Thursday, July 31, 2014

Nigeria: Commonwealth Pledges to Assist Nigeria in 2015 Polls

AS Nigerians await the 2015 elections, Secretary General of Commonwealth, Kamalesh Sharma, has pledged that Commonwealth family will help Nigeria strengthen the existing machinery already put on ground for credible elections next year. Sharma made the pledge Wednesday in Abuja after a closed-door meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aminu Wali.

"Each organisation brings its own strength and our strength is more in the direction of social harmony, resolving grievances within the society, particularly as recommended by our own report in the area of women, youth, media and education. The important aspect of our engagement is that it is in harmony with the policy of our member-states; that is why I am here to see where we can strengthen the already existing mechanism", he said. The secretary general also commended the Nigerian government and the electoral body for a job well done in the past general elections where volunteers were employed to strengthen the workforce.

"This makes a clear point that the people are in ownership of the whole exercise", he said.
Responding, Wali appreciated the Secretary General for the visit, expressing optimism that their visit would aid Nigeria overcome its challenges. He said: "First of all, let me welcome the honourable guest to Tafawa Balewa House once again. Earlier, we had a session with the Secretary General in my office where we discussed matters of interest to Nigeria and the Commonwealth organisation.

Source: The Guardian

Nigerian politicians complete democracy training ahead of 2015 elections

Nigerian political leaders have completed another round of training ahead of next year's national elections. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) representatives collaborated with the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) to engage the Nigerian political stakeholders on democratic systems, major political problems, and elections.

The course organised by the UNDP's democratic governance for development project and the and the European Union, was held at the Political Parties Leadership and Policy Development Centre at the NIPSS in Jos, Plateau State. The UNDP/DGD is in partnership with NIPSS to strengthen the leadership and organisational capacities of political parties as institutional foundation of Nigeria's democracy," UNDP/DGD Director Daouda Toure said.

"The task of the UNDP was to ensure that political parties in Nigeria are policy-oriented, responsive, inclusive and more accountable to their members and the society". The UNDP/DGD said it placed emphasis on the mindset of politicians and their supporters ahead of the 2015 election, especially on defeat management and attitudes. We are working to strengthen political parties, to develop policies, better organise and understand their roles in governance. We help political parties learn how to develop policies that impact positively on the people," NIPSS director, Tijani Muhammed-Bande told reporters.

The workshop was attended by national officers, including national youth leaders of the 26 registered political parties in the country. However, the director, research and chief operative officer of the PPLDC, Olu Obafemi criticised the near absence of groups like women, young people, and the physically challenged. Political parties should implement measures such as promoting internal democracy, diversifying their sources of funding and encourage participation of vulnerable groups in all aspects of party affairs," he said.

Source:  The Africa Report

Ghana: Electoral Commission announces new dates for voters registration

The Electoral Commission (EC) has announced August 4 to 13, 2014 as the new dates for the revision of the voters register. A statement signed by Mr Amadu Sulley, the Deputy Chairman (Operations) of the EC, said following the determination of the suit before the Supreme Court, applicants were to note that only a Ghanaian passport, a driver’s licence, a national identification card or an old voter ID card issued before the coming into force of CI 72 would be accepted as means of identification.

“The commission wishes to stress that by the court’s ruling, it will not accept the National Health Insurance card as one of the identification documents,” it stated. It reminded applicants that those who qualified to be registered but did not have any of the required “identification documents may still have their registration guaranteed by two registered voters”. The statement said the registration would take place at designated centres in every electoral area and indicated that it would start at 7 a.m. and end at 6 p.m. each day.

Source: Daily Graphic

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ghana: Supreme Court stops Electoral Commission from using NHIS cards for voters registration

The Supreme Court has upheld an application brought by Youth Organiser of the People's National Convention, Abu Ramadan, challenging the constitutionality of the decision of the Electoral Commission to use health insurance cards for the voters' registration exercise.

