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EU report: 2019 elections fair, Presidency insists

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Ahead of the 2023 elections, the European Union Election Observation Mission to Nigeria has called for a reform of the nation’s electoral process.

It stated that a lack of transparency and inconsistent numbers during the collation of results by the Independent National Elecoral Commission cast a long shadow over the integrity of the 2019 elections.

It has, therefore, presented 30 recommendations on electoral reform to improve future elections in the country.

The EU EOM final report on the 2019 elections was presented by the EU Chief Observer, Maria Arena, and her deputy, Hannah Roberts, at a press conference in Abuja on Saturday.

The report read in part, “The EU observed 94 collation centres. In almost all, the results forms and smart card readers were not packed in tamper-evident envelopes as required.

“Numerical discrepancies and anomalies on polling unit results forms were identified and were mostly corrected by collation officers on the spot, but without a clear system of record-keeping.”

It added, “Leading parties were at fault in not reining in acts of violence and intimidation by their supporters, and abuse of incumbency at federal and state levels.”

“Inconsistent numbers during collation, “lack of clear checks and explanations, and insufficient public information undermined the integrity of the elections.

“Citizens did not have sufficient means to scrutinise results. INEC did not provide centralised information on the declared results for the different locations and has not posted complete results data on its website.

“Similarly, there is a lack of disaggregated results by local government, ward or polling unit, which would allow for thorough checking of results.”

The mission observed further that the discrepancies and the insufficient public information were not in line with international standards for access to information and public accountability.

It also noted that the citizens did not have sufficient means to scrutinise results, stressing that INEC did not provide centralised information on the declared results for the different elections.

The mission, in its recommendations, stressed the need to strengthen the procedures for the collation of results to improve integrity and confidence in electoral outcomes.

It submitted that the systemic failings seen in the elections, and the relatively low levels of voter participation, indicated the need for fundamental electoral reform.

Arena said, “Such reform needs political leadership that is dedicated to the rights of Nigerian citizens, and an inclusive process of national dialogue involving state institutions, parties, civil society and the media. This needs to be urgently undertaken to allow time for debate, legislative changes and implementation well in advance of the next elections.”

She also said INEC should considerably strengthen its organisational and operational capacity as well as its internal communication, noting that the inter-agency body responsible for electoral security should work more transparently and inclusively with regular consultations with political parties and civil society.

The mission said the the seven areas of priorities for electoral reform included requirements in law for full results transparency with data easily accessible to the public.

The EU EOM also called for the introduction of a legal requirement for parties to have a minimum representation of women among candidates, faulting the low number of female candidates for the polls.

It further recommended that election tribunals should cover pre-election cases in order to improve access to remedy and to avoid petitions being taken to different courts at the same time.

Overall, the EU EOM concluded that the elections were marked by severe operational and transparency shortcomings, security problems and low turnout.

It added, “Positively, however, the elections were competitive, parties were able to campaign and civil society enhanced accountability. Leading parties were at fault in not reining in acts of violence and intimidation by their supporters, and abuse of incumbency at federal and state levels.”

-PUNCH

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THE NATION

Lagos: Ex-aides indict Ambode as ex-gov fails to appear before House committee

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Immediate past Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode on Tuesday shunned the 16-man House of Assembly Committee set up to investigate alleged shady activities of his administration, even as some commissioners who served under his administration indicted him.

The Lagos State House of Assembly is investigating the former governor in the purchase of 820 mass transit buses at about N7 billion which was not approved by the House and other issues.

The Assembly had last week threatened to issue a warrant of arrest on the governor if he refused to appear before the committee to defend himself.

The committee is chaired by Hon. Fatai Mojeed.

Apart from Ambode, his former Commissioners for Finance, Akinyemi Ashade and Special Duties, Seye Oladejo were also absence.

However, Ashade and Oladejo wrote to the House explaining that they would not be available.

Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa said the Assembly would have to send Ambode invitation publicly through newspaper publication and that if he did not still appear, the next option was to issue a warrant of arrest on him.

