By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Governor Ibikunke Amosun of Ogun State has been accused of working against the success of President Muhammadu Buhari in this weekend’s presidential and National Assembly elections.
This allegation was made by the Ogun State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In a statement signed on Thursday by the Publicity Secretary of Ogun State APC Caretaker Committee, Mr Tunde Oladunjoye, the ruling party said Mr Amosun was said to be working to reduce the margin of the victory of President Buhari In Ogun East and Ogun West Senatorial Districts of the state in a vainglorious attempt to send a wrong signal of his popularity in Ogun State and undermine the Vice President, Mr Yemi Osinbajo, who hails from the state.
“We have at our disposal, confirmed intelligence reports that Governor Amosun has been holding nocturnal and clandestine meetings in the last three weeks with a failed governorship Aspirant of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), whose father is a renowned betting agent.
“The purpose of the meetings is to work against APC at the Presidential and National Assembly elections. The objective, for which the governor distributed the sum of N200,000 per polling booth last week, before the postponed elections, was to ensure that President Buhari loses the election or to drastically reduce the margin of his victory in the two Senatorial districts, especially in Ogun East, where the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, hails from,” the statement said.
Mr Oladunjoye said “it would be recalled that the failed governorship aspirant recently, without any justification whatsoever, took to the mass media to disparage the Vice President, blaming him for his woes arising from the loss of the PDP’s governorship ticket, only for the same aspirant to turn around few days after to contradict himself with a boast that INEC would soon name him as his party’s candidate”.
“It was therefore acting to their planned script when the Chairman of Abeokuta North-West Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Monsuru Shorunke, led thugs to disrupt the distribution of “TraderMoni” in Abeokuta on Tuesday, an action the Chairman was widely quoted in the media as having been ordered by Governor Amosun.
“In the same vein, Governor Amosun is insisting on the posting away of some corp members in Ogun West Senatorial District where he is sponsoring an APM candidate against his former Chief of Staff, Chief Olu Odebiyi, who is of the APC.
“We are using this medium to ask the Presidency to tame Governor Amosun before he sets Ogun State on fire over his egoistic and moribund self-preserving ambition,” Mr Oladunjoye said in the statement.
SON Approves 96 New Nigerian Industrial Standards
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
A total of 96 new Nigerian Industrial Standards (NIS) have been approved for national use by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) governing council.
The approval was announced at the first meeting of the council since the appointment of Mr Farouk Salim as the new Director-General of the agency.
A statement from SON disclosed that the new standards cut across chemical technology, electrical/electronics, food/agriculture, textile/leather and services.
Chairman of the council, Mr Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, who was represented at the meeting by Mr Halilu Hamma, explained that the approved standards were essential for the production of medical and other supplies required for the management of the COVID-19 pandemic such as syringes, face barriers, alcohol-based hand sanitiser, medical electrical equipment, health and safety measures for tourism and hospitality establishments, amongst many others.
According to him, others of great economic, regulatory and industrial importance include standards for agricultural, petroleum and automobile gas products, electrical/electronic standards for smart energy meters and renewable energy, all of which support the Federal Government policies, strategic priorities and plans.
Also, he congratulated the new DG on his appointment and assured him of the full support of the council members via a harmonious working relationship based on mutual trust and respect in order to significantly improve the organisation’s efficiency and effectiveness in delivering on its mandate to Nigerians.
Mr Sani-Gwarzo further assured the new SON chief of access to a rich and diverse knowledge, expertise and experience in the council to support his aspiration of making SON a high impact organisation in support of the nation’s socio-economic growth and development.
He praised him for being able to convene the meeting a few months after his appointment in spite of the challenges of the health pandemic and other socio-economic events.
In his remarks, Mr Salim expressed appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for giving him the opportunity to further contribute to national development through SON, stressing that he looked forward to tapping from the rich expertise and experience of the council members in the areas of providing necessary approvals for policies to make the organisation more efficient and effective in touching the lives of Nigerians.
He expressed concern about the lack of a befitting corporate headquarters for the organisation, conducive working environment for the staff nationwide to enable them to deliver efficient services, need to be properly positioned to tackle the influx of substandard products into the country, faking and adulteration amongst others and sought the council’s support to tackle them.
However, Mr Salim reiterated his commitment to making SON a better and more impactful organisation in Nigeria as well as in regional, continental and international standardisation activities.