The Court has thus imposed an injunction on the electoral governing body, barring it from using the National Health Insurance Scheme cards as identity for registering voters for national elections. The PNC National Youth Organiser and a private lawyer Kwasi Danso-Acheampong, filed separate suits which were later merged to challenge the EC over the use of the national health insurance ID’s for the exercise. They asked the highest court of the land for a proper interpretation of Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution which states that "Every citizen of Ghana of eighteen years of age or above and of sound mind has the right to vote and is entitled to be registered as a voter for the purposes of public elections and referenda."

The plaintiffs argued that since one is not necessarily required to be a citizen to hold NHIS Card, accepting the card as a basis to register a person to vote in national elections is a violation of the constitution. The Supreme Court agreed and granted all the reliefs sought. The Court had earlier asked the EC to stop its public advertisement on the voter registration exercise while it determined the case before it. The judges had some harsh words for the EC which they said was acting with impunity. Wednesday's ruling means the EC can now proceed with the registration exercise but without the NHIS cards. The Court however deferred to August 17 to give the reasons for its ruling.

Source: Myjoy Online

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Egyptian parliamentary elections to be held before end of 2014

Egypt’s parliamentary elections are to be held by the end of this year, the government announced on Sunday. A government statement said President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi had discussed plans to hold parliamentary elections by the end of the year with visiting Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo y Marfil on Sunday. The elections are the final step in a political road map drawn up in the wake of the ousting of former president Mohamed Mursi last year. The first two steps—the adoption of a new constitution and the election of a new president—have already been completed.
A spokesman for Sisi’s office, Ihab Badawi, said: “The Egyptian president explained to the Spanish side our vision for the developments in the internal situation in Egypt, and the preparations to complete the last part of the road map represented by the parliamentary elections before the end of this year.”

Badawi added: “The president emphasized Cairo’s hope for the continuation of the Spanish position in understanding developments in Egypt, as well as the continuation of Madrid’s support for Egypt’s efforts to establish a democratic political system and fight terrorism, especially in light of Spanish expertise in dealing with terrorism.”Meanwhile, Egyptian politicians are continuing their efforts to form alliances between the country’s numerous fractious political parties, as the elections draw closer.
Despite a number of political parties already announcing electoral alliances, and the election lists being announced only after the Eid Al-Fitr holiday on Wednesday, the final shape of the new alliances has yet to emerge, observers of Egypt’s political scene have said. A number of political sources, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity, blamed the delay on infighting over leadership roles within possible alliances. One source also said the delay was due to “the presence of personalities affiliated to the defunct National [Democratic] Party [of former president Hosni Mubarak], in addition to some alliances controlled by businessmen, which increases parties’ concerns.”

Another source warned of growing fears that the number of alliances being formed risked splitting the vote, and “may open the door for the Islamist movements to infiltrate parliament again.”
Egypt’s last parliament was dissolved by judicial decree in 2012, on the grounds that some legislators affiliated with Islamist parties had won seats reserved for independents. In a press statement on Sunday, Dr. Ahmed Darraj, a leading figure in the 25–30 Alliance, put the delay in the formation of political alliances down to the “election situation remaining unclear,” and the difficulty of coordinating the efforts of a large number of different parties within each coalition. Darraj added that the short lifespan of an election alliance was another reason for the delays, because the alliances were not expected to last beyond the elections. Dr. Mustafa El-Nahas, secretary-general of the Egyptian National Movement, warned political parties against disagreement over alliances and stressed the importance of coordination to prevent hardline movements winning power.

He said in a statement issued on Sunday that he hoped Egypt’s mainstream parties would unite in one or two alliances at most.The new constitution stipulates that parliamentary elections should be held within a period of no longer than six months from the date of its adoption, which occurred in January. However, a number of delays have occurred, leading the government to push the date of the elections back. The final dates of the election are expected to be announced soon. The next parliament is expected to play a bigger role in governing Egypt because of constitutional changes adopted at the beginning of 2014, which granted the country’s legislature wider powers.


SADC Countries for General Elections - Liberation Movements to Hold On?

