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Group urges political parties to strengthen internal democracy

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By Gabriel Atumeyi, Abuja

A civil society group, Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) has advised political parties to pay more attention to strengthening their internal party democracy.

The group, which made this known at a stakeholders roundtable in Abuja, presented copies of its final report on the 2019 general elections with focus on key high points of the just concluded elections and came up with recommendations for the upcoming elections, especially those of Kogi and Bayelsa which will happen on the 16th of November this year.

Acting Executive Director of the CTA, Faith Nwadishi said: “We engaged political parties and encouraged them to look at their internal democracies, and be able to set for themselves rules that they can abide by.

“Post elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has returned over 80 Certificate of Return and more than 90% of those certificates were returned because of the shoddy party primaries that were held.

“We need political parties to continue to have conversations, maybe have an institute where they could be trained on how to select who their flag bearers would be.

“It is also important that they clean up their data base. We want to know who belongs where. Streamline your members and know who they are. What we observed on elections day is that we see somebody wearing a particular party tag (supposedly a party agent), but working against that same party.

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“In India for instance, they have over 3,000 political parties. Not every political party should field a candidate at the national level; if your stronghold is in a particular ward or local government, then you should be seen in that local government. Parties should be seen in their areas of strength, ideologies, and programmes.”

“For us at CTA we issued our report in April and we commended the

Electoral Umpire in areas where they have done very well.

“For instance, looking at the entire electoral cycle starting from Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) till the day of the election, we saw that there were challenges that INEC itself had to overcome and still delivered the election in the way they delivered the election.

“We had issues with the interference by the security. We also had very serious concerns about the political class and the role that they play in the election. In our opinion, we feel that the political class being the overall beneficiary of an electoral process, should actually be the one at the forefront of making our elections better.

The chairman of INEC’s Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye said: “There are lessons that we have already learnt from the 2019 general elections. Those lessons have been warehoused and we also going to key in those

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lessons with the Kogi and Bayelsa elections. We also going to begin the distribution of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) the moment we are through with the review of the 2019 general elections.

“You know that Kogi and Bayelsa have had history of electoral violence; based on that we are going to begin to talk to the key stakeholders in the electoral process in these two states.

“We are also going to speak with religious leaders, traditional rulers, members of labour movements, students’ movements, and all key stakeholders to make sure that at the end of the day we have a good election.

“We’ve had very good interactions with the security agencies, and they have assured us that we are going to have a new framework and engagement process that will ensure that every person who has been registered to vote goes to the polling unit to vote in an atmosphere of tranquility without any violence whatsoever.

“We are looking at all the recommendations; and those ones with administrative flavours, we are going to implement them and have a good election in Kogi and Bayelsa states.”

Security agencies like the Nigerian Army, Navy, Police, NSCDC, FRSC, and the US Embassy pledged their commitment and continuous support to enhancing the electoral process with all it is tasked to do within the ambit of the law. Issues deliberated on at the event includes – security, internal political party democracy, citizen’s participation and vote trading, electoral violence, the role of judiciary, and the role of INEC.

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Metro

Regular Demolitions ‘ll End Insecurity – FCTA  

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By Laide Akinboade, Abuja 

The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Thursday, said its commitment to ensuring the security of Abuja, was the utmost reason for the periodic demolition of shanties and other illegal structures that aided criminal activities.

Senior Special Assistant to FCT Minister on Monitoring, Inspection, and Enforcement, Ikharo Attah made this known to journalists during the cleanup exercise at the Idu area of the federal capital.

Ikharo also condemned the building of makeshift houses at road junctions and at green areas by the illegal occupants of Idu.

“Such structures shall be demolished,” he said.

According to him, the structures that were demolished contravened the city’s urban and regional planning acts, and the Abuja Environmental Protection Board Acts.

“People see every busy junction, empty lands, as a place where they can just put shanties, thereby endangering the lives of other legal residents.

“Worst still, is that some of these structures served as hideouts for criminals; so when we succeed in removing these illegal structures, we would not have only restored the city’s master plan, but we would have also won the war against crime,” added Ikharo.

Speaking, the Head, Monitoring and Enforcement, Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) Kaka Bello, decried the stealing and vandalization of public properties in the area.

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“As we can see the drainage manholes have been stolen; these cost the government a lot of money to provide. Aside from that it portends negative implications for the environment. It is an eyesore for a city like this, and we won’t allow this!” Kaka vowed.

Also speaking, the Field Coordinator, FCT Special Ministerial Committee on Transportation and Public Nuisances Olumiji Peter, said the demolition being carried out was essential.

“Some criminals lurk in these shanties, and they come out at night to rob innocent people of their valuables,” he said.

An occupant of one of the demolished shanties Sadiq Abubakar, said he is a native of Zamfara State, married to two wives, and has six children.

“I want to appeal to the government to give us space to sell and repair things. I don’t want to go into kidnapping,” Sadiq said.

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NEWS

FCTA Vows to Demolish Structures on Waterways

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By Laide Akinboade, Abuja 

As part of the proactive measures to mitigate flooding in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) Thursday commenced swift inventory and removal of structures on waterways.

