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INEC Releases Final List of Presidential and National Assembly Candidates

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The Independent National Electoral Commission has released the final lists for the 2023 presidential and National Assembly elections.

This was contained in a press release signed by the commission’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, on Tuesday.

The publication of the list, which followed the political parties’ conduct of primaries and completion of the nomination exercise, was pursuant to “section 32(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 and item 8 of the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election.”

According to the commission, 18 political parties field presidential candidates and their running mates, while for legislative elections, 1,101 candidates are vying for 109 Senatorial seats and 3,122 candidates for Federal Constituencies, that is, House of Representatives seats.

A total of 4,223 candidates are contesting 469 legislative positions.

The commission added that 3,875 of the candidates are male, made up of 35 for Presidential and Vice Presidential, 1,008 for Senate and 2,832 for House of Representatives, while 381 females, comprising one for Presidential, 92 for Senate, and 288 for House of Representatives are contesting the elections.

INEC also noted that there are 11 Persons with Disability in the race.

The statement partly read, “At its regular weekly meeting held today Tuesday 20th September 2022, the Commission approved the final list of candidates for national elections (Presidential, Senatorial and Federal Constituencies) pursuant to section 32(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 and item 8 of the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election.

“The publication of the full names and addresses of all nominated candidates follows the political parties’ conduct of primaries and completion of the nomination exercise.”

Speaking on the party and gender distributions of the candidates, the statement said, “In summary, all the 18 political parties have fielded candidates and their running mates for the Presidential election. For legislative elections, 1,101 candidates are vying for 109 Senatorial seats and 3,122 candidates for Federal Constituencies i.e. House of Representatives seats, making a total of 4,223 candidates contesting for 469 legislative positions.

“In terms of gender distribution, 3,875 candidates are male, made up of 35 for Presidential and Vice Presidential, 1,008 for Senate and 2,832 for House of Representatives.

“Similarly, 381 females comprising 1 for Presidential, 92 for Senate, and 288 for House of Representatives are contesting. There are also 11 Persons with Disability (PWDs) in the race.”

The released list for Akwa Ibom Federal Constituencies contains the name of the state’s ex-Governor, Godswill Akpabio, under the All Progressives Congress’ Senatorial candidate for Akwa Ibom North West.

The inclusion of Akpabio on INEC’s final list signals an end to the controversy surrounding his nomination by its party.

The commission said, “Nigerians may recall that at end of the process, the personal particulars of all nominated candidates were displayed in their constituencies nationwide as provided by section 29(3) of the Electoral Act.

“Subsequently, validly nominated candidates had the opportunity to voluntarily withdraw their candidature by notice in writing and personally deliver such notice to the political party that nominated them for the election.

“Thereafter, political parties substituted such candidates under section 31 of the Electoral Act for which the last day was 15th July 2022 for national elections and 12th August 2022 for State elections as clearly provided in item 6 of the Commission’s Timetable and Schedule of Activities.

“Thereafter, no withdrawal or substitution of candidates is allowed except in the event of death as provided in section 34(1) of the Electoral Act or pursuant to an order of a Court of competent jurisdiction.

“The list published today contains the names of candidates validly nominated for national elections at the close of party primaries and the period earmarked for withdrawal and substitution of candidates.”

The commission added, “We note the fact that not all the political parties conducted primaries in all the constituencies, submitted the particulars of candidates that emerged from valid primaries or substituted their candidates after fresh primaries within 14 days as provided in section 33 of the Electoral Act. This has led to numerous litigations, some of which are ongoing.

“Where the Commission was served with Court orders by aggrieved aspirants or candidates before the publication of this list, these have been indicated under the remark column.”

It is observed that the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and his contender, Bashir Machina, miss out on the list as no senatorial candidate was listed for the APC in Yobe North.

It is also observed that the expelled presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress, Dumebi Kachikwu, appears on INEC’s final list as the party’s presidential candidate despite his expulsion from the party last week.

Meanwhile, INEC stated that, “The final list of candidates for State elections (Governorship and State Constituencies) will be published on 4th October 2022 as already indicated on the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election.”

