The Kwara State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq for demolishing Ile-Arugbo belonging to late Olushola Saraki, father of a former Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki. Officials of the Kwara State Government pulled down the structure located at Ilofa road GRA, Ilorin, in the early hours of Thursday shortly after armed security operatives deployed to the area had dispersed scores of sympathisers and supporters of the Saraki political family who had kept vigil at the site.
A statement issued by the Chairman of the party in the state, Engineer Kola Shittu, said the demolition of the building portrayed Governor Abdulrazaq as a man who does not have regard for due process and respect for the rule of law, in view of the fact that the subject matter was currently before the court. The statement read in part: “The matter is currently in court and it is only the court that can give a final decision. The case with suit number KWS/463/2019 is between Asa Investments Ltd vs Governor of Kwara State, Kwara House of Assembly, Attorney General of Kwara State, Director General of the Bureau of Lands and the Inspector General of Police.
With the matter in the court, one would expect that the Governor would stay all actions on it and wait for the final adjudication on the matter, and not take any action that will pre-empt the court decision and render the judicial verdict useless.
“But the Governor went ahead to exhibit his dictatorial tendencies by illegally directing the demolition of the building. This is evil, an act of tyranny and impunity taken too far. Why the haste in destroying the property when the matter is yet to be decided by the court? The hurry and surreptitious manner the demolition exercise was carried out shows that the Governor’s action was not in the interest of the people but to satisfy his selfish ego, which is a gross violation of the Oath of Office he swore to contrary to the Oath of Office he took, Governor Abdulrazaq has allowed his personal interest to influence his official conduct and decision.
“It is now more glaring to Kwarans and the general public that the Governor is in office to settle old political and family scores and not to deliver good governance and development that he was elected for. He is vindictive and will stop at nothing to take draconian actions to get at his perceived political opponents. “The demolition of Ile-Arugbo is a dishonour to the memory of Baba Saraki. This is a man who dedicated his political career to serving the good people of Kwara.
He was a selfless and very accommodating leader, who was always ready to help others. Only few politicians of his time could rival his uncommon compassion towards the masses, which endeared him to many within and outside the State. “However, the Governor and his family members including his father, AGF Abdulrazaq should know that with or without Ile-Arugbo, the late Olushola Saraki will continue to occupy a place of honour in the hearts of Kwarans, particularly those who witnessed or benefited from his numerous acts of philanthropy and humanity.
“As we did in our last statement, we once again call on traditional institutions, spiritual and community leaders and stakeholders in the State to caution the Governor to put a stop to his acts of tyranny and politics of bitterness, which can lead to breakdown of law and order in the state. “In the meantime, we urge the supporters and sympathisers of the Saraki family to remain calm and not take law into their own hands though we understand how emotional and embittered they are at the moment. We must allow law to take its course.”
Opinion: PDP, APC must field an Igbo presidential candidate in 2023
Opinion: PDP, APC must field an Igbo presidential candidate in 2023.
In 2007, the north dared Obasanjo and made it clear that power must return to the north after 8 years in the south. It was the pressure from the north that forced Obasanjo to drop Dr Peter Odili at the eleventh hour and Yaradua became the lucky northern candidate.
In 2011, the north almost stopped Goodluck Jonathan from contesting the presidential election after the death of Yaradua. They forced Jonathan to negotiate for one tenure before they could support him in 2011.
In 2015, the north came out smoking, claiming to have been shortchanged especially as they claimed that Jonathan was dishonoring the one term agreement entered into in 2011.
This caused Jonathan a second term and he lost at the poll.
It is unfortunate seeing some northern politicians declaring for president in 2023.
In 2007, Saraki’s father was among the northern elders that held Obasanjo on the neck until he changed his plan on Peter Odili and went for Yaradua.
Today, his son Bukola has declared his interest to rub the south their turn of producing the next president in 2023. I wouldn’t want to talk about Atiku Abubakar and his role in fighting for northern interests.
It is a pity that some northern politicians are too selfish. In 2015, Atiku, Saraki, Tambuwal etc decmaped to APC to deliver a northern candidate. They left APC because they knew that north can not retain power in APC after 8 years.
This is time for all southern leaders especially to come together and make a strong statement on 2023. This is our turn and no one should be allowed to take it away from us.
Mahmood Yakubu: Nigerian Voters More Than Voters In Entire West Africa
Mahmood Yakubu: Nigerian Voters More Than Voters In Entire West Africa
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, speaks on how the Commission successfully conducted the Anambra governorship election despite the numerous challenges it encountered. He also speaks on preparations for the 2023 general elections as well as the Direct Primary controversy. Excerpts:
Sir, let me begin by congratulating you on the successful conduct of the Anambra governorship election. Many had thought the election will not hold due to insecurity challenges but you insisted that the November 6 date remains sacrosanct and the election was held. How were you able to weather the storm?