Submissions by Ambode’s aides who appeared before the committee indicated that they were not carried along in the awards of contract with due process allegedly breached.

Olusegun Banjo, former Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, during Ambode’s administration said the purchase of the 820 buses by the former governor was not rooted through his ministry.

According to him, he became commissioner in February 2018, and that he did follow the system he met on ground, which was responsible for shady transactions on the buses that were procured.

He explained that “The way the ministry is structured, it did not allow us to function well. The N24 billion did not come to my ministry. We didn’t have a running system. As a commissioner, I could not approve one naira. All the MDAs approached the Governor directly.”

Banjo added that lots of things were done under Ambode’s administration without the knowledge of commissioners, which showed lack of transparency.

He said there was no provision for the purchase of the 820 buses in the 2018 and 2019 budgets and that no Vote Of Charge (VOC) was issued from his office for the purchase.  “I never approved any VOC for it,” he said.

On unbudgeted funds, he said, “I don’t know what happens to unbudgeted funds when it comes because the ministry of finance does not inform my ministry, we don’t have a running system”.

However, Banjo said that he would make available to the House his handing over notes where he identified the lapses in the system and ways to address the them.

Accountant-General of the State, Mrs Shukrat Umar, when asked if the budget for the purchase of the buses was approved by the State Executive Council.

“The State Treasury Office acted on Exco’s approval. The buses were in line with Exco’s approval. I would not know whether the Paris Refund Club was discussed or not,” she said.

The Imota rice mill, light-up Lagos project and procurement of LASEMA Rapid Response equipment and engagement of the consultants were all done under shady circumstances as revealed by the heads of the MDA’s who were questioned by the committee members.

Former Commissioners for Agriculture and Energy, Toyin Suarau and Wale Oluwo said many the projects, including the Oshodi interchange and others were never captured in the state budget.

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PHOTO NEWS: Pantami attends dinner reception in honour of the newly appointed DG of NITDA, Kashifu Abdullahi

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The Honourable Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami FNCS, FBCS, FIIM on Friday attended the dinner reception organized in honour of the Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mr Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi by Hadejia Emirate Indigenes, taking place in Abuja.

The gathering is to facilitate with Mr Abdullahi on his appointment as the fifth Director General, NITDA.

PHOTO AND TEXT BY: The Federal Ministry of Communications.

 

 

 

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THE NATION

GITEX 2019: Pantami congratulates Bashir, Nigerian overall winner, laud NITDA

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The Honourable Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami FNCS, FBCS and leader of the Nigerian delegation to the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) 2019, has congratulated the winner of the startup innovation competition, Abdulkarim Bashir. The young Nigerian defeated 750 other contestants from 73 countries at the biggest technology and innovation show in the Middle East, Africa and Asia with his Artificial Intelligence security solution Chiniki Guard, aimed at detecting and alerting business owners of security breaches in their shops.

In a press statement on Wednesday, spokesperson to the Honourable Minister of Communications, Uwa Suleiman (Mrs) said the Minister also commended the efforts of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) for its relentless support, encouragement and motivation by providing sponsorship for the country’s young innovators to the event. An ecstatic Pantami further praised the immense contributions of the Office for ICT Innovation and Entreprenuership (OIIE), a subsidiary arm of NITDA, towards the development of indigenous technology innovation in Nigeria.

“NITDA as regulator of the IT Sector has continued to empower, promote and invest in young talent in the industry through the Office for ICT Innovation and Entreprenuership (OIIE) in a bid to drive the President’s vision for technological advancement in Nigeria. This is a national success worthy of celebration as our efforts have begun yielding the desired results. The success is a clear testimony of the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in promoting our youths and other Nigerians as prioritised by the Executive Orders 003 and 005.” Dr Pantami further stated that “We will continue to support and encourage Local Content Development and Promotion in our determination to transform our economy from a resource – based to a knowledge – based society”

The Minister has directed NITDA and OIIE to continue to monitor and support the winner and other tech startups and ensure the deployment of their solutions in Nigeria.

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