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Kwibuka 30: Rwanda Commemorates 30th Anniversary of 1994 Genocide Against The Tutsi

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By Dolapo Aina

The 30th Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide Against The Tutsi commenced in Rwanda on April 7, 2024. Sunday, April 7th 2024 was a solemn and quiet day in Rwanda. The day was coupled with intermittent rain showers. This year, Rwanda planned a series of memorial events with the theme ‘Remember-Unite-Renew’. As the commemoration week begins on 7 April 2024, similar ceremonies will take place throughout the globe. The commemoration activities included a flame of remembrance which was lit by the President of Rwanda, President Paul Kagame, at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gizosi (one of four memorial sites which the Government of Rwanda had been presented with certificates; confirming that the monuments of the Genocide against The Tutsi have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.) The others are the Genocide Memorials in Nyamata, Bisesero and Murambi. The flame will burn for the next 100 days as Rwanda commemorates the 1994 Genocide Against The Tutsi.

The commencement of this year’s 30th commemoration was quite different from previous commencements which this writer had witnessed since 2014. The significance of the 30th year of the Genocide Against The Tutsi was not lost on anyone who attended the official events, who partook in one form or the other and those who watched from home or online.

More than twenty current and past Heads of State from across the globe, African Union and European Union leaders, Ambassadors and many more prominent leaders were in Rwanda for the commemoration and in attendance.

A survivor Mrs Marie Louise Ayinkamiye, who gave a testimony of her ordeal as an eleven year old child. Her ordeal was harrowing to have been experienced and harrowing to listen to. The practising Christian, a mother of five was 11 years old in 1994 and as a child who is also 11 years old. When she concluded her story, the auditorium at the arena was silent and you could see teary eyes.

Something about this commemoration was different. At the 30th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against The Tutsi, Genocide survivors recalled the atrocities they experienced with their family members and loved ones. And when you interact with people, they remember everything that occurred during the 100 days like they happened just yesterday.

Some dignitaries were on the podium to speak. President Paul Kagame in his speech stated that Rwanda learnt three key lessons from its experience: “First, only we as Rwandans and Africans can give full value to our lives. After all, we cannot ask others to value African lives more highly than we ourselves do. That is the root of our duty to preserve memory and tell our history as we lived it. Second, never wait for rescue, or ask for permission to do what is right to protect people. That is why some people must be joking when they threaten us with all kinds of things, they don’t know what they are talking about. In any case, that is why Rwanda participates proudly in peacekeeping operations today, and also extends assistance to African brothers and sisters bilaterally when asked. Third, stand firm against the politics of ethnic populism in any form. Genocide is populism in its purified form.”

As stated by Kwibuka’s site: “This year’s historic anniversary is an opportunity for Rwandans and the rest of the world to honour victims, comfort survivors, and reflect on Rwanda’s journey of recovery, reconciliation, and resilience, with national unity at the core of the country’s stability and progress.”

The full excerpts of the speech by President Paul Kagame

Today, our hearts are filled with grief and gratitude in equal measure. We remember our dead, and are also grateful for what Rwanda has become. To the survivors among us, we are in your debt. We asked you to do the impossible by carrying the burden of reconciliation on your shoulders. And you continue to do the impossible for our nation, every single day, and we thank you. As the years pass, the descendants of survivors increasingly struggle with the quiet loneliness of longing for relatives they never met, or never even got the chance to be born. Today, we are thinking of you as well. Our tears flow inward, but we carry on, as a family. Countless Rwandans also resisted the call to genocide. Some paid the ultimate price for that courage, and we honour their memory.

Our journey has been long and tough. Rwanda was completely humbled by the magnitude of our loss, and the lessons we learned are engraved in blood. But the tremendous progress of our country is plain to see, and it is the result of the choices we made together to resurrect our nation.
The foundation of everything is unity. That was the first choice: to believe in the idea of a reunited Rwanda, and live accordingly. The second choice was to reverse the arrow of accountability, which used to point outwards, beyond our borders. Now, we are accountable to each other, above all. Most importantly, we chose to think beyond the horizon of tragedy, and become a people with a future.