Thank you for the commendation. As you are aware, the Anambra Governorship election was held on 6th November 2021 under difficult circumstances. The Commission has declared a winner and the certificate of return has been issued. Like you rightly said, the election was peaceful and the outcome of the election has been universally adjudged to be credible.
However, the Commission is not unaware of the issues raised about the performance of the new technology deployed for voter accreditation. The deployment of the BVAS in the Anambra Governorship election was the second pilot test. It was intended to achieve two objectives. First is voter accreditation to replace the Smart Card Reader. The second is the uploading of polling unit result on the IReV portal to replace the z-pad. The BVAS performed optimally in uploading results on the IReV but there were the usual challenges associated with the pilot of a new technology in a major election.
From our assessment so far, much of the glitches encountered on Election Day in Anambra State had little to do with the machines but more with the operators of the system. The extraordinarily difficult circumstances under which the election was held meant that some of the better trained ad hoc staff withdrew at the 11th hour. Similarly, some critical service providers such vehicle owners also withdrew thereby severely affecting our plans for rapid response by our technicians – the Registration Area Technical (RATECH) staff. Technical issues relating to the performance of the BVAS will be addressed in the presentation by our Director ICT at this important meeting. Suffice it to say that in spite of the glitches, BVAS has justified our determination to deepen the deployment of technology in the electoral process. Given the credible conclusion of the election, it has strengthened our belief that even the minimal introduction of technology in voter accreditation is better than the best manual process. We want to thank the voters in Anambra State for their patience and faith in the new technology. This has also justified the hope of citizens across the country that the deployment of more appropriate technology is essential to electoral integrity in Nigeria.
Our response to the glitches encountered started right from Anambra State. This explains there were no challenges reported during the supplementary election in Ihiala Local Government Area held on Tuesday 9th November 2022. I want to reassure Nigerians that we have learnt vital lessons from the Anambra pilot. There will be remarkable improvement in the next major election which is the end-of-tenure Area Council election in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) schedule to hold in three months on 12th February 2022.
The COVID-19 pandemic is another major challenge that INEC under your leadership had to contend with. How has the commission been coping and what steps are you taking since a national election is coming up in less than 600 days from now?
The world was confronted with the emergence of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic in November 2019. The first case was reported in Nigeria on 27th February 2020, forcing the federal and state governments to take series of actions to protect citizens. The pandemic caused extensive disruptions in the country’s electoral system, forcing the Commission to the postpone four bye-elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Plateau States. The highly contagious nature of the virus meant that the Commission cannot conduct these elections without considering how to protect election officials and other stakeholders from the risk of infection. In response, the Commission came up with the Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the COVID – 19 Pandemic in May 2020. The policy, which was first of its kind in Africa outlined the measures to be put in place to ensure the safety of citizens that would participate as voters, candidates, or officials on election day. It was successfully applied during the Nasarawa Central State Constituency bye-election, held on 8th August 2021 and in other elections thereafter, including the Edo and Ondo Governorship election in September and October this year.
With your experience and knowledge so far at the helm of affairs of INEC, what are the challenges in conducting elections in Nigeria?
Nigeria’s size and population make it one of the biggest democracies in the world. It is certainly the second largest presidential democracy after the United States of America. The size of our voter population and elective institutions make elections in Nigeria a huge undertaking. This fact is better appreciated within our regional context. There are 15 countries in West Africa today, including Nigeria. However, with the current voter population of over 84 million, Nigeria has about 11 million more registered voters than the other 14 countries put together which have 73.6 million registered voters. Conducting a general election in Nigeria is like holding election in West Africa and beyond.
Furthermore, the statutory responsibilities of INEC make it both an Election Management Body and Electoral Commission. Section 53 (f) of Part 1 to the Third Schedule the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) requires the Commission to organize, undertake and supervise all elections to the offices of the President and Vice-president, the Governor and Deputy Governor of a state, and to the membership of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the House of Assembly of each State of the Federation. In order to do so effectively, there are other extensive responsibilities undertaken by the Commission which include: registration and regulation of political parties, including the monitoring of party and campaign finance as well as their primaries, congresses, meetings and conventions; Nationwide continuous registration of voters and the maintenance of the national register of voters; Prosecution of electoral offenders; Creation of polling units; Delimitation of electoral constituencies; Voter education and publicity; Management of electoral logistics; Election security in consultation with the security agencies; Strategic engagement with stakeholders; Formulation of regulations and guidelines for the conduct of elections and electoral activities to give clarity to the provisions of the Constitution and Electoral Act; and maintenance of extensive physical assets (offices, residential accommodation and other facilities) nationwide.
