By Adedapo Adesanya
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has given Mr Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), seven days to prosecute the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) for their alleged involvement in vote-buying in the just-concluded Ekiti State governorship election.
The body told the electoral commission to “gather information about reports of vote-buying, undue influence, intimidation, ballot box snatching, and other electoral offences by the three leading political parties in the just concluded Ekiti State governorship election.”
SERAP also urged INEC to “promptly and effectively prosecute those arrested and bring to justice anyone who sponsored, aided and abetted them.”
In the letter dated June 18, 2022, and signed by SERAP deputy director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “Corruption of the ballot box intrudes on the freedom of Nigerian voters to make up their own minds. Vote-buying and other forms of electoral corruption freeze out the less wealthy candidates and parties.”
SERAP said, “Wealthy candidates and their sponsors ought not to be allowed to profit from their crimes. We are concerned that impunity for vote-buying and electoral bribery is widely prevalent in Nigeria, as perpetrators are rarely brought to justice.”
According to SERAP, “If voting is as important as INEC always claims it is, now is the time to end the buying of democracy by wealthy politicians and their sponsors” as it “encourages poor governance and weakens citizens’ capacity to hold their ‘elected officials’ accountable for their actions.”
In the letter, the group reminded the electoral umpire that, “Your commitment to these issues will demonstrate to the voters that INEC is ready, willing and able to combat vote-buying and electoral bribery and reassure Nigerians that INEC will do everything within its mandates to ensure that the 2023 general elections are not tainted by corruption.”
“Acting swiftly to address the brazen impunity and reports of vote-buying and electoral bribery and other electoral offences during the Ekiti state governorship election would also send a strong message to politicians that INEC under your watch would not tolerate such practices during the 2023 general elections,” it added.
“There are also several reports of ballot box snatching including in polling units with codes 13/05/06/005 and 007 in Ilawe Ward IV, near St. Patrick’s School. In several voting units, party agents for the APC, PDP and SDP reportedly clustered around the voting cubicle and saw how voters marked their ballot papers,” SERAP stated.
Concluding, it declared that, “We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel INEC to comply with our request in the public interest.”
On Saturday, residents of Ekiti State headed to the polls to elect a new Governor and candidate of the APC, Mr Biodun Oyebanji, won the exercise after he defeated the candidate of the SDP, Mr Segun Oni, and that of the PDP, Mr Bisi Kolawole.
Council Approves Board to Manage Power Sector Liabilities
By Adedapo Adesanya
The National Council on Privatisation (NCP) has approved the board composition and proposed governance framework for the sustainable management and payment of post-privatisation power sector liabilities transferred to the Nigerian Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO) Board.
In a meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the council also approved the fast-tracking of the work plan for the concession of the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant (ZHPP).
On the board of the NELMCO board are the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, who is the Chairman; while members will comprise the Minister of Power, Mr Abubakar Aliyu; Director-General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr Alex Okoh; Director-General, Debt Management Office (DMO), Ms Patience Oniha; Managing Director, NELMCO, Mr Adebayo Fagbemi; and all its Executive Directors.
It was also resolved that two key members from the private sector be included on the board.
Also at the meeting, it was noted that the key objectives of the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant concession include leveraging private sector access to finance and reduce the reliance on government budgetary allocation to fund the China EXIM Bank loan; and leveraging efficiencies and better facility management (maintenance) culture of the private sector for long-term preservation of the asset.
The Council had, in its December 2020 meeting, approved the concession of the ZHPP.
Similarly, the team was briefed on the performance assessment report of the nine Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs), which has been forwarded to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the sector regulator, for further review and action.
At the meeting, it was noted that a thorough performance assessment revealed that most of the set performance targets were not met by the nine electricity distribution companies.
Google Organises Residency Programme for Young Non-mainstream Creators
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Some young non-mainstream creators were recently gathered in Nairobi, Kenya for a two-day residency programme organised by a tech giant, Google.
The bootcamp took place from Tuesday, June 28 to Thursday, June 30, 2022, and helped participants learn how to better connect with their audiences and move the culture forward through platforms like Google Arts & Culture, YouTube and YouTubeShorts.
