- Voter Registration, PVC Distribution Begins in April for 2019 Polls
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it would kick-start preparations for the 2019 general election with the continuous voters’ registration and distribution of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) in April.
Also the commission gave an update on the growing number of political associations seeking registration as political parties ahead of the 2019 general election, saying it has now reached 85.
In a communique issued after the quarterly meeting with leaders of political parties held at INEC headquarters in Abuja, yesterday the parties endorsed the 2019 general election timetable and agreed to cooperate with the commission in all the processes leading to the smooth conduct of the election.
The communique was jointly signed by the Deputy Chairman of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Dr. Bredforth Onwubuya, for other political parties and a National Commissioner, May Agbamuche-Mbu, on behalf of INEC.
Earlier, while speaking during the opening ceremony of the quarterly meeting, the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said as at last Monday, the number of applications from new associations for registration as political parties had reached 86.
INEC had last Thursday put the figure of the associations seeking registration at 84.
Yakubu also said the 10 political parties which were previously de-registered by the commission after the 2015 general election, had regained their registration.
The political parties, according to him, are Better Nigeria Peoples Parties (BNPP), Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Peoples Progressives Party (PPP), Democratic Alternative (DA), National Action Council (NAC) And National Democratic Liberty Party (NDLP).
Others are Masses Movement of Nigeria (MMN), National Conscience Party (NCP), Nigeria Element Progressives Party (NEPP) and the National Unity Party (NUP).
The INEC boss who described political parties as an important vehicle for the sustenance of the country’s democracy, urged the party leaders to always have confidence the electoral system as a way of promoting stability in the polity.
“The names of these political parties have already been uploaded on our website. But I will like to appeal to those of them, out of the 10 that are yet to open their offices to do so and immediately notify the commission,’’ Yakubu said.
In his remark the IPAC Chairman, Mohammed Nalado, expressed displeasure over the inability of INEC to consult properly with political parties before fixing dates for the 2019 general election .
Nalado said though INEC chairman informed them of the decision but they did not know weather the information he gave them was official or not until they read the report on the pages of newspapers.
“We had meeting with INEC chairman, unfortunately, we did not understand him weather he was telling us officially or he was just giving us information on how our elections should be done.I hope this issue will be discussed thoroughly here,” Nalado said.
He affirmed IPAC’s commitment to work with INEC in deepening the country’s democracy.
Nalado, however, advised INEC to seek alternative to deregistration of political parties.
He also urged the commission newly appointed National Commissioners to make their relevant inputs to the development of the electoral system.
The National Chairman of the United Democratic Party (UDP), Mr. Godson Okoye, in an interview with journalism said it was a disrespect for INEC to fixed date for elections without consulting political parties.
The crisis-ridden main opposition party, the People Democratic Party (PDP), was represented at the meeting by Senator Ali Modu Sheriff who sent his Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, and PDP National Secretary, Prof. Wale Oladipo, to stand-in for the party.
Among the issues discussed at the meeting were the proposed INEC’s strategic plan for 2017-2021, impact of court judgments on the roles of political parties, violence in the conduct of party primaries and elections in general.
Others are internal party democracy, political parties and campaign finance nationwide continuous voters registration, outstanding Anambra Central senatorial rerun election. There was also a brief presentation on INEC new innovations .
On the outstanding Anambra Central senatorial rerun election, IPAC according to Breakforth, has urged INEC to liaise with concerned political parties to resolve ongoing litigation for the conduct of the election.
“In view of the recent Supreme Court judgment on the election, it was agreed that INEC shall work with the political parties that have cases in the lower court to find amicable ways to resolve all going litigations out of court. This is to enable the commission conduct the outstanding election in the senatorial district.
INEC shall engage with the parties involved based on this principle,’’ he said.
The Director of Voter Education and Publicity in INEC, Mr Oluwole Osase-Uzzi, who also spoke at the end of the meeting, said the commission had accepted to exploit an out-of-court settlement in disputed the Anambra Central senatorial election.
“INEC is prepare to conduct the election as soon as all legal impediments are removed,’’ Osase-Uzzi added.
On what would happen to the announced dates for the 2019 general election if the ongoing Electoral Act amendments was concluded before the election, Osase-Uzzi said the commission was working with the current law.
“We are working with an extant law and the time for election is fixed by the constitution. So, if the constitution is amended before 2019 or that day and it necessitates the change, then we comply with whatever extant law that is available before the election. But if it is not amended before then, we go with the date as it stands now. INEC is bound to go with whatever the law states,” he said.
COVAX Delivered 38m Vaccine Doses To Over 100 Countries, Says WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday announced that more than 100 countries have received life-saving COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, the global mechanism for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
It said the milestone comes 42 days after the first COVAX doses were shipped and delivered internationally, to Ghana on February 24th.
