Weekly political notes

2019 Election Results To Be Collated, Transmitted Electronically – INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has unveiled an electronic collation and results transmission system with a view to eliminating manual collation, which the commission says enables malpractices.

INEC’s Director of Information and Communication Technology, Chidi Nwafor, disclosed this on Thursday during a media parley chaired by the commission’s chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, in Abuja.

In his presentation, which centred on deployment of technology and innovations to drive Nigeria’s electoral system ahead of the 2019 general elections, Mr. Nwafor highlighted the weakness of current collation system, which involves manual transmission of result sheets from one stage to the next up to the point of final collation in the course of which malpractices are perpetrated.

“Observations have shown that most election malpractices that take place do not take place at polling units,” Nwafor said. He said it was barely possible to “rig” at polling units, where everybody participates in the process of counting of ballot papers and recording of scores.

“The challenge has been after the poll–between the polling units and the collation centres and at the collation centre. INEC has therefore decided to securely transmit results from all polling units to central database such that only viewing access is allowed at the wards and local government levels –which ultimately eliminates manual collation processes.”

Unfortunately, there is nothing new in INEC’s proposal. The only thing that will be new is to see INEC live up to its promise in 2019. This is not the first time the electoral commission will be making this kind of promise.

The commission under the leadership of Prof Maurice Iwu made such promise ahead of the 2007 general elections. But the 2007 elections were adjudged the most fraudulent polls in Nigeria, going by the magnitude of irregularities that characterised it.

While it is a fact that nothing is impossible technologically, especially as it has to with election, it is also public knowledge that such technology could be difficult with INEC because of human, monetary and other interests.

With due respect to the electoral commission, its personnel’s deep-rooted, collaborative and manipulative involvement in electoral malpractice is the major hindrance to a free and fair election in Nigeria. Until this fundamental and institutional problem is addressed, the promised electronic collation and transmission system in 2019 will be a mirage. The hiccups that marred the card reader exercise in 2015 polls are still fresh in the memory of Nigerians.

Anambra Central Rerun: We’ll Field Candidate, Win– APC
All Progressives Congress (APC), Anambra State chapter on Wednesday disagreed with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the status of the party in the pending Anambra Central Senatorial rerun election.

The party insisted that it must field a candidate in the election.
 INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu had on Monday declared that APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were not eligible to field candidates, when the rerun election eventually takes place.

Reacting to INEC’s pronouncement, APC, through its state Publicity Secretary, Mr. Okelo Madukaife said: “We agree with the chairman and share his hope that issues in Anambra Central can be resolved, but vehemently disagree that APC will not field a candidate in the election.

“It is our fear that the chairman of INEC may have been misquoted. But, if for any reason you have correctly quoted him, we affirm that whenever the Anambra Senatorial election is held, in whatever mode it is held, and by whatever final interpretation the legal foundations are erected, APC will not only field a candidate, but will go ahead to win and return the zone and Anambra State to the ruling caucus of the Senate.

It is good that the drama over Anambra Central senatorial seat is rearing its head again at a time the APC is trying to make an inroad into the Southeast using the forthcoming governorship poll in Anambra as a test case. How prepared and serious APC is on the governorship poll will be tested or determined by its approach to the central senatorial seat rerun.

The court ruling that APC and PDP cannot present fresh candidates in the senatorial rerun has now left the APC with no option than to field it’s initial candidate and now Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige. But part of APC’s dilemma here is Ngige’s decision not to contest the rerun after he had been appointed minister.

Is APC saying now that Ngige has reversed his earlier decision and is now ready to slug it out with Chief Victor Umeh of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the rerun? If that is the case, can Ngige defeat Umeh, who might enjoy Governor Willie Obiano’s backing?

If Ngige insists on not contesting, leaving Umeh to be returned unopposed, won’t that affect the chances of APC in the forthcoming governorship poll? If Ngige contests against Umeh and loses, won’t it be a setback for the APC’s quest to capture Anambra Government House?

Senate: Saraki, Melaye Under Investigation Over Imported SUV, Certificate
Fresh crisis may hit the Senate over moves to sanction immediate-past Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, for what lawmakers described as “unparliamentary” utterances. This is coming at a time senators have resolved to investigate Senate President, Bukola Saraki over alleged importation of bulletproof Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) impounded by the Customs, and Senator Dino Melaye over alleged certificate forgery.

It was gathered that plans had reached advanced stage to move against Ndume, who, of late, has been making comments against positions taken by the Senate on issues.
 It is believed that senators allied against Ndume are reaching out to others,  with Senator  Melaye as the arrowhead.

The former senate leader had after the second rejection of Magu, granted several interviews where he openly criticised Saraki and the entire Senate for rejecting the acting EFCC chairman.
 Unperturbed by moves against him, Ndume, on Tuesday, called for the investigation of Saraki over the face-off with the Comptroller General of Customs. He also wants Melaye investigated over alleged certificate forgery.

The move by the senate to suspend Ndume is not unexpected. Lest we forget, it has been in the habit of the National Assembly leadership to move against any member who parades contrary opinion on issues in vexing manner. So, it will be surprising if at the end, the Senate fails to suspend Ndume and clear Saraki and Melaye of allegations against them.

Even before the commencement of the investigation, it is obvious that a clean bill of health will be the outcome. This is because, none of the Ethics Committee members can summon courage to call a spade, a spade without minding whose ox is gored. This has been the practice and nothing has changed. But if one may ask: “Why the waste of public fund, energy and precious time to engage in a wild-goose chase of investigating Saraki and Melaye?

The actions and in-actions of the present National Assembly is not new, considering that since 1999 the institution has been more of a place for comradeship and partnership in scandals than lawmaking.

If not, why won’t the Senate allow the security agency to investigate the allegations against Saraki and Melaye, instead of being a judge in its own case? Meanwhile, Ndume, having been part and parcel of the intrigues in the chambers for years should have known by now that his days in the red chamber may have been numbered by the leadership. And there is nothing anybody can do about it, not even the law court, presidency or the anti-graft agencies.

APC’ll Probe Senate’s Refusal To Confirm Magu-Oyegun
NATIONAL Chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief John Odigie- Oyegun, has on Monday disclosed plans by the party to investigate the events that led to the refusal by the Senate to confirm the nomination of Ibrahim Magu as the substantive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes CommissionEFCC).

Oyegun stated this in Benin City, after leading some leaders of the party to pay condolence on the family of the late elder statesman, Dr Samuel Ogbemudia. He warned those joining APC from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that have skeletons in their cupboards that APC will not guarantee them any protection, stressing that President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption war does not protect any criminal even those in the APC.

It appears the APC national leadership has no serious work doing. Why the application of medicine after death? Of what effect and importance will such investigation be when the Senate made its reason public? Where was the APC leadership when Magu was first rejected?

Hope the party leadership will be courageous enough to ask President Buhari and his Daura kinsman in DSS, why they are playing politics with Magu’s confirmation. Any answer from them will save Oyegun the energy and time for a needless investigation. Or is Oyegun pretending not to know that Magu’s problem goes beyond the Senate?

The Senate may be just a pawn in the Chessboard as it concerns Magu. The development that has continued to stymie Magu’s confirmation is typical of Buhari government’s failure to put its house in order.

In this article:
INECMahmood Yakubu
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