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Edo 2020: INEC Insures Over 20,000 Ad-hoc Staff Against Death, Others

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Ahead of the September 19 governorship election in Edo State, the Independent National Electoral Commission says it has ensured all its staff and the 20,974 ad hoc staff that will be deployed for the exercise. It said comprehensive insurance had been put in place for them and those who would serve in the October 10 governorship election in Ondo State.

INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, told journalists in an interview on Saturday that the election officers would be insured against deaths and other election hazards.

There have been apprehensions from within and outside the state that the election, which holds on Saturday, maybe marred by violence. This had prompted INEC, security agencies, prominent individuals, and organizations to sue for peace.

No fewer than 14 political parties would participate in the election, but the two major parties in the state; All Progressives Congress and Peoples Democratic Party, continue to accuse each other of planning to foment trouble during the exercise.

The Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, had on September 2 chastised the candidate of the PDP, Governor Godwin Obaseki; that of the APC, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, and some other party chieftains over the pockets of political violence and tensed political atmosphere in the state.

In a meeting with the candidates, their running mates, and other stakeholders at his palace, the monarch described some of their utterances and activities during the electioneering as immature.

Many previous elections across the country have been marred by violence, during which some election officers were killed.

But in a bid to assure its personnel of its commitment to their safety in the forthcoming election, Okoye said the staff members of the commission were already insured but that the ad hoc staff would be insured.

Okoye said, “All the ad hoc staff engaged by the commission for the purposes of the Edo and Ondo governorship elections will be covered by insurance and it’s comprehensive insurance covering deaths, accidents, and other election hazards. It’s a group insurance that covers every individual given a contract by the commission as ad hoc staff. The staff of the commission are already covered and there is no need to cover them a second time.”

The National Commissioner also said most of the ad hoc staff had been trained, except for Collation Officers who are usually trained three to four days to the election.

He said corps members would be deployed as Presiding Officers and students of federal tertiary institutions as Assistant Presiding Officers. While promising that each of them would be given a contract and their allowances paid promptly, he added, “We plead with them to always supply their correct details and account numbers to prevent the late payment from the bank.”

He added, “The commission will deploy a total of 20,974 election officials in Edo State. We have 18 Local Government Areas in Edo State, so there will be 18 Local Government Collation Officers; 192 Registration Area Collation Officers, 263 Supervisory Presiding Officers, and 2,627 Presiding Officers.

“The commission will also engage a total of 13,557 Assistant Presiding Officers and 3,259 Presiding Officers (Voting Points) and we will also engage not less than 841 Reserves. There will be one Returning Officer for the election. There are 2,627 polling units and a registered voter population of 2,210,534. Our training programme has been robust and we are confident that our trainers have done a good job.

INEC had said out of the 2.2 million registered voters in the state, only 1.72 million collected their permanent voter cards, while 484,000 persons who did not collect theirs would not vote.

Mahmood meets Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu, others Monday

Meanwhile, INEC National Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, will on Monday hold the last stakeholders meeting in Benin, the state capital, while the ad hoc staff would be deployed on Friday prior to their resumption on Saturday. He noted that non-sensitive materials had been deployed to the Registration Areas already.

Okoye said, “The commission will deploy the ad hoc staff to the Registration Area Centers on Friday, September 18, from where they will be deployed to the polling units at first light on Saturday. As a prelude to the election, the Chairman and National Commissioners will hold the last stakeholders meeting on Monday and sign, and the political parties and their candidates will sign a peace accord on Tuesday.”

Yakubu had said on Thursday that the National Peace Committee, INEC, and every conscientious Nigerian had been concerned about the fear of violence in elections.

BIG STORY

Restructure Your State Before Calling For Restructuring At Federal Level —- Lawan Knocks Southern Governors

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Ahmad Lawan, Senate President, has cautioned Governors calling for the restructuring of the country.

Lawan, who spoke to State House correspondents on Thursday, said although he was not against those calling for restructuring, elected officials must not be among those advocating such.

According to him, state governors must ensure that they restructured their respective states first before calling for restructuring at the federal level.

He said: “The call for secession or the call for restructuring, many are genuine calls even though I never believe that someone who is calling for secession means well or is a misguided person.

“But I believe that when somebody calls for improving the structure that we have is a genuine call.

“But I want to advice here, I believe that as leaders those of us who were elected must not be at the forefront of calling for this kind of thing because even if you are a governor you are supposed to be working hard in your state to ensure that this restructuring you are calling for at the federal level you have done it in your state as well.

“This is because what you may accuse the federal government of whatever it is, you may also be accused of the same thing in your state.”

“So, we are supposed to ensure that we have a complete and total way of ensuring that our systems at the federal, state, and even local government work for the people and that we allow people to participate in governance so that whoever feels that he has something to offer to make Nigeria better does so freely without any hindrance.’’ NAN quoted him as saying.

Lawan also said Nigerians must come together regardless of their religious, ethnic, or political persuasions to find lasting solutions to the nation’s challenges.

