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National Assembly to Reconvene for INEC’s Budget



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  • National Assembly to Reconvene for INEC’s Budget

The leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly may have resolved to reconvene the feral legislature next week, to consider the N242 billion budget proposal for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of the 2019 general elections.

This was disclosed on Wednesday by the chairman of the INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu shortly after a closed door meeting with the leadership of the two chambers of the federal legislature.

Speaking earlier at the opening session of the meeting, Prof Yakubu said unless something is done urgently, INEC might miss the six-month window for the procurement of certain tools and equipment required for the conduct of the election.

According to him, to meet up with the six-month window, the required funds should be in the commission’s coffers by August 15, a day that the six months will start counting before the date for the first round of election.

The INEC chair further explained that of the N242 billion budget proposal, N164 billion was urgently needed by August 15, to enable the commission purchase the first batch of tools and equipment.

Yakubu said the INEC would make do with the initial N164 billion, while awaiting the remaining N78 million that would be processed later through a supplementary budget.

The INEC chair observed that this would be the first time since 1999 that the commission’s election budget would be subjected to scrutiny by the National Assembly.

He stated that in all the previous election circles, the commission used to get its funds on time for preparations and execution of its mandate.

While tabling the N242 billion INEC budget proposal before the legislature two weeks ago, President Muhammadu Buhari had requested the lawmakers to vire N164 billion of the estimate from funds already allocated to members’ constituency projects in the 2018 national budget.

It’s however unclear whether the lawmakers would be considering the INEC budget along the template suggested by the President.

Speaking earlier, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said the proposal from the President had not been acted upon by the Senate, stressing that the President’s letter conveying the proposal was only read to senators on the floor.

Sating that the document has yet to be referred to the appropriate standing committees of the Senate, Saraki said the leadership of the legislature would ensure that the matter gets resolved by next week.

On his part, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said INEC’s budget ought not be presented through a “fire brigade” approach.

According to him, every Nigerian knew that the general elections would be coming up in February 2019 and so provisions for the INEC’s election budget ought to have been submitted alongside the 2019 national budget proposal.

The National Assembly leadership has yet to pick a definite date for the lawmakers to return to their duty posts for the purpose of addressing the matter.

The federal legislature had seen on its annual vacation since July 24 and expected to resume on September 25.

Spokesman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) National Chaorman Rotimi Oyekanmi also yesterday said the number of registered parties may rise to 85 from 68 before the elections.

He said: “Yes. There are 68 registered political parties at the moment and we have over 130 applications from associations seeking registration as political parties. Our projection is that we might end up with between 80 and 85 political parties before the 2019 general elections.”

He said out of this figure, 74 have failed the initial assessment of the suitability of their names and logos while 62 have passed the initial assessment. Nine (9) associations have undergone verification of their offices and proposed leadership while 16 are either awaiting verification or yet to supply supporting documents.

The INEC chief spokesman said despite the powers granted the commission by the electoral Act, it will be difficult to check the menace without the involvement of all the stakeholders.

According to him, “Indeed, Section 124 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) identifies “Bribery and Conspiracy” as an offence and those who contravene it are liable upon conviction to 12 months imprisonment or a fine of N500,000 or both. However, INEC does not have the power to arrest offenders. But INEC wants all stakeholders to get involved in tackling this Voter Buying and Selling phenomenon. In any case, it is not a new thing, it only seems to be getting worse. Indeed, it is a threat to our democracy but it should not be INEC’s responsibility alone to tackle it.”


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NIMC Announces Launch of Three National ID Cards to Boost Identity Management



The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has unveiled plans to launch three new national identity cards.

These cards are aimed at providing improved access to government services and bolstering identification systems across Nigeria.

The three new national identity cards, as disclosed by Ayodele Babalola, the Technical Adviser, Media, and Communications to the Director-General of NIMC, will include a bank-enabled National ID card, a social intervention card, and an optional ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card.

Babalola explained that these cards are tailored to meet the diverse needs of Nigerian citizens while fostering greater participation in nation-building initiatives.

In an interview, Babalola outlined the timeline for the rollout of these cards, indicating that Nigerians can expect to start receiving them within one or two months of the launch, pending approval from the Presidency.

The bank-enabled National ID card, designed to cater to the middle and upper segments of the population, will offer seamless access to banking services within the specified timeframe.

Also, the National Safety Net Card will serve as a crucial tool for authentication and secure platform provision for government services such as palliatives, with a focus on the 25 million vulnerable Nigerians supported by current government intervention programs.

This initiative aims to streamline the distribution process and ensure efficient delivery of social services to those in need.

Furthermore, the ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card will provide an optional identity verification solution, facilitating cross-border interactions and promoting regional integration within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The announcement comes on the heels of NIMC’s collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS) to develop a multipurpose national identity card equipped with payment capabilities for various social and financial services.