Today, we also feel a particular gratitude to all the friends and representatives here with us from around the world. We are deeply honoured by your presence alongside us on this very heavy day. The contributions you have made to Rwanda’s rebirth are enormous, and have helped us to stand where we are now. I want to recognize a few, while also asking for forgiveness for not being able to mention all who deserve it.
For example, Uganda, which carried the burden of Rwanda’s internal problems for so many years, and was even blamed for that. The leadership and the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea helped us in starting to rebuild at that time. In fact, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is here, even served as a young peacekeeper in the immediate aftermath of the Genocide Against The Tutsi. Kenya, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo hosted large numbers of Rwandan refugees, and gave them a home. Tanzania did as well, and also played a unique role at many critical points, including hosting and facilitating the Arusha peace process. And here I must single out the late President Julius Nyerere who embodied the spirit which laid that foundation. The Republic of Congo has been a productive partner in rebuilding, and more. Many of the countries represented here today also sent their sons and daughters to serve as peacekeepers in Rwanda. Those soldiers did not fail Rwanda; it was the international community which failed all of us, whether from contempt or cowardice.

Among those here with us today, I salute the widow and daughter of the late Captain Mbaye Diagne of Senegal, who died a hero as he rescued many Rwandans from death. At the United Nations Security Council in 1994, moral clarity came from Nigeria, the Czech Republic, and even as far away as New Zealand. Their ambassadors had the courage to call the Genocide by its rightful name, and resist political pressure from more powerful countries to hide the truth. Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari of Nigeria and Czech Ambassador Karel Kovanda are here with us today, and we applaud you. Even in countries where government policy was on the wrong side of history, both during the Genocide and even afterwards, there were always individuals who stood out for their honesty and humanity. We shall always be grateful.

We also appreciate the tangible support we have received from partners beyond our Continent over the past thirty years, in Europe, the United States, Asia, and many international organizations and philanthropies. A notable example of solidarity came to us from South Africa, one among many. Indeed, the entire arc of our Continent’s hopes and agonies could be seen in those few months of 1994. As South Africa ended apartheid and elected Nelson Mandela president, in Rwanda the last genocide of the 20th century was being carried out. The new South Africa paid for Cuban doctors to help rebuild our shattered health system, and opened up its universities to Rwandan students, paying only local fees. Among the hundreds of students who benefitted from South Africa’s generosity, some were orphaned survivors; others were the children of perpetrators; and many were neither. Most have gone on to become leaders in our country in different fields. Today, they live a completely new life.

What lessons have really been learned about the nature of Genocide, and the value of life? I want to share a personal story which I usually keep to myself.

My cousin, in fact a sister, Florence, worked for the United Nations Development Programme in Rwanda for more than fifteen years. After the Genocide started, she was trapped in her house near the Camp Kigali army barracks, with her niece, and other children and neighbours, around a dozen people in total. The telephone in Florence’s house still worked, and I called her several times using my satellite phone. Each time we spoke, she was more desperate. But our forces could not reach the area. When the commander of the U.N. peacekeeping mission, General Dallaire, visited me where I was in Mulindi, I asked him to rescue Florence. He said he would try. The last time I talked to her, I asked her if anyone had come. She said no, and started crying. Then she said, “Paul, you should stop trying to save us. We don’t want to live anymore anyway.” And she hung up.

At that time, I had a very strong heart. But it weakened a bit, because I understood what she was trying to tell me. On the morning of May 16th, following a month of torture, they were all killed, except for one niece, who managed to escape, thanks to a good neighbour. It later emerged that a Rwandan working at the UNDP betrayed his Tutsi colleagues to the killers. Witnesses remember him celebrating Florence’s murder the night after the attack. He continued his career with the United Nations for many years, even after evidence implicating him emerged. He is still a free man, now living in France. I asked General Dallaire what had happened. He said that his soldiers encountered a militia roadblock near the house, and so they turned back, just like that.

Meanwhile, he conveyed to me an order from the United States ambassador to protect diplomats and foreign civilians evacuating by road to Burundi from attack by the militias. These two things happened at the same time. I did not need to be instructed to do something that goes without saying. That’s what I was going to do. I do not blame General Dallaire. He is a good man who did the best that could be done in the worst conditions imaginable, and who has consistently borne witness to the truth, despite the personal cost. Nevertheless, in the contrast between the two cases, I took note of the value that is attached to different shades of life.

In 1994, all Tutsi were supposed to be completely exterminated, once and for all, because the killings that had forced me, and hundreds of thousands of others, into exile three decades before, had not been sufficiently thorough. That is why even babies were systematically murdered, so they would not grow up to become fighters. Rwandans will never understand why any country would remain intentionally vague about who was targeted in the Genocide. I don’t understand that. Such ambiguity is, in fact, a form of denial, which is a crime in and of itself, and Rwanda will always challenge it.

