The Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu on Wednesday hinted the much totuted Electronic voting in the country may begin from the Anambra State gubernatorial election slated next year.
Prof. Yakubu dropped the hint while speaking with newsmen shortly after 2021 budget defence session before the House Committee on Electoral Matters.
He stated that about 40 companies had demonstrated on e-voting to the commission but a decision was yet to be reached.
He said, “They have demonstrated. The next stage is for the commission to decide. So, its too early to tell you the cost or when the process will be concluded.
“But we’re determined, we are going to deploy electronic voting machines, or electronic ballot machines in elections, possibly we commence with the Anambra Governorship elections next year. ”
The INEC boss, however, declined to speak on what the country is to expect from him as the INEC boss during his second tenure saying “I have not been confirmed by the Senate yet, wait till I’m confirmed, then I will tell you what to expect from the Commission.”
There was however some bickering on as the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, made to present its 2021 budget proposal to the House Committee on Electoral Matters.
Immediately after the Chairperson, Hon. Aisha Dukku, delivered her opening address, the Chairman of INEC made to commence the outlay of the 2021 proposal, but a lawmaker, Solomon Bob, (Rivers) under a point of order noted that it would be pointless and counterproductive to do such.
According to him, the 2020 budget performance is the real kernel of the matter.
He recalled that throughout 2020, there was no oversight of the INEC due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, he said it was imperative to know how the appropriation given was utilized before other funds would be given.
But the Chairperson of the Committee, Aisha Dukku, ruled him out of order, saying as the chairperson of the committee, she had the prerogative to structure the order of events.
But after the presentation of the 2021 proposal, Uzoma Abonta (Abia PDP) and Yusuf Tajudeen (Kogi PDP) insisted on asking questions on the 2020 budget performance of the organisation.
They said if the INEC was not comfortable with discussing issues in the open, they should go into a closed door session.
The Chairperson capitulated and all the commissioners, directors, the Permanent Secretary, journalists and aides to lawmakers in the committee room were asked to leave, with only the INEC chairman and the lawmakers remaining.
One of the national commissioners who were asked to stay outside, Mr Festus Okoye, however, told journalists that there was nothing strange about the committee opting to meet with only Yakubu behind closed doors.
He said, “They have their own rules; they set their own rules so we have to comply. They can invite only the chairman for a meeting, so there is nothing strange in what is happening now.”
The INEC boss had earlier informed the committee that the commission had to revert to its special fund, created under section three of the Electoral Act, in order to meet its mandates, due to a drastic reduction of its budget after the review.
According to him, its initial budget of N40bn was reduced to N36bn, when the commission was already in the middle of implementation, and so had to draw N5.2bn from the INEC Fund in order to deliver on its mandate.
APC may screen presidential aspirants Tuesday, expects Jonathan, Emefiele, Ngige, Adesina
The National Organising Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Sulaiman Arugungu, has hinted that the screening of the party’s presidential aspirants will now take place on Tuesday.
This came just as the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) expects the screening panel would screen former President Goodluck Jonathan, Minister of Labour and Employment Dr Chris Ngige, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele and African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwunmi Adesina.
On Sunday the party announced the indefinite postponement of the screening initially slated to hold today, Monday May 23.
But Arugungu confirmed in an interview with The Nation that it was shifted from Monday to Tuesday.
He said, “As far as the party is concerned all the 28 aspirants that paid and picked the forms for the nomination as presidential aspirants, nobody has formally written to us that he has withdrawn his aspiration.
“All the forms of the 28 aspirants will be taken to the screening committee, not tomorrow (Monday), but on Tuesday, God’s willing, at Transcop Hilton Hotel.”
Arugungu said the panel would be constituted today.
“But we have to consult with our leaders before we make it public. By tomorrow (Monday) we will know who are the panellists,” Arugungu assured.
The party’s NWC expects all those who bought its presidential application and expression of interest forms will be screened.
Although the nomination forms were obtained for the four, they never submitted the forms to the party before the close of submission.
Presidential aspirants such as Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmed Lawan and 21 others will also appear tomorrow before the screening committee.
The seven-man panel set up by the NWC is made up of a member from each of the six geo-political zones.
The major work of the committee is to scrutinise the nomination documents of the contenders ahead of the primary slated for Saturday.