In addition, elections are held all-year round between one General Election and another with no respite. There is no election season any longer in Nigeria. The Commission has to think literally on its feet as it reflects, strategises, and innovates and pilots the new innovations. For instance, since the 2019 General Election, the Commission has conducted 36 elections made up of 5 Governorship constituencies (Anambra, Bayelsa, Edo, Kogi and Ondo), six Senatorial Districts, seven Federal Constituencies (House of Representatives seats) and 18 state Assembly constituencies. Yet, there are more elections to be conducted in the next eight months. The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council elections made up of 68 constituencies (6 Council Chairmen and 62 Councillors) is scheduled to hold on 12th February 2022, followed by the Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections holding on 18th June 2022 and 16th July 2022 respectively. There are also 3 pending Federal constituency bye-elections (Jos North/Bassa in Plateau State, Akure North/ Akure South in Ondo State and Ogoja/Yala in Cross River State) and 3 State constituencies (Ekiti East I in Ekiti State, Shinkafi in Zamfara State and Akpabuyo in Cross River State). While the off-season Governorship elections are known in advance, the bye-elections, mainly caused by the deaths of serving members of the National and State Assembly, are unpredictable.
What is the latest information on the issue of Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) and Launch of Online Registration Portal by INEC?
You will recall that the Commission often undertakes a fresh registration of eligible voters with every general election until 2010 when the first reliable biometric register of voters was compiled. Thereafter, the practice is to undertake intermittent registration of voters on the eve of major elections. However, in April 2017, this Commission for the first time began the implementation of the registration of voters on a continuous basis as provided in the Electoral Act. By the time the CVR was suspended in August 2018 to prepare for the 2019 General Election, a total of 14,283,734 new voters had been registered and added to the national register of voters, increasing the overall number to 84, 004 084. However, the CVR could not resume as planned after the general election due in part to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the earlier part of 2020. In our determination to serve Nigerians better and in response to repeated calls by stakeholders, the Commission introduced a dedicated portal for online registration on 28th June 2021. This allows intending registrants to commence the process online by filling the forms, upload their pictures and required documents, and then make an appointment on the web portal for a date and time to visit an INEC State or Local Government Area (LGA) office to give their fingerprints and complete the registration. In addition, those who are already registered as voters can carry out all the other activities such as transfers, correction of personal details and replacement of damaged or defaced Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) online. Nigerians have fully embraced and are taking full advantage of the services available on the portal. The Commission has also been updating Nigerians every week on new development since the CVR started. As of 22nd November 2021, the CVR platform had recorded a total of 4,297,494 fresh registrants while 1,856,771 registrants have validated their application.
What is INEC’s position on the controversy trailing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, especially the Direct primary clause?
Yes, a lot of people have been asking the Commission for its position on the Direct Primary clause which was included in the Electoral Act amendment Bill. But the issue is not about our position, but the process. In the exercise of its constitutional power, the National Assembly has passed the Bill into law awaiting presidential assent. Once the process is concluded, the Bill becomes law and every person and authority in Nigeria, including the Commission, must obey. The Commission will give expeditious consideration to the law, including the detailed regulations and guidelines for its implementation where necessary.
Bode George Sues Adetokunbo Pearse For ₦500 Million Over Alleged Defamation
Bode George Sues Adetokunbo Pearse For ₦500 Million Over Alleged Defamation
Chief Olabode George, a former Deputy National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has slammed a N500m lawsuit against a chieftain of the party, Dr Adetokunbo Pearse over alleged defamation of character.
Pearse, a state chairmanship aspirant of the PDP in Lagos State was alleged to have said that Chief George, was responsible for the disruption of the state congress election of the party on October 16.
While confirming the lawsuit in an interview with DAILY INDEPENDENT, George said “I have asked my lawyers to take him (Pearse) to court for defamation. I don’t want to comment about him because he is an infra dig”.
“If I tell you about his character, he will be ashamed to leave his house. When we get to court, he will come and repeat what he said about me and who fired the gunshot. It was an insulting statement by him to make about me and I have sued him for N500m”.
However, speaking with our correspondent, Pearse who confirmed the receipt of the letter from Chief George’s lawyer said he will never apologise as he never accused Chief George of being responsible for the gunshots that brought the congress to an abrupt end.
“The third week in October, he sent me the letter from his lawyer that if I did not apologise for accusing him of truncating the election, he will take me to court and I will pay N500m. I replied and I told him that rather than apologies, let me tell you how you messed up”.
“He thinks I said he was the one that ordered the shooting. I never said so. All I’m saying is what happened at Tafawa Balewa Square should be looked into”.
“On the day of the congress, I came in about 12:30 pm. All the delegates were there from across the state lined up peacefully under their tents in order of their local governments. By 2 pm, Senator Biodun Olujimi had started accreditation. By 3 pm, they had accredited every local government and voting started right away alphabetically”.
“When voting started, all of a sudden, Bode George went to Olujimi, who is the Secretary of the congress and said she should cancel the election. The woman said ‘no, I can’t do that. He now threatened that ‘if you don’t cancel the congress, you will see’ and he walked away”.
“ As he walked away, we started hearing gunshots. When the delegates started hearing gunshots, they ran away and that was the end of the congress. That was exactly what I said. I never said he ordered the shooting”.
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