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LEADERSHIP Conference/Awards: We Are Ready For Elections – INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday assured Nigerians that it was fully ready to conduct free, fair and credible general elections this month.

INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, gave this assurance yesterday in Abuja while speaking at the 2018 edition of the annual LEADERSHIP Conference and Awards held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, with theme: “Multiparty  Democracy, Stability and Peaceful Elections: Connecting The Dots.”

He said: “We are set for the elections and all logistics have been put in place to ensure hitch-free conduct of the polls.”

LEADERSHIP Friday reports that voting begins on February 16 with the presidential and National Assembly polls, followed by the governorship and state assemblies’ elections two weeks later on March 2.

But amidst allegations from the opposition parties that the All Progressives Congress-led federal government had concluded plans to rig the upcoming general elections, INEC has asserted that it had put in place fool-proof measures to stop any form of fraud at all stages of the exercise.

The INEC boss said that no matter how dubious or malicious such  persons or organisations may be, there was no way they can manipulate the electoral process in their favour.

  He insisted that with the stringent measures INEC had put in place  from the polling units to the collation centres, Nigerians and the  international community should expect nothing less than credible and  acceptable elections from the electoral umpire.   

Represented by INEC national commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Mr. Festus Okoye, Yakubu said that anybody without a  Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) would not be allowed to come near the polling booths, let alone vote during the elections.

To avoid allegations of giving room to any external influence, Prof.  Yakubu said that all collation officers had been banned from making  and receiving phone calls during collation of results of the  elections.   

Yakubu said that the Nigerian constitution, which had gone through four amendments since 1999, had strengthened the powers of INEC to the extent of deregistering political parties.

He said: “No voter without PVC will be allowed to vote. It is also

important to underscore the fact that the Nigerian Constitution has  gone through four amendments since 1999 and these amendments have direct bearing and impact on the electoral process.   

“The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (fourth  alterations No. 21) Act, 2017 provides for the determination of  pre-election matter. It’s provides that pre-election matter shall be  filed not later than 14 days from the date of the occurrence of the  event, decision, or action complained of in the suit.

“Judgment in the suit must be delivered within a period of 180 days  from the filing of the suit. Appeals from the said judgment must be  filed within a period of 14 days from the date of the judgment and  appeals must be determined within a period of 60 days from the date of the said decision,” he told the audience.

On the voting process, Yakubu explained that voters shall remove their cell phones or any other photographic device before proceeding to voting cubicle.   

“The presiding officer shall allow a voter who is visually impaired or  blind or is unable to distinguish symbols or who suffers from any  other physical disability to be accompanied into the polling  unit/voting point settlement/voting point and be assisted to vote by a  person chosen by him/her, other than a polling agent. Visually  impaired registered voters may, where available, use the Assistive  Tactile facilities or magnifying glass.   

“People Living With Disabilities (PLWDs), visibly pregnant women and  the aged, shall be granted priority access to voting at the polling  units, voting points. It is mandatory for presiding officers to  complete form EC40H (1) for PWD information and statistics and Form  EC60E which is publication of result poster,” he said.   

Yakubu further said that “in order to remain focused on their  assignment, collation officers are not allowed to make or receive  telephone calls during collation.   

“Where an election is declared null and void for over voting and it is  ascertained that the total registered voters in the affected polling units may affect the overall result of the election, another date  shall be fixed for supplementary election in the affected polling  units.

“Where the margin of lead between the two leading candidates in an  election is not in excess of the total number of voters registered in  polling units where elections are not held or voided in line with  Section 26 and 53 of the Electoral Act, the returning officer shall  decline to make a return until polls have taken place in the affected  polling units and the results collated into the relevant forms for  declaration and return. This is the margin of lead principle and shall  apply wherever necessary in making returns of all elections to which  these regulations and guidelines apply,” Yakubu stated.

Govs must start earning money outside the federal allocations – Nda-Isaiah

In his thought-provoking address at the ceremony, the chairman of  LEADERSHIP Group, Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah berated state governors for relying on federal allocations  to run their states, warning that practice is no longer sustainable.

He said that restructuring should start with state governors and urged  them to start running their states like a business, “making money for  the state or will sooner or later run into trouble.”

According to him, “I wish to particularly address the governors and  all those who wish to become governors today. As we can see clearly,  it is no longer sustainable for state governments to continue to rely  on monthly federal allocations to get by. The president has had to  intervene a few times in the past for many states to pay salaries.   

“In spite of that, workers are rightly asking for a N30, 000 minimum  wage. Nobody in his right senses can fault that. Even that is not  enough. But how will governors who were not paying salaries when the  minimum wage was N18, 000 now cope?   