Other aspirants expected at the exercise are former Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi, former Minister of Niger Delta Development Senator Godswill Akpabio, former Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, former Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha and former Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosu.
Others are Pastor Tunde Bakare, Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade, his Ebonyi State counterpart, Governor Dave Umahi, Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, Minister of State for Education Emeka Nwajiuba, former Senate President Ken Nnamani, Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello, Jigawa State Governor Mohammed Badaru Abubakar and former Zamfara State Governor Ahmed Yerima.
Others are Senator Ajayi Borroffice, the only female aspirant, Uju Kennedy Ohanenye, Pastor Nicholas Felix Nwagbo, former House of Representatives Speaker Dimeji Bankole, former Minister of Information Chief Ikeobasi Mokelu and Mr Tein Jack Rich.
APC Primaries: Osinbajo group dares Tinubu, says VP won’t step down
As TSG writes delegates, seeks support
APC Professionals to organize retreats for aspirants
Ahead of next week’s presidential convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, The Progressive Project TPP – an umbrella organization of all pro-Yemi Osinbajo support groups, has dismissed speculations that the vice president was considering stepping down for a national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The group noted that as the APC prepares for its presidential primaries, paid agents and loyalists of some aspirants have intensified the spread of falsehoods against the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
Director of Operations at The Progressive Project TPP, Alhaji Usman Aliyu Usman noted on Sunday that “some paid agents and other supporters who feel threatened by the candidature of Professor Osinbajo seem determined for a gutter fight which Osinbajo supporters cannot join”.
Part of the statement reads; “One of our visible supporters, Professor Olusola Adeyeye, a two-term Senator who represented Osun Central Senatorial District between 2011 to 2019 made some weighty statements about the APC presidential primaries on Saturday and by Sunday, really baseless and mischievous anti-Osinbajo statements began circulating.
“Unfortunately, one of these came from Mr. Daniel Bwala, an aide to Deputy Senate President, Senator Omo-Agege who currently appears to moonlight as spokesman for the Bola Tinubu campaign.
“Specifically, without any proof, Mr. Bwala started circulating a video clip with claims that Professor Yemi Osinbajo is ‘allegedly planning to step down for Asiwaju’; Mr. Bwala had no evidence and he ought to know better than going to town with such.”
“Without doubt, Professor Yemi Osinbajo is still riding high in the race and our decision not to interfere in some camps’ deliberate spread of illusion and untruths is only motivated by our genuine confidence in our candidate’s prospects.
“As stated long ago, no group linked to TPP will join any individual or group in playing gutter politics or smearing others but we need to unequivocally state that Professor Yemi Osinbajo is not contemplating any measure of capitulation to any candidate.
“While we are sworn to total allegiance to the Constitution, patriotic values and the spirit of good sportsmanship, we denounce the misleading information and unbecoming tricks that some supporters in other presidential candidates’ camps embrace so eagerly.
“We denounce too, the baseless ad unhelpful information being randomly disseminated by the likes of Mr. Bwala.
“In the interest of the nation and its democracy, TPP appeals to all aspirants and supporters at all levels to learn from the focused and principled campaign methods of Professor Osinbajo and his supporters whose collective determination towards actualizing Nigeria’s enduring greatness is a cause that genuinely deserves the support of all patriots.
“We categorically debunk the spate of falsehoods against PYO’s candidature and we urge all Nigerian patriots to look forward to join us in the forthcoming celebrations on the day after APC presidential primaries,’ the TPP official stated.
Meanwhile, the Tinubu Support Group TSG has appealed to delegates to consider the future of the nation and elect the former Lagos governor as presidential candidate of the party.
Head, Media and Publicity of the TSG, Tosin Adeyanju in an open letter to delegates said “it is an incontrovertible fact that Asiwaju Tinubu has the mental capacity, the political sagacity and the economic ingenuity required to steer the Nigerian ship to the promised land”.
“Patrick Henry famously declared that ‘I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past’. It is with the declaration of Patrick Henry in mind that I am writing to you all on why the choice of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the answer to a new Nigeria we have long desired. My letter to you all is to seek your vote for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in this forthcoming convention.
