moving on clear. Really, I think the deployment of materials and the way it was actually done from the CBN was quite commendable.
“But the actors in this election, the election management body and most importantly, the political class, would be the ones to determine the quality of the exercise and how it would round off.”
She disclosed that partners and observers met yesterday to check-in on issues and happenings in their locations, pointing out that in Igueben, for instance, security was housed in the premises of the council office, adding: “Last night, the tension of the final campaign was high, fear of political rituals has dropped, people are calm, no cause for alarm.
She noted, though, that vote-buying might enhance turn out, saying: “More voters may turn out to vote due to the peaceful atmosphere. The voting points are locked, most schools with a fence with a locked gate and that may be a challenge in the morning of the election.”
CDD observed that the atmosphere in Ovia West was peaceful, but with high presence of Police, as politicians were returning home from the city, just as voter education increased for COVID-19 compliance.
In a bid to enhance popular participation in today’s poll, the state government declared yesterday a work-free day.
Observations of the election environment show that prospective voters, who have been handed out a condition of no facemask, no voting by INEC expect the politicians to play by the rules and eschew banditry and thuggery.
Records at the INEC office indicated that no fewer than 1.72 million persons are eligible to vote in the election, while 483,796 eligible voters will not participate on account of failure to collect their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
The consolidated figure of registered voters in the state as at August 2018 stands at 2,210,534 registered voters, while only 1,726,738 collected their PVCs.
The records show that Edo has 18 councils, 192 Wards and 2,627 polling units.
A further breakdown of the registered voters figure shows that the male accounts for 1,159,325 (representing 52 per cent), while 1,051,209 are female (or 48 per cent). Of these figures, the youth (18 to 35 years) account for 50 per cent (1,105,338); middle-aged (36 to 50 years) accounts for 29.1 per cent (643,551); the elderly (51 to 70 years) make up 15.99 per cent (353,508) and eligible voters classified as the old (70 years and above) account for 4.89 per cent (108,137).
Further distribution of registered voters in the three senatorial districts of the state shows that Edo South has the highest figure of 1,281,414; followed by Edo North with 564,122 and Edo Central has 364,998.
Edo South is made up of seven council; Edo North, six councils and Edo Central, five councils.
According to the number of collected PVCs, Oredo zone has 240,197; Ikpoba-Okha, 214,882; Egor, 158,817; Etsako West, 128,188 and Akoko Edo, 115,343.
On the surface, the atmosphere in Edo State seems very charged, threatening to boil over, but among the residents, particularly of Benin City, the state capital, there is a general feeling of expectant relief that after today, life would return to normal.
Apart from the 2007 governorship election that produced Adams Oshiomhole as the state’s third civilian governor, no other such contest has generated the kind of tension engendered by the current exercise.
Unlike in the past, today’s showdown between Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu has a lot of issues pushing up the hot narratives, chief among the troubling issues include 2023 calculations/godfather interests and partisan survival/geopolitics, among others.
The foregoing considerations have been feeding the tension and threats of violence that pervaded preparations for today’s strategic poll. There are indications that the real battlefield for the two front row candidates would be Edo South senatorial district, which has 1.2 million registered voters. The zone offers the true test of the power of incumbency, as both Obaseki and his main challenger, Ize-Iyamu, hail from there and how the people perceive Obaseki’s performance in the past four years could inform their choices.
To douse tension, the National Peace Committee (NPC), supported by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), organised a peace convention, where Obaseki of PDP and APC’s Ize-Iyamu committed themselves to non-violence.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has assured political parties/candidates and the people of a level playfield, declaring that the Commission would remain impartial, just as Chairman of the NPC and a former military head of state, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, restated the committee’s commitment to free, fair and credible elections.
Convener of NPC and Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Rev. Father Matthew Hassan Kukah, described the signing of the peace accord as not just a mere ceremony, “but a spiritual vow among the candidates participating in the election.”
Earlier before the gladiators signed the peace pact, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, represented by Deputy Inspector General (Research and Planning), Adeleye Oyebade, reminded them of the need to respect the contents of the resolution, assuring: “We are here to ensure a hitch-free, fair and credible election and I have assured all that the Police will remain professional to the core.
