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No room for rigging, violence in Edo

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday said Saturday’s governorship poll in Edo State will be holding under a charged atmosphere.

The agency, which unfolded a comprehensive plan to safeguard the sanctity of the election, warned trouble makers to stay away from the state.

INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmud Yakubu told stakeholders at the Oba Akenzua Cultural Centre, Benin-city, the state capital, that the agency had packaged security device to check electoral fraud.

He said the ballot papers and result sheets have security features which are a clean break from previous polls.

Assuring that votes will count, he said there will be no room for impunity on poll day, adding that all forms of electoral offences will attract penalties.

Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu said he had deployed 31, 000 policemen to provide security.

He warned that no disruption will be condoned by security agents, who have been mandated to deal with electoral offenders.

The meeting was attended by Governor Godwin Obaseki, and his deputy Philip Shaibu; Southsouth Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chief Dan Orbih; Edo PDP Chairman Dr. Tony Aziegbemi; and his All Progressives Congress (APC) counterpart, Col. David Imuse (rtd).

Also at the forum were INEC National Officer in charge of Edo, Bayelsa and Rivers states, Mrs May Agbamuche- Mbu; and Edo State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Dr. Johnson Alalibo.

Yakubu said INEC’s proposed plan to deploy optimal technology during the exercise would be moderated to prevent a further complication of the already charged environment.

He said “The atmosphere in Edo State ahead of the election this weekend is already charged. We cannot afford to complicate it further by introducing a new technology we are not yet fully satisfied with.”

Yakubu emphasized that, although INEC is committed to a peaceful and credible poll, polling unit results will be uploaded for public view.

He said: “The commission is determined that no one will benefit from impunity or be rewarded for bad behaviour such as vote-buying, ballot box snatching and stuffing, multiple voting, hijacking and diversion of election materials, disruption of collation, falsification of results, attack on INEC officials or compelling them to declare unofficial results.

“The people of Edo State must be allowed to freely vote for their preferred candidate without inducement or harassment.”

Yakubu added: “We have been assured by the security agencies that thugs and their sponsors will not have the freedom to move around freely to disrupt the election or collation of results.”

The INEC boss said the national headquarters of the commission will monitor the election.

“Our zoom situation room will receive live reports from the field. Accredited observers and the media will also be invited to join at intervals.

“By doing so, the commission will receive first-hand information as the election is going on.

“At the same time, citizens can contact us on our various platforms such as the toll-free INEC Citizens Contact Centre (ICCC) telephone line, in addition to our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.”

Acknowledging the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on poll preparation, Yakubu said: “In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, polling units will now open at 8.30 am (instead of 8.00 am) and close at 2.30 pm (instead of 2.00 pm).

“This has become necessary in order to accommodate the additional measures to protect public health necessitated by the global health emergency.

“However, all eligible voters who are in the queue by 2.30 pm will be allowed to vote in line with the commission’s regulations.”

Unfolding plans by the agency to deepen the deployment of technology, he said: “The camera on the tablet will be used to take a picture of the polling unit result (EC8A) and to upload same on a dedicated portal.

“Our ICT Department worked on the new device and made a presentation to the commission which decided that the system needs to be robust enough before it can be deployed in a major election.

“Unlike the 44 polling units of the Nasarawa Central State Constituency, the Edo governorship election involves 2,627 polling units. The commission decided that since this technology is work in progress, we should carry out a further test-run in some of the smaller constituencies during the by-elections scheduled for October 31, 2020, and thereafter engage with stakeholders before it can be deployed in major elections.

“The atmosphere in Edo State ahead of the election this weekend is already charged. We cannot afford to complicate it further by introducing a new technology we are not yet fully satisfied with.

“The uploading of polling unit level results in the election on Saturday will proceed as planned. The z-pads have already been delivered, configured and ad hoc staff trained on its deployment on election day. Enough chargers have been provided to address the power problem identified during the Nasarawa test-run. We envisage that there will be high traffic of persons interested in viewing the results in real-time.

“Consequently, the Commission has dynamically expanded the result viewing portal to accommodate almost two million viewers at the same time without clogging. To view the uploaded results, please visit our website (www.inecelectionresults.com) to register and create an account.

“The smart card readers will be used for voter verification and authentication. This is a mandatory requirement and where it is deliberately avoided to undermine the integrity of the electoral process, the result for the affected polling unit will be declared void, in line with the commission’s regulations and guidelines.

Yakubu assured that electoral officers will be neutral on poll day, adding that all ad hoc staff had been vetted.

