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THE NATION

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

NITDA DG, Isa Pantami, wins outstanding promoter of local content for national development award

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The efforts of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in the development and promotion of local content in ICT sector has been further affirmed by an array of industry players and stakeholders at the Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos on 19th July, 2019. The Director General/CEO of NITDA, Dr. Isa Pantami, was awarded the prestigious Titans of Tech Award in recognition of his outstanding leadership in the promotion of local content for national development.

In a statement by Mrs, Hadiza Umar, NITDA’s head of Corporate Affairs & External Relations, the IT agency’s unwavering commitment to local content under Dr Pantami, has enhanced the purchase of indigenous brand of ICT devices by over 60% within the last three years. Local hosting of data doubled in value and local software consumption has significantly increased as attested to by the diversity of IT experts and business people at the Award ceremony.  The cumulative effect of these efforts, is that ICT contribution to GDP reached an unprecedented mark of 13.63% in Q4 of 2018.

Organisers of the Award further recognised the purposeful approach of Dr Pantami to ICT regulation in Nigeria. Organisers and stakeholders opined that the leadership of Dr Pantami is restoring confidence in indigenous technology development which has led to more foreign direct investment in the IT sector than any other sectors since 2018.

The Award was received on behalf of Dr Pantami by Dr Vincent Olatunji, the Director of e-Government Development and Regulations department of NITDA.

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THE NATION

TCN suspends KEDCO from electricity market

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The management of Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), says it has issued suspension and disconnection orders to Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO) from the electricity market.

The suspension order was posted on TCN’s twitter handle @TCN_Nigeria on Sunday.

According to the twitter handle, the suspension order was as result of KEDCO’s default in the Market Conditions/Market Participation Agreements.

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How we spent $1bn security fund – Presidency

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The Presidency has dismissed Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) allegation that the one billion dollars drawn from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) was spent by the Muhammadu Buhari administration on the 2019 general elections.

The Peoples Democratic Party in a statement on Sunday asked Buhari to explain to Nigerians what his administration had done with one billion dollars drawn from the ECA in 2017 and meant to address the nation’s security challenges.

The amount was approved by the National Economic Council in December, 2017, to be used to purchase weapons to fight insurgency across the country.

However, Malam Garba Shehu, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, said “this unverifiable allegation’’ clearly indicated that the PDP was suffering from socio emotional distress.

He said PDP ”thinks that all governments in the world run on the basis of freewheeling looting as they did their own.

”Here is what happened to that 1 billion dollars. It’s on record that the Buhari administration paid about 490 million dollars for a dozen Super Tucano fighter aircraft in a direct, government-to-government (no Contractors or Commission Agents) transaction with government of the United States.

”Various other military procurement have been made. Balance of expenditure stands at about 880 million dollars or so. The PDP spent Defence procurement funds on their failed 2015 political campaigns as proven in court. That is not to say every succeeding government, more so one led by a Buhari will do the same.”

The presidential aide added that, barring considerations of national security, the details of the stage of implementation, the procurement made and the suppliers would be obtained and made available on Monday.

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