“…Go back to speak with all your people about what you have signed. The electorate should come out to vote, because we are prepared to protect them. Edo will have the best of the best elections in Nigeria.”
The politics of 2023 and godfather investment were on virtually all discussions about the poll right from the build up. But it all comes down today, as both APC and PDP see Edo State as a very strategic outpost to enhance their chase of the ultimate triumph in 2023, with the thinking that whoever clinches the governorship would be midway to greater sphere of influence across the geopolitical zones.
Nigeria reports 221 cases of COVID-19 as total infections hit 56,956.
Lagos reports highest cases of 59, follows by Abia state with 46 an Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with 22 cases.
Ogun state and Osun ties with 3 cases each as Bayelsa, Edo and Kano State reports lowest cases of 1 each.
Fresh cases of 221 was reported by eighteen states in Nigeria.
221 new cases of #COVID19Nigeria;
Gov. Douye Diri of Bayelsa has called on the Rivers State government to show understanding in order to amicably resolve the dispute between Oluasiri Clan in Bayelsa and their Kalabari neighbors in Rivers.
The Oluasiri communities in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa and their Kalabari Ijaw kinsmen are locked in dispute arising from the location of oil wells within the boundary area.
Diri made the plea in Yenagoa during a meeting with stakeholders from the Oluasiri clan led by the paramount ruler, Chief Iyerite Awululu.
He sought the support of Ijaw leaders and elders to resolve the age-long feud between the two Ijaw communities.
In a statement by his acting Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, the governor said the state government will protect its territories and work with the communities to ensure safety of residents.
“I’m calling on my brother governor of our sister state that this is a time that we need to look at the realities.
“As a people from the old Rivers State, we need to sit together and resolve our internal disputes, which should be easy to do because both feuding communities are of the Ijaw extraction.
“We have no difference between the Nembes and Kalabaris. They are all Ijaws and so no other person should beat the drums of war against two friendly Ijaw clans,” he said.
To this end, Diri directed his deputy, Mr Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, to chair a committee to drive the process of peaceful resolution of the boundary adjustment issues. He also restated his administration’s resolve to ensure the protection of lives and property across communities in the state.
The governor said his administration would engage security agencies on the need to curtail acts of lawlessness, particularly in the Oluasiri axis of the state.
“I will sit with my security commanders and see if we can beef up security in Oluasiri to protect lives and property.
“We have already set the ball rolling and we will take some security measures in that area in the interim pending when a substantive police station will be set up,” he said.
Also, the governor directed the state Ministry of Health and Water Resources to make the cottage hospital built by Shell Petroleum Development Company functional as well as provide potable water.
Earlier, spokesman of the clan, Mr Iniruo Wills, highlighted a number of issues that require government’s intervention.
Wills said the meeting was to seek assistance in the areas of security and resolution of the legal dispute between the two states concerning the boundary delineation among others.
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has said anyone who fail to register and submit their self-certification forms risk forfeiture of their bank accounts and other assets with financial institutions.
FIRS’s warning came after it announced that it is mandatory for all Nigerians operating bank accounts to register for self-certification at their respective banks.
“This is to notify the general public that all account holders in Financial Institutions (Banks, Insurance Companies, etc) are required to obtain, complete and submit Self – Certification Forms to their respective Financial Institutions,” FIRS chairman Muhammad Nami said in a circular on Thursday.
“Persons holding accounts in different financial institutions is required to complete and submit the form to each one of the institutions.”
Nami explained that “the forms are required by the relevant financial institutions to carry out due diligence procedures in line with the Income Tax Regulations 2019.”
The FIRS boss noted that self-certification form is in 3 categories- form for entity, for controlling person (individuals having a controlling interest in a legal person, trustee, etc) and form for individual holders of bank accounts.
“Failure to comply with the requirement to administer or execute this form attracts sanctions which may include monetary penalty or inability to operate the account,” Nami said.
The new requirement by the agency of the Nigerian government was not accepted by many Nigerians who criticised the government’s inability to harness all the data collected from people in the past.
Currently, Nigeria has multiple citizen’s collection data platforms – the Bank Verification Numbers (BVN), National Identification Numbers (NIN), passport, driver’s license, SIM card registration and voters’ card. Persons without any of these cannot own and operate any bank account in Nigeria.
Many believed that all information required in the self-certification form has already been replicated in the existing citizens’ data platforms.
