A Civil Society Organisation, The Integrity Friends for Truth and Peace Initiative (TIFPI) has stressed the need for further amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act and the National Broadcast Code to enhance the country’s electioneering process.
The organisation made the call in a statement signed by Mr Livingstone Wechie, its Executive Director, in Abuja on Tuesday.
It said the two amendments were necessary ahead of the 2023 General Elections.
It also proposed certain conditions following sack or resignation of electoral officers before they could join partisan politics, in line with Sections 306 and 307 of the 1999 Constitution.
It made particular references to the recent resignation of the Cross River INEC REC, Dr Frankland Briyai and Prof. Attahiru Jega, the immediate past chairman of the commission, who had both joined political parties.
As part of its input to the amendment, TIFPI had earlier proposed a 30-year jail term for electoral violence, vote buying and inducement.
It also proposed to the Ninth National Assembly to consider review of other laws relating to elections as a way of strengthening the nation’s democratic institutions.
“TIFPI proposed that the Electoral Act must be quickly amended to include that as a mandatory condition if an election official or INEC staff resigns or leaves office such official cannot join a political party or run for an election except 10 years ahead of such resignation or until after 10 years of his or her resignation or sack in keeping with Sections 306-307 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.
“In the case of retirement such a person can only join a political party or run for an election after five years of retirement.
” These provisions are necessary because it is believed that such INEC or election official is in custody of sensitive election information exclusive to the Electoral empire classified from politically exposed persons.
“More so this is to protect the electoral integrity and trust of the electoral empire as well as insulate it from suspicions and unwarranted abuses or political patronage and sympathy.
“Recently the former INEC scribe Prof. Atahiru Jega announced his membership of a political party which he once deregistered to drive home his political ambitions.
“Shortly afterwards the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner for Cross River State announced his resignation from his appointment as REC to run for governorship of his state.
“Whereas there is no express criminal liability or any other whatsoever in their actions even though many have raised moral questions, it raises a lot of curious and suspicious concerns which go to the root of public trust and confidence on the Electoral Empire, such a dangerous trend.
“Hence the need for this amendments to help purge INEC of any political contamination. Hence any breach of this fundamental proposed amendment should amount to a criminal liability,” it said.
On the NBC code, it said: “TIFPI canvases that our Media Laws should be strongly amended to make National Broadcasting Commission NBC fully independent to issue Broadcast Licence independently based on merit without recourse to Presidential approval.
” This will reduce the current situation where most Broadcast Licence holders are only those close to power.
“It will no longer be based on political patronage. we must borrow from advanced nations like USA where the Broadcast Licensing Authority is independent of the Oval office or president.
`This will enhance media freedom and kill the threats by politicians to harass and intimidate the media unduly who do not cow.
“It will enable government enjoy competitive debates with the masses and opposition. It will strengthen our electioneering reportage and access to media from all shades so people in election will not be limited in their access to press.”
The organisation also called for the harmonisation between the Broadcast code and the constitutional provision empowering Local Government Authorities with respect to radio and TV licence charges or fees.
It said the step would avoid double payment or taxation by media operators.
Edited by Ismaila Chafe
Gov Dickson solicits international support for credible elections
Dickson was quoted by Mr Daniel Alabrah, his Special Adviser on Public Affairs, as making the call while receiving the Deputy Chief of U.S Missions in Nigeria, Kathleen Fitzgibbon, on Thursday in Yenagoa.
The governor thanked U.S 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 outcome.
He urged the international community to pay special attention to the state and not limit their scope to Lagos and Abuja.
“I know there are some challenges, and this is one state that has challenges during elections.
“Challenges of how to restrain 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, but we know the importance of your visit.
“We call on your mission to show more support to the agencies of state, INEC, the law enforcement agencies and to keep making the point about the need for neutrality.
“We also urge your mission to use its very wonderful network and access to raise these concerns.
“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,” Dickson said.
The governor also appealed to the mission to dialogue with the opposition parties in the state to propagate a violence-free governorship election.
He said that the poll was about his successor and the legacies.
Dickson called for understanding and partnership in peace building and development.
He said his administration had succeeded in stabilising the state through targeted investment in critical sectors.
According to him, the sectors include: education, health, infrastructure and human capacity development, among others.
Earlier, Fitzgibbon said that the delegation was in the state to ascertain the challenges that could hinder the conduct of the upcoming governorship election in the state.
