Dickson Seeks International Support For Bayelsa Polls
Bayelsa State Governor, Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson, has called on the United States Mission in Nigeria and the international community to prevail on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security forces and other key agencies of state on the need for neutrality in the November 16, governorship election in the state.
His Special Adviser on Public Affairs, Mr.
Dickson thanked the United States and friends of Nigeria for their interest in the conduct of elections in the country, especially the electoral process which he said was more important than the out come.
He urged the international community to pay special attention to the state and not limit their scope to Lagos and Abuja.
Dickson recalled the wanton destruction of lives and property and the unprofessional conduct on the part of INEC and security agencies like the Army during the last general election in the state.
“I know there are some challenges and this is one state that has challenges during election. Challenges of how to restrain the youths, of power, of how to support the institutions and agencies of
state whose neutrality should be as clear as anything else. Killings and all kinds of things take place in the name of elections.
“We know the importance of your visit. So, we call on your Mission to show more support to the agencies of state, INEC, to the law enforcement agencies, to keep making the point about the need for neutrality, and to also use your very wonderful network and access to raise this concern.
“So I look forward to working with you and your team in the area of information sharing. In the area of letting people know when we see the red flags. Very often those red flags are ignored and the red flags are all there. Your interest is legitimate to me.”
The Bayelsa chief executive also appealed to the Mission to dialogue with the opposition parties in the state to propagate a violence-free governorship election, noting that the poll is about his successor and legacies.
The governor called for understanding and partnership in
peace building and development, stressing that his administration has succeeded in stabilising the state through targeted investment in critical sectors like education, health, infrastructure and human
capacity development among others.
Earlier, the Deputy Chief of US Mission in Nigeria, Kathleen Fitzgibbon, said the delegation is in the state to ascertain the challenges that could hinder the conduct of the November 16 governorship election.
Fitzgibbon assured that the Mission was focused on engaging the federal government, international community and other critical stakeholders to ensure peaceful, credible, fair and hitch-free election in the state.
The Deputy Chief of Mission, who said she visited Bayelsa 19 years ago, however lauded Governor Dickson for his developmental
strides, which she said has hugely transformed the landscape of the state.
Thuggery, Intimidation, Attacks, Abductions Characterise Recent Polls – EU Mission
The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU-EOM), has said that there were at least 21 reported deaths in the just concluded general election.
The election monitoring group said the fatalities were recorded on election day.
In its second preliminary report released yesterday, the EU-EOM said there were “multiple incidents of thuggery and intimidation” that interrupted polls in several voting units across the country on election day.
The EU-EOM said, “obstruction and organised violence limited the free expression of the will of the voters, despite efforts by civil society to promote democratic standards”.
It also said vote-buying was recorded in the election, affecting the proper conduct of the exercise.
“The 25 February post-election environment was largely peaceful, with parties appealing to supporters for calm. However, a few days before the 18 March elections, violence abruptly increased with more than a dozen attacks and abductions of candidates by thugs and unidentified gunmen, some of which resulted in fatalities. Violence shortly before and on election day appeared to strategically suppress voter participation,” the report reads.
“Overall, on election day, multiple incidents of thuggery and intimidation interrupted polling in various locations, primarily across the south but also in states in the central and northern areas. There were reportedly some 21 fatalities. In polling units in several states, violent incidents targeted voters, INEC personnel, citizen observers, and journalists.
“Most polling units opened with materials and personnel deployed on time, although a dismal level of voter participation meant less pressure on INEC operations throughout the day. Vote-buying, also observed by EU EOM observers, further detracted from the appropriate conduct of the elections.”
The election observers said journalists were attacked while carrying out their duty and that security operatives turned blind eyes instead of prosecuting the attackers.
“Law enforcement agencies failed to prosecute persons who attacked, intimidated or harassed journalists during or after the presidential polls in at least five southern states with fiercely contested state-level races,” the EU-EOM said.