The program will see the first batch of 25 young Alté creatives from Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Botswana, and South Africa attend the residency and be equipped with entrepreneurial skills on how they can enhance the visibility of their brands.
Google explained that it came up with the idea to upskill and celebrate the young creatives, who are normally not given a chance on mainstream media, which resulted in many of them taking to YouTube and others to tell their stories.
“It’s exciting to see creators that identify as non-mainstream find community on our platform. This comes just a few days after we announced a call for applications for the YouTube Black Voices Fund for 2023 aimed at elevating marginalised voices.
“The aim of the residency is to amplify the impact of the Alté movement in Africa and the world. We also want to showcase how products like YouTube and YouTube Shorts and platforms like Google Arts & Culture can help drive the culture forward,” the Communications and Public Relations Manager for Google West Africa, Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, said.
Though it started in Nigeria, it has strongly taken root across the continent. Recent Google Search trends from across Africa show an increase in `Alté’ related searches from 2020, with questions like ‘What is alté?’, ‘Who is an alté?’ and ‘How to dress alte?’, being the most searched alté related questions.
Other top searches in Africa on Alté include alte’ music, alte’ songs, alte’ suit designs, top alte’ vibe, alte’ kids, alte’ Nigeria, alte’ in Ghana Music, and alte’ food.
Google has also invited Alté creatives that have global brands such as Tshepo The Jeans Maker to give career talks to the young creative entrepreneurs on how to further build and monetise their brands.
Reps to Investigate Duplication of Functions Across MDAs
By Adedapo Adesanya
The House of Representatives has inaugurated an ad-hoc committee to investigate the duplication of functions rife across ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) of the government.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, who inaugurated the committee, said that the panel aims to reduce the cost of governance and prevent redundancy.
He said that the government has noticed that there was duplication of functions by the different agencies which has led to reduced productivity.
“An organization’s vision and mission must of necessity be derived from the mandate and functions enunciated by its establishment act or any instrument that establishes it.
“Uncertainty sets in when we have multiple agencies carrying out the same functions, leading to bickering, suspicion, and eventually duplication of efforts and waste of hard-earned government resources and time.
“Governments in the past have put in place measures to ensure effective and efficient service delivery by agencies of government, e.g., SERVICOM, but this could not achieve much without a clearly defined mandate,” Mr Gbajabiamila said.
He stressed that “The House of Representatives is not out to witch-hunt any individual or organization, but we are propelled by our desire to ensure good governance and in the exercise of our legislative oversight powers as enshrined in Sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“This Committee is expected to come up with solutions to the apparent continuous conflict of functions and avoidable bickering among established Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA’s), resulting in ineffectiveness, inefficiency and redundancy in the government workforce.
“The committee is therefore expected to engage relevant stakeholders and members of the public with a view to resolving the areas of conflict among the MDA’s, which may require amending some laws and/or outright repeal, as the case may be.”
Mr Gbajabiamila urged the MDAs and other critical stakeholders to work with the committee to complete its mandate in accordance with its Terms of Reference.
The Chairman of the team, Mr Victor Mela Danzaria, said that most of the laws establishing government agencies were made during the military regime and are not in tandem with democracy.
He said that subject matter has been a thorn in the flesh of previous governments which led to the setting up of various committees in the past.
“It is important to note however that our task is different from that of the Oransanya Committee. Whereas their major concern was to reduce the cost of governance, ours is to streamline, merge and if need be, scrap some in order to bring about efficiency in the governance,” Mr Danzaria said.
He assured Nigerians that the committee would conduct a detailed investigation into the activities of some of the agencies and come up with a report that would have a far-reaching decision that would strengthen the agencies.
Meanwhile, the Chief Whip who moved the motion that led to the constitution of the ad-hoc committee, Mr Muhammed Mongunu, said that during a series of oversight functions, it was observed that there were various agencies duplicating functions.
“It is out of the totality of our oversight functions over three sessions that generated the motion on the floor of the House and the parliament saw that there was the need to come up with something that would address these challenges,” Mr Monguno said.
He added that the committee needs to establish areas of mergers and synergies so that existing laws can be justified.
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