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Why we Spend so much to Conduct Elections — INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday gave an insight into why much funds went into the conduct of elections.

Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC Chairman, gave the insight while responding to questions at an interactive session with the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) tagged ‘The Editors’ Forum’ in Lagos.

According to him, cost of logistics, highly-secured ballot papers, allowances for personnel, among other reasons, are responsible for the huge funds used in conducting elections in Nigeria.

“In France, the ballot paper is like an A4 sheet of paper, because it is unthinkable that anybody in France will snatch the ballot paper.

“But here in Nigeria, we print ballots papers in currency quality and we entrust them to Central Bank of Nigeria.

“The ballot papers will now be move with all the protocols and security according to the movement of the national currency, just to protect the process.

“This is not going to be done cheaply. So, we pay for lack of trust in the system,” the INEC boss said.

Yakubu, however, said that Nigeria’s elections were not the most expensive, if the entire cost was spread per head of the voting population, projected to be about 95 million.

He said that the last elections conducted in Ghana, Kenya and Guinea-Bissau were more expensive, if the voters’ population was considered per capita in relation to the cost.

“The cost in Nigeria, I think, is nine dollars per head (N4, 500) as against what happens in other countries. Ours is not even the most expensive.

“The cost of elections in Nigeria in 2023 is N305 billion of the national budget of over N17 trillion.

“The cost of elections is just 1.8 per cent, not even up to two per cent of the national budget.

“If we remove the technology cost, 60 per cent of the cost of elections in Nigeria is spent on logistics and personnel allowances,” he said.

According to him, the commission will engage no fewer than 1.4 million Nigerians for national and state elections as ad hoc staff who will have to be paid and transported to their various locations.

“I am sure as we continue to build trust and confidence in the process, the cost of elections will come down considerably,” Yakubu said.

On electronic voting, Yakubu said that the country was getting closer to achieving it, noting that it involved several processes.

On vote buying, the INEC boss said that fighting the menace required the involvement of all stakeholders.

He said that the commission had taken some steps to stem the tide and make it difficult.

Yakubu reiterated that the commission was committed to electoral justice, reassuring  Nigerians that rigging had been made difficult and impossible ahead of the 2023 elections.

Yakubu said that the commission had started cleaning up of voters register, noting that credible elections start with a credible register of voters.

The INEC chairman said that the commission was committed to improving on its delivery of elections.

He, however, pointed out that the quality of elections is a direct reflection of the quality of the environment.

“An election cannot be better than the environment in which it is conducted, which include the security situation, social, economic, political culture, national infrastructure among others.

“It is simply amazing the way INEC officials get to some villages to conduct elections. Our elections cannot be better than the quality of our infrastructure,” he said.

Yakubu said that there were about 161 days to the 2023 general elections, adding that Nigeria could make it work because the commission was committed to electoral justice.

“We have introduced reforms that we believe have taken us out of Egypt and we will never go back,” he said.

While stressing that INEC does not support media censorship, Yakubu called for balanced reporting.

He said that the antidote to fake news was “greater openness and transparency”, which INEC was committed to.

Earlier in his welcome address, Mr Mustapha Isah, the President of NGE, said that Nigerian journalists should be genuinely interested in  deepening the democratic space.

Isah said that they played a key role in the fight for the restoration of democracy in Nigeria.

He said that it had become imperative for editors to thoroughly interrogate players in the democratic landscape.

He listed some of these as political actors, candidates vying for elective positions, the electoral umpire, the security agencies, and all other groups involved in monitoring elections.

“This forum is designed to provide the actors an opportunity to address editors about their preparations for the 2023 general elections.

“Editors will also use this forum to seek clarifications on different issues and ask critical questions on matters relating to the elections.

“This is in line with our resolve to bring the right information to the electorate ahead of the elections,” he said.

News men report that the forum had editors from various media organisations in attendance. (NAN)

POLITICS

Edo Primaries: Court Orders PDP to Show Cause why 381 Delegates Should be Excluded

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A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, ordered the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to show cause why 381 delegates elected on Feb. 4 at its ward congress should not participate in the primary scheduled for Thursday.

Justice Inyang Ekwo made the order in a ruling on the ex-parte motion moved by the plaintiffs’ counsel, Adaze Emwanta.

Justice Ekwo thereafter ordered that the defendants be served with all the court processes within two days of the order.

Reports says that three aggrieved ad-hoc delegates, on behalf of the 378 others, had sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the PDP, its national secretary and the vice chairman, south south as 1st to 4th defendants respectively.

