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SERAP Wants INEC to Publish Financial Details of Political Parties

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political parties

By Adedapo Adesanya

In its latest move, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to publish the reports on the accounts and balance sheets of every political party submitted to the National Assembly since 2015.

The group called on Mr Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman of the body, to make available the request in a letter dated May 21, 2022, signed by SERAP deputy director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare.

SERAP urged him to “urgently examine the books and records of financial transactions of political parties, and to make public the outcome of any such examination.”

It also urged him to “provide details of the guidelines, and steps that INEC is taking to prevent vote-buying in the forthcoming elections in Ekiti and Osun states and 2023 general elections, and to prosecute vote buyers and other electoral offenders.”

Recently, the All Progressives Congress (APC) collected N100 million for its presidential form while the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) collected N40 million for the same purpose for the 2023 elections.

The organisation also alleged that some leading political parties and politicians also spend between N250 to N14,000 to buy votes.

The organisation said: “Nigerians have the right to know about the accounts and financial transactions of their political parties, especially the major parties with a strong possibility to assume government in the future.”

According to SERAP, “transparency and accountability of political parties is important to achieve greater transparency in public life, curb the influence of money in politics, promote a level playing field, and remove the risks to the independence of political actors and would-be public office holders.”

SERAP also said, “It is both immoral and illegal to pay citizens to vote for a particular political party or candidate. Unpunished cases of vote buying and related electoral offences would continue to undermine good governance, the rule of law, moral values, as well as hinder citizens’ participation in elections.”

The letter, read in part: “When a political candidate decides to buy the support of the people rather than contest fairly for their votes, there are possibilities that such candidate will show a disregard for democratic rules and a disposition to adopt illegal means becomes inevitable.

“Vote buying and related electoral offences encourage poor governance and weaken citizens’ capacity to hold their elected officials accountable for their actions.

“SERAP urges you to urgently take measures and to collaborate with appropriate anti-corruption agencies to ensure the effective prosecution of any outstanding cases of vote buying and related electoral offences allegedly committed in the context of the 2019 general elections.

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 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.

“The lack of transparency and accountability in political finance is seriously undermining the legitimacy and credibility of the democratic and electoral processes, and invariably contributing to denying the citizens the right to effective participation in their own government.

“The failure of political parties to comply with transparency and accountability frameworks would undermine citizens’ trust in their political parties and lack of trust will inevitably destroy confidence in the system and decrease citizens’ interest and participation in the democratic process.

“Elections are only one part of the democratic process, and a fair and effective electoral system must be founded in an adequate democratic infrastructure and responsibility of political leaders.

“According to our information, several political parties have for many years failed to submit their annual financial statements to INEC. Many political parties have failed to submit election expenses reports, and to disclose material contributions received from individuals and corporate bodies to the Commission.

“The Commission has also been apparently unable or unwilling to monitor, examine and publish these financial statements.”

“Also, some leading political parties, politicians and other political actors reportedly paid between N250 to N14,000 to buy votes. For many years, allegations of vote buying (the payment of cash or gifts in exchange for voting) and related electoral offences have characterised elections and party primaries in the country.

“SERAP is concerned that despite several provisions of the Electoral Act (as amended), anti-corruption laws, and the country’s international anti-corruption obligations, suspected perpetrators of vote buying and related electoral offences frequently escape justice for their crimes.

“However, INEC has consistently failed to exercise its powers and to provide the leadership that would promote collaboration with appropriate anti-corruption agencies to facilitate and ensure thorough, transparent and effective investigation of cases, and the arrest and prosecution of suspected perpetrators.

“Section 86(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 requires every political party to submit to INEC a detailed annual statement of assets and liabilities and analysis of its sources of funds and other assets and statement of its expenditure. Failure to comply is an offence under Section 86(2), which is punishable by imprisonment for a term of six months or a fine of N1,000,000 or both.

“Under Section 86(3)(4) INEC has the power to examine the records and audited accounts kept by any political party, and to publish the report on such examinations and audit in two national newspapers and Commission’s website within 30 days of receipt of the results.

“Section 226 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022 also requires INEC to prepare and submit a report every year to the National Assembly on the accounts and balance sheet of every political party. Under Section 225(5), INEC has the power to give directions to political parties regarding their books or records of financial transactions.

“The Nigerian Constitution and international standards guarantee and protect the right of all qualified citizens to vote, in state as well as in general elections.

“The right to vote freely for the political party and candidate of one’s choice is of the essence of a democratic society, and any restrictions on that right strike at the heart of representative government.

“The effective exercise of the right of qualified Nigerians to have a voice in the election of those who make and enforce the laws under which, as good citizens, they live can contribute to the enjoyment of other human rights, including to corruption-free public services, freedom of expression and digital and data rights.

“Public confidence in voting systems serves as an indispensable feature of a full and healthy democracy.

“Persistent failure to arrest and prosecute suspected perpetrators of vote buying and related electoral offences may ultimately undermine public confidence, the integrity of the country’s elections, and lead to widespread disaffection with the electoral process.”

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Council Approves Board to Manage Power Sector Liabilities

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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.

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Google Organises Residency Programme for Young Non-mainstream Creators

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Google Accelerator Programme

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.

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Reps to Investigate Duplication of Functions Across MDAs

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House of Reps

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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