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N305bn Budgetary Allocation: Trust in public institutions to reduce election cost — INEC Chairman



…Calls for collective support to tackle underage voting

By Moses Adeniyi

The Chairman, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has declared that  one major problem creating bottlenecks for election process in Nigeria has been lack of trust in public institutions.

According to him, lack of trust in public institutions have made safeguarding election materials very costly, hence causing financial implications which have made election costly in the Country.

The INEC Chairman while briefing the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), on the preparations of the Commission towards the 2023 General elections, said against the experience in advanced democracies where the cost of trust “is far lower,” the cost of trust in public institutions in Nigeria makes it very expensive to keep election materials safe.

According to him, the management of elections in Nigeria is expensive due to the way and manner they are conducted in the Country.

“Elections are expensive simply because of the way we conduct our elections. One of the cost we pay is the cost of trust in public institutions.

“It is unthinkable that anyone would snatch or mismatch the ballot paper,” he said of advanced democracy, mentioning that the cost of lack of trust in Nigeria makes election in the Country very costly.

He said should confidence in trust be built and enhanced in the Country, “the cost in the conduct of election would come down drastically.”

The INEC Chairman mentioned that the 2023 elections would gulp about N305billion of the national budget, mentioning that about 60per cent of the cost of election goes for logistics and personnel allowances.

“The cost in Nigeria, I think, is $9 per head as against what happens in other countries. Ours is not even the most expensive.

“The cost of elections in Nigeria in 2023 is N305 billion of the national budget of over N17 trillion. The cost of elections is just 1.8 per cent, not even up to two per cent of the national budget.

“Yes, while N305 billion is quiet a huge amount of money, we should see what the amount is being spent essentially on. If we remove the technology cost, 60 per cent of the cost of elections in Nigeria is spent on logistics and personnel allowances,” he said.

He added the Commission would have to see to the transportation and allowances of  no less than 1.4 million personnel to be engaged for the process.

On alleged underage voting prevalent in the northern part of the country, he called on election observers and all stakeholders to alert the Commission to any polling booth where such is going on while the process is on.

“That is one of the most effective ways of dealing with the problems, so that in the process we can deal with it. It is against the law of this Country for anybody below the age of 18 to vote.

“So, if you are voting by someone’s identity, then that is a different matter altogether. I think the best thing we can do is to set examples, and when we see these kinds of infractions, while the election is going on, if you can draw our attention, we will come and addres the matter,” he said.

According to him, environmental factors, such as security situation, social economic conditions, political culture, and national infrastructure are factors that would define the 2023 elections.

“An election cannot be better than the environment in which it is conducted which include the security situation, social economic, political culture, national infrastructure among others.

“It is simply amazing the way INEC officials get to some villages to conduct elections. Our election cannot be better than the quality of our infrastructure.

“We can’t have a flourishing democracy without democrats. The attitude of political class is a big challenge. So, there are big tasks ahead of us and we have no time.”

Assuring that the Commission is committed to infusing sanity in the process of election, he said “we would continue to build public confidence and trust in the system” for special impact.

“It is 161 days to the 2023 general election, we can make it work. Take it from this INEC that we are committed to electoral justice.”

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Lagos to open Opebi-Mende-Ojota link bridge in Q2, 2024



The Lagos State Government is set to make open for traffic the Opebi-Mende-Ojota Link Bridge and other arterial roads connecting the bridge by the Second Quarter of 2024.

The State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Tuesday said the Opebi-Mende-Ojota Link Bridge and other arterial roads connecting the bridge will be ready for commuters by the Second Quarter of 2024.

The construction of the bridge is in line with the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration’s commitment to the second pillar of the THEMES+ developmental agenda, which is Traffic Management and Transportation.

Speaking with journalists at the Odo Iya Alaro area of the state, after an inspection tour of the Opebi-Mende-Ojota Link Bridge, on Tuesday, Governor Sanwo-Olu said the project conceived over a year ago is currently at about 65 percent competition stage.  Governor Sanwo-Olu, who was accompanied by his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat and some members of the State Executive Council, members of the Lagos State House of Assembly and other key stakeholders during the inspection tour, expressed satisfaction with the level of ongoing construction works by the contractor.

He said the Opebi-Mende-Ojota link Bridge when completed will in no small measure solve major traffic issues and provide alternative routes for motorists plying Toyin, Allen, Opebi to access Ojota and those from Maryland to connect Ikeja and its environs, adding that it will also decongesting traffic on Kudirat Abiola Way and Mobolaji Bank Anthony.

Governor Sanwo-Olu disclosed that additional human needs infrastructure such as walkway for pedestrians, bicycle lane, parking space to accommodate any broken-down vehicles temporarily and other complementing road infrastructure, were considered in the construction of the bridge.