“Hence, I am appealing to all you, our dear party delegates to vote for Alhaji Ahmed Tinubu as the party presidential candidate. The future of this country and that of our children has made Asiwaju the right choice for a time like this when our country needs a tested turnaround.
“As a pro-democracy leader from the NADECO days, Senator in the third republic, two-time Governor of Lagos State and founding member of APC, Asiwaju is the most experienced and most qualified to be the next President of Nigeria”, he stated.
In a related development, the APC Professionals Forum has taken its quest for professionals and technocrats in the party to be given more roles to the leadership of the party.
A delegation led by the acting Chairman of its Board of Trustees, Dr Nkem Okeke which met the National Secretary of the party, Senator Iyiola Omisore, was emphatic that the party has an untapped pool of professionals that could easily add value to the party’s operations at all levels.
He said: “The narrative has to change to include this untapped pool of party members who have shown more than a passing interest in politics and governance in country.
“We have quite a number, not only in our midst but also within the rank and file, that are prepared for responsibilities so we crave the indulgence of the National Working Committee (NWC) to also look in the direction of professionals who are registered APC members.
“As a registered think-tank in the party, it falls within our mandate to contribute our quota to strengthening APC. We have therefore being holding consultations with registered professionals bodies in order to woo interested professionals into the party as well as to synergize with them in order to enhance professionalism in governance.
“And while the party is in the midst of electing candidates that will fly our flag in the various elections in 2023, we are hoping to organize conferences, retreats and symposia in partnership with the new APC leadership as part of preparations for the next general elections.”
Responding, Senator Omisore welcomed the idea behind the formation of APC Professionals Forum and promised to support its initiatives.
“We are prepared to work with you and have no problem including professionals in the activities of the party ahead of the next election,” he said.
The delegation which also included the National Coordinator of the forum, Hon. Akeem Akintayo also met the Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Abubakar Kyari, National Vice Chairman (South), Victor Giadom as well as National Organizing Secretary, Alhaji Sulaiman Argungu and his deputy, Nze Chidi Duru.
Obaseki, Orbih factions hold parallel primaries in Edo
THERE was confusion in the 18 local government areas of Edo State as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders held parallel House of Assembly and House of Representatives primaries, which were monitored by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials.
The parallel primaries resulted from the supremacy battle between Governor Godwin Obaseki and the PDP National Vice Chairman, Southsouth, Chief Dan Orbih, a former Edo PDP Chairman, who is an ally of Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike.
Winners from Obaseki and Orbih’s factions called for unity and peace ahead of the 2023 polls, with the primary elections of both factions having security operatives in attendance to prevent the breakdown of law and order.
Our reporter observed that Orbih’s faction had ballot papers with PDP’s logo on them. Obaseki’s faction recorded the votes on pieces of paper. An associate of Orbih, who craved anonymity, said the governor’s faction might face litigation.
In the other primary for Owan West Assembly, the INEC’s representative, Don Itukudo, declared Frank Unuigboje winner, scoring 32 votes to defect his opponent, Ilakhe Izirein, who polled two.
A former Edo Commissioner for Education, Jimoh Ijegbai, who won PDP’s ticket for Owan federal constituency, declared that the party in the Southsouth state remained one big family
In Egor constituency, Henry Okhuarobo elected as the House of Assembly candidate. Osawaru won in Ikpoba-Okha constituency. Jude Ise-Idehen emerged victorious for Egor/Ikpoba-Okha federal constituency.
The Speaker of Edo House of Assembly, Marcus Onobun, won as the candidate for Esan West/Esan Central/Igueben federal constituency.
A former Speaker, Kabiru Adjoto, was the winner for Akoko-Edo federal constituency. An ex-Deputy Speaker of the state’s Assembly, Yekini Idaiye and the incumbent Commissioner for Community and Chieftaincy Affairs, Donald Okogbe, won as candidates for Akoko-Edo constituencies I and II.
Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Andrew Emwanta, denied knowledge of parallel primaries in the state, especially in his Egor local council.
Orbih GSM’s line was not available at press time when The Nation tried to contact him to get his reaction.
An ally of his, who spoke in confidence through the phone, described Obaseki and his associates as jokers, declaring that the national leadership of PDP and the courts would take the final decisions on the “illegal” parallel primaries by the governor’s faction.
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