“So, with all this noise about restructuring, the first place it  should start should be with the state governors. Any governor that is  not already thinking of running his state like a business – making  money for the people of the state – will soon be in trouble. State  governments must start making money and, really, with the resources we  have in this country, every state can become rich.   

Citing Botswana as a model for states to copy, Nda-Isaiah said that “a  piece of advice I always give to states is for them to use the  Botswana model. Botswana is a small landlocked country of about two  million people. That makes it smaller than many states in Nigeria.   

“It has loads of diamond just as many states in Nigeria have gold,  tin, timber, precious stones, zinc, sheabutter etc. Botswana entered  into a 50-50 business relationship with the South Africa-based De  Beers, the world’s largest diamond company, to create a company called

Debswana Diamond Mining Company Ltd. Botswana did not invest money; it  owns the mines.   

“De Beers invested all the money and, today, Botswana that started as  one of the poorest countries of the world when it gained independence  in 1966 is now one of the richest countries in Africa,” he said.

On the coming general elections, Nda-Isaiah  described election as a “serious  matter and not a blood sport.”   While noting that some people treat election as a game, Nda-Isaiah  averred that election is a very serious business that shapes the  destinies of nations.

According to him, rigging of elections always comes round to haunt the perpetrators.   

He said: “With joy in my heart, I welcome you all to the 2019  LEADERSHIP Annual Conference and Awards Ceremony. Every year,  LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group and LEADERSHIP Conferences Group come together to arrange this high-impact conference with a contemporary theme.   

“This is an election year, and we will therefore be discussing  elections, democracy, politicians and how to get politicians to  behave. Democracy is supposed to be a good thing.

“That was why in the late 1990’s, there was an elite consensus in  Nigeria to abandon military rule and embrace the ‘government of the  people by the people and for the people.’ If that is the case, then  let’s make the people the most important exponent in this matter. Let  them be the ones to decide. And we must do everything we can to avoid  violence.   

“Some people would mockingly tell you that election is a game. No, it  is not. It is a very serious business that shapes the destinies of nations. It is not monkey business or a game for tricksters to show  off how many opponents they have “outsmarted,” the LEADERSHIP publisher said.   

He stressed that “tigging of elections always comes round to haunt  the perpetrators. Can you imagine former President Olusegun Obasanjo  frantically raising the alarm a few days ago that the government was  trying to rig the upcoming elections?   

“Yet, it is the same Obasanjo who personally organised, directed and  supervised the rigging of past elections. Election is a serious  matter, and we all should take it as such. It is not a blood sport.

Any politician who thinks it is a blood sport should first recruit his  children as players.”   

Every year, Nda-Isaiah noted that LEADERSHIP also presents awards to  people and institutions that, in the newspaper’s opinion, have  distinguished themselves more than their peers in the same category.   

He added that it is an exercise LEADERSHIP editors and top management  undertake in the first week of December of each year and make the  announcement usually in the second week of December.   

“This year, as in all other previous years, we are very proud of our  choices. I am sure none of the awardees knew they were going to be  selected before they read or heard the announcement. I am sure of  that, because even we didn’t know the names that would eventually make  the list until the exercise was completed.   

“I am proud to say that the LEADERSHIP Awards are the most respected  awards of any newspaper awards in the country. And we pledge to  continue to maintain our integrity and very high standard,” he noted.

As A Judge, I Jailed My Cousin Who Attempted To Bribe Me – Amb Nsofor

For his part, the chairman of the occasion and Nigerian Ambassador to the United  States of America (USA), Justice Sylvanus Adiwere Nsofor, spoke extensively on corruption even as he narrated how he once jailed his cousin for attempting to bribe him over a land matter before him when he was a judge.

He also declared that  President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election is already settled.   

The envoy added that Buhari is committed to ensuring free and fair  elections in 2019.   

Nsofor said Buhari’s diversification of the economy and the fight  against corruption remain remarkable.   

He said: “May I seize this opportunity to congratulate His Excellency,  Muhammadu Buhari, president and commander -in-chief of the Federal  Republic of Nigeria on his efforts towards ensuring free, fair and  credible elections in Nigeria come the 16th February, 2019 and the 2nd  March, 2019.   

“And I must salute him for his courage and energy working assiduously  to deliver on his campaign promises of providing security,  diversifying the economy and most importantly, fighting against the  canker worm called corruption.   

“Victory will be his. It is already his,” Nsofor said on his opinion  about the outcome of the next week presidential election.   

The ambassador, who commended LEADERSHIP Newspapers for choosing the  theme of the conference as: “Multiparty Democracy, Stability and  Peaceful Election: Connecting the Dots,” said the topic is apt.   

“The topic is apt. It is self-explanatory and clear. It truly reflects  the present political transition in the history of our nation,” Nsofor  concluded.    