Others, however, argued that the new directive is part of the government’s plot to allegedly take control of their accounts for the multiplicity of taxation.
A spokesman for Ahmad Lawan, Nigeria’s Senate president, Abubakar Usman said the directive will impose additional stress on Nigerians.
“For the past months, entering banks has been hell as a result of restrictions brought about by Covid-19 and now FIRS want us to go to each bank and fill form. Common,” Usman tweeted.
“What is BVN meant to serve if FIRS want us to go and do self certification?”
Other Nigerians are also not pleased with the directive.
Nigeria reports 131 fresh COVID-19 cases as total deaths toll hit 1,093; total recoveries crosses 48,000.
131 new cases of #COVID19Nigeria;
The University of Lagos Pro-Chancellor Wale Babalakin (SAN), has resigned following an alleged disagreement with the Nigerian Government on the visitation panel sent to the university.
“I would like to thank the President of the Federal of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari for giving me the opportunity to serve as the Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (the “University”) from May 2017 till date,” Babalakin said in his resignation letter addressed to minister for education Adamu Ada
“I am also grateful that I was considered fit to be the Chairman of the Federal Government Negotiation Team on the Agreement reached with university unions in 2009, from 6th January 2017 till date. I equally want to thank you sir, for your role in recommending me to the President.”
Nigeria reports 126 cases of COVID-19 as total death toll hit 1,091.
Total cases hit over 56,600 and close to 48,000 recoveries. The fresh cases of 126 was recorded by 16 states in Nigeria.
FCT leads with 37 cases, followed by Lagos with 27 cases, next is plateau with 16 cases.
Kwara, Oyo, Delta and Ekiti ties with 2 cases each as Bauchi, Yobe, Kano, Ogun and Katsina reports least case of 1 each.
126 new cases of #COVID19Nigeria;
New evidence has been submitted against popular alleged internet fraudster, Ramoni Abbass, popularly known as Hushpuppi.
Hushpuppi was arrested weeks ago for allegedly defrauding over 1.9 million people to the tune of over 168 billion naira.
The new evidence shows how he used his personal email to register on a website “whizzlog” which is a market place for buying US bank logs and money laundering.
Recall with Noble Reporters Media that Hushpuppi pleaded not guilty to the four-count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering conspiracies, international money laundering and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.
In June, the Hushpuppi was flaunting an opulent lifestyle on social media and was shortly arrested in Dubai by special operatives of the Emirati police and American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The Nigeria Labour Congress meets today to take final decision on fuel price hike and electricity tariff increase.
This comes as TUC insists its seven-day ultimatum to the Federal Government stands. The ultimatum was handed down to the Federal Government to reverse the increases.
Also the organised labour has told the Federal Government it will not go into any negotiation with it until the increased price of petrol and electricity tariff are reversed.
The President of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Quadri Olaleye, stated the position of workers yesterday at a dialogue on the economy between the organised labour and the Federal Government.
This is as the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, insisted that the Federal Government could not have held discussion with labour before taking a policy decision.
Olaleye got the support of the General Secretary of National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Joe Ajaero, who is also a deputy president of the NLC. He lamented that the involvement of workers came after the Federal Government had taken the decision to increase prices.
“We think the Federal Government is speaking to us now and not speaking with us. If the government wants to engage us, it ought to have called for a meeting where issues would be looked at dispassionately and positions arrived at. Why would government think increment would automatically lead to improvement in electricity to Nigerians? This latest increment is the fifth since the power sector was privatised. Did that lead to the improved power supply? In fact, each increase shows the power sector might have been hijacked.
What we have seen emerging is the emergence of private sector monopoly, which is more terrible than public sector monopoly. Therefore, for us, there is no basis for this latest increment,” he stated.
The President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, observed that with the huge burden already placed on citizens by COVID-19, fuel price hike would drive a final nail into the coffin of dying masses.
He said, “Government cannot continue to push the people to the wall with increases in utility bills. We should ensure we refine products locally to push the price of petrol down and create jobs. Government cannot hand over our commonwealth to the private sector. We must look at other policy options to address the issue of subsidy. We are here without anything concrete for the people. We are asking government what it has for the people?”