2014 and 2015 are hectic years for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries as most of them are engaged in a sensitive exercise of changing guard in their leadership. Their ten-year tenures are either over or heading to the end. The countries are therefore constitutionally required to face the electorates to ask for their mandates. Expiry of ten years tenure has a double jeopardy for the politicians in retaining their parliamentary seats and that of the ruling party to enhance their status quos.

Under the current political climate where the opposition parties have now become a force to reckon with, is it a smooth run for the ruling parties? It is during this time the politicians become humble, down to earth and even prepared to shelve projects that may seem to be unpopular to the electorates so as to lure their votes. You may remember the Zambian leader Michael Satta during the electoral campaigns in Zambia; he vowed to flush out Chinese from his country if he were to be given a mandate to rule that country. Did he do that? Chinese are right now rebuilding that country through their heavy investments in mining. The SADC country in which Tanzania is one of the founder members is slated to go to the polls next year though the mood is very rife right now for aspirants to start the cutthroat political campaigns. Already countries like South Africa and Malawi have elected their leaders where ANC's Jacob Zuma has been brought back while Malawi's Joyce Banda could not retain her office.

Other countries like Mozambique and Namibia will go to polls before the end of this year. We could see early this month the Mozambican's FRELIMO presidential hopeful; Filipe Nyusi came to Tanzania to seek psychological support with the sister party CCM. The visit of the Mozambican FRELIMO's Presidential candidate to Tanzania has a special significance to those once liberation movements of Southern Africa, SWAPOs' Namibia, Angola's MPLA, Zimbabwe's ZANU- PF, South Africa's ANC on their quest of not only retaining their party's solidarity but also the great desire of enhancing the original spirit of Pan Africanism. They always think of their lost alley from their fold, the Zambia's UNIP which cannot make a comeback. The survival of these parties is based on the strong grassroots support they enjoy from their people. Angola's MPLA has fought for years the civil war engineered by UNITA's Savimbi and went on eventually winning.

FRELIMO's Renamo war by Alfonso Dlakama was so disastrous yet the gallant Mozambican people fought them away. The ANC split in the Polukweni Congress saw defection of some strong cadres of ANC yet the Party remained stronger. Namibia's SWAPO had nasty period when prominent politicians the likes of Hidipo Hamutenya, the then right hand man of Sam Nujoma, defected from SWAPO on the fight for the Presidency of Namibia after the retirement of Dr. Nujoma. It was in this spirit when these former liberation parties met at Windhoek's Hilton Hotel in August 2012 to discuss on regional unity and stability as consequence framed goals that can only be assured by the continued stay in power of former liberation movements.

It appears they have framed themselves as cathedrals of morality and developed a self-righteous life of their own - to remain in power with an assumption that framed goals, economic development, peace and stability can only be assured by the continued stay in power of former liberation movements.

Source: Tanzania Daily News

Burundi: Rights group condemns ruling party ahead of polls

Burundi's ruling party is carrying out a "relentless campaign of intimidation" against opposition and critics, ahead of presidential elections next year, Amnesty International said Tuesday. "The government's clampdown on free expression and peaceful assembly has serious implications for human rights ahead of next year's elections," said Amnesty researcher Tom Gibson.

The small nation in Africa's Great Lakes region emerged in 2006 from 13 years of brutal civil war and its political climate remains fractious ahead of presidential polls due in June 2015. President Pierre Nkurunziza, in power since 2005, is believed to be planning a third term in office, which his opponents claim would violate Burundi's constitution. The presidential vote is scheduled for June 2015. The rights groups warned of a "crackdown on freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly," as well as a "sharp increase in politicised violence" linked to the ruling CNDD-FDD party.

Human rights abuses

Its youth wing, know as the Imbonerakure, has "strong links to the security services and are responsible for perpetrating human rights abuses with impunity," Gibson added, accused the group of "intimidation, harassment and violence, attacking and even killing members of the political opposition."

One UN official has said there are an estimated 20,000 Imbonerakure members. "Opposition groups and civil society have been arbitrarily denied permission by the authorities to meet publicly," Amnesty said, adding that a press law and draft law on non-profit organisations "pose a further threat to free expression and peaceful assembly." A United Nations official was expelled in April after a confidential note reporting the distribution of weapons by the government to the Imbonerakure was leaked.