Fitzgibbon assured that the mission was focussed 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 Missions, who said she visited Bayelsa last 19 years ago, however, commended Dickson for his developmental strides, which she said had hugely transformed the landscape of the state.
Security: Group calls on ministers to increase support for police
Initiative for Leadership Development and Change, a non-governmental organisation, has called for synergy and increased support among the new ministers for the Nigeria Police to curtail insecurity.
Chief Ugochukwu Nnam, the president of the group told Nigeria News Agency in Abuja on Thursday that the new cabinet had much work to do in ensuring security and economic stability.
He described President Buhari as a man of vision and urged the new ministers to join the president in stamping out insecurity challenges in the country.
“President Buhari’s next level packages cannot be delivered without the support and contribution of his ministers.
“Let all hands be on deck to especially assist and support the police and other security agencies in the fight against kidnapping and banditry,’’ he said.
Nnam praised the Inspector-General of Police and the Intelligence Response Team for rising to the occasion in the arrest of the notorious kidnap kingpin Hamisu Wadume.
I will strengthen local governments in Kogi — Aspirant
A governorship aspirant in Kogi for the Nov. 16 election in Kogi on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC) retired Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, has pledged to strengthen local government administrations and its efficiency in the state, if elected governor.
A statement issued by New Media Aide, Usman Jibrin Campaign Organisation, Mr Alamoh Samuel on Thursday quoted as making the pledge during his consultation tour to stakeholders in the state.
Jubrin said that he was going to strengthen the local government by conducting a transparent council elections where people at the grassroots could feel the impact of governance.
The aspirant who pledged to operate open and direct governance with the people, as well focus of infrastructural development, including, construction of new roads and the repair of bad ones within the state.
“My ambition is to liberate the people from poverty by bringing governance to the doorstep of every resident of the state,’’ he said.
Jubrin promised to restore the dignity of the state and its residents through solution-driven, socio-economic interventions, inculcation of clear values and understanding of fundamental rights, which he said were articulated in the party manifesto.
He pledged to work with the Federal Government for the revival of the Ajaokuta Steel Company and ensure full and prompt payment of workers’ salaries and pensioners.
Edited by Kayode Olaitan
Dare as minister will help in youth development–NYCN
The National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), has described the appointment of Mr Sunday Dare as Minister for Youth and Sport Development as a chance to enable the youth to participate in the present administration.
Mr Bello Shagari, the NYCN National President, made the assertion in a press statement issued to newsmen in Sokoto on Thursday.
He said that the appointment of Dare came without anticipation but with full satisfaction, “because he is fully equipped and experienced to do the job successfully.
“On behalf of the leadership of the NYCN, I wish to congratulate the new Minister and thank President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing someone who can deliver for the youth.
“Moreover, we expect that the new minister will peacefully resolve the problems surrounding the youth in the country.
“Especially, the NYCN fictionalisation and save it from over aged men and political hijackers who have continued to invest in the disunity of the Nigerian youth for years”.
Shagari further restated that the objective of the Nigerian youth had always been in line with the policies of Buhari.
Edited by Kayode Olaitan
Ensure smooth implementation of ” Next level Agenda”, LP boss advises FEC
By Aminu Garko
Minna, Aug.22, 2019 ( NAN) Alhaji Abdulsalam Abdulkarim, the National Chairman of Labour Party (LP) on Thursday, advised members of the Federal Executive Council ( FEC) to ensure smooth implementation of “Next Level Agenda’’ of the present administration.
Abdulkarim, who gave the advice in an interview with Nigeria News Agency in Minna, said that it was only by so doing that the clamour for good governance would be a reality.
He also called on the new ministers to commit their energy to duty with a view to adding value to the affairs of the government.
Abdulkarim said that Nigerians were hopeful that the second term of Buhari administration would bring about the changes Nigerians desired.
He said that the new ministers had the capacity to look at ahead with clear vision of effecting changes for the common good of the country.
He also urged the new ministers to consolidate on the achievements recorded in various sectors of the economy in the first term of the Buhari-led administration.
The national chairman also advised the Federal Government to ensure completion of all viable capital projects before embarking on new ones.
“Mr President should remain resolute in the ongoing fight against terrorism and insurgency, to enable Nigerians move on with their legitimate business,’’he said.
Abdulkarim also called on Nigerians, irrespective of religious and political affiliations, to join hands with the Buhari-led government “in building the country of our dream.”