When the genocidal forces fled to Zaire, now called the Democratic Republic of Congo, in July 1994, with the support of their external backers, they vowed to reorganize and return to complete the Genocide. They conducted hundreds of cross-border terrorist attacks inside Rwanda over the next five years, targeting not only survivors, but also other Rwandans who had refused to go into exile, claiming thousands more lives. The remnants of those forces are still in eastern Congo today, where they enjoy state support, in full view of the United Nations peacekeepers. Their objectives have not changed, and the only reason this group, today known as FDLR, has not been disbanded, is because their continued existence serves some unspoken interest. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Congolese Tutsi refugees live here in our country in Rwanda, and beyond, completely forgotten, with no programme of action for their safe return.

Have we really learned any lessons? We see too many actors, even some from Africa, getting directly involved as tribal politics is given renewed prominence, and ethnic cleansing is prepared and practiced. What has happened to us? Is this the Africa we want to live in? Is this the kind of world we want? Rwanda’s tragedy is a warning. The process of division and extremism which leads to Genocide can happen anywhere, if left unchecked.

Throughout history, survivors of mass atrocities are always expected to be quiet, to censor themselves, or else be erased and even blamed for their own misfortune. Their testimony is living evidence of complicity, and it unsettles the fictions which comfort the enablers and the bystanders. The more Rwanda takes full responsibility for its own safety and dignity, the more intensely the established truth about the Genocide is questioned and revised. Over time, in the media controlled by the powerful in this world, victims are rebranded as villains, and even this very moment of commemoration is derided as a mere political tactic.

It is not. It never has been. Our reaction to such hypocrisy is pure disgust. We commemorate because those lives mattered to us. Rwandans cannot afford to be indifferent to the root causes of Genocide. We will always pay maximum attention, even if we are alone. But what we are seeking is solidarity and partnership to recognize and confront these threats together, as a global community.

I will tell you another story. One night, in the latter days of the Genocide, I received a surprise visit past midnight from General Dallaire. He brought a written message, of which I still have a copy, from the French general commanding the force that France had just deployed in the western part of our country, Operation Turquoise. The message said that we would pay a heavy price if our forces dared to try to capture the town of Butare, in the southern part of our country. General Dallaire gave me some additional advice, in fact he warned me that the French had attack helicopters, and every kind of heavy weapon you can imagine, and therefore were prepared to use them against us if we did not comply. I asked Dallaire whether French soldiers bleed the same way ours do; whether we have blood in our bodies. Then I thanked him, and told him he should just go and get some rest and sleep, after informing the French that our response would follow.

And it did. I immediately radioed the commander of the forces we had in that area, he is called Fred Ibingira, and told him to get ready to move. And move to fight. We took Butare at dawn. Within weeks, the entire country had been secured, and we began rebuilding. We did not have the kind of arms that were being used to threaten us, but I reminded some people that this is our land, this is our country. Those who bleed will bleed on it. We had lost all fear. Each challenge or indignity just made us stronger. After the Genocide, we faced the puzzle of how to prevent it from recurring. There were three broad lessons we learned as result of our experiences.

First, only we as Rwandans and Africans can give full value to our lives. After all, we cannot ask others to value African lives more highly than we ourselves do. That is the root of our duty to preserve memory and tell our history as we lived it.
Second, never wait for rescue, or ask for permission to do what is right to protect people. That is why some people must be joking when they threaten us with all kinds of things, they don’t know what they are talking about. In any case, that is why Rwanda participates proudly in peacekeeping operations today, and also extends assistance to African brothers and sisters bilaterally when asked.

Third, stand firm against the politics of ethnic populism in any form. Genocide is populism in its purified form. Because the causes are political, the remedies must be as well. For that reason, our politics is not organized on the basis of ethnicity or religion, and it never will be again.
The life of my generation has been a recurring cycle of Genocidal violence in thirty-year intervals, from the early 1960s, to 1994, to the signs we see in our region today in 2024. Only a new generation of young people has the ability to renew and redeem a nation after a Genocide. Our job was to provide the space and the tools for them to break the cycle.