Source: Africa Review

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Nigeria Election: People without permanent voter card ineligible to vote

Selina Okoh, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Imo, said INEC has decided that only those who have Permanent Voter Card (PVC), would be eligible to vote in 2015 general elections.
Okoh made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Owerri on Tuesday.

She said although INEC headquarters had cancelled the initial date for the distribution of the cards in the state, a new date would soon be communicated to the electorate. “INEC has decided that only voters with permanent voter card would be eligible to vote during the 2015 general elections and Imo will not be an exception. “Imo is grouped in the third phase of the distribution of the permanent voter card. “Due to logistic challenges encountered during the distribution of the cards in the first phase, the leadership of the commission adjusted the time table for the distribution of the cards’’, she said.

The REC dismissed insinuations that the commission might still use the temporary voter card for the conduct of the 2015 general elections. She said the continuous voter registration was meant for three categories of voters  “The first category is for voter below 18 years in 2011, the second group are voters who are of age, but could not register while the third group are those who registered but could not find their names on the register’’, she said. Okoh warned voters not to sell their cards to politicians.

Source: Hunu Online

Ghana: AAEA meets to share experiences on the use of biometric technology in Africa

The Association of Africa Election Authorities (AAEA) is meeting in Accra to share experiences of member countries on the use of biometric technology in election management. The meeting is a platform for member countries to share their problems and how they were resolved. The Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, says the biometric technology alone cannot address the challenges of any electoral system.

According to him, machines could not undertake certain functions during election activities, such as the detection of minors and non-nationals in the registration of voters. Sharing Ghana’s experience in biometric technology during elections at a conference in Accra yesterday, Dr Afari-Gyan told the participants that the EC had to employ other measures to prevent foreigners and minors from voting, adding that “the machine will not solve all our problems”. The Chairman of Ghana's Electoral Commission, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan said though technology in election administration has proved to be immensely helpful, that should not be promoted at the expense of the fundamentals of a good election, which are accuracy, transparency and fairness.

The three-day conference, which brought together participants from other African countries, will discuss the sustainability of biometric technology in elections in Africa. Citing some instances of the breakdown of biometric machines during the registration of voters and elections in 2012, Dr Afari-Gyan said the biometric identification machine failed to identify voters whose names were in the voters register. He said some of the machines broke down due to the volume of work, adding that the internal battery of the biometric kit ran out very fast “and the internal battery of the laptop could not support the process alone”. “It is a multi-component kit and so if one device does not work, it affects the whole election process,” he said.

During the piloting of the biometric voting and registration system, Dr Afari-Gyan said, some centers had challenges capturing the photographs of women in veil but the EC overcame the challenges through community education. He said the software used during the 2012 elections made it difficult for officials to locate certain districts, a situation which wasted a lot of time. Another challenge was the invasion of some polling centers by heavily built men, popularly called “machomen”, during the voters registration exercise. “Some thugs took the law into their own hands and invaded some centers to disrupt the process,” he said.

Source: GBC

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Nigeria: UNDP allays fear over 2015 elections

THE United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has allayed the fear in the minds of Nigerians that 2015 general elections would mar the country. It assured that the election was “a possible turning point for the best for Nigeria.”  The UNDP Resident Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Daouda Toure, who said this yesterday while on a courtesy call to the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), reassured that Nigeria would come out stronger from the elections.
Toure said: “Since conflict is a part of every society, you have to begin to address it even before it starts: the culture of peace must be inculcated in the minds of our politicians before the elections. We are therefore delighted to be associated with this initiative by NIPSS to strengthen the capacity of political parties so they become key pillars of Nigeria’s democratic polity.”

