Polls: Why voters lost interest in voting – Yahaya Kwande

By Zainab Oyekan

#TrackNigeria: An elder statesman, Alhaji Yahaya Kwande, on Saturday decried the poor turnout of voters in his polling unit, saying that the electorate might have lost interest in voting because they were discouraged by the results of the Feb. 23 presidential election.

Kwande made his thoughts known in an interview in Jos.

“Most voters waited with the officials at the various polling units to count the results before going back home, and so when something different was announced they were not too happy.

“The polling units were a bit more organised than it was during the presidential election and so people just come in, cast their votes and leave almost immediately without wasting time,’’ he said.

He said that elections needed to be free, fair and credible for voters to be encouraged to go out en masse and vote.

Kwande said that it was the responsibility of the Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure that elections were properly conducted.

According to the elder statesman, since the All Progressives Congress and Peoples Democratic Party candidates for the governorship election in Plateau are from the same senatorial zone, their impact should not be underestimated.

Kwande added that in spite of the advantages at the disposal of Gov. Simon Lalong, the opposition party equally had the capacity to do well in the elections. (NAN)

Voters suppression, intimidation marred presidential polls in SE, SS – Obi

#TrackNigeria – Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Vice Presidential Candidate in the February 13 presidential elections, Mr. Peter Obi, has thanked Nigerians for their support for the PDP during the election.

Speaking to the press in his Onitsha home on Monday, Obi said he was touched by the eagerness with which Nigerians came out to fulfill their civic duties of voting. He thanked especially the youth and women, some of whom exercised their voting rights for the first time in the over 119,000 polling booths scattered all over Nigeria.

Obi also condoled the families of those that lost their lives and sympathised with those that sustained various degrees of injury during the election. He appealed to them not to allow their spirit to become dampened towards the performance of their civic duties in future.

Speaking on the general conduct of the election, Obi said it was anything but a transparent, free and fair election, which certainly fell far below the standard established by the 2015 Presidential Election. He noted that “the 2019 Presidential Election was characterised by deliberate voters suppression and intimidation throughout the South-East and South-South,” actions he described as the highest form of corruption.

Obi lamented that the two zones under reference witnessed different sets of rules. According to him, “While some zones voted strictly using the card readers, other zones, as part of the manipulation orchestrated by the ruling party, APC, were allowed to vote without card readers contrary to the guidelines INEC issued before the election.”

On the way forward, Obi said he aligned fully with PDP as a party, the Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and well-meaning Nigerians in condemning the exercise.

Obi added that as law abiding citizens, PDP as a party, its Presidential Candidate and himself had decided to go to court because of their belief in the rule of law. “Though elections give citizens a means to hold their leaders accountable by voting incumbents out of office or promising to hold to account those leaders successfully elected, the process is more important than the outcome as the rule of law must always prevail. Thus, the consequences of Nigeria without rule of law will be unimaginable chaos and tyranny,” he said.

Expressing his confidence in the judiciary, Obi said he appreciated the intervention of well-meaning Nigerians on the issue.

However, concerning those that advised against going to court, Obi said that the dilemma of Nigeria was allowing impunity to go unchallenged.

“Besides putting a stop to impunity,” Obi said, “such a challenge will also go a long way in strengthening the electoral processes and in guarding against repetition of such dastardly acts in future.”

The former Anambra State Governor, who recalled how he had been on the route before, called on Nigerians to have faith in the judiciary as the last hope of the common man.

He cautioned against witch-hunting of opposition leaders and more especially voters in some parts of the country who voted according to their conscience.

On the governorship and state assembly elections holding on Saturday, Obi said: “To the young people, millions of whom I came across on our campaigns across the length and breadth of this country, and who showed great enthusiasm and promise for a greater Nigeria, I urge you to troop out on Saturday, March 9, to restate your message of a desire for a better Nigeria. Though a few as shown by ballot snatching, and violence are still held down by tribalism and ethnic bigotry, I urge the majority to continue in the march of the new world order, where all are equal, and Nigeria is United, secure and prosperous.”

Voters want INEC to upgrade voting method

By Ginika Okoye
#TrackNigeria – Some voters at the Nyanya polling units 001 and 002 have appealed to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to upgrade the method of voting in the country.

Some of the voters who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Saturday said that the current procedure whereby voters queued under the sun was frustrating.

Mr Sunday Patrick, a trader and voter at Nyanya market polling unit 002, urged INEC to upgrade the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to work like the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards.

‘‘We want them to upgrade our PVCs to work like ATM cards so that we can vote wherever we are.

‘‘What we are still doing now is crude but we have grown and should improve in this country,’’ he said.

Another voter in the polling unit, Mrs Theresa Ikpo, said that the idea of leaving her family for hours just to exercise her civic right was disturbing.

Ikpo called for improvement in the next general elections.

‘‘We should learn from other developed countries, especially in things like this.

‘‘We normally adopt the wrