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2019: Why We Chose Five Presidential Candidates For Debate —- NEDG

Peter Okunoren

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The Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) has explained how five political parties were selected to participate in the presidential and vice-presidential debates.

NEDG Executive Secretary, Eddie Emesiri, said in a statement on Thursday that the parties for the debate were picked through an independently administered multi-stage process.

The statement was issued in reaction to the criticism triggered by the number of political parties selected by the group and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) organizers of the debates.

Emesiri stressed that the decision to select five parties was taken at the beginning of the process to ensure that the debates were managed effectively.

According to him, the stages of the selection process focused on political parties while the organisers considered the importance of diversity in the nation.

The NEDG Executive Secretary insisted that no preference was given to any candidate or party, adding that nobody influenced the organisers to include or exclude any political party from the debates.

The statement read: “Further to our earlier announcement of participating parties for the Presidential Debates, the organising partners of the Debates hereby reiterate the transparency and independence of the selection process that resulted in the five participating political parties.

“Firstly, we would like to state that the Presidential Debates are organised by a partnership of the Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) and Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), a broad coalition of over 100 public and private broadcasters in Nigeria with coverage of terrestrial radio, television, direct-to-home, digital terrestrial television and multimedia distribution system. The members of BON are responsible for over 250 radio and tv stations across Nigeria.

“The choice of participating parties for the debate was made through an independently administered multi-stage process. The first stage was an independent online poll and the second involved the distribution of survey questionnaires per state, to professionals, artisans, students, etc; respondents were within the voting age and spread across urban, semi-urban and rural classifications. The third stage was to take an aggregate of the stage result and extend invitations to the top 5 parties for the debate.

“Following our disclosure of the participating parties earlier in the week, our attention has been drawn to some reactions in the public space over the decision to limit the participation to five parties and exclusion of some party flag bearers from the debate. Considering the vast number of contending parties, the decision to limit to five parties was taken at the beginning of our process to ensure ease of management for the debates. All the stages of the selection process were focused on political parties, taking into consideration the importance of national spread and diversity. Focus was not on specific individuals or candidates.

“We wish to emphatically state that the NEDG and BON were not influenced or induced by anyone to include or exclude any political party from the debate. We understand the disappointment of some political parties who would have wished to see their candidates share their visions for the country at the Debates. However, Nigerians have spoken through the multi-stage process and we urge all Nigerians to respect their choice as we abide by the outcome of the independent party selection process.”

NEDG and BON had named only five political parties to participate in 2019 vice presidential and presidential debates.

The parties listed were Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Young Progressives Party (YPP).

This meant that the presidential aspirants expected at the debate are President Muhammadu Buhari, Atiku Abubakar, Oby Ezekwesili, Fela Durotoye and Kingsley Moghalu.

However, Presidential candidate of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN, Oby Ezekwesili, has sought for five more influential presidential candidates.

The five candidates include: Donald Duke of the Social Democratic Party, SDP; Omoyele Sowore, of the African Action Congress, AAC; Byron Fagbemj of KOWA Party; and John Gbor of the All Progressives Grand Alliance APGA.

The Vice-Presidential Debate and the Presidential Debate are scheduled for Friday, December 14, 2018, and Saturday, January 19, 2019, respectively.

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Malami Defies Social Distancing Directive, Says Courts Expected To Sit During Lockdown

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Courts are expected to attend to matters that are urgent, essential or time-bound, even during the lockdown, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has said.

Malami, a senior advocate, said this in a statement issued by Dr Umar Gwandu, Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Office of the Minister.

“Speedy dispensation of justice is a cardinal principle of the Justice Sector Reform of the present administration, hence, time-bound cases are treated with dispatch and accorded the required attention,” Malami was quoted as said.

Malami had given the directive of the speedy dispensation of time-bound cases in a letter addressed to all heads of court on Wednesday, conveying the COVID 19 Regulation 2020.

He said that the earlier directive issued by the Chief of Justice of Nigeria (CJN) is in tandem with the COVID-19 Regulations 2020 made pursuant to Quarantine Act 2004 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

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Coronavirus Humbles Me, Immigration Boss Speaks From Isolation

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The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammed Babandede, has said being infected with coronavirus is a humbling experience.

Babandede, who spoke from isolation for the first time since he announced that he tested positive for COVID-19 upon his return from the UK on March 22, said Nigerians should pray that the number of cases in the country doesn’t explode further.

In a video he released on Wednesday night, the immigration boss said people all over the country, especially kinsmen from his village, have been gracious with their prayers and show of love towards him.

He said, “Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I will like to thank all my friends, loved ones, officers and men, Muslims and Christians in Nigeria and abroad for the enormous prayers for my quick recovery. I am very grateful for your prayers. In reality, your prayers are helping me recover very quickly.

“I thank Allah for giving me the opportunity to be sick because it gives me the opportunity to humble myself, to also know that I am loved by such a large number of people.

“Today, the 1st of April, I am sending this short video to you to tell you I’m doing well and recovering gradually.

“Please take care always, wash your hands and maintain social distance.

“Continue to pray that Nigeria does not head towards any disaster. The numbers are still small but continue to pray that it does not grow.

“I send my love to you, especially people from my village – people from Kano, Lagos, Abuja, everywhere I can’t even mention. Thank you for your love. Maa Salam.”

Nigeria has recorded over 170 cases of COVID-19 and two attendant deaths.

Lagos and Abuja, the two cities with the highest number of patients, are currently observing a 14-day lockdown while Ogun State would commence its own effective Friday as part of measures to curb the community transmission of the virus which has infected over 900,000 people globally.

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BREAKING: Markets To Open From 10am To 2pm Daily In Lagos, Ogun During COVID-19 Lockdown — FG

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The Federal Government has announced that all markets in states where a lockdown was imposed (Lagos, FCT, and Ogun) will be allowed to open between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm daily.

The National Co-ordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Aliyu Sani, said this on Wednesday during a briefing by members of the task force.

“For markets, only shops and stalls selling food and groceries shall be allowed to open to customers between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm,” he said.

Meanwhile, for supermarkets and food stores, their opening hours must be between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm and all owners and managers have been warned to screen staff and customers before entry.

“On arrival, all staff must be screened for a high temperature and all those found to have a high body temperature above 38, will be denied entry and advised to seek immediate medical attention.

“All deliveries for supplies and products for these supermarkets must be made between the hours of 5:00 am and 9:00 am,” Sani added.

He further stated that at any point in time, the total number of customers inside each store must not exceed a third of the store’s total capacity.

After their closure at 4:00 pm, Sani urged shop owners to ensure that all shelves, aisles, and stores are cleaned and disinfected and by 6:00 pm, staff are conveyed back to their respective homes.

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