According to Toure: “Democratic Governance Development (DGD) and NIPSS developed a curriculum to equip young party leaders with the fundamentals to drive a robust democratic engagement - it provides strategic and techniques for how parties can become stronger institutions themselves.” But NIPSS said that as a foremost institute in West Africa and indeed Africa and part of its mandate to strengthen the capacity of political parties in Nigeria for peaceful elections, it has taken it upon itself to strengthen the capacity of political parties with a view to bringing stability, national unity and meaningful participatory democracy in Nigerian political system.

The Director-General of the institute, Prof. Tijjani Muhammad Bande, while thanking UNDP for its immense support, said that the institute had trained about 200 political party officials, including chairmen, secretaries, treasurers, financial secretaries, women leaders, legal advisers and publicity secretaries at the national levels, adding that the training would be extended to leaders at the state and ward levels before the 2015 elections.With Toure on the visit were his wife, Mrs. Toure, DGD Project Director, Dr. Mourtada Deme, UNESCO Director and Prof. Alidou Hassana, among others.

Source: The Guardian

Nigeria: INEC to adopt new plans to educate electorates

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it will adopt various strategies to educate the electorate, especially rural and illiterate voters, ahead of next year’s general elections.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, said various platforms would be developed to reach out to the electorate. Jega spoke yesterday in Abuja at a four-day workshop organised by the United States Embassy for INEC Public Affairs officers, with the theme: The Role of INEC Press Officers: Enhancing Good Governance Through Media and Grassroots Outreach.

The INEC chairman said various platforms would be developed to ensure that the electorate are adequately informed about their roles in the conduct of credible elections. He assured Nigerians that INEC had put in place measures to enhance capacity of its staff. Jega said: “It resonates with our thinking that the commission needs to reach out to a majority of our people who live in the rural areas, who are largely illiterate and who need to be educated about the electoral process in an elaborate, clear and sustained manner. “We think that different stategies and platforms need to be deployed to reach out to them rather than the elitist and high brow ones we are used to.” He explained further that the efforts at building the capacity of staff is informed by the fact that well trained staff are most likely to exude confidence and to perform their tasks competently.

Jega commended the United States government for providing lead facilitator for the workshop in person of Derwin Johnson. In his remark, the United states Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle argued that that the training is part of the United States’ support to INEC and Nigeria for all upcoming elections, including the national ones in 2015. The ambassador stressed that the US supports free, credible, inclusive and peaceful process in which democratic principles are adhered to by all parties, candidates and institutions. He said, “You’re well aware that the U.S. supports a free, credible, inclusive, and peaceful electoral process in which democratic principles are adhered to by all parties, candidates, and institutions.  This process encompasses all stages in the run-up to elections, including preparation of voter rolls, running campaigns, conducting the actual election, and handling any problems immediately afterwards.  We support an election process that protects the rights of Nigerians to use the ballot box to reflect the views and concerns of their communities—a process that helps produce a stable, democratic government regardless of which candidate wins.”

“The key word there is process, because that’s what you’re there to protect the integrity of.  Public affairs officers help shape public knowledge and perceptions about elections and the debate process, and provide crucial information on voters’ rights and the voter registration process.  What you do is vital to creating an informed electorate that knows where it needs to go and what it needs to do to cast the ballot.  The better informed the public is of their rights and responsibilities, the better the elections will be. Better elections drive more legitimate candidates to the forefront, and this positive momentum continues forward.  You’re vital to this, and it’s why we’re committed to providing these trainings. He congratulated INEC and several electoral stakeholders on last June’s successful election in Ekiti State. “Positive momentum builds up, and I believe that you will carry this forward into the August elections in Osun, and hopefully into next year,” he said.

Source: The Nation

Monday, July 21, 2014

Namibia: SWANU Launches its Manifesto for 2014 Elections

On the 19th of July 2014, SWANU of Namibia led all political parties in the nation by being the first to launch its manifesto for the 2014 elections to much fanfare and media presence. In the highly lauded manifesto – which caries the slogan “Caring and Sharing” – the party sets out 5 priority areas that cover most of Namibia’s socioeconomic issues. These priority areas are Accountability, Education, Social Justice, Land and Wealth.
To read or download the manifesto, please click here: SWANU Final Manifesto

Friday, July 18, 2014

Tunisia: Voter registration teaching manual approved

On June 25, 2014, the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly adopted a law stipulating that parliamentary and first-round presidential elections will take place on October 26, 2014 and November 23, 2014 respectively. This ended months of speculation over the date of the next elections, and for the Tunisian people, this is a clear signal of the government’s preparedness to move forward with the democratic transition. With the High Independent Authority on Elections (ISIE) only five months into its tenure, elections officials quickly recognized the need for urgent action if the second round of elections after the revolution were to be held on time and with the highest standards for performance.

