ACN REJECT TROOPS DEPLOYMENT

Troops deployment during elections is wrong, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) said yesterday.

The Federal Government said on Tuesday that it would send in soldiers to fight thugs during the general elections, which begin on Saturday.

The Council of State at its Tuesday meeting endorsed the proposal.

But, to the ACN chairman Chief Bisi Akande, the move is a design by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to manipulate the elections. He described the decision as "barbaric". Akande spoke in Yola, Adamawa State capital during the party’s presidential campaign rally. Yola is the home town of the party’s presidential candidate, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.

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UTOMI QUITS PRESIDENTIAL RACE OVER FAILED CONSENSUS TALKS

The presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Mega Party, Prof. Pat Utomi, on Wednesday withdrew from the race over the inability of opposition parties to adopt a single candidate.

Utomi, who confirmed his decision to our correspondent on the telephone, said, “Yes, I’ve withdrawn. I withdrew today.”

His decision came as a shock to Nigerians, especially as he had on Tuesday participated in the debate organised by the Nigeria Election Debate Group in Abuja alongside three other candidates.
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INEC TO ANNOUNCE RESULTS IN 48 HOURS

Results of the coming elections will be announced in 48 hours, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chair Prof. Attahiru Jega said yesterday.

He also said that the distribution of ballot papers, which are being kept at the Central Bank of Nigeria, would be tracked to avoid being hijacked by politicians and thugs.

Jega, who spoke at a consultative meeting with editors and news managers in Abuja, said INEC was ready for the elections.

He said: "We are pleased with the state of preparedness. We have recruited and trained about 400,000, an average of three polling unit staff plus a number of supervisory officials. In terms of logistics, we have tried to improve.

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FG NAMES OYO, OGUN, 10 OTHERS AS VIOLENCE PRONE

Less than 48 hours to the general elections, the Federal Government on Wednesday listed 12 ‘hot spots’ across the country where violence might likely erupt.

They are Oyo and Ogun (South-West); Katsina and Kano states (North-West); Bayelsa and Akwa-Ibom (South-South); Nasarawa and Benue (North-Central); Borno and Gombe (North-East); and Ebonyi and Anambra (South-East).

The government said in a statement by the Head of Public Relations, National Emergency Management Agency, Mr. Yushau Shuaibu, on Wednesday that the states had “attracted more headlines and public attention to acrimonious activities among the political actors and parties.”
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UTOMI QUITS PRESIDENTIAL RACE OVER FAILED CONSENSUS TALKS

The presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Mega Party, Prof. Pat Utomi, on Wednesday withdrew from the race over the inability of opposition parties to adopt a single candidate. He stated that over the past few months, he had been in talks with the presidential candidates of the Congress for Progressive Change, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari; Action Congress of Nigeria, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu; and All Nigeria Peoples Party, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, as well as the national chairmen of their parties on the need to adopt a single presidential candidate.

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SOLDIERS WON’T STAY AT POLLING UNITS – INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission on Wednesday said soldiers would not stay at polling units during Saturday’s elections.The Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr. Kayode Idowu, who stated this said the soldiers would be deployed in streets 48 hours before the elections. Explaining the role of the military at the polls, Idowu said, “Nobody will see a military man at a polling unit. They will be at the background for rapid intervention during elections when necessary. That is the idea.”

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INEC GUIDE TO ELECTION!!! PLEASE READ AND INFORM OTHERS!!! -IMPORTANT!!!

Four days to the National Assembly elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission on its Twittter post said it is ready to ensure free and fair elections in Nigeria, urging voters to go out and exercise their rights.

 

It urged that incidents and developments during the elections be reported to the Twittter platform called @inecnigeria.

 

The commission listed the procedure for ensuring a successful voting activity:

 

>>Take your Voter’s Card to the polling unit where you registered recently to be accredited between 8am-12noon.

 

>>During the accreditation stage, an appropriate finger of your left hand will be marked with indelible ink as proof of accreditation.

 

>>Anyone who fails to join the queue by 12 noon when the poll orderly stands behind the last person will not be eligible for accreditation, but whoever is already waiting in the queue before 12:00 noon will get accredited no matter the time.

 

>>Please note that anyone without his/her Voter’s Card has no business going near the polling centre as he/she will not be accredited.

 

>>After your accreditation, you must be back on the queue at 12:30 p.m. for another head count of accredited voters who show up to vote.

 

>>There will be a head count, and the number of accredited voters will be announced loudly by the Presiding Officer to all present.

 

>>Anyone who shows up after the head count is taken will not be allowed to join the queue, though he/she may have been earlier accredited.

 

>>During the voting process, after the polling officials have verified your accreditation, appropriate finger of your right hand will be marked with indelible ink as proof of your having shown up to vote.

 

>>Thereafter, you will be issued with ballot papers signed, stamped and dated appropriately by the Presiding Officer.

 

>>On getting the ballot paper, you’ll move to the voting cubicle compartment to fingerprint the space for the party candidate of your choice

 

>>You’ll then return into the open and proceed to drop the ballot in the transparent Ballot Box provided.

 

>>Please note that Voting closes for each polling unit when the last person on the queue votes.

 

>>After voting, you may remain at the polling unit until the votes are sorted, counted and the tally announced by the Presiding Officer.

 

>>You must conduct yourself in a peaceful and orderly manner if you choose to stay behind and await the tally.

 

>>Adequate provisions have been made by INEC to enable physically challenged persons to exercise their franchise.

 

>>Please note that proxy voting will on no account be allowed.

 

>>INEC’s Blackberry PIN released: 2687A1CA

Hot Lines! NigeriaElections.org unveils

Here is a brief update on how you can be involved in the 2011 Election process!

 

 

·      REPORT whoever wants you to sell your VOTE now! TEXT/SMS- 08135328466

 

·      Contact INEC Nigeria on Call Election HOTLINES: 0707-0273-671-9. SMS Reports to: 0816-666-2222, 0812-000-6622, 0809-666-2221.

 

·      Share reports about election incidence in your community with Nigeria Elections Coalition Team TEXT/SMS- 08135328466

 

·      PING The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC on Blackberry Pin 2687A1CA

 

·      To share your opinion visit www.Agora.nigeriaelections.org

 

·      To find a polling booth visit http://www.booths.nigeriaelections.org

 

·      Stay logged on to WWW.NIGERIAELECTIONS.ORG for updates about the 2011 elections!

DEBATE: JONATHAN IMPLORES RIBADU, BUHARI, SHEKARAU TO JOIN HIM

President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday said he would participate in the presidential debate being organised by the Nigerian Elections Debate Group on Wednesday (today) but In retaliation, Ribadu, Buhari and Shekarau announced their decision to boycott the NEDG debate, a development that would make Jonathan the only participant. Jonathan in a statement expressed hopes that the three candidates would reverse their decision to boycott the event.The statement reads, “In keeping with his declared commitment, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan will honour the invitation extended to him by the Nigerian Elections Debate Group to participate in the Presidential Debate scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, March 30, 2011.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What will happen on Election Day?

·         Accreditation to verify that everyone who presents a voter’s card is on the voters’ register will take place from 8am to 12 pm (with a 30 minute time buffer allowed).

·         At 12.30 pm, the queue for voting will be formed. Verification of each person on the queue (who has been accredited already) will take place before actual voting commences.

·         Voters will use their fingerprint to select the candidate of their choice on ballot papers.

·         After voting has ended, voters may remain to see the counting of the votes.

·         The total number of votes cast should not exceed the number of accredited voters at that polling unit; if it does, the results for that center will be automatically nullified.

·         After the results are tallied, the appropriate forms are filled, copies are given to party agents and other official observers at the center, and one copy is pasted at the polling center.

 

Will the Election process be free of violence?

·         INEC is working very closely with security agencies. To ensure sufficient coordination and harmonization of roles and responsibilities for the security of INEC staff, voters and the ballots, an inter-agency committee has been established, with the police playing a major role. Personnel of all the agencies have been factored into one operation plan, to avoid duplication/overlaps in certain areas.

·         Logistics and security support have also been organized for areas identified as hotspots, as well as difficult terrain locations.

 

How will INEC handle the large crowds?

·         Some level of decentralization has been necessitated in areas with large numbers of registered voters, for crowd control and to ensure accreditation takes place within the four hours allotted. These areas are known and INEC is working on this challenge, planning on a state-by-state basis for these high-density centers which will have to be split. Polling Units with more than 300 registered voters are to be subdivided into voting points for ease of accreditation and issued of ballot papers to take place.

 

How will INEC prevent voter intimidation?

·         The inter-agency committee has come to a collective decision that candidates will not be allowed into polling centers with armed personnel. They are required to vote and return home, and will not be allowed to circulate or visit other centers.

 

Why is there a separate accreditation and voting process?

·         Past elections – such as those conducted in 1993 – have shown that accreditation prior to voting enhances fair and just elections; it hinders people from voting more than once and promotes transparency.

 

Do Voters have to stay behind after casting their vote?

·         Voters are encouraged to stay and witness the ballot counting in the interest of full transparency, but they are not obliged to do so.

 

2011: CRUNCH TIME, NIGERIA!

 National honour is national property of the highest value.” – James Monroe (1758-1831), American Democratic Republican statesman and 5th President of the United States.