In his contribution, the TUC President urged the Federal Government to cut down on emoluments of public officers and lawmakers.
Explaining the need for deregulation and the resultant price hike, Sylva stated that between 2016 and 2019, Nigeria lost N1 billion every day.
MEANWHILE, the independent petroleum products marketers have accused the Federal Government of deliberately hampering the country’s refineries to impoverish the masses.
The marketers, comprising members of the independent marketers branch of NUPENG, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), and tanker drivers, staged a protest yesterday at the Port Harcourt refinery, demanding the sack of the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, over alleged inability to fix the refineries.
A leader of the protesters and Chairman independent marketers branch of NUPENG, Uche Uduwo, described as an aberration the failure of refineries to function.
“We cannot understand why the four refineries in Nigeria cannot be put to active work, when we have crude oil in the country. They go outside the country to bring petroleum products and when they do that, they send the products to private tanks. We cannot accept it any longer. We are dying; members of the public are dying.
Why should government facility be left to rot and private tank farm owners are living large? We will no longer accept it,” he said.
Udowo lamented that Port Harcourt depots had been without petroleum products for inexplicable reasons.
While the IPMAN national spokesperson, Chinedu Ukadike, also lamented that the Port Harcourt refinery and its depots have been abandoned, the Chairman of Petroleum Tanker Drivers Union, Johnbosco Bosco, said it was unacceptable that people diverted products meant for the NNPC to private tank farms.
Reacting to the outcry, the ruling All progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, enjoined Nigerians to support government’s decision to remove fuel subsidy.
APC, in a statement by its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yekini Nabena, argued that government was not oblivious of the financial strains brought by the increase in fuel pump price and electricity rates.
Nigeria reports 90 cases of famous pandemic.
Lagos reports 33 new cases followed by plateau with 27 and kaduna with 17.
Ogun records 6 cases as Abuja reports 4. Ekiti, Anambra and Nasarawa reports 1 case each.
Total cases of 90 was reported by 8 states in Nigeria
90 new cases of #COVID19Nigeria;
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has departed Nigeria for Ghana to attend the Extraordinary Summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Osinbajo, who is representing President Muhammadu Buhari, at the summit will join other leaders in the sub-region to discuss the political crisis in Mali and the security situation in the sub-region at large.
This was disclosed in a statement issued on Tuesday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande.
According to the statement, the Vice President will also meet with representatives of the Nigerian community in Ghana to discuss issues bothering on their wellbeing in the West African country.
Accompanying the Vice President is the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb Zubairu Dada.
He is expected back in Abuja today at the end of his engagements in Ghana.
Following the coup that broke out in Mali on August 18, ECOWAS, the African Union, the United Nations and the United States have condemned the action.
The regional bloc suspended the country pledged a range of retaliatory actions, including financial sanctions.
Similarly, ECOWAS delegation headed by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, arrived in the Malian capital, Bamako on August 20 to push for a speedy return to civilian rule after a military coup in the troubled nation.
The delegation met with the members of the new junta as well as ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
Rebel soldiers seized Keita and other leaders after a mutiny dealing another deep blow to a country already struggling with a brutal Islamist insurgency and widespread public discontent over its government.
Mali’s neighbours have called for Keita to be reinstated, saying the purpose of the delegation’s visit was to help “ensure the immediate return of constitutional order”.
“ECOWAS appreciates what is happening in Mali and ECOWAS wants the best for the country,” Jonathan said after his arrival.
Nigeria reports 132 fresh cases of COVID-19 as total death toll hits 1,083.
Lagos leads with 52 cases, seconder, Gombe with 27 cases followed by plateau worth 17 cases.
The new 132 cases was reported by 11 states in Nigeria as total recoveries hit 44,337.
Ekiti state records 2 cases as Bauchi, Osun and Rivers State report lowest of 1 cases each.
132 new cases of #COVID19Nigeria;
A passenger vehicle with six passengers has collided with a moving commuter train at PWD inward Oshodi, Lagos.
The Director-General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu who confirmed the incident said the vehicle suddenly veered onto the tracks and collided with the train.
The enormous love between Ebunoluwa and her father raised an eyebrow within the family but Ebunoluwa is far from being happy when she finds her life upended by an encounter.
Story of a lady caught in a love triangle and needed to take a life long decision