The first major exercise for the ISIE was registering voters nation-wide, which began on June 23 and will continue until July 22. Knowing that the ISIE lacked the necessary staffing and resources to prepare for this exercise in the time required, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), with the support of the Middle East Partnership Initiative, worked with ISIE officials to finalize and print a Voter Registration Training Manual for ISIE staff.

For this exercise, IFES and its Training Specialist Emad Yousef actively engaged with the ISIE in all phases of production for the manual, including development of the structure, content and design. Yousef, a Jordanian national, has extensive experience working with IFES across the Middle East and North Africa region on training and professional development for election administration officials, and he is fully accredited in the Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) training methodology. Mr. Yousef met daily with ISIE staff in charge of training to help develop the format, and advised on content for preparation of the voter registration exercise, and necessary steps in the process. ISIE training staff as well as the ISIE legal department contributed to the manual, making it an excellent example of the collective efforts the ISIE will carry out as it prepares for the upcoming elections. After the manual was approved by the ISIE, IFES agreed to print 5,000 copies, and these were delivered on June 12, 2014.

Source: Int. Foundation for Electoral Systems

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Nigeria: Impeachment of opposition governors threatens 2015 polls

A civil society group, Voters Assembly, VOTAS, has said the impeachment of the governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako, is an ominous sign that the path towards achieving stable and fair election in 2015 is already laid with landmines.Mr. Nyako was impeached by the Adamawa State House of Assembly on Tuesday while his deputy, Bala Ngilari, resigned his position. Stating that the governor’s removal has set a new template for vindictive politics in Nigeria, VOTAS warned that if not checked, the impeachment gale could have spill-over effect in other states where legislators were already pumping the war drums.

It listed the states as Edo, Rivers, Nasarawa and Kano, saying the states had been put on the keg of gun powder and nobody could predict the end of the chain reactions it could cause.“Obviously, the political environment is now soaked with series of alarms over threat to the lives of key members of opposition parties and potential candidates in the 2015 election,” VOTAS said in a statement by its President, Mashood Erubami, on Wednesday.“The threat of impeachment actions is hovering over some of the states not under the control of the PDP, a worrisome and anti-democratic advance being perpetrated through monetarily-pacified legislators who are daily waking up to see the past misdemeanours committed by their governors.

“These same legislators have had to encourage their governors to defect to other parties and later using the defection and not really the listed allegations for their impeachment.”The group noted that in the case of Mr. Nyako, the legislators had shown that there was no thorough investigation of the conduct of the governor “as they were only out to play the script of devil written for them from outside the state without due regards for God and the constitution.”It said the way the investigation was handled within few days of sitting by the panel as against the three months prescribed by the constitution as well as the manner of submitting and affirming the report by the House within few days it was submitted to it, suggested that it was not the allegations that were at the root of the impeachment.

VOTAS said, “The legislators themselves are guilty of gross misconduct, a grave violation of the processes set by the constitution to be met before any impeachment could be commenced such as direct personal service and fair hearing, more so when the Supreme Court has ruled that such a notice must be personally served.“The question is that – should the law be disallowed to rule because of the preference of the few who want to abuse their power and misuse their authority? “The Legislators’ action portends a dangerous trend coming at a wrong time when we are dangerously transiting from civil governance to democracy in the midst of overwhelming insecurity, a very risky and  unacceptable style designed to deal with political office holders who disagree with the presidency.”
The group said with the impeachment threats, the newly elected NBA President, Augustine Alegeh, and his executive had a role to play in protecting and defending the constitution and should, therefore, save Nigerians from “few political hawks” who intend to make Nigeria a banana republic.

