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Reject proposal on zoning to save PDP, leaders’ forum tells NEC

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Reject proposal on zoning to save PDP, leaders' forum tells NEC
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Reject proposal on zoning to save PDP, leaders’ forum tells NEC

The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been urged to reject the zoning arrangement as proposed by the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi led committee.

A group, the PDP National Leaders Forum, in a statement by its convener and a chieftain of the party from Ogun state, Reverend Olusola Salau, Tuesday, called on the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party which meets on Thursday to jettison what it described as the self-serving proposal and maintain the status quo.

The statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, noted that the composition of the Zoning Committee of the party was faulty for the reason that it was lopsided and deliberately skewed to satisfy the interest of a section of the party.

“For instance, Benue State has five representatives while Osun has no single representative. Even when that observation was raised at the meeting, a certain Governor from the South South bullied everybody to ignore something as fundamental as that,” Salau said.

The statement also raised the allegation that some members of the committee used the opportunity to serve on the committee to oil their political scheming at the detriment of the party.

Reject proposal on zoning to save PDP, leaders’ forum tells NEC

“We have it on good authority that one member of the committee who is a Governor in a South-South state was busy offering monetary inducements to sway other members from toeing the logical path. We know who this Governor is and we are aware that he is nursing a presidential ambition. We do not have any objection to his ambition. However, we will not accept a process that will make anyone fetch the presidential ticket of our great party through a manipulative process.”

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Also, the group described the procedure by which the zoning committee rendered its report as “obnoxious and not known to the established pattern of how similar previous reports are presented in the party.

“The report is self-serving, ridiculous and embarrassing because the PDP NEC empowered and mandated the committee to recommend zoning of party offices. The normal practice is that the report must first be laid before the NEC for consideration and the party will then approve and announce final ratification just like the Governor Bala-led fact finding committee on the 2019 presidential election.

“Its report was laid before the NEC and approved. But in this case, the Governors and zoning committee acted in bad faith and if care is not taken the party will pay dearly for it in 2023,” the group posited.

Another area of objection which the group cited is that the current zoning arrangement in the PDP stipulates that the National Chairman’s position is supposed to remain in the South.

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Therefore, “must we punish the South alongside the outgoing chairman? Why is the committee in a hurry to throw away the baby with the bath water?

“For the avoidance of doubt there have been two zoning arrangements in the history of the PDP: one in 2007 and the other in 2017 which was to lapse in 2025. This arrangement gave the south the privilege to produce the national chairmanship of the party till 2025.

“If there were to be any zoning, it should be amongst the three zones of the South and, in that case, the Southwest that has never attained the position of the PDP National Chairman is more deserving of the position. This is even more so that the next two governorship elections before the 2023 general election will be in Osun and Ekiti. Thus, what will the PDP take to the Southwest to enable the zone to give our party a deserving victory in those two crucial elections?

“Lastly and more importantly, the group said, is that, “the PDP has a pedigree of being the only political party in Nigeria that comes to intervene when the country is at a boiling point as it is today. Be it at the time that the country was transitioning from military junta to civilian rule or when the country was burdened with a leadership vacuum that necessitated the doctrine of necessity, the PDP has always been the party that steers the country off the cliffs.

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“This time around, Nigeria needs the PDP to come to its rescue once again. Our party needs to put someone with capacity and experience forward to do this job – not some characters that can’t even put the national interest ahead of their political ambition in a simple party assignment.

“We believe that Nigeria has never been this divided and broken and it is expedient on the principle of natural priority that another person from the North, who is more qualified and experienced should be our party’s candidate for the job to get Nigeria fixed.

“It is not the responsibility of the PDP to toe the line of ethic divisiveness that our main opponents are known for. Ours is a party built on principles and mutual respect for all shades of Nigerians.

“It is on this note that we humbly demand that the National Executive Committee of our great party reject in its entirety the submissions of the zoning committee. Zoning arrangement is a responsibility of the highest decision making organ of the party, not some self-serving governors and their cohorts.”

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Opinion: PDP, APC must field an Igbo presidential candidate in 2023

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Opinion: PDP, APC must field an Igbo presidential candidate in 2023
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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.

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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.

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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.

AIF Media

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Mahmood Yakubu: Nigerian Voters More Than Voters In Entire West Africa

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Mahmood Yakubu: Nigerian Voters More Than Voters In Entire West Africa
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Bode George Sues Adetokunbo Pearse For ₦500 Million Over Alleged Defamation

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Bode George Sues Adetokunbo Pearse For ₦500 Million Over Alleged Defamation
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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”.

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“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”.

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“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”.

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“ 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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