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S’Room: Our electoral system has collapsed! *INEC can’t take Nigeria to 2027 – Nwankwo

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“It brings to question how this democracy will continue and how this democracy will thrive if we cannot give citizens the option of deciding who rules them. The electoral system in this country has collapsed and we have to go back to the drawing board. Certainly we cannot build anything to what is now. The system has been captured and it is delivering incredibly sad results, not in terms of who wins or who doesn’t win, but in terms of the process, in terms of the abuses of the process, in terms of citizens’ lack of confidence in elections as a way of running a referendum on those who have ruled them or given a chance for people to take over.”

These were the exact words with which Clement Nwankwo, foremost constitutional lawyer and the Founding Convener of the Civil Society Monitoring Situation room, assessed the situation in Nigeria currently, stating unequivocally that the entire democracy the country had been contending with in the last 24 years, would eventually go kaput, at the rate things were going.

Nwankwo’s reading of the stark realities of the situation, came after observing last Saturday’s attempt to choose new governors in an offseason elections in Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo State, which he totally wrote off as a non-issue that  failed to meet any iota of credibility, a situation which he said had shown that the country was actually in danger.

A guest on Prime Time, a current affairs programme on Arise News Television, he said: “We had thought that given the disappointments in the 2023 general elections that there would been some efforts by INEC to do a better job, but apparently, this is a worse job and for some of us it is extremely sad to see elections conducted this way in this country.

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“The country has lost its electoral system and we certainly can only revive it if citizens ask the right questions and make the demands that should be made. When you look at the elections and look at the facts before the elections, those who were given responsibilities for the running of the elections, have been seen to be people who have been compromised, where partisan political elements have been appointed into the electoral commission, where half of the electoral commission and officials of the electoral commission have basically allocated themselves to serve political interests, then I think where we are today is a very sad one and this country’s democracy cannot go any further with the kind of election administration system that we have in place today.”

Arguing that the current poverty in the country, could be largely be responsible for the parlous situation, he accused politicians of manipulating the situation to create the terrible outcomes that had become a serious threat to everyone, especially lovers of democracy, though he expressed confidence that such inordinate activities of the politicians could actually be checked.

In fact, he blamed the Independent National Electoral Commission for abandoning its brief to play along with the unscrupulous politicians, saying at the rate things were going, nobody could be thinking of elections in 2027, when Nigerians would be expected to elect a new set of leaders in a general process, adding that the commission had willingly handed over to the evil forces in the electoral process.

His words: “Certainly, bread and butter issues relate to who can halt the slide in which the country is descending into. Certainly when you look at people’s condition, you see a worse trend previously and it doesn’t look like there is anything in the horizon that promises a break from the fall. So, I think for people, it is a major issue. But beyond that is that those who are seeking political power are taking advantage of the huge poverty that has descended on the land and now basically taking advantage of the situation – buying elections, paying people off to vote for them – vote-buying is at an unmitigated proportion.

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“So, it’s like people struggle so hard to purchase the election. They struggle so hard to purchase the election. They struggle so hard when they purchase the election, to use the proceeds of being in office to buy the next election. So, in my view, is that perhaps we’ve come to a dead-end with the present electoral system and we must ask ourselves what lies ahead.

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“The incumbents won in all the three states which is really not unexpected in normal electoral system, but we don’t have evidence that people voted freely. You set up a process, you decide that people go to vote, you decide election results are calculated, are tabulated, collated at the polling units and then escalated to the different levels of collation, you expect that at the immediate primary unit, you have the polling unit, that immediately the results are counted, the result sheets are uploaded and people can see that real-time. But in this election, we saw results being ready before the election.

“We are doing analysis of what has been uploaded and there is a huge discrepancy in what has been uploaded to the IReV. The whole idea of the IReV is that the IReV was supposed to be real-life uploading of results. But now, there is a huge question about the efficiency of the IReV. It is now a tool to upload whatever you feel – not real-time, not real results. So, there is a major question of where we are with elections in this country.”

