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2023: We‘ll uphold electoral justice — INEC Chairman



The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has revealed that even though managing the 2023 general elections is a huge challenge, the commission will stand for electoral justice.

Yakubu made this remark in Lagos at the opening ceremony of INEC Retreat to review recent Ekiti and Osun off-cycle governorship elections and lessons learnt for improved performance in the 2023 general elections.

The retreat had in attendance, INEC National Commissioners, Resident Electoral Commissioners, Civil Society Organisations, Election Experts, and development partners among others.

Yakubu said there had been huge public expectations from INEC to sustain successes recorded in recent off cycle elections and raise the bar ever higher.

“The commission draws vital lessons from the conduct of the most recent off-cycle elections, managing the forthcoming general elections is huge.

“The voter population, number of polling units, election personnel, security considerations, logistics and so on are enormous.

“The willingness of civil society organisations, election experts and development partners to work with the commission to further improve on our processes is a great source of encouragement.

“We are fully aware of the reality that good elections have resulted in even greater expectations on the commission to do better,” the INEC boss said.

According to him, following the successful conduct of the Ekiti governorship election, some people wondered if the same can be repeated in Osun because of its much bigger size and population but Osun election was an improvement on Ekiti election.

“This gives us confidence that working on the same principles, the general elections will also be successfully delivered.

“I want to assure and reassure Nigerians that the commission will stand for electoral justice.

“Only the votes cast by Nigerians will determine who wins and this is our commitment to the nation,” Yakubu said.

On cleaning of voters register, Yakubu assured Nigerians that no ineligible person would participate in the forthcoming general elections.

Describing elections as a multi -stakeholders’ responsibilities, he said that as far as INEC roles and responsibilities were concerned, the commission had made a lot of progress in terms of preparations.

On the challenge of vote buying in elections, Yakubu said that INEC would continue to do whatever it could through voter education to discourage the menace as well as working with security and anti-graft agencies to checkmate the trend.

“It is our collective responsibility as citizens to end vote buying. Our election is only as good as the kind of cooperation that the commission receives to ensure that we stem this ugly trend.

“The ultimate safeguard against this kind of attitude is the establishment of an Electoral Offices Commission and Tribunal through which all violators of electoral law will be prosecuted,” he added.

Yakubu said that every election, whether bye-election, off-cycle election or general election, was special and provided INEC an opportunity to improve service delivery to citizens.

He recalled that in the aftermath of the 2019 general elections, INEC had series of engagements with officials of the commission and election observers, security agencies and all other stakeholders across the board.

“Arising from these engagements, and the individual observation reports submitted by accredited observers, the commission published a review of the election and full report on the election which are still available on our website.

“In particular, the review report identified over 170 recommendations to improve elections in Nigeria.

“In the course of implementing the recommendations that only required administrative action by INEC, we introduced innovations beyond what was envisaged in the review report,” Yakubu explained.

He said that INEC worked together with all stakeholders and the National Assembly to ensure that aspects of the report that required the review of the legal framework were given expeditious consideration.

The INEC boss said that such birthed the Electoral Act 2022 while some of the recommendations that required constitutional amendments were currently under consideration.

According to him, the introduction of technology has made election and the electoral process more transparent.

Yakubu said, “By organising today’s retreat, the commission has sustained the tradition of reviewing our elections to learn lessons for improvement of future elections.

“The truth is that in the last one decade or so, the conduct of elections in particular and the management of the electoral process in general have become more complex.

“Voting populations have become larger and more diverse in terms of their voting needs and expectations.”

He said that over the last two Electoral Cycles (2011-2015 and 2015-2019), INEC had made concerted efforts to respond to these diverse and complex needs and significant improvements had been recorded in the conduct of elections.

Yakubu said that retreat should engender actionable recommendations for the continuous improvement of our electoral process.

In his welcome remarks, Mr Olusegun Agbaje, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Lagos State said the retreat was ‘crucial’ and had become imperative to ensure an improved performance in the conduct of a free, fair, credible and inclusive general election in 2023.

“It is gladdening to note that the new Electoral Act 2022 has given legal backing to INEC to deploy technology to enhance the credibility of the electoral process which has given birth to the deployment of INEC Voter Enrollment Device (IVED), Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal.

“The BVAS and |ReV portal have continued to perform optimally and added the much-needed value to the process as witnessed in the recent governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun,” he said.

Agbaje, however, noted that the Commission needed to begin early and rigorous training for both permanent and ad-hoc personnel on the handling of these new equipment in order to have seamless operations in the forthcoming general elections in 2023.


Tinubu, UNFPA launch 2024 SWOP report in Abuja



President Bola Tinubu, alongside the Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), on Wednesday, launched the 2024 regional State of World Population (SWOP) Report.

During the report launch, which has “Interwoven Lives, Threads of Hope: Ending Inequalities in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights” as theme, Tinubu was represented by Prof. Ali Pate, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare.

Tinubu said “the theme comes with a narrative that reminds us that, globally we are composed of eight billion threads of hope, eight billion people interwoven with each of the threads being very unique.

“It is of note that Nigeria is among the eight identified countries to account for more than half of the projected increase in the world population up to 2050.

“The other countries are Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Philippines and the United Republic of Tanzania.”

He, however, said that meeting the aspirations and hopes of the unique members of these interwoven threads, who are mostly women, girls and young people, places a great demand and a sense of duty on government to keep that hope alive.

“In addition, for each of the threads to be recognised and be relevant, there is need to sustainably invest in generating quality, well-disaggregated data that will help in ensuring none of the threads is un-woven.

“The regional inauguration of the 2024 SWOP report in Nigeria and the presence of the UNFPA Executive Director is a reminder that Nigeria should prioritise data generation to provide the baseline and showcase progress toward the indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“One of such data generation exercise is the conduct of the National Population and Housing Census within the 2020 round of Population and Housing census (2015-2024).

“We are consulting and working closely with the National Population Commission (NPC) to get this exercise right. We count on the support of UNFPA and other partners to get it right.”

In her address, Kanem said that the report presents important data that shows that in many countries, inequalities in such key measures as access to healthcare have been reduced.

She added that in other places, however, disparities are actually widening, and inequalities still persist everywhere.

“The report indicates that since global measurements have been kept, two countries – India and Nigeria – have recorded the highest number of maternal deaths.

“The remarkable reduction in the number of women worldwide dying in childbirth, 34 per cent since 2000 is largely attributable to progress in those two countries.

“Nigeria’s achievement in reducing maternal death rate by more than 11 per cent between 2013 and 2018 must be applauded.”

The UNFPA boss also said there had been advances in combatting Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and harmful practices in Nigeria, with a 10 per cent drop in number of adolescents subjected to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the past decade.

She also said that politically, there had been progress as the proportion of women serving in parliaments more than doubled globally.

In spite of the gains, however, she said, progress was slowing, while by many measures it has stalled completely.

She noted that since 2016, the world made zero progress in saving women from preventable deaths during pregnancy and childbirth.

She explained that “one important reason, our report shows, is that we have not prioritised reaching those furthest behind.

“We see, for example, that barriers to healthcare fell fastest for women who are more affluent, educated and privileged.

“Many of these findings are the result of having better data than ever before. Thirty years ago, maternal mortality rates were only rough estimates.

“Today, data allows us to see clearly the unacceptable rates at which women are dying while giving life; data also shows the inequalities that are quite literally killing them.”

On Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) in Nigeria, she said that in spite of the progress recorded, it still remained high at over 1,047 per 100,000 live births.

Kanem, however, pledged UNFPA’s support for the country to change that statistic.

The Chairman, National Population Commission, Alhaji Nasir Kwarra, said that the theme of the report aptly amplifies issues that matter most beyond the numbers, emphasising the people that make up the numbers.

He requested that the UNFPA should relentlessly advocate for the conduct of the next census; support in the implementation of ideas and interventions to address key issues raised in the 2024 SWOP.

He said the implementation of the National Population Policy captured the commitments made in Nairobi (2019).