“In two further states, police arrested two journalists on bogus charges. EU EOM observers confirmed 10 incidents involving media; only in one instance, police opened a case.
“Impunity encouraged by police inaction is detrimental to freedom of expression, particularly as independent and trusted outlets are targeted. This does not accord with Nigeria’s regional and international commitments to the protection of the media.”
AU commends Aisha Buhari over Peace Mission
The First Lady, Dr. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, has commended the African Union (AU) Commission for its efforts to strengthen the African First Ladies Peace Mission (AFLPM). She was speaking while receiving a 6-man delegation from the Commission, on Friday, March 17, 2023, at the State House, Abuja.
Mrs.Buhari, who is the elected president of the African First Ladies Peace Mission, recognized the contributions of the Commission, especially in the area of peacebuilding and conflict resolution on the African continent, harping on the need for more women’s involvement.
“Africa has many present and past First Ladies who are willing and ready to provide their services to this cause and all they need is a platform like the Africa First Ladies Peace Mission.” She said.
She said the building of the headquarters of the Mission was conceived by Nigeria to provide such a platform that will also serve as a secure environment for women of all shades and ages to connect. The building, which she said is 90% complete, is to be commissioned in May 2023.
She thanked the President of the Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat for his positive contributions in the area of conflict prevention, management, and resolution in Africa.
Earlier, the Head of the AU delegation, Ambassador Adeoye Bankole, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, conveyed the message of appreciation to the First Lady, expressing the full support and commitment of the Commission to her initiatives as President of AFLPM and noted that the construction of a Secretariat for the Mission is an expression of her zeal and commitment, and her work exemplified what visionary first ladies everywhere should be doing.
He said the support of the AU Commission to the Mission is in line with Agenda 2063 of the AU and UN Security Council Resolution 1325, both of which provide for the involvement of women in peace and security.
Earlier, the team had inspected the construction work at the headquarters building of the AFLPM.
Burundi Announces 1st Polio Outbreak in 30 years – WHO
By Cecilia Ologunagba
World Health Organisation (WHO) says health authorities in Burundi have detected eight samples of polio, officially declaring the landlocked African nation’s first outbreak in more than 30 years.
Heath authorities said there was a confirmed case in an unvaccinated four-year-old child in Isale district, in western Burundi, as well as two other children with whom he had been in contact.
“Additionally, five samples from environmental surveillance of wastewater confirmed the presence of the circulating poliovirus type 2.
“The detection of the circulating poliovirus type 2 shows the effectiveness of the country’s disease surveillance,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa said in a statement on Friday.
“Polio is highly infectious and timely action is critical in protecting children through effective vaccination…
“We are supporting the national efforts to ramp up polio vaccination to ensure that no child is missed and faces no risk of polio’s debilitating impact.”
The disease is transmitted through contaminated water and food, or by contact with an infected person, many do not become seriously ill, but some can go on to develop acute flaccid paralysis.
Its early detection is critical in containing a potential outbreak.
Burundi declares an outbreak of poliovirus type 2.
The Burundian Government – which has declared the detection of the virus a national public health emergency – plans to implement a vaccination campaign to combat polio in the coming weeks, aiming at protecting all eligible children, from newborns to age seven.
The health authorities, with support from WHO and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) partners, have also begun to investigate the epidemiology of the limited outbreak, including risk assessments to ensure containment.
Burundi is further bolstering polio surveillance, with WHO experts in the field supporting additional sample collection as well as assessing the possibility of opening new environmental surveillance sites for early detection of the silently circulating poliovirus.
Circulating poliovirus type 2 is the most prevalent form of polio in Africa and outbreaks of this type of poliovirus are the highest reported in the region, with more than 400 cases reported in 14 countries in 2022.
Type 2 infection can occur when the weakened strain of the virus contained in the oral polio vaccine circulates among under-immunized populations for long periods. (NAN)
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