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Obi: Lagos-Calabar coastal highway, not now, may take 20-30 years

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Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), in the February 25, 2023 election on Monday, raised issues with the controversial Lagos-Calabar coastal highway awarded by the Federal Government to Hitech Construction, at the whopping amount of N13trillion, saying such a gigantic road project was not needed now at a time most of the Federal roads across the country are death-traps.

Obi, former Governor Peter Obi, who broke his silence for the first time over the project, since the news was first broken that the Federal Government had since awarded the contract, while acknowledging its potential benefits, expressed serious concerns about its pricing and raised questions regarding the timing and prioritization in the current Nigerian situation.

The LP boss, who highlighted the pressing issue of numerous uncompleted roads across the country, emphasising their role in economic growth and regional connectivity, maintained that the government should invest such huge resources to deal with the various roads across the country which were in various stages of disrepair, rather than plunging it into one road.

He listed critical roads in various zones, many of which have been under construction for several years due to poor funding and planning to include:

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  1. NORTH-WEST Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria – Kano Road, – Sokoto – Funtua – Zaria Road, Kano – Hadejia Road, Kano – Katsina Road , Zaria – Funtua – Shema – Tsafe – Gusau – Talata – Mafara – Sokoto Road , Kano – Kwanar – Danja – Hadejia Road
  2. NORTH-EAST Kano – Damaturu – Maiduguri Road – Mubi – Maiduguri Road, Nguru – Gashua – Bayamari Road, Gombe – Biu – Numan Road, Dikwa – Marte – Monguno Road, Potiskum – Fika – Bajoga – Gombe – Biu Road, Mayo Belwa – Jada – Ganye – Tongue Road, Tumu – Pindiga – Kashere – Bashar – Wase – Wamba – Nassarawa Road.
  3. NORTH-CENTRAL Abuja – Lokoja – Okene – Auchi – Benin Road, Ilorin – Jebba Road, Kabba – Omuaran Road, Suleja – Minna Road, Makurdi – Gboko – Yandev – Katsina-Ala Road, Buruku Bridge across Katsina River.
  4. SOUTH-WEST Lagos – Badagry Road, Ibadan – Ife – Ilesha – Osogbo Road, Itoikin – Ijebu Ode – Ibadan Road, Ibadan – Ilorin – Jebba – Mokwa – Bokani Junction Road, Abeokuta – Ibadan Road, Ikorodu – Shagamu Road, Ado – Igede – Aramoko – Itawure Road, Ajasse Ipo – Offa – Erinle – Osun State Border Road.
  5. SOUTH-EAST: 9th Mile – Oturkpo -Makurdi Road, Enugu – Port Harcourt Road, Onitsha – Awka — Enugu Road, Onitsha – Owerri – Umuahia Road, Bende – Arochukwu – Ohafia Road, Okigwe – Afikpo Road, Nsukka – Obollo Afor – Ehamafu – Nkalagu Road, Oba – Nnewi – Okija Road.
  6. SOUTH-SOUTH: Benin – Sapele – Warri Road, East – West Road, (Warri – Kaiama – Ahoada – Port Harcourt – Eket – Oron) Yenegoa Road, Junction – Kolo – Otuoke Road, Sapele – Agbor – Ewu Road, Benin – Akure – Ore – Ife Road, Ikot Ekpene – Aba – Owerri Road, Jattau – Fugar – Agenebode Road, Bodo – Bonny Road with Bridge across Opobo Channel, Port Harcourt – Onne Road, Agbor – Sakpoba – Ogharefe Road, Odukpani Junction – Itu – Ikot Ekpene – Umuahia Road.
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With the Federal Ministry of Works allocating a capital budget of N892 billion for 2024, in addition to funding from multilateral loan projects and other sources, Obi questioned the wisdom of embarking on another massive project that may not be completed for the next 20 or 30 years.

He warned against exacerbating the problem of abandoned, incomplete projects that do not contribute to economic growth, urging the prioritisation of existing uncompleted projects, while emphasising the need to allocate resources towards repairing and completing vital infrastructure.