Minister Lauds LEADERSHIP’s Role In Nigeria’s Devt

In his goodwill message, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory  (FCT), Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, congratulated the winners of the  LEADERSHIP 2018 Award for their outstanding performance in their areas  of endeavours.   

Bello also congratulated LEADERSHIP newspapers for recognising the  awardees and for putting together such an event to give honour to whom  it is due.   

He noted that the event, especially with its theme couldn’t have come  at a better time than now when the nation is preparing for another  round of elections.   

Represented by his chief of staff, Mallam Bashir Mai Bornu, the  minister said that the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), which the  choice city for the event; is a tourist city, which has both natural  and man-made tourist attractions, with many national monuments.

He continued: “Furthermore, in the country’s tourism map, Abuja is  designated as a conference destination. As a result, we witness daily  many conferences, both international and local. For this reason,  therefore, the administration has invested heavily in the development  of infrastructure and transportation to make the means of  transportation easier. I therefore enjoin all to make out time to  enjoy the site and sound of Abuja and make this event an eventful  one.”

Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who won the Governor of The  Year Award, was represented by the deputy governor, Mrs. Lolo Cecelia  Ezeilo.

  He congratulated other recipients of the Leadership Annual Awards,  saying that it signifies a push and challenges on his administration  ‘’go out there and do more.’’   

One of the royal fathers present at the event, Oba Oladetoyinbo  Ogunlade Aladelusi, the Deji of Akure Kingdom, described LEADERSHIP Newspaper as the only media house in Nigeria that has boldly  distinguished itself among other newspapers in in recent times.   

Oba Oladetoyinbo who congratulated all the recipients at the award  ceremony held in Abuja at the International Conference Centre said,  commended the bold stance of management and editorial board of the  Nigeria leading newspaper.   

“This is the only newspaper that has come out boldly to endorse the  candidacy of a political party. I read the newspaper every day and it  is a newspaper that is not bias. It carries out its researches and  reports anybody irrespective of the political party and remains  neutral.   

Imam Abubakar, A Rare Gem – Etsu Nupe

The days was carried by Imam Abdulahi Abubakar for saving 300  Christians to the risk of life in house in Plateau State when gunmen  invaded the community and stormed his demanding his release of them  for massacre.

   Each time, Imam Abubakar’s name was mentioned, the audience  responded with loud ovation and clapping.   

The Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, who presented the LEADERSHIP  Person of The Year Award to the Muslim cleric, described the valour  displayed by him during one of the recent crises in Jos, that saw him  saved 300 Christians, as an uncommon gesture among people of different  faith.

The first class traditional ruler and chairman, Niger State Council of  Chiefs, said: “It is an award well deserved for a man who put his life  on the line to save people of other faith despite the pressure on him.  Nigerians can see him as a mirror that reflects the true personalities  of genuine servants of Allah.   

He commended the organisers of the award and prayed for the recipient  (Imam Abubakar) who also thanked LEADERSHIP for the recognition.   

Aging but agile statesman and seasoned administrator, Alhaji Ahmed  Joda, added colour to the event as he moved like a stallion on the  podium to give his address and present awards to the winners.

Joda admonished politicians to emulate former president Goodluck Jonathan for conceding defeat in the 2015 presidential election, thereby exhibiting that politics is not a do or die affair.   

Many of the speakers, led by Nda-Isaiah were full of praise for Joda  for mentoring them.   

In the award categories, the quartet of Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi  Ugwuanyi, Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, Taraba State governor,  Darius Dickson Ishaku and Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi emerged  joint LEADERSHIP governors of the Year 2018.   

The President and Chief Executive of Dangote Industries Limited, Aliko  Dangote and Imam Abdullahi Abubakar shared the LEADERSHIP Person of  The Year Award.   

The duo of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Senate President, Dr.  Bukola Saraki, jointly clinched the award for Politician of the Year.

The award for Banker of the Year was won by the managing director,  Bank of Agriculture, Kabiru Mohammed Adamu.

Other awardees were Fidelity Bank Plc, which won Bank of the Year  Award, while Government Agency of the Year went to the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) under the leadership of  Prof. Ishaq Oloyede.

The Public Servant of the Year award went to Mr. Thomas Etuh while  the chairman of Azman Air Services, Alhaji Abdulmunaf Sarina, clinched  the Business Person of the Year award.   

Founder of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company, Mr. Innocent  Chukwuma, won the CEO of the Year award.   

The Product of the Year went Five Star Tomato Paste; Company of the  Year, Max Air Limited; E-Commerce Company of the Year, Jumia; Telecom  Company of the Year, 9Mobile; Brand of the Year, Airtel.   

The Outstanding Young Person of the Year 2018 award went to Samson  Itodo; MC Tagwaye clinched the LEADERSHIP Artiste of the Year award  even as the LEADERSHIP Sports Persons of the Year award went to the  Super Falcons.


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