 In a few days from now, we confront as Nigerians an acid test to reclaim our collective honour as a people in the civilized world. This test of honour will play out in a series of elections to be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in 119,973 polling units nationwide. The first of these is the National Assembly (i.e. Senate and House of Representatives) elections on Saturday, April 2nd; then, the Presidential election on Saturday, April 9th; followed by the Governorship and State Assembly elections on Saturday, April 16th.  Make no mistake about it: this test of honour is inescapably a collective one for all Nigerians. It is our national honour at stake, and our relevance in the affairs of the modern world being redefined. By all means, the test isn’t INEC’s alone; the Election Management Body is only a midwife of the process and an umpire on the play turf.

 The Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) stipulates the Open-Secret balloting system whereby voters indicate their choice of candidates/parties in secret, but cast their ballots in the open. Acting within its statutory powers, the Electoral Commission has come up with additional guidelines which prescribe simultaneous accreditation and voting in all the polling units nationwide on Election Day. This procedure is intended to obstruct unscrupulous persons who may seek to exploit a more relaxed voting procedure by going from one polling unit to the other to vote, if they could. By the Commission’s guidelines, the Election Day procedure for all the elections involves the following steps by eligible voters:

·        Take your Voter’s Card to the polling unit where you registered recently to be accredited between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon – that is, for polling officials to confirm that you are the rightful holder of the card and that your name is in the Voter Register. At this stage, an appropriate finger of your left hand will be marked with indelible ink as proof of accreditation. Anyone who fails to join the queue by 12:00 noon when the poll orderly stands behind the last person present will not be eligible for accreditation; but whoever is already waiting in the queue by then will get accredited, no matter the time.

It is important to note that anyone without his/her Voter’s Card has no business going near the polling centre as he/she will not be accredited. Besides, anyone doing so stands the risk of being arrested by security agents.

·        There will be a headcount, and the number of accredited voters will be announced loudly by the Presiding Officer to all present before entering the figure in statutory records.

·        Whether you stay behind at the polling unit after accreditation or leave, you must be back on the queue at 12:30 p.m. for another headcount of accredited voters who show up to vote. This headcount will be taken after the poll orderly takes position behind the last person on the queue, and the figure will be announced loudly by the Presiding Officer to the hearing of everyone present before entering it in official records. Anyone who shows up after the headcount is taken will not be allowed to join the queue, though he/she may have been earlier accredited.

·        Next, the voting starts. This involves polling officials verifying that you have been duly accredited, and then an appropriate finger of your right hand will be marked with indelible ink as proof of your having shown up to vote. Thereafter, you will be issued with ballot papers signed, stamped and dated appropriately by the Presiding Officer.

·        On getting the ballot paper, you will move to the voting cubicle / compartment to fingerprint the space for the party / candidate of your choice.

·        You will then return into the open and proceed to drop the ballot in the Transparent Ballot Box provided for the unit in the full view of everyone present. Voting closes for each polling unit when the last person on the queue votes.  

·        After voting, you may remain at the polling unit until the votes are sorted, counted and the tally announced by the Presiding Officer. But in doing this, you must conduct yourself in a peaceful and orderly manner.

Adequate provisions have been made by INEC to enable physically challenged persons to exercise their franchise. To this end, a person without appropriate fingers that should be inked for accreditation and voting will have corresponding toes of the right and left feet inked for same purposes. Indeed, persons with neither fingers nor toes will have those of persons who assist them to the polling units inked on their behalf. Such persons can be assisted to vote by those accompanying them, but proxy voting will on no account be allowed.  

Transparency is a major plank in INEC’s design of the voting procedure. That is why for all the elections, results for each polling unit will be publicly announced by the Presiding Officer and thereafter posted on the unit. This requirement has always been stipulated by the law but observed in breach until now. Interested voters may compare the total number of votes announced with the total number of voters present for the headcount before voting started. The Commission’s rule is that any figure of votes announced in excess of the voters present for the final headcount automatically invalidates the result for affected polling unit. A major implication here is that any attempt by unscrupulous persons to stuff ballots or snatch ballot boxes will be futile; as there is no way that stolen ballots can be factored into the official result in any polling unit.

 The results from polling units will thereafter be collated in 8,809 Registration Area / Ward collation centres and 774 Local Government Area collation centres for state elections; and all these plus 37 States / Federal Capital Territory collation centres for the Federal election. At all these levels – indeed from the polling unit level – political parties are required and encouraged to have their polling agents present. There will also be other accredited observers as well as journalists on hand. Besides, INEC has built into the collation process parallel reporting lines to allow for independent verification of filed returns.