It further stated that Mr. Nyako’s impeachment put the Nigeria judiciary to test even as it asked judges to show what they represent in the chain of justice and confirm once and for all, if they could ever be the last bus-stop for seeking fairness and justice in the land and if they could be trusted.
VOTAS also called on the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, “to rise up to challenge this new day anarchical politics by demonstrating strong capacity now, that they can rule this country better by using all constitutional means to ensure that the Nyako impeachment do not fly, so as to arrest other such impeachments being planned to be carried out in most of the opposition states.”

The group also warned, “In fact the syndrome of using rigging and impeachment as a tool for fighting the opposition parties and candidates to bring down performing governments, should no more be tolerated anymore and Nigerians too, must use the coming 2015 elections to halt for all time, the occupation of political offices by those who lack the passion to serve the people and conscienceless politicians without the capacity and necessary blue print for sustainable Human Development.”

Source: Premium Times

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Nigeria: Representatives and the moves towards credible elections in 2015

KOLAWOLE DANIEL writes on the move by the House of Representatives to amend the Electoral Act, No. 6, 2010 which seeks to ensure a level-playing field for all participants in the electoral process ahead of 2015 elections. ON  July 3 the House of Representatives, set the machinery in motion to amend the Electoral Act, No. 6, 2010 which seeks to ensure a level-playing field for all participants in the electoral, process ahead of 2015 elections. The bill equally sought to ensure “a more transparent process of conducting elections in Nigeria.” The bill was sponsored by Honourables Daniel Reyenieju, Sabo Nakudu, Emmanuel Jime, Usman Kumo, Abimbola Daramola and Eddie Mbadiwe.  While leading the debate on the bill, Honourable Reyenieju stated that the 2010 Electoral Act needed to be amended to encourage more participation from Nigerians in electoral process. There are 28 sections that were proposed for amendment in the principal act (Electoral Act, 2010) by the lawmakers to the House.

Speaking on the proposed amendment, Honourable Reyenieju explained that, ‘‘this set of amendments will seek to ensure a level-playing field for all. The parliament has a responsibility to do this, especially now that we have the 2015 elections coming up a few months away. There are many areas in the Act that require attention and that is what this Bill intends to address.” Mostly, a new sub-section (b) proposed to the extant Section 29(1) of the Principal Act seeks to give more powers to the Independent National Electoral Commission  (INEC) to be the authority to request for the deployment of security personnel for election monitoring. The explanatory note to the bill indicated that, the new provision also seeks to ensure that the commission is responsible for requesting and deploying relevant security personnel necessary for elections or registration of voters; assigning them in the manner determined by the commission in collaboration with the relevant security agencies, with the condition that the deployment of the Nigerian Armed Forces shall only be for the purpose of securing the distribution and delivery of election materials.”

Also in the new amendment to the electoral Act, aside proposing new Section 9, the House introduced another amendment to Section 31 of the existing law to limit the time in which political parties will submit the list of their candidates to INEC after primaries to 60 days. In addition, the courts can now disqualify candidates after their names have been submitted to INEC, whenever it is discovered that information filed in their court affidavits are false. The new sub-section 7(A) in the new amendment provides for the “disqualification of candidates presented to the commission by political parties, whose information is false.”  The House is also proposing that, when a candidate who wins the primaries dies or withdraws from an election, “he/she shall only be substituted with the candidate who scored the second highest votes during the primaries.”More so, the sub-section 90 in the proposed amendment also seeks to empower INEC to limit the money and assets that political parties can acquire through contributions. The amendment also intend empower INEC to demand information regarding the sources of funds of political parties. 