In a statement, the United Nations’ Agency revealed that COVAX has now delivered more than 38 million doses across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers – AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Of the over 100 economies reached, 61 are among the 92 lower-income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
It, however, said despite reduced supply availability in March and April – the result of vaccine manufacturers scaling and optimising their production processes in the early phase of the rollout, as well as increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India – COVAX expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year.
According to the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Dr. Seth Berkley, “In under four months since the very first mass vaccination outside a clinical setting anywhere in the world, it is tremendously gratifying that the roll-out of COVAX doses has already reached 100 countries.
“COVAX may be on track to deliver to all participating economies in the first half of the year yet we still face a daunting challenge as we seek to end the acute stage of the pandemic: we will only be safe when everybody is safe and our efforts to rapidly accelerate the volume of doses depend on the continued support of governments and vaccine manufacturers. As we continue with the largest and most rapid global vaccine rollout in history, this is no time for complacency.”
The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “COVAX has given the world the best way to ensure the fastest, most equitable rollout of safe and effective vaccines to all at-risk people in every country on the planet.
“If we are going to realise this great opportunity, countries, producers and the international system must come together to prioritise vaccine supply through COVAX. Our collective future, literally, depends on it.”
Approved Ibom Deep Sea Port, Proposed $1.4B Fertilizer Plant Will Change Akwa Ibom’s Economic Status – Gov. Udom
Akwa Ibom State Government has said the approved Ibom Deep Seaport and the proposed $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia Plant are expected to change the economic status of the state.
The State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, made the assertion in an Easter message to the people of the state.
He maintained that with the recent approval and take off of the federal government’s approved Oil and Gas Free Zone and the ongoing construction of the Sterling Petrochemical Plant at Eastern Obolo, the state would be ready to dump its status as a civil service state.
The governor said the fertilizer and ammonia plants should be supported by all indegenes and residents irrespective of political affiliation because of its capacity to change the economic fortunes of the state.
The governor who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the industrial projects in the state said construction work on the Ibom Deep Seaport would commence very soon.
“In recent past, we have been blessed with life-changing projects such as Sterling Petrochemical Plant in Eastern Obolo, where construction is in an advanced stage.
“Two months ago, the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) approved the license for us to commence the construction of our long desired Ibom Deep Seaport. Work would soon commence on this gigantic project. These are huge achievements for our State and our people.
“Ibom Deep Seaport will open up our economic fortunes; create employment and wealth opportunities for our people and throw open our State as a major maritime hub in our nation.
“We thank the President and the Commander in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for this kind approval,” he said.
Continuing, Emmanuel said: “About three weeks ago, we signed a $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia plant with our Moroccan counterparts. The plant will again create huge employment and other supply chain activities for our people, which will transform us from a civil service oriented state to a fast industrialising one.
“These are huge achievements that should gladden the hearts of every Akwa Ibomite irrespective of political affiliations.”
He reminded the people of the state that the essence of Easter would be lost if the resurrection of Christ is not allowed to illuminate their souls through love and sacrifice to one another.
“Let the fishermen in the ocean fronts of Mbo, Okobo, Eastern Obolo and Ibeno love one another. Let the farmers in the rice plantations at Ini, Ikono, Ika, Onna and Nsit Ibom love one another.
“Let the civil servants and public servants, politicians in all political parties, members of all denominations, preachers of all faiths, love one another.
“When we let love drive our every action and every thought, when we let it drip from our lips and from our hands, then shall the joy of Easter be complete, and our State shall surely attain the lofty height set for it by our ancestors when they named it Akwa Abasi Ibom State.” the Governor stated.
US Intelligence Says ISIS and Al-Qaeda Are Planning to Attack Southern Nigeria
The United States has warned the Federal Government of Nigeria that Al-Qaeda and ISIS are planning to attack Southern Nigeria.
This was disclosed by Dagvin Anderson, the Commander of the US special operations command, Africa.
According to Dagvin Anderson, AlQaeda is planning to expand into the Southern part of Nigeria and other parts of West Africa.
He, however, said the US will continue to share intelligence with Nigeria.
“We have engaged with Nigeria and continue to engage with them in intel sharing and in understanding what these violent extremists are doing,” he said.
“And that has been absolutely critical to their engagements up in the Borno state and into an emerging area of northwest Nigeria that we’re seeing al-Qaeda starting to make some inroads in.
“So, this intelligence sharing is absolutely vital and we stay fully engaged with the government of Nigeria to provide them with an understanding of what these terrorists are doing, what Boko Haram is doing, what ISIS-West Africa is doing, and how ISIS and al-Qaeda are looking to expand further south into the littoral areas.
Anderson regretted that despite successes recorded in previous years, there has been a setback, adding: “We as a community of international nations, keep thinking we have defeated them or we have put them on their back foot and that they’re just moments from disintegration.” Anderson said for international efforts to yield desired results in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria, the government must take the lead.
“When it comes to Nigeria in general, Nigeria, obviously, is a critical nation to West Africa. It is a critical nation and we realise that Nigeria is a lynchpin,” he said.
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