He noted that when completed the Opebi-Mende-Ojota Link Bridge would not only provide an alternative route, it would also ease traffic congestion in the axis and would bring about economic development to the state.

The Governor also disclosed that a tour of the ongoing Regional Road in Lekki would soon be embarked on.

He said, “The Opebi-Mende-Ojota Link Bridge is going to solve the major traffic problems and provide alternatives for our citizens; people that are commuting from Toyin, Allen Avenue, Opebi to access Ojota Bridge and people coming from Maryland can go straight to Ikeja. It will solve many traffic problems that we have on Kudirat Abiola Road going towards Alausa. It will also solve the major traffic issues that we have on Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way.

“The bridge is an economic development. We are changing the face of traffic management. We are changing the face of commuting in Lagos and we are changing the face of access to modern infrastructure roads and development.

“I am impressed with the amount of work that Messrs Julius Berger has done here. We are happy with the contractor and all the consultants. We are still on track with the completion. We are still hoping that by the second quarter of next year, towards the third quarter, we should complete the entire road construction so that we can hand it over to the citizens.

“There is still going to be a bit of furniture that you are going to see on the bridge. Eventually, it will look like another iconic bridge in Lagos, similar to what we have in the Lekki axis. We want to ensure that what we see in other developed nations is the kind of infrastructural development that we are doing in Lagos.”

Also speaking during the inspection tour, a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, representing Ikeja II Constituency, Hon. Adedamola Kasunmu commended the Governor Sanwo-Olu for solving the plights of residents in the Ikeja axis, saying the people of Ikeja are happy with the bridge project.

Kasunmu, the Deputy Majority Leader of the Lagos State House of Assembly, said the Opebi-Mende-Ojota Link Bridge would solve traffic problems and alleviate people’s sufferings in Ikeja and its environment when completed.

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FG seeks $1.5bn funding to lay 95,000km of fibre optic cables



The Federal Government has stated that it is seeking funding for the construction of 95,000km of fibre optic cables across the country.

According to the National digital economy strategy of the country, digital infrastructure forms a strategic pillar in the digital transformation agenda.

Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, said the construction of fiber optic cables across Nigeria will cost 1.5 to 2 billion dollars.

Tijani made this revelation in an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Tuesday.

He said, “I understand, as a minister, that if we prioritise fiber optic cables in this country, the quality of service, whether it’s through your normal mobile telephony or the internet service you use at home, is going to go off the roof, and that’s the commitment I’m also making.

“In the next four years, we are going to do everything to increase the kilometres of fiber optic cables in Nigeria. We are about 35, 000 kilometres away, and we need to go to 95,000 kilometeres, almost half way there.

“It’s going to cost roughly 1.5 to 2 billion dollars to wire the whole of Nigeria to reach that 95, 000.

“We hope we can accelerate in the next 6 to 12 months, secure that funding that private companies can tap into—it’s not government money—and hopefully work with serious companies that can lay fiber over the next two to three years.

“We’re hoping that before the first four years of this administration, a significant portion of that 95, 000 kilometers will be covered,” he said.

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Customs intercepts 18,100 litres PMS, nine trailer loads of foreign rice, others worth N872m



By Seun Ibiyemi

The Federal Operations Unit FOU Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said it intercepted 5,459 bags of 50kg foreign rice equivalent to 9 trailer loads, 1,926 cartons of frozen poultry products and other various contraband in the month of November 2023.

Addressing journalists at a press briefing in Lagos on Tuesday, Acting Controller of the unit, Hussein Ejibunu, said operatives of the unit through the aid of intelligence also arrested a Toyota Highlander with an ingenious concealment of suspected bags of foreign parboiled rice at Iju-Ojuore, Ogun State.

Giving a breakdown of other goods seized within the review period, Ejibunu said they included 18,100 litres of premium motor spirit, 376 bales of used clothes, 337 pieces of used compressors, 3 X 40 ft containers found to contain 3,838 pieces of used tyres, 13 used vehicles (Tokunbo) and 396 cartons of frozen fish with a duty paid value of N872,575,250.

“It is our resolve to continuously work hard to improve detection methods with the aid of intelligence.

“These seizures reflect our commitment to the discharge of our functions; aimed at protecting the nation’s economy and preventing the importation of prohibited and harmful products from entering our domestic markets.

“Smuggling operations that employ ingenious concealment methods can have a chance of successfully trafficking illegal goods across borders or checkpoints without being noticed. This calls for the collaborative efforts of all citizens to support the Service by providing useful and timely information that would aid the anti-smuggling drive,” the Customs boss said.

Ejibunu said a total of 11 suspects were arrested in connection with some of the seizures.

On revenue, he said the sum of N71,254,984.71 was generated through documentary checks, followed by the issuance of demand notices on consignments that were found to have paid lesser amounts than the appropriate Customs duty.

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