“The Department of Development Control issued strong directives to all its sector monitors to forward their list of developments on flood plains, so as to remove them where necessary, before the rains come fully,” Town Planning Department Director Mukhtar Galadima made this disclosure during the removal of a perimeter fence and other obstructing structures on a flood plain in Mabushi District, Abuja.

Galadima added that officials of the Department are going to identify more locations and start removing the obstructing structures before the rains begin fully.

He explains: “What we did today (Wednesday) was as a result of an outing with my management team, where we spotted these developments across the flood plain in Mabushi District, which we had to return and removed.

 “We need to be more proactive. Our investigations showed that there are developments across flood plains. We can’t wait any longer, as we have to start removing them before the rain fully comes. We have issued directives to all our sector monitors to forward their list of developments on flood plains. 

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“We are aware that the FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has flagged off sensitization on flooding, and in line with this, we are going to identify these locations and start removing the structures before the rains begin fully. So it is an ongoing exercise, we will keep moving around, take notes and remove where necessary.

“There are no limitations to sensitization or awareness on why people should not build on waterways because it is disastrous. We have seen the floods and other natural disasters, and their consequences across the globe.”

While answering a question of whether there are sustainable punitive measures against the menace, the Director said,

“At a point in time, the FCTA had directed its Legal Secretariat to review in its entirety all legal framework governing developments in the FCT. 

“This (blocking of waterways) will definitely be part of the FCT laws and regulations governing development and management of the Territory.”

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Business News

Agba Leads Govt Delegation to South Korea on Bilateral Cooperation

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, is at the head of a Nigerian government’s delegation to Seoul, South Korea, for a week-long mission for strategic dialogues with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and Korea-Africa Foundation (KAF).

The visit is intended to, among other purposes, forge new frontiers of mutual cooperation between the countries and deepen existing bilateral ties.

As a prelude to the series of meetings and dialogue sessions, Agba met with the Nigerian Ambassador to South Korea, Ali Mohammed Magashi, with top officials in the Embassy, and discussed cross-cutting  issues bordering on the status of the bilateral relations between Nigeria and South Korea.

Issues that featured during the discussions included outstanding Agreements such as the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement; Labour; Avoidance of Double Taxation to be concluded to further boost the investment climate and the volume of trade of USD 2 billion in 2021 and the way forward.

The Minister took the opportunity of the meeting to shed light  on the Nigeria’s National Development Plan 2021- 2025 and the investment opportunities for the South Korean private investors in key sectors  such as  Agriculture, Manufacturing, ICT, Oil and Gas (midstream) to accelerate the country’s  economic growth that is already diversified.

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He urged the ambassador to canvass for investments in the identified sectors in pursuance of Nigeria’s unwavering effort at ensuring and consolidating its concentric diversification of the national economy.

At the meeting with the President of the 5-year-old Korea-Africa Foundation,  Mr Lyeo Woon-Ki, the minister applauded the purpose of establishing the Foundation as an affiliate of the South Korean’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is to, among other things, foster business and cultural cooperation between the country and African continent as well as promote genuine partnership in political and  academic spheres.

He noted that South Korea had a vibrant private sector and gave insight into the plan envisaged for the sector in the NDP 2021-2025 for investment in Nigeria.

The minister allayed the fears expressed by the Foundation President regarding doing business in Nigeria and apprised him of the immigration and customs reforms in place and the country’s upward leap, by 20 points, in the ease of doing business ranking.

He also paid a courtesy visit to the Acting President of Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), Mr. Youn-Young Lee. 

As a grant aid provider under the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the minister lauded the “excellent cordial relationship” between the Federal Government of Nigeria and KOICA since it began operations in 2008.

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He thanked the President of the Republic of South Korea, His Excellency, Yoon Suk Yeol, the Government and people of South Korea for the prestigious National Award of Diplomatic Service Merit (Heungin Medal) recently awarded to him in Abuja as first recipient in Africa.

Agba said the several grant aids and technical cooperation projects implemented by the Agency had been impactful.

He acknowledged the various KOICA-supported capacity-building training extended to the Nigerian government officials in several fields of human endeavours as well as technical cooperation.

The training, according to him, “covers short-term, long-term, Masters and Postgraduate scholarship programmes and in-country training programme.”

The minister noted the future areas of cooperation mentioned by the KOICA President and confirmed their alignment with Nigeria’s priorities as encapsulated in the NDP 2021-2025.

Meanwhile, the Minister, consequent upon receiving a report about a Nigerian family who lost four children in domestic fire that razed their apartment in Ansan Danwon, on the outskirts of Seoul, decided to pay the family and the Nigerian community in Ansan Danwon a condolence visit.

The visit happened on Monday, March 27, 2023, in company with the Nigerian Ambassador to South Korea.

They condoled with the Nigerian family of seven, Mr. Felix Nwafor, who lost four children (2 boys and 2 girls) to an inferno that occurred in the early hours of that day.  The couple and a two-year old daughter who survived are receiving medical attention at a Korean Hospital in the area.

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