Accordingly, the proposed amendment seeks to forfeit such monies and assets obtained in contravention of Section 221 of the Constitution (1999) or the existing Act to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” Also, Section 100 of the principal act of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2014 is expect to be amended by inserting a new subsection (1A) “without prejudice to subsection (1) of this section, the commission shall, within the time appointed  for political campaigns, cause to be conducted a presidential campaign debate for contestants to the offices of the president/vice president and a gubernatorial campaign debate for contestants of the offices of the governor/deputy governor”.
Campaign debate for the contestants as indicated by the proposed amendment, stated that, “the commission (INEC) shall appoint a Presidential Debate Committee comprising the following: “The chairman who shall be a person of repute and who shall not be a card carrying member of any political party;

“A representative each from a political party with not less than 10 per cent of elected members in either House of the National Assembly and which has a candidate at the said presidential election;
“Three representatives of the Civil Society Organisation actively involved in election monitoring and election campaigns, one representative of each of the Television networks; two representatives of the print media, two representatives of the Radio networks; two representatives of the Nigeria Union Journalists, NUJ”. In his contribution to the bill, Honourable  Aliyu Madaki stressed that the importance of the Bill included ensuring free and fair elections as well as growth of democracy.
On his part, the Chairman, House Committee on Electoral Matters, Honourable  Jerry Man we noted that, “it is our responsibility to ensure that we sanitise the electoral process by amending the Act to give an enabling environment for all to take part”.

However, the Speaker, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal, on reading the mood of the House toward debate on the Bill deferred further debate on it till July 8. A portion of the bill that has to do with the deployment of security personnel, including the Armed Forces, to monitor the polls raised dust in the House.  To this end, the July 8 date set for the continuation of debate on the general principles of the Bill witnessed yet another rowdy session over the legality or otherwise of the president to deploy military during elections. Though despite the controversy generated by the legality or otherwise of the power of the  president to deploy military during elections, the bill passed through second reading.

Trouble, however, started before the passage of the Bill, when the House Deputy Leader, Honourable Leo Ogor and the Chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Honourable Albert Sam-Tsokwa, while supporting the Bill, maintained that the powers of the President to deploy military were by the 1999 Constitution (as amended) as well as Section 8 of the Armed Forces Act.
But, the Minority Leader of the House, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, rejected the position of the duo and this led to a rowdy session in the House. This even led to a situation where both Honourable Ogor and Gbajabiamila looked into each others eye and exchange harsh words.

Source:  Nigerian Tribune

Monday, July 14, 2014

Nigeria: INEC urges advertisers to support 2015 elections

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has pleaded with the political advertisers to support the 2015 election by placing adverts that will portray Nigeria to the rest of the world in a positive light rather than otherwise. The Commission also commended the advertisers through its umbrella body, the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, AAAN, and other organizations for their drive in making issues pertaining to the electoral process in Nigeria their priority.

INEC Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega who gave the commendation in a remark at the International Political Advertising, Perception Building and Voter Education Seminar in Abuja, said that with the support of all stakeholders in both civil society and media, the success of the 2015 general election would not be in doubt. “As we approach the general elections in February 2015, no effort should be spared by stakeholders in promoting civic enlightenment among the electorate in line with global best practices among the political elites.“For us at INEC, we have always said that even though the 2011 general elections were widely acclaimed as a major improvement on the past elections, we are determined to raise the bar much higher in 2015.

“Our goal is not to only make the 2015 elections much better than 2011; they should also be very good when measured using international benchmark of democratic elections. We encourage other stakeholders to come on board and contribute their quota towards achieving this mega objective,” Jega said. The INEC boss said that the seminar with the theme, “PoliticalB Advertising, Perception Building and Voter Education” was quite timely. Prof Jega who stressed the need for voter civic education assured participants in the workshop that the Commission was doing all within its powers to ensure that adequate voter education.

“INEC recognizes the profound importance of building the right perception of the Nigerian electoral process among the electorate. That is why we are leaving nothing to chance in our effort to improve the level of voter education and civic sensitization about the process. “We know too well that poor voter education partly, if not substantially, accounted for some major challenges we experienced as a country in past elections. These challenges include voter apathy, unduly high level of void votes in elections and, indeed, the unfortunate incident of post-election violence in 2011,” he said.

Source:  Nigerian Pilot