He said: “I want to assure you that the personnel of the Nigeria Police Force shall remain impartial, firm and professional. It as also the first time that the Electoral Inter-Agency Security Committee is being put in place. The members have developed a code of conduct for security personnel during the election.

“The personnel know that a document has already been circulated to them that they will be held accountable for any misconduct. A system is also in place for synergy between police, INEC and other security agencies involved in the election, towards guaranteeing a free, fair and credible election.

“Plans have also be perfected by all the security outfits involved in the election to deal decisively with disruptive elements and proactively frustrate any attempt to undermine the election. We shall be deploying 31,000 personnel to protect INEC officials, materials and the electorate.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of INEC, Alalibo, said the agency was ready for the poll, adding that sensitive materials will arrive this week.

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NIGERIA

No going back on Water Resources Bill – FG

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The Federal Government has declared it will go ahead with the Water Resources Bill.

Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed told reporters the bill was not designed to cause water wars in the country.

He said the bill is a panacea to likely water conflicts in the country.

He said critics of the bill have either not read it or might be mischievous.

He said there is no hidden agenda behind the bill.

He said it is not a subterfuge reintroduction of RUGA.

Mohammed made the clarifications at a joint briefing with the Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu in Abuja.

He said: “There is nothing new about the National Water Resources Bill. This is because it is an amalgamation of Water Resources Laws that have been in existence for a long time.

These are:

– Water Resources Act, Cap W2 LFN 2004

– The River Basin Development Authority Act, Cap R9 LFN 2004

– The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (Establishment) Act, Cap N1100A, LFN 2004

– National Water Resources Institute Act, Cap N83 LFN 2004

“So, why are the laws being re-packaged as the National Water Resources Bill 2020?

“The answer is that they are being re-enacted with necessary modifications to bring them in line with current global trends as well as best practices in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

“The overall objective of this amalgamation is the efficient management of the Water Resources Sector for the economic development of Nigeria and the well-being of its citizens.

“The Bill provides for professional and efficient management of all surface and ground water for the use of the people (i.e. for domestic and non-domestic use, irrigation, agricultural purposes, generation of hydro-electric energy, navigation, fisheries and recreation).

“The Bill will ensure that the nation’s water resources are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all persons.

“Critics contend that the Bill is aimed at taking the resources of a certain part of the country for the use of herders. In other words, the Federal Government is seeking to implement RUGA by subterfuge.

“We also want to state that the Bill is for the good of the nation, and has no hidden agenda whatsoever.”

Adamu said the bill was sent to all the states for concurrence without any object.

He said the bill predated the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said:” This was never a Buhari bill, it is a bill for Nigeria. It started 2008 long before the President thought of winning election.”

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NIGERIA

#Fuel hike: No going back on strike, protest – NLC

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The Nigeria Labour Congress has vowed to proceed with its planned strike and protest with effect from September 28 following the failure of the Federal Government to reverse the hike in electricity tariff and fuel price.

Rising from its National Executive Council meeting in Abuja a few minutes ago, the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said the proposed action by the organised labour would proceed from next week.

He stated that the decision was unanimously taken by the chairmen of the 36 states and FCT chapters of the NLC.

Details later…

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Business

#Technology: Sanusi Urges Youths To Explore and not Rely on Government

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The Former Central Bank Governor, CBN, Mohammed Sanusi (II), has urged Nigeria youths not to rely on government but to explore and create opportunities for themselves, especially with technology.

The former CBN governor who was the guest speaker on the second day of the Kaduna Investment Summit explained that over-reliance on oil has left the country unproductive.

“We need to think over and over again as to how we understand economics and what we see. How do we understand technology or electricity are we consumers or are we producers and that’s why investment in human capital is so important.

“Produce young men who know that they are worth more than just using their phone to import a pair of shoes,” he said.

Sanusi said Nigeria has to take economic diversification more seriously in order to experience growth and development.

Referencing Malaysia, Sanusi gave a breakdown of the economic growth of both countries within a 30-year period.

According to him, for Nigeria “there was an increase in wealth but without any structural transformation”.

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“We were growing but we did not diversify and that explains the huge levels of poverty in the country, it explains the huge levels of inequality in the country, it explains the vulnerability of the economy to shocks, it also explains the relatively slow pace of growth because when Malaysia started, they started from a GDP per capita level lower than Nigeria’s GDP per capita in 1985. It started from $310 to $4,045 while we started from $345 to $2,055”.

He also stressed the importance of the government creating the right environment and infrastructure for private businesses to thrive.

The former CBN governor who is also the Vice-Chairman of the Kaduna Investment Promotion Agency noted that with the right environment, the country can move away from being only consumers to producers of technology.

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