He also informed the council that a committee of distinguished Nigerians would be appointed to help review SON management practices and procedures and make recommendations for far-reaching reforms to strengthen the system has submitted its interim report.
About Governor Douye Diri’s Silent Touch
Hiding in the shadows and doing things under the cover of his easy-going nature, Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa has set his state alight with his work.
About 365-plus days in office and the former Senator representing Bayelsa Central is still a son of miracles. Indeed, who else could have gotten so much done in so few days?
He is neither stiff-necked, needlessly ceremonious, nor likely to peg an award for taking office shots or blaring his many good deeds. Diri is not that sort of man. Where one finds him is where he prefers to be: at work, thinking up ways to polish the fortunes of his Bayelsa people. Not afraid, not dawdling, not denting his work table with an anxious head.
So much executed, so little praise sought! In the beginning, the assumption – based on his phenomenal mode of obtaining the gubernatorial chair – was that he would laze about, or commandeer new projects and abandon old ones. But old ginger is spicier, as experienced minds can tell that Diri is no slouch.
From the projects of the past administration to those he approved of himself, the Miracle Governor has left nothing unturned. It is to the merit of this boundless sense of propriety that some formerly-ongoing projects have been completed and commissioned; that some formerly-derelict constructions are currently underway and nearing completion.
Is the completion of the water project in Ovom Town, Yenagoa LGA, not deserving of a glass raised to Governor Diri in salute? How about the Kaiama Referral Hospital; or the state-of-the-art Incinerator at the Bayelsa Medical University Complex; or the Imiringi Community Bridge in Ogbia LGA — all, aside the Ovom Water Project, were commissioned on the same day!
What about the ongoing projects? The complex to harbour Radio Bayelsa, Niger Delta TV and New Waves Newspaper is underway. So is the construction of the Elebele Community Bridge (Ogbia LGA), and the Igbedi Road in Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA that stretches 4.5km.
Then there are the ‘deserted’ roads (from the past administration) that Diri has taken up: Glory Drive Road from Igbogene to Onopa; Igbogene to Elebele/AIT Outer Ring Road; Sagbama-Ekeremor Road; Yenagoa-Oporoma Road; Isaac Boro Express Road; and several others.
To think that Governor Diri was recently accused of taking a laissez-faire approach to his duties!
That Bayelsans can rest easy for the next three years is an occasion for satisfaction, and something the rest of Nigeria can look forward to discovering in their own State Governors.
Africa Polling Institute Partners NBS on Disability Data Project
By Adedapo Adesanya
An Abuja-based think-tank, Africa Polling Institute, has disclosed that it will collaborate with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) to collect data on people living with disabilities in the country.
This was disclosed by Mr Bell Ihua, the Executive Director of the research institute in a statement signed by Head of Corporate Services, Mrs Amarachi Charles, on Friday in Abuja.
The executive director, who led a delegation on a courtesy visit to the NBS, said that the collaboration was important in order to achieve the Nigeria Disability Project.
According to Mr Ihua, the project is aimed at gathering evidence-based data on gender and people living with disabilities in the country.
“The Nigeria Disability Project is a new development effort led by the Africa Polling Institute, which is aimed at gathering evidence-based disaggregated gender and disability data in the country.
“We are excited at this opportunity of collaborating with the NBS on this project, which is supported by Ford Foundation.
‘’I believe this will be the first of more collaborations between both organisations,” he said.
In his speech, Mr Simon Harry, Director, Corporate Planning and Technical Coordination at NBS expressed the bureau’s readiness to work with the institute.
“NBS as an agency is mandated to produce statistical data for the whole country and is always open to collaborating with the public, private and international development sectors, in order to achieve this mandate,” he said.
API is an independent, non-profit and non-partisan opinion research think-tank that conducts opinion polls, surveys, social research and evaluation studies at the intersection of democracy, governance, economic conditions and public life; in order to support better public policy, practice and advocacy in Africa.
NSE to Ring Bell for Gender Equality Monday
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
On Monday, March 8, 2021, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) will join securities exchanges all over the world to commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day.
The day will culminate in a digital closing gong ceremony and members of the stockbroking community, analysts, regulators, media and other interested participants have been urged to register via http://bit.ly/nse-iwd-2021.