And they have. What gives us hope and confidence are the children we saw in the performance earlier, or the youth who created the tradition of Walk to Remember that will occur later today. Nearly three-quarters of Rwandans today are under age 35. They either have no memory of the Genocide, or were not yet born. Our youth are the guardians of our future and the foundation of our unity, with a mindset that is totally different from the generation before. Today, it is all Rwandans who have conquered fear. Nothing can be worse than what we have already experienced. This is a nation of 14 million people, who are ready to confront any attempt to take us backwards.

The Rwandan story shows how much power human beings have within them. Whatever power you do have, you might as well use it to tell the truth and do what is right. During the Genocide, people were sometimes given the option of paying for a less painful death. There is another story I learned about at the time, which always sticks in my mind, about a woman at a roadblock, in her final moments. She left us a lesson that every African should live by. When asked by the killers how she wanted to die, she looked them in the eye, and spat in their face.

Today, because of the accident of survival, our only choice is what life we want to live. Our people will never and I mean, never be left for dead again. I thank you.

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Adelabu Makes U-turn, Apologises to Nigerians over Deep Freezer Comment

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The Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, has apologised over his comment criticising Nigerians who usually keep their freezers and air conditioners on when they are not at home.

Speaking in an interview with Channels Television on Thursday, Adelabu said the comment was not intended to insult the sensibilities of Nigerians.

Last Thursday, the minister of power said Nigerians lacked the culture of power consumption management due to the affordability of electricity supply.

“A lot of people will come back from work, they want to have dinner, or they want to see their colleagues down the road, they switch on the AC for the room to be cooling before they come back,” Adelabu had said.

“Some people will be going to work in the morning, a freezer that you left on for days, they will still leave it on when all the items in the freezer are frozen and five, six, eight hours of their absence will not make it to defreeze, they will still leave it to be consuming power just because we are not paying enough.”

The comment did not go down well with many Nigerians who criticised the minister for his handling of the ministry of power.

Speaking on the comment, Adelabu said the statement was borne out of his passion for a change in the power sector.

He added that the remark was directed at customers in the Band A category, who are expected to enjoy 20 hours of electricity supply in a day.

“It was never intended to insult the sensibilities of Nigerians in any way. I never said people should switch off their freezers,” Adelabu said.

“It was actually innocent advice with regard to energy consumption management, which we believe will go a long way in reducing people’s energy bills.

“The example of the freezer, it might not have gone down well with the majority of Nigerians. I will say sorry about that. It was never my intention to insult anybody.

“It was out of my passion and eagerness to ensure that we make a change in the sector, which has suffered a lot of setbacks for some years.

“We said we need to cultivate the culture of energy consumption management. It was just a comical illustration.”

Recently, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) approved an increase in electricity tariff for customers under the Band A classification.

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Tinubu’s Govt Borrows $750m from World Bank to Boost Power Supply

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The Federal government has secured a $750 million loan from the World Bank to provide subsidy to developers and operators of solar mini-grids in the country.

The Minister of Finance, Wale Edun, and World Bank’s Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, signed the loan agreement on March 31 and February 19 respectively.

The loan, according to a document made available to journalists on Thursday, is aimed at augmenting the supply of electricity to both households and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) through a surge in private sector-led distributed renewable energy initiatives.

It read: “The loan will be partly used to provide support to the development and operation of privately owned and operated solar hybrid mini grids in unserved and underserved areas through:

1.1. Minimum Subsidy Tender Carrying out of Minimum Subsidy Tender processes and provision of Minimum Capital Cost Subsidies to selected developers/operators of (a) Isolated mini- grids; (b) Interconnected mini-grids; or (c) Solar rooftop solutions in Participating States.”

Aside from providing the subsidy, the Federal government plans to also provide performance-based grants.

“There will be a provision of Performance-Based Grants to eligible mini-grid operators based on new customer connections for isolated mini-grids and percentage of capital expenditures for interconnected mini-grid projects.

“The grant will also cover Standalone Solar (SAS) Systems for Households, MSMEs, and Agribusinesses. This grant will provide “Support to the expansion of SAS systems for households, MSMEs, and agribusinesses in rural areas through:

2.1. Performance Based Grants for Standalone Solar Provision of Performance Based Grants (“PBGs”) to eligible companies to rapidly deploy SAS solutions in rural and underserved areas, through supply and demand side support and based on independently verified outputs, and to support deployment of solar productive use of electricity (PUE) equipment to MSMEs, agribusinesses and commercial customers.”

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