In the ex-parte motion marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/165/2024 dated Feb. 7 but filed Feb 8, the plaintiffs sought for two orders

These include an order for the defendants or their agents not to act but to show cause why the reliefs of the plaintiffs in their originating summons should not be granted with regard to the plan of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants to exclude them and 378 other delegates, whose names and election results are contained in “Exhibits BID 8A to 8L,” from participating in the primaries.of Feb. 22 in Edo.

The plaintiffs, which include Hon Kelvin Mohammed, Mr Gabriel Okoduwa and Mr Ederaho Osagie, on behalf of others in 12 local government areas and 127 wards, averred that it would be in the interest of justice for their reliefs to be granted.

Upon resumed hearing on Wednesday, counsel for the plaintiffs, Emwanta, told the court that all efforts to effect the service on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants were unsuccessful.

He said though INEC was served on Monday, the other three defendants evaded service.

He, therefore, said that a motion for substituted service on the PDP and others had been filed.

He said a party seeking to be joined in the suit also served their application on him earlier in the day.

The lawyer said since there was no opposition to their motion for substituted service, he moved in terms of the application.

He said their sole prayer was to serve them by pasting the processes at the PDP headquarters.

Justice Ekwo, who granted the application, ordered that the service be effected within two days.

The judge then asked INEC’s lawyer, Hassan Aminu, if they had filed any application but he responded in the negative.

He said though they were served on Feb. 20, they did not file any process because “we have no issue with the order.”

The judge adjourned the matter until Feb. 28 for the PDP, its national secretary and vice chairman (south south) to show cause why the reliefs should not be granted.(NAN)

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POLITICS

Senate Pushes for Nigerian Medical Graduands from Ukraine, Sudan to Sit for July, Nov MDCN Exams

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By Eze Okechukwu, Abuja

The senate has called out the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) to allow Nigerian medical graduates from Ukraine and Sudan to sit for the MDCN exams in July and Nov without any discrimination, particularly those that the wars in both countries did not affect their academic activities.

The upper chamber also urged MDCN to in no distant time, work toward the conduct of the MDCN exams in each geo-political zone of the country like the Law Schools, to reduce the cost on the students and their parents.

The senate resolutions followed the adoption of a motion at plenary yesterday which was sponsored by Senator Oyewumi Olaler from Osun state titled: “Discrimination Against Medical Graduands from Ukraine by the Nigeria Medical and Dental Council.

In his lead debate, senator Olalere said that the issue of medical graduates from Ukraine universities has drawn attention of National Assembly since 2022, pointing out that in 2023, the House of Representatives and the Ministry of Health concluded with the Medical and Dental Council to allow the students that graduated from medical schools in Ukraine to participate in the qualifying exams like other students, or at best, organise a makeup programme for them before the exam.

The senator noted that MDCN has slated a referral programme for the 2022 graduates alone at Federal Medical Centre Gwagwalada at the cost of N1.5 million per student to be paid in one and half weeks.

He said the concerned parents of the affected students had visited the National Assembly complex to lodge their complaint during the vacation of the Senate for extension of the deadline for payment to one month from one and half week.

Olalere, who is the Senate Deputy Minority leader, said the war in Ukraine affected the eastern part of Ukraine and Kyiv, the capital, adding that the entire western Ukraine was not affected.

According to him, the students were on campus doing their programme unhindered as confirmed by the Ukrainian Ambassador to Nigeria.

He explained that since the war in Ukraine did not affect all the universities, especially, students in Western parts of Ukraine, students who graduated from those universities in 2023 should be allowed to sit for MDCN exams henceforth without any hindrance.

Other senators who supported the motion included Senators; Adamu Aliero, from Kebbi state Abdul Ningi from Bauchi state among others.

In a related development, the senate also urged the Committee of Nigerian Vice Chancellors to allow Nigerian students arriving from war torn countries to be admitted into Nigerian universities to complete their studies.

President of Senate Godswill Akpiabio in his remarks thanked the sponsor of the motion, saying that it was a popular motion and elicited comments from the lawmakers.

He expressed belief that the resolutions of the senate would be adhered to by MDCN and the Vice Chancellors to ameliorate the sufferings of concerned Nigerian medical graduates from the war affected nations.

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POLITICS

Edo Election: PDP Approves Delegates List

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By Johnson Eyiangho, Abuja

National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has approved the delegates list for the Edo State Governorship Election Primary to nominate a candidate for the Sept. 21 governorship election in the state.

It has also approved the conduct of the Edo State Governorship Election Primary for Thursday, Feb.

22 at the Lawn Tennis Court of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City.

The NWC in a statement by the PDP’s Spokesman, Hon.

Debo Ologunagba yesterday charged all delegates, aspirants, leaders, critical stakeholders, members of the party and the public to note the official date and venue and be guided accordingly.

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