A statement from the exchange disclosed that the 7th annual Ring the Bell for Gender Equality will have several personalities in attendance.
Confirmed speakers include Mr Abimbola Ogunbanjo, President, National Council, NSE; Mrs Catherine Nwakaego Echeozo, second Vice President, National Council, NSE; Mrs Fatimah Bintah Bello–Ismail, Ordinary Member, National Council, NSE; Mrs Erelu Angela Adebayo, Ordinary Member, National Council, NSE; Mrs Opunimi Akinkugbe, founder, Director, Bestman Games; and Mr Oscar Onyema, the CEO of the NSE.
Others are Ms Tinuade Awe, Executive Director, Regulation, NSE; Mr Bola Adeeko, Divisional Head, Shared Services, NSE; Mr Kevin Njiraini, Regional Director, Southern Africa & Nigeria, International Finance Corporation (IFC); and Mrs Oluwasoromidayo George, Chairperson, United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) Network Nigeria.
In addition, the programme will have in attendance Mr Lansana Wonneh, United Nations (UN) Women Deputy Representative, Nigeria and ECOWAS; Mr Patrick Akinwuntan, Managing Director/Regional Executive, Ecobank Nigeria; Ms Ivana Osagie, founder, Professional Women Roundtable (PWR); and Ms Eme Esien Lore, Nigeria Country Manager, International Finance Corporation (IFC).
On that day, there would be a webinar to be held in collaboration with the Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) Initiative, United Nations (UN) Women, United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and IFC themed #ChooseToChallenge.
The webinar will also feature a special focus on the peer-to-peer learning programme under the Nigeria2Equal programme, a three-year project towards which the IFC will collaborate with the NSE to reduce employment and entrepreneurship gaps in Nigeria through the private sector.
Why We Can’t Create Electoral Constituencies Now—INEC
By Ahmed Rahma
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday explained its inability to create new electoral constituencies.
The explanation was given in a statement issued in Abuja by the National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye.
The electoral umpire, which said it was responding to recent reports regarding its responsibilities in the division, revision and adjustment of electoral constituency boundaries in Nigeria, noted that while the division of the country into electoral constituencies for Senate, House of Representatives and State Houses of Assembly was its responsibility, once they are established, subsequent revision of the constituencies and/or adjustment of their boundaries are the joint responsibilities of the agency and the National Assembly.
According to Mr Okoye, any such revision or adjustment must be passed by a resolution of the two houses of the National Assembly, namely the Senate and the House of Representatives.
He said, “As a result, the commission has been in discussion with the relevant committees of the National Assembly to arrange a meeting with the leadership of the Assembly to address some of the difficult issues in the division, revision and alteration of electoral constituency boundaries in Nigeria.
“Some of these issues, which the commission had previously brought to the attention of the National Assembly, include the following: ‘The 1999 Constitution (as amended) does not place an obligation on INEC to revise or alter the boundaries of constituencies every 10 years, as has been canvassed by some opinions in the media. For the avoidance of doubt, Section 73 (1) of the Constitution provides for that to happen at intervals of ‘not less than 10 years.’
“This implies that it can only happen from 10 years and above. Therefore, the commission is not in breach of the Constitution, since the revision could happen in 10 years or more.
“The Constitution also provides that the commission may embark on revision and adjustment after a national census, creation of States or by an Act of the National Assembly [Section 73 (2)].
“None of these conditions actually exists at the moment. The last population census was conducted in 2006, about 15 years ago. The commission feels that revising and/or altering constituencies based on 15-year-old population data is inappropriate because the well-known rapidity of population changes in Nigeria would make nonsense of any outcome.
“In any case, the National Population Commission (NPC) is working on conducting another census and it seems reasonable to await its outcome.
“On the other hand, no new states have been created in Nigeria since the Constitution came into effect in 1999 nor is there an Act of the National Assembly requesting INEC to activate the relevant sections of the Constitution on division, revision and alteration of electoral constituencies.
“On the state constituencies to be created in each state of the federation, the Constitution provides that the number for each state should be three or four times the number of its federal constituencies (seats in the House of Representatives), subject to a minimum of 24 and a maximum of 40.
“The problem is that some states presently have three times the number of their seats in the House of Representatives, others have four times; others have the minimum of 24 and yet others have reached the maximum of 40.
