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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)

Education

GJF 2024 Democracy Dialogue Calls on African Leaders to Prioritize Education.

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Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
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From Mike Tayese, Yenagoa

Stakeholders has called on African leaders to prioritize functional education and effective leadership toward achieving growth and development for the African continent.

This was handed down at this year 2024 Goodluck Jonathan Foundation (GJF) Democracy Dialogue held in Benin, Edo State capital.

Participants at the dialogue comprised foremost African leaders, academics, development experts, politicians, civil society groups, traditional rulers and students spoke on the need for African leaders to develop innovative educational policies that will help guarantee growth and sustainable development.

According to a press statement by the Communications Officer Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, Wealth Dickson Ominabo and made available to Daily Asset via email said, some of the dignitaries at the event were the former President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, former president of Niger, Thomas Boni Yayi, former president of Nigeria and Chairman of Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan,   former Vice President of Zambia, Dr Mumba Nevers Sekwila and former vice president of Nigeria, Arch Namadi Sambo.

Others include, governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki,  former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Shri Balasubramanian, Director UNDP Sub-regional Hub for West Africa, Njoya Tikum,  Acting Executive Secretary National Universities Commission (NUC), Chris Maiyaki and deputy governors of Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, Edo, and  Bauchi.

Chairman of the occasion and former President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta in his remarks called on African leaders and policymakers to develop strategies and policies that will set the continent on a winning trajectory.

His words: “As African leaders gathered here today, let us take up this task with the seriousness that it deserves to the leaders of tomorrow.

“As a continent, we must look at our curricula in comparison with the changing global needs and embrace an education system that aims to foster critical thinking, innovation and creativity as this will bolster the continent to immeasurable heights.

“It is our task as leaders of this great continent, to empower our youth with the tools that will shape and prepare them to be great and active participants in the global economy.

“We must therefore intentionally invest in education to ensure inclusivity, diversity and equal opportunity for all our children. This will help foster a conducive environment for innovation and growth.”

Keynote speaker at the dialogue Prof Olubayi Olubayi in his address called on governments around the continent to rethink their educational policies to foster growth and guarantee inclusivity.

He said :  “Each country that wants to succeed must provide education for 80% of its population that is of average ability, but it must also, at the same time, provide education for the other 20% that is exceptionally highly gifted and highly talented. This is the better meaning of inclusion. Education for the 80% and education for the 20% in institutions that maintain symbiotic collaborations.

“The open secret is that for a country to have a genuine functional education it must have a two-sided strategy that is based on the pareto principle of 80/20.

“Our current school systems will continue to educate the 80% who are the majority.

“If we care for Africa’s future, If we care for our grandchildren, If we care for our dignity as human beings, If we care at all, we must ensure functional education within our home regions and countries.

“If we care at all, we must find a way to ensure that each African nation or state establishes at least ONE highly selective world-class university that will be the primary source and catalyst for effective leadership, innovation, technology, growth and development.”

Speaking further he said: we must each return to our villages or towns working or local government areas or counties or districts and start the sacrifice and hard work of mobilizing resources to set up the first highly selective world-class primary or secondary school as a centre of excellence for the free education of the less than 20% of the population of our children that is most gifted and most talented.

Speaking on the importance of the theme of this year’s dialogue, Functional Education and Effective Leadership as a Panacea to Growth and Development, the Executive Director of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, Ann Iyonu noted that functional education and effective political leadership are interconnected goals that require concerted efforts from governments, civil society, and the private sector.

She said: “Functional education can empower citizens to actively participate in the political process, hold their leaders accountable, and contribute to the socio-economic development of their countries.

“Conversely, effective political leadership can create an enabling environment for education reform, investment in human capital, and the creation of opportunities for all citizens to thrive.”


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POLITICS

CSOs Back Shippers Council Regulatory Bill

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The Coalition of Civil Society Groups in Nigeria for Promotion of Accountability and Transparency in Governance (CCSGNPATG) have thrown their weight behind the proposed Nigeria Shippers Council Regulatory Agency.

Mr Monday Ndubisi, the leader of the coalition which comprises 45 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), said this at a press conference in Abuja on Monday.

He hailed the Committee on Shipping Services for its inclusivity and commended the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola for getting it right with the Shipping Council Regulatory bill.

Ndubisi commended the committee for giving stakeholders the platform to make inputs to the bill at a public hearing.

“The legislation aims at empowering the Nigerian Shippers Council to effectively regulate the shipping industry, protect the interests of shippers, and promote economic growth.

“The Bill for an Act to Repeal the Nigeria Shippers’ Council Act, and enact the Shipping and Port Economic Regulatory Agency Bill and related matter has passed second reading in the House of Representatives.

“This bill will bring much-needed transparency, accountability, and efficiency to the sector while strengthening the Shippers Council’s regulatory powers,” he said.

Ndubuisi further added that it would also reduce costs, increase competition, and improve service delivery.

He said that the passage of the bill would have a positive impact on the Nigerian economy and the lives of citizens.

“Our coalition is pleased to note that 99 per cent of the opinions expressed at the public hearing are in favour of the bill as presented.

“We also note that a few amendments were suggested, which the House Committee on Shipping Services, ably led Rep. Abdulsamad Dansuki, has promised to take note of,’’ he said.

He said that such an accommodating disposition was what the electorates expected of the lawmakers, adding that they are looking forward to the House to sustain this trend. (NAN)

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POLITICS

ALGON Seeks 4-year Tenure for LG Officials

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The Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), has called for the adoption of a unified four-year  tenure for elected local government officials in the country.

Alh. Aminu Muazu-Maifata, National President of ALGON made the call in an interview with  newsmen on Monday in Lafia.

Muazu-Maifata said that the move would ensure good governance and quality representation at the grassroots levels.

The president called on the National Assembly to urgently amend the nation’s  constitution to unify the tenure of local government officials  across the country.

“The tenure of local government officials should be made four years to enable us deliver on our campaign promises to the electorate.

”It is unfortunate that thr tenure of local government officials in some states is even one or two years.

”So, I wonder how these officials will deliver good governance within such a short period,”he lamented.

On the N62, 000 minimum wage proposed by the Federal Government, the ALGON boss called on the federal government to increase the monthly allocations of the 774 local government areas in the country.

He maintained that the move would enable the councils to pay the new minimum wage when it finally becomes a law.

Muazu-Maifata, who is the Chairman of Lafia local government area of Nasarawa Sate, however, lauded Gov. Abdullahi Sule for granting autonmy to all the councils in the state.

He called on other governors to emulate Sule toward the overall development of the country, particularly the grassroots.

On the security of Lafia, he explained that the partial curfew imposed in the locality as a measure to tackle the increasing rate of kidnaping and other crimes within the state capital.

“We restricted the movement of motorcycles between 6p.m. and 6:00 a.m. and tricycles between 8p.m. and 6a.m.

“This is because security reports has it that criminal gangs are using these two means of transportation to perpetrate crimes and operate between the restricted hours,” he explained.

Muazu-Maifata, however, said that the security situation in Lafia has improved, adding better strategies would be adopted toward the safety of lives and property. (NAN)

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