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Nigerians to Experience a New Normal as INEC Prepares to Kick Start Voters Registration in Q1 of 2021

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Voters’ Registration to Commence 18 Months Ahead of 2023 General Election

It is the new normal in Nigeria as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu informed the media about the commission’s plan to commence voters’ registration in the first quarter of 2021.

This was stated on Wednesday in Abuja after Prof. Mhamoodu appeared before the Senate Committee led by Senator Kabiru Gaya, APC Kano south, to defend the commission’s budget for 2021.

For continuous voter registration, the commission will resume voter registration in the first quarter of 2021”, Prof. Yakubu affirmed.

He said “Once we resume, it will be continuous for one and a half years, at least until six months to the next general election. In other words, the commission is not going to resume voters registration for a week, two weeks or a month but we are working out the details.

The commission chairman, Prof. Yakubu is also advocating for diaspora voting, he employed the national Assembly to amend the Electoral Act to accommodate Nigerians in diaspora and adopt early voting system.

The commission is desirous of giving Nigerians living abroad the right to vote, after all, all our neighboring countries do so. But it requires the amendment to the constitution and the Electoral Act for that to happen.

“We have already worked out the document. Once the law is amended today, we can roll out. We are ready. We have had several meetings with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM, but we can’t go beyond what the law provides,” Prof Yakubu stated.

He also called the attention of the committee to the inability of some groups to vote. He believed that an amendment to the Electoral Act should allow the group such as security personnel, INEC staff, journalist and others the right to vote even as they carry out their job activities during the election period.

Prof. Yakubu said the amendment should allow Nigerians with Permanent Voter’s Card the right to vote irrespective of their location within the country at the time of the election.

He said, “It’s not just those in the armed services, the police involved in election duty, journalists, INEC adhoc staff and some INEC staff don’t vote. The reason is that you are posted for election duty to places other than where you are registered, and the law says you vote where are registered”.

“So, if you pass some amendments to the Electoral Act to enable people to vote, two solution perhaps, early voting, so that those involved in election duty can vote early or major reform of electoral legal framework to allow people to vote wherever they are,” he added.

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Npower Payment, Other Programmes Led by Humanitarian Affairs Minister End in Huge Inconsistencies

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Sadiya Farouq

An anti-corruption group, the Centre for Monitoring and Evaluation (CME) has published a report in which it deemed the procurement processes at the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development flawed, in order to protect the interests of only a select few.

Also according to the report, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq presumably made use of associates to embezzle funds under the different social intervention programmes initiated by the Federal Government.

According to the CME report, of all the parastatals under the Humanitarian Ministry, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) which is responsible for managing disasters in the country is the most hit when it comes to fraudulent contracts.

A part of the report read, “The National Emergency Management Agency, a parastatal under the Humanitarian Affairs ministry, has been adjudged the worst in terms of violating procurement processes.” The report deems NEMA as the biggest culprits of manipulating procurement processes to favour particular people.

The report stated that it was revealed that the procurement department of NEMA receives instructions from some officials in the office of the Minister. It also noted that the Director-General of NEMA, Ahmed Habib allegedly collected illegal payments for every contract awarded at NEMA.

The report said that the different social intervention programmes under the ministry had been largely influenced by politics, and then turned into a consistent source of funds by officials at the ministry.

The widely criticised Npower scheme was not left out of the CME’s scrutinising eye, as the group concluded that the Npower scheme fell short of its standards. Recruitment into the scheme was said to be in favour of a particular ethnic (and religious) group in the country.

The report said that the beneficiaries of the Batch C of the Npower scheme were compiled by the Minister, favouring a particular ethnicity and religion. The report gathered that she used the scheme as a platform to solidify her hold on power amongst the country’s “power brokers.”

In the case of NEMA, the report found that the Minister gives instructions to divert funds for unreal emergency relief in some states in the northern region of the country. The CME also found that relief items donated by well-meaning individuals and organisations were diverted to a private storage facility, on the orders of the Minister.

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Npower Update: September Payment

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The Npower programme, which has come under heavy fire for its failure to pay beneficiaries their stipends and feeding allowances, has now stated that allowances for September 2021 have been paid.

Some time ago, the scheme announced solutions for e Batch C Stream 1 beneficiaries who had been having issues accessing their payment or checking their payment status. Affected beneficiaries were asked to check the details which they had submitted for payment, in order to ensure that the correct Bank Verification Number (BVN) and bank account numbers were provided.

Some beneficiaries did as they were instructed, but still saw the issues remain with the payment. Others saw their payment status change to ‘Pending’, which is the first stage of the payment process.

News began to circulate online that the September payment has commenced, regardless of a ‘failed’ payment status. All the Batch C beneficiaries were assured in the news that all those still having issues with their September payment would have their fears alleviated, as September payment had been cleared for takeoff.

On the NASIMS Facebook page, it was then confirmed that all outstanding payments for the month of September, irrespective of any ‘failed’ payment status still reflecting. NASIMS stated that the process of crediting accounts has also begun, as the issues had been cleared.

However, some beneficiaries commented on the news item, with some stating that they had not seen anything from the scheme even more than 24 hours after the scheme announced that it had sorted the payment. One particular individual stated that they knew about 13 people who had not received anything yet from Npower. Some also complained that the ‘payment failed’ status has remained on their dashboards, and they had not received any payments.

Commenting on the general situation, another internet user lamented about the state of the country, touting the payment of the September stipend in December as wickedness and wrongdoing.

NASIMS also addressed a form which was in circulation for Npower beneficiaries, sold for N1,000. NASIMS stated that the form was fake, and people should not be fooled by those selling those forms to them.

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Npower Update: Npower Beneficiaries Protest Unpaid Allowances in Abuja

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Some beneficiaries of the Npower scheme went to the Public Service Institute in Kubwa, Abuja in order to stage a protest over the refusal of the management of the scheme to pay their outstanding allowances.

The protesters made demands for the payment of their outstanding stipends, which are supposed to be for three months and also spoke against the lack of payment of their feeding allowances by the scheme.

Each beneficiary of the Npower programme is supposed to be paid an amount of N42,000 as a feeding allowance while also receiving an amount of N10,000 as a stipend for the same period.

One of the protesters, Michael Bright, said in an interview that the beneficiaries have not been paid their feeding allowance for December, a situation which he said has made many of them hungry and sick in this period.

Bright went ahead to say that the beneficiaries were being treated as slaves, and it was looking like the government deliberately brought them to the Npower camp only to refuse the necessary items for survival.

Bright said that the beneficiaries had been enduring hunger but had finally reached their limits, which is what led to the protest which they hoped would spark urgent action.

It was discovered that activities at the Public Service Institute were disrupted on Monday as the Npower beneficiaries demonstrated to make their grievances known.

In spite of the assurances made by an official who promised that their allowances would be paid before the week runs out, the protesting beneficiaries decided to abandon all lecture rooms at the institute until the matter is finally resolved.

The camp at the Public Service Institute in Kubwa houses beneficiaries of Npower’s Batch C1 from states in the North-Central region of the country. The set occupying the camp presently resumed on November 3 and are expected to leave the camp on December 20.

It was however reported that the beneficiaries had not received any information on what would happen after they vacate the camp.

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