“For some, their present number of State Assembly constituencies is neither three nor four times the number of their House of Representative seats. This motley distribution calls for more clarity in the division, revision and alteration of electoral constituency boundaries, which in fact may require constitutional amendments.
“There is also the question of the so-called suppressed constituencies. Essentially, these are constituencies that existed prior to the coming into force of the 1999 Constitution. The canvassers for these constituencies argue that they have been “suppressed” in the present dispensation.
“Forty-two cases were filed in various courts across the country requesting INEC to be compelled to ‘restore’ 62 constituencies. The Commission has consistently argued that the idea of ‘restoration of a constituency’ is both legally questionable and practically improbable.
“It is questionable to ask INEC to restore constituencies that existed under an old constitutional order in the present one. For example, the present Constitution provides for the maximum seats in the House of Representatives and the multiples of that for State House of Assembly constituencies. Restoring all old constituencies from a different constitutional order would definitely mean that the number set by the present Constitution may be exceeded.
“Besides, there have been many previous constitutional orders, each with its own specification of limits on the number of constituencies. Furthermore, which of the old constitutional provision should we restore? Perhaps, some people may even ask for the restoration of the four constituencies in Calabar and Lagos created in 1922 following the Clifford Constitution.
“Also, it is a misnomer to talk of suppressed constituencies because some of the constituencies have been divided territorially as a result of state creation and boundary adjustments, creation of Local Government Areas, as well as the creation of the subsisting electoral constituencies.”
Mr Okoye further noted that while some of the court judgments in the cases on these so-called suppressed constituencies have agreed with the position of the commission, others have gone for the “suppressed constituency” canvassers and that in yet other cases, the commission has appealed the judgments.
“These are some of the challenges that have constrained the commission on the question of revision and adjustment of electoral constituencies.
“Yet, the commission is not oblivious of the importance of balanced constituency delimitation on the democratic and electoral processes. However, these are complicated legal, political and practical issues.
“This is why the commission has requested for a meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly to resolve these issues and build the necessary consensus that will ensure that any revision of electoral boundaries will be passed by the National Assembly, unlike in the past when the Commission’s proposals on revision and alteration of electoral constituencies received no response from the Assembly.
“The commission is presently preparing a comprehensive discussion paper on these issues to assist in its engagement with the National Assembly.
“The commission wishes to put on record the frank and open discussions with the leadership of several committees of the National Assembly and their support on these issues and also appeals for public support to ensure that the right atmosphere exists for the commission to continue to do its work in this regard.
“For emphasis, the Commission also wishes to state that the issue of electoral constituencies is separate and distinct from the ongoing consultation on voter access to polling units in Nigeria”, he added.
Buhari Orders Tighter Security Around Borders
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Security agencies, especially the immigration service, have been given a directive to tighten security around the nation’s borders.
This directive was given on Thursday by President Muhammadu Buhari during the virtual commissioning Ceremony of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) technology building.
The President also said there should be improved surveillance and control around the borders to weed out criminal elements who use the means to perpetrate evil.
The NIS was also asked to collaborate with international security organisations like the INTERPOL in safeguarding the borders, noting that the country’s Global Security Index must be improved.
“It is imperative that our ranking in the Global Security Index improves and I am using this medium to call on all security agencies to step up their activities towards achieving this goal. I assure you that the administration will give the much-needed support to you in your operations,” Mr Buhari said.
He further said, “As a security agency, I charge you to be relentless in carrying out your statutory duties of keeping our borders safe while you ensure that criminal elements don’t find Nigeria as a safe haven to hide and perpetrate their criminality.
“I urge you to actively collaborate with international security organisations like the INTERPOL, in safeguarding our borders. Remember that a safe border is a prerequisite for a safe nation.
“You must develop strong working relationships and ties with the international community and friendly nations as it relates to migration management; adopt and implement workable strategies from them while also sharing your best practices.
“Frontline workers and operators should remember that they are our windows to the world. They must show the best face of Nigeria at all times.”
President Buhari commended the Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, for consistently pushing for the completion of the building, which will serve as the command and control centre of the NIS, as well as the repository of personal data of Nigerians and expatriates resident in Nigeria.
In his remarks, the Minister assured that the security challenges facing the country were temporal and surmountable, pointing out that the “weakest link” had been the land borders and the technology building will play a pivotal role in the control of illegal migration.
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