This collaborative effort underscores the commitment of key stakeholders to foster innovation, cost-effectiveness, and competitiveness in service delivery.

Babalola stated that the new identity cards aim to address the need for physical identification, empower citizens, and promote financial inclusion for marginalized populations. With a target of providing these cards to approximately 104 million eligible applicants on the national identification number database by the end of December 2023, NIMC is poised to revolutionize the identity management landscape in Nigeria.

The implementation of these programs aligns with broader efforts to drive digital transformation and improve access to essential services for all Nigerians.

Babalola highlighted the multifaceted benefits of the new identity cards, including their potential to uplift millions out of poverty by facilitating access to government social programs and financial services.

While the launch date is set tentatively for May pending presidential approval, NIMC remains committed to finalizing the necessary details to ensure a smooth rollout of the new identity cards.

The introduction of these cards represents a significant step forward in NIMC’s mission to provide secure and reliable identity solutions that empower individuals and contribute to the socio-economic development of Nigeria.

Efforts to reach Kayode Adegoke, the Head of Corporate Communications at NIMC, for further insights on the initiative were unsuccessful at the time of reporting.

As Nigeria gears up for the launch of these innovative identity cards, stakeholders express optimism about the potential positive impact on identity management, financial inclusion, and socio-economic development across the country.

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Nigeria Launches New National ID Card to Enhance Access to Social and Financial Services




The Federal Government of Nigeria has announced the launch of a National Identity Card with integrated payment and social service functionalities.

This initiative, spearheaded by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS), aims to provide Nigerians with a single, multifunctional card that combines identification, payment, and access to various government and private sector services.

The new National ID card backed by the NIMC Act No. 23 of 2007 is poised to become the country’s default identity card, serving as a tangible proof of identity for citizens and legal residents alike.

With features aligned with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards, including a Machine-readable Zone (MRZ) and biometric authentication capabilities, the card offers robust security and verification mechanisms.

One of the most significant aspects of the new ID card is its payment functionality. Cardholders will have the ability to link their cards to bank accounts, enabling them to conduct debit and prepaid transactions seamlessly.

This feature is expected to enhance financial inclusion efforts, particularly for the unbanked and underbanked populations in Nigeria.

Also, the card will grant holders access to a wide range of government interventions programs, including travel, health insurance, microloans, agriculture initiatives, food subsidies, transport benefits, and energy subsidies.

By consolidating these services onto a single platform, the government aims to streamline administrative processes and improve service delivery efficiency.

To ensure widespread accessibility, the NIMC has outlined various channels for obtaining the new ID card, including online applications, commercial banks, participating agencies, and NIMC offices nationwide.

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New York City Hit by 4.8 Magnitude Earthquake



christian dior

New York City, famously known as the “city that never sleeps” was hit by a 4.8 magnitude earthquake.

The tremors reverberated through the towering skyscrapers and bustling suburbs as it sent shockwaves across the densely populated metropolitan area and left residents feeling shaken.

The earthquake, with its epicenter approximately 45 miles west of New York City and 50 miles north of Philadelphia, caught many off guard.

Reports indicate that over 42 million people across the Northeast region may have felt the midmorning quake with reports coming in from as far as Baltimore to Boston and beyond.

The impact of the earthquake was not confined to mere tremors; it resulted in significant damage to several multifamily homes in Newark, New Jersey, displacing nearly 30 residents.

Officials immediately sprang into action, conducting checks on bridges and other major infrastructure to assess any potential structural damage.

Flights were diverted or delayed, Amtrak slowed trains throughout the busy Northeast Corridor, and a Philadelphia-area commuter rail line suspended service as a precautionary measure.

The experience was unsettling for many New Yorkers, with some likening it to the sensation of an explosion or construction accident.

Shawn Clark, an attorney working on the 26th floor of a midtown Manhattan office, described it as “pretty weird and scary,” echoing the sentiments of many who felt the earth move beneath them.

Aftershocks were reported hours later in a central New Jersey township, causing additional concern and producing reports of damage and items falling off shelves, according to Hunterdon County Public Safety Director Brayden Fahey.

The disruption caused by the earthquake extended beyond immediate safety concerns. Cellphone circuits were overloaded as people tried to reach loved ones, and phones blared with earthquake-related notifications during the New York Philharmonic’s morning performance, adding an unexpected twist to the day’s events.

Even as the seismic event rattled New York City, residents and officials alike drew comparisons to past earthquakes, particularly the memorable tremor of August 23, 2011. Registering a magnitude of 5.8, it was the strongest quake to hit the East Coast since World War II, leaving lasting impressions on those who experienced it.

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