He called on all elected leaders across the three tiers of government to always avoid primordial sentiments capable of creating division and social discontent among Nigerians.

“We should avoid partisanship, we should avoid regionalism. We are all leaders and we are in this together. The solution must come from us regardless of what level of government we are – whether at the federal, state, or even at the local government level,’’ he added.

Lawan, who also frowned at the way the local government system was relegated to the background in the country, noted that for the nation to address its security challenges the local government system must be functional and efficient.

“I want to take this opportunity also to say that we have diminished the local government system. I think we can attribute some of the security issues to the lack of a functional local government system.

“For me, I think the time has come for us to take up the challenge to ensure that the local government system functions. This is in keeping with looking for ways, for means, for solutions to the security challenges that we face. We must never neglect the local government system.

“I believe that this is one system that had worked even though in a different name. When it was Native Authority it was very effective, very efficient.

“So, we must go back to our local government to ensure that the local government continues to be autonomous, continues to be functional in order to complement whatever the States and the Federal Government would be doing.

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Buhari Will Soon Deal With Criminals, Sponsors, We Won’t Play Politics With Human Lives —- APC

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The All Progressives Congress on Monday said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and his regime, will soon deal with those behind Nigeria’s growing insecurity.

It said the current security challenge was real, as such, the APC as a political party would not play politics with human lives.

This was contained in a statement titled, ‘We must unite against insecurity – APC,’ signed by the party’s National Secretary, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, in Abuja, on Monday.

Akpanudoedehe said, “The issue of insecurity in the country has found expression in terrorist and criminal activities of Boko Haram, bandits, kidnappers, rustlers and recently the highly condemnable attacks on security formations in some states.

“These are current realities and the APC will not play politics with matters of life and our collective wellbeing as a nation.

“As a progressive party in government, we are fully focused on identifying and bringing to book the perpetrators and sponsors of this hydra-headed insecurity monster and consolidating on our visible development strides.”

The party condoled with all those affected by the security incidents and appealed to Nigerians to unite against insecurity and criminality.

The statement further read, “Only in safety can we enjoy the current infrastructure revolution that has witnessed the rehabilitation, construction, and reconstruction of over 13,000 kilometers of critical federal roads, construction of thousands of affordable and acceptable housing and of course, the ongoing national railway projects gainfully connecting cities and towns across the country.”

In an earlier statement titled, ‘APC Condemns Attack on Governor Uzodinma’s Residence, Police Formations,’ Akpanudoedehe condemned the attack on the country home of the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, by unknown gunmen.

He said, “The party equally condemns the wanton attacks on police personnel and formations in Abia, Imo, Ebonyi and Anambra states as well as Rivers State.

“We stand with the Nigeria Police Force and families of the victims in this difficult time as we mourn the deaths of innocent and dedicated security personnel simply carrying out their duty of protecting life and property.

“In Imo state, the attack on the Governor’s residence is an attack on democracy and constituted authority serving the interest of the good people of Imo state.”

It also charged security agencies to fish out the perpetrators of these attacks and their sponsors and ensure that they face the full weight of the law.

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BIG STORY

JUST IN: PDP Member, Kassim Afegbua Drags Party National Chairman, Uche Secondus, To EFCC Over Alleged N10bn Scandal

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A member of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and former Aide to Adams Oshiomhole, Prince Kassim Afegbua, has made true his promise to subject the leadership of the Uche Secondus-led PDP to financial scrutiny by submitting a petition to the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Afegbua, who stormed the EFCC and ICPC offices on Monday at about 10.30 am handed over his petition asking the EFCC to look into the financial transactions of the National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, in the spirit of transparency, accountability, and book-keeping in line with the existing anti-corruption laws, noting that much of the financial transactions of the PDP under Prince Uche Secondus has been shrouded in mystery, accusing the leadership of deliberate attempt to shortchange the party in the build-up to the 2023 general elections.

In the petition, Afegbua is asking the anti-graft agencies to look into and scrutinize close to N10bn that allegedly accrued to the party’s purse from 2017 till date especially those that were as a result of sales of nomination forms for Presidential, Gubernatorial, House of Assembly and Senatorial elections, saying as an opposition party, the leadership should lead by example by ensuring that there is transparency and accountability.

He specifically accused the National Chairman, Uche Secondus of not living up to the expectations of strengthening the party to play its formidable role as a virile opposition party, adding that, avoiding the use of the party’s bank accounts and resorting to the use of one MORUFU NIGERIA LIMITED allegedly as a conduit pipe for financial mismanagement in the sales of forms in 2019 was an aberration.

He called on the EFCC and ICPC Chairmen to urgently ensure that due diligence is carried out to safeguard Nigeria’s democracy and guarantee the interest of the party’s overwhelming members, adding that in the event that the anti-graft agency delays in carrying out its investigation, he would have no option but to seek legal redress in the law court.

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