But, of course, there remain some nagging questions to which answers can be provided as follows:

·        Will personnel and materials arrive at polling units early enough to keep faith with the timelines stipulated for accreditation and voting?

 

Answer: Yes, they will. To ensure this, the Commission is for the first time going beyond the Local Government-level deployment of personnel and materials on the eve of elections. This time around, all polling officials and security agents will camp at the ward level on the eve of polls to facilitate early deployment to polling units on Election Day. Besides, the inaccessibility of some difficult terrains has been taken into account and deployment by air / sea shuttles factored into logistical preparations. But since there is always a 10 per cent chance of things going off the hinge, any eventuality of late arrival of personnel and materials in any polling unit will be addressed on case-by-case basis and necessary adjustments made in stipulated timelines for accreditation and voting.

 

 

 

·        How secured will the voting environment be?

 

 Answer: Secured enough to ensure a violence-free process. INEC is obviously not a security agency. But the Commission has over the past months worked very closely with all the security agencies – military and paramilitary – and has strong cause to believe that there are sufficient measures in place to secure these coming elections against violence. Already, the personnel and operational plans of the different agencies have been harmonized on the platform of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) to ensure synergy and prevent conflicts or overlaps. Perhaps the most striking thing about ICCES is that it inspired bottom-to-top approach to election security planning which has taken account of local security challenges and how to tackle them. This is unlike the top-to-bottom approach in the past whereby uniform templates were prescribed for security operations nationwide, only for such schemes to turn out sorely inadequate for local peculiarities. The ICCES platform has also afforded INEC the opportunity to specify expectations from the security agencies in a manner that makes their roles complementary to one another – not parallel or conflicting as was the experience in past elections. The Commission believes that these measures, coupled with an obvious commitment on the part of respective leadership of the security agencies to discharge the onus, portend a secure environment for the coming elections.

 

·        How will INEC handle large crowds, considering that more than 73.5miilion people were captured on the voters’ roll during the recent voter registration exercise?

 

 

Answer:  The Commission has resolved to decentralise voting in polling units with large number of registrants. To this end, any polling unit with more than 300 voters will be sub-divided into voting points for ease of accreditation and balloting. In other words, no voting point shall cater to more than 300 voters. The Voter Register for each polling unit has been compiled in alphabetical order with voters’ surnames first, then serially and page numbered. This will allow for easy reference during voters’ accreditation, and for apportioning voters among the voting points.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Has the Commission ethical bearing on the field staff?

 

 

Answer: Yes, it does. The present leadership of INEC has pledged to observe the law in strict terms, and to leave no room for any official violating the law. The Prof. Attahiru Jega-led Commission has repeatedly made good on this pledge since it took office in July, last year. It also amply demonstrated this during the last voter registration exercise with the apprehension and prosecution of deviant officials. In all, more than 420,000 ad hoc and regular staff are being deployed at various levels for the imminent elections. There is an ethical wellspring from which the INEC workforce now freely drink, or thirst at their own peril.

 

 

 

·        Will the public be free to report untoward incidents observed during polling to the Commission?

 

 

 

 Answer: Absolutely so – through SMS and voice calls on phones, or by emailing. Such reports should reflect useful details such as location, time and action involved in the incident, to enable the Commission respond appropriately.

 

The foregoing are the ingredients of which great electoral broths are made everywhere. But the task on hand, inevitably, isn’t INEC’s alone. Every Nigerian must resolve and ensure that they play by the rules and play fair in this honour duel. After all, the best referee does not makes a great match; the players do!

 

Kayode R. Idowu is the Chief Press Secretary of INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, OFR.                    

             

 

 

 

Ex-American public official and author, the late John William Gardner, said in his work titled No Easy Victories: “History never looks like history when you are living through it. It always looks confusing and messy, and it always feels uncomfortable.”  I would say nothing better articulates the time we are in presently in Nigeria. Every Nigerian who is eligible to vote in the imminent elections has a date with history; a partner in the duel to redeem this country’s unflattering image before the world. We can make that history through a new political culture that overrides old tendencies and foibles; but also through a voting system that may seem cumbersome, yet essential to secure the elections against past abuses that brought global odium upon the country.

 

FASHOLA PROMISES MORE DEVELOPMENTAL PROJECTS

The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has said that his administration will consolidate on the development of the state into one of the mega cities of the world in the next four years if elected again.

Fashola said this at a Town Hall Meeting of professionals and individuals organised by the Private Sector Initiative and the campaign office of the governor in Lagos on Friday.

 

The governor, who spoke on the theme, ‘I see a new Lagos’, added that the journey of transforming the state had been a very interesting one, saying that about six million registered voters in the state should use the opportunity to elect leaders that would better their lives.

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