They include sexual and reproductive health, particularly of adolescent girls including prioritising family planning and keeping girls in school.

He said that the implementation would in turn, enable Nigeria manage its population, achieve the required shift in population age-structure for a Demographic Dividend (DD) to occur, as well as in the implementation of the DD Roadmap.

In a goodwill message, Sen.  Mustapha Musa, Senate Committee Chairman on National Identity and  Population, said the legislature deems the issue of population and development important.

“Particularly as it relates to the well-being of women, young people and girls, which connects with addressing the existing inequalities and ensuring that sexual and reproductive health and rights receive the deserved attention.

“I reiterate that the committee I chair will ensure that issues arising from the report will be given due attention.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that SWOP is UNFPA’s annual flagship report that features trends in the world population and reports on emerging themes in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

It brings them into the mainstream and explores the challenges and opportunities they present for international development.

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FG hails World Bank’s support to PWDs



The Federal Government has commended the World Bank for providing technical and financial support to Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the country.
The Executive Secretary, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD), Dr James Lalu, said this on Wednesday in Abuja, during a virtual meeting with officials of World Bank.
The meeting was convened to strengthen implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) number 10 and 17 for disability inclusion in Nigeria.
Lalu draw the attention of stakeholders to the need to redesign policies and programmes of the commission to conform with the global standard.
”We need policies redesign in the area of social protection programmes because World Bank has the capacity to stimulate disability inclusion and development programme” he said.
The Executive Secretary expressed commitment to improve the welfare of Persons with Disabilities.
Also speaking, Cindy Ikeaka, a World Bank Social Development Specialist said, the bank will continue to provide technical support to the commission to ensure effective delivery of the needs of PWDs.
Ikeaka also said that the bank was working with other Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government to ensure disability data collection.
”This will ensure proper data management of persons with disabilities ” she said.
On her part, Esther Bature, the Country Coordinator of Sightsavers in Nigeria said, her organisation will continue to strengthen national systems to deliver sustainable services.
”We supported NCPWD to develop a five-year national strategic plan and this plan requires different levels of intervention.
”We are happy to see that the World Bank has supported the commission to a kind of review to include monitoring and evaluation in the plan as well as developed several developments documents,” she said.Batur
Nature also thanked the World Bank for its assistance in building the capacity of the commission’s members of staff.
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IPMAN gives Soludo 1 month to address marketers’ grievances



The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), has given Gov. Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra one month within which to address the demands of marketers in the state or face total shutdown of operations without further notice.

Marketers in the state reached this decision at the end of the statewide meeting held in Awka on Tuesday.

Mr Chinedu Anyaso, Chairman of IPMAN Enugu Depot Community, in charge of Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu States, who addressed Journalists after the meeting, said the association had reported cases affecting its members to the governor without any response.

Anyaso said the grievances of marketers in Anambra included the issue of consolidated revenue payable and withdrawal of all litigations against members based on multiple taxation which was not in line with the understanding IPMAN had with the Anambra government.

He said IPMAN discussed the problem of non-payment of debt amounting to about N900 million owed contractors who supplied diesel for powering streetlight projects in the state.

Anyaso also said that among the demands of the association was the demolition of part of the property of Chris Tee Nigeria limited, a marketer at Trans-Nkissi phase 1 along Onitsha-Otuocha road which was destroyed by agents of government.

He said IPMAN would not issue further notice upon the expiration of the deadline before shutting their outlets.

Anyaso thanked Chief Ken Maduako, a patron of the association, Mr Golden Iloh, member of the Anambra State House of Assembly and representative of the Anambra Internal Revenue Service, for their intervention and hoped that the Soludo administration would act on their plea to prevent the looming industrial action.

He commended Gov. Soludo for his efforts to make Anambra a peaceful and liveable state while urging him to make the business environment conducive for investors, especially oil marketers.

He pledged positive disposition of the association to continue to support his administration to succeed.

The chairman commended marketers for complying fully with the partial shutdown and attendance to the meeting, saying it was a great show of comradeship.

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