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Insecurity: INEC Fears Disruption of Elections in North-West, South-East

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The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, has said insecurity may hamper elections in the North-West and South-East states

Yakubu said the insecurity in the country was concerning, noting that the security challenge which was hitherto restricted to the North-East region has now spread to other parts of the country.

For over two decades, Nigeria has battled the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East but this has evolved into banditry in the North-West and killings in the South-East allegedly perpetrated by Eastern Security Network, the militant arm of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra.

According to INEC, over 41 attacks have been carried out against its offices across 14 states since the 2019 general election, with the South-East recording 13 attacks.

The attacks which started in Abia on May 9, 2021, spread to Enugu and Ebonyi, with three incidents each;  Imo, with two attacks; and Anambra and Abia with one each and in Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom states.

In all, the electoral body recorded nine attacks in 2019, 21 incidents in 2020 and over 12 as of May 2021. It also lost 9,836 smart card readers, 345 ballot boxes, and 135 voting cubicles, among other assets.

But speaking in Washington on Tuesday, the INEC chairman, however, said he has received assurances from the service chiefs that they would secure the voting environment during the 2023 polls.

Yakubu spoke at an event organised by the National Endowment for Democracy and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems at the NED Headquarters, Washington DC, United States of America.

He also acknowledged the issue of political thuggery which he said was organized by some of the political actors.

In his keynote address made available to journalists on Wednesday, the INEC chairman said, “Are there concerns about the 2023 general election? I’ll be the last to say there are no concerns. The first concern is the perennial issue of insecurity in different parts of the country, compounded by the traditional issues of thuggery during elections organized by some of the political actors.

“I say it is a perennial issue because, at the end of the day, it is nothing new. However, the dimension of the insecurity is concerning in the sense that in the past, it was localized or confined to a particular part of the country, the northeast. But now, it is more widespread and we are keeping our eyes, particularly on the northwest and the southeastern parts of the country.’’

Speaking further on other concerns, he stated, ‘’Elections are conducted by human beings. We worry about the security of our officials, voters and the materials to be deployed. Without them, we cannot conduct elections. We have spoken to the security agencies and they have assured us that the situation will improve before the elections.

“So, fingers crossed. Those who are supposed to secure the environment have assured us that they will secure the environment for us to conduct elections. Our responsibility is to conduct elections.”

Buttressing the significance of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, Yakubu noted that the machine has eliminated the flaws in previous elections, including identity theft and multiple accreditations.

According to him, the commission has dispatched the BVAS to over 23 states of the federation.

The electoral body also said that with the introduction of the BVAS, identity theft, multiple registrations and the use of incident forms during elections have been eliminated.

The deployment of technology in the nation’s electoral process, it added, had increased the citizens’ confidence.

INEC stated, “The BVAS has eliminated multiple accreditations that were observed in previous elections. Now, you are sure that the person who is accredited is the voter and the bearer of the card.

“It has increased public confidence in the outcome of elections as shown in the recent off-cycle elections. People tend to be more confident now with the protection of the process of accreditation using technology.’’

Speaking further on the benefits of the e-transmission machine, Yakubu noted, “It has eliminated the use of the Incident Form. For those of you who have been following our elections for a long time, when the Card Reader was introduced, the machine would read the card but it may not read the biometrics.

“So, when it fails to read the biometrics, they then say – give the voter the Incident Form. And through that, many people voted using identity theft. We have eliminated the Incident Form.

‘’So, every registered voter must go through the biometric and the facial, and we jokingly say that the only way the two processes can fail, particularly the facial, is when the voter forgets his or her face at home on election day. The system of using the BVAS for the conduct of elections has come to stay. There’s no going back.”

Yakubu disclosed that the Commission has printed over 50 per cent of the Permanent Voters’ Cards which will be available by November.

He stated “Nigerians have been asking the commission; when you finish registration and clean-up of the data, what about our Permanent Voters’ Cards? This will be available for new registrants by next month – November.  We are looking at early to the middle of the month to make the cards available.

“We have already printed over 50 per cent of the cards but we haven’t delivered them to the states yet. As we clean the data, we also print the cards. Nigerians who have registered should be rest assured that they will have their cards ahead of the general election. We also need to do so in good time because the law now requires us to publish the number of cards collected per polling unit.”

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Ebonyi Rally: Atiku Reiterates Commitment to Restructuring, Devolution, Says APC Deceitful

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Former Vice President of Nigeria and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Thursday, pledged his total commitment to power devolution and restructuring if elected the president, next month.

Atiku spoke while addressing a mammoth crowd of PDP supporters at Pa Ngele Oruta township stadium Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital.

While noting that the people of the South-East zone, had been clamouring for restructuring to enable them have more powers to deal with their local affairs, the presidential hopeful assured the people that restructuring and devolution of power would be a major policy of his administration.

He described the rulling All Progressives Congress (APC) as a deceitful alliance and not a political party, even as he claimed the alliance that brought APC had collapsed.

He said the APC promised to restructure the Nigeria but failed to do so.

Atiku said: “I am committed to power devolution and restructuring. All the South Eastern states have been yearning and have been propagating for restructuring of this country because they want to have more powers, more resources to deal with their own local affairs. We agree entirely and that is why it is a major policy of our government, if you support us and if you give us the opportunity.

“APC had promised the same. Did they do it? They abandoned the issue of restructuring, they are very deceitful alliance, very deceitful.

We are committed and we mean what we say and if you give us the support, we will deliver.