The former governor, who stressed the importance of focusing on the urgent needs of the people and ensuring that investments serve the collective good of the nation, advocated for prioritising the completion and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure over embarking on colossal new projects with uncertain completion timelines, adding that fiscal discipline and strategic prioritisation in addressing the country’s infrastructure challenges, must be paramount to leaders of the country.

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Fubara, Rivers assembly return to trenches! Lawmakers override gov on LG laws

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The seemingly unabating schism between Siminalayi Fubara, Governor and members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, assumed another stage on Monday, with the lawmakers deciding to pass the local government Amendment Bill into law without the assent of the state governor,

The Assembly, in apparent defiance of the state High Court’s order directing the status quo on the issue of elongating the tenure of elected local government officials, which formed part of the amendment, went ahead to screen as well as confirm the chairman and other members of the Assembly Service Commission in the spirit of the new law.

Martins Wachukwu, spokesman of Martin Amaewhule, Speaker of the assembly, conveying the development in a statement, said the lawmakers made the decision at its 159th Legislative sitting held at the Assembly Quarters in Port Harcourt, which has since served as their sitting venue since the demolition of the main House of Assembly quarters by Fubara, last year.

Stating that Fubara declined assent to the Local Government (Amendment) Bill initially passed into law on March 13, 2024, by the House, the statement, said the lawmakers were bent on performing their constitutional duties and therefore decided to override the governor’s decision on the matter by a two-thirds majority.

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The statement read: “Determined to perform its Constitutional duties, the Bill was represented by the Majority Leader, Hon. Major Jack and debated upon by Members. Thereafter, the House in accordance with the provisions of Section 100(5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as altered, which empowers the House to override the Governor, where he withholds his assent; the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Martin Amaewhule put the question, and with a two-thirds majority vote, the House agreed to override the Governor and passed the Bill into Law.”

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In another development, the House screened and confirmed nominees for the position of Chairman and Members of the Assembly Service Commission, including: Sampson Worlu as Chairman, Abinye Blessing Pepple, Blessing Belema Derefaka, Gbaranen Robinson, and Dorcas Amos as Members.

The statement recalled that on March 22, 2024, the House passed the Rivers State Assembly Service Commission (Amendment) Bill into Law, wherein the House donated back to itself the power to appoint the Chairman and Members of the Assembly Service Commission.

The statement added: “On a sad note, the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Amaewhule, announced the demise of Mr Lucky Amadi, the husband of the honourable Member for Obio/Akpor Constituency II, Hon. Emilia Lucky Amadi, and stated that Members would pay a condolence visit to their colleague.”

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BREAKING: Five days after sacking Ganduje, Kano judge reverses self

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Justice Usman Mallam Na’Abba, of the Kano State High Court, on Monday, reversed himself five days after making an order barring Abdullahi Ganduje National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), from parading himself or performing any official function in that capacity.

In vacating the order made ex-parte, following a plea by Haladu Gwanjo and Laminu Sani Barguma, who claimed to be the Chairman and Secretary of the APC Ganduje Ward in Dawakin Tofa Local Government area of the state, for the suspension of the former Governor of the state from his present job, Na’Abba said he relied on fresh arguments made on the matter.

The fresh applications were brought by Glory Adah, a litigation secretary at the law firm representing the APC boss in a motion ex-parte, accompanied by a 27-paragraph affidavit in support, and a written address dated April 22nd, countering the grounds of his previous orders.

Na’Abba, who adjourned the case to April 30 for the hearing, said: “An order of interim injunction is hereby granted staying the execution of the order of interim injunction contained in the ruling of this court delivered on 17h April 2024 directing parties to maintain status quo ante as at the 15th day of April 2024 in relation to the suspension of the 4th respondent/applicant from the 1st respondent by the Ganduje Ward Executive Committee pending the hearing and determination of the 4th respondent/applicant motion on notice.”

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