They said some people formed a party, it is not a party. It is an alliance and the alliance is collapsing and it has collapsed”.

He promised to empower women and youths to take over power from old politicians if given the mandate to be president of the country.

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Niger Delta Will Benefit from Our Resource Control Agenda – Atiku

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Presidential Candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Tuesday said if voted into office, his administration would change the security architecture in the country and grow the economy.

He gave the assurance at the party’s Presidential Campaign in Delta held at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba.

Abubakar said that between 1999 and 2015, PDP grew Nigeria’s economy and made it the largest in Africa, but that the All Progressives Congress (APC) destroyed it with its inept leadership.

He said that with adequate security and right economic policies, a PDP administration led by him would attract Foreign Direct Investment that would grow the nation’s economy, adding that the security of the country was paramount because no nation could develop without security.

He told Deltans that the team was not in the state to campaign, saying “we are here to show our gratitude and appreciation to say that we are with you in all respects because of the support we have received from you from 1999 to date.
“All through my political journey, Delta state has always supported me and I want to promise you that I shall not betray the trust of Delta and the entire Niger Delta.

“That is why in my modest appreciation, I chose one of you as my vice presidential candidate and you know that a running mate is always a stepping stone.

“Therefore it is up to you to show your support by giving Governor Okowa the massive support to enable us to rescue and rebuild our dear country.”

On his policy document, the PDP Presidential flag bearer stated that his administration would pay attention to developing the education sector, and promised that under his watch, strikes by members of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) would be eradicated.

“The Niger Delta and other parts of the country will benefit from our resource control and restructuring agenda because it is our intention to devolve more powers to the states and local governments to tackle peculiar challenges facing the people.

“The APC government has disunited Nigeria in all aspects and it is our commitment to restore the unity of this country by ensuring that every part of this country has a sense of belonging.

“You must believe in PDP because as a party we built the biggest economy in Africa until the APC came and destroyed it in 2015.
“Why vote for the same party that has suffered us in the last seven years plus? Let us vote them out to unite and rebuild our country again,” he said.

The Vice-Presidential Candidate of the party and Governor of Delta, Sen. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, said that Atiku knew how to address the socio-economic challenges bedevilling the country and urged the people to vote for the party.
According to him, we all know that the APC-led Federal Government brought poverty to the nation; they destroyed our economy to the extent that Nigerians are now hungry, without food to eat.

“How can a bag of rice be sold for almost N50, 000? It is only Atiku that can solve the problems in the country because when the PDP took over the reins of power in 1999, Atiku and Obasanjo were able to restore the nation’s lost glory.

“Atiku has assured Nigerians that he will revive the economy of the country and reposition it for optimum productivity in all sectors of the Nigerian economy.

“For over 20 years, Atiku has been advocating for the restructuring of Nigeria where states and local governments will get more money that will stimulate growth and development and this is what we want in the Niger Delta.

“Atiku has also promised that his administration, if elected, will put in place a constitutional framework that will enable states to have State Police so as to stem the tide of insecurity in the country.

“Atiku is an experienced politician that has the capacity and pedigree to reset the country and I call on all eligible voters in the state to ensure that they have their PVCs to enable them vote in the forthcoming general elections,” Okowa stated.

National Chairman of the party, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, on his part, congratulated Deltans for the choice of Okowa as Vice-Presidential Candidate and lauded previous governors of the state for their contributions to the growth and development of the state.

He called on sons and daughters of the state to vote massively for all PDP candidates in the general elections.

The rally was attended by former Vice-President, Namadi Sambo, former President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki; Governors Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, Udom Emmanuel of Akwa-Ibom, Godwin Obaseki of Edo, Douye Diri of Bayelsa and Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa.

Earlier, Atiku Abubakar had held a meeting with traditional rulers in Delta, at their Secretariat in Asaba, and assured that if elected, he would ensure that clear constitutional roles were given to monarchs in the country.

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Atiku Campaigns in Bayelsa, Promises Devolution of Power, Restructuring

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The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has promised the Niger Delta people that his administration will devolve powers from the centre and restructure Nigeria if elected.

Atiku, who spoke at the campaign rally of the PDP in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Monday, noted that the people of the region had been clamouring for resource control and the restructuring of the country and that his government, when elected, would accede to their demands.

He reiterated the implementation of his five-point developmental agenda for the nation, which he listed as the unification of the country, tackling insecurity, the economy, ending the strike in universities, and restructuring.

He said, “I promised to tackle insecurity. Here in Bayelsa State, you have faced a number of security challenges. You have lost so many people due to breaches of law and order. I promise I will restore security in this country.

“We proposed to restructure this country. You people in the Niger Delta need more restructuring than any other part of this country. We will give you more resources and more powers to deal with your problems. You don’t have to always start begging the Federal Government.”

In his remarks, the Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri, said Atiku was the only presidential candidate who had pledged to give the Ijaw people, and indeed the Niger Delta, restructuring.

Diri said partly, “Now, the only candidate who has keyed in and who has talked about what the Ijaw people want and what the people of Bayelsa want is Atiku; we have been talking about: resource control, Atiku is the only candidate that has talked about the restructuring of this country. Therefore, Atiku and the PDP are the only candidates and parties for which the Ijaw people will vote.”

Also speaking, the vice presidential candidate of the PDP and governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, called on the people of Bayelsa State to give the party no fewer than 700,000 votes, while the geopolitical zone should deliver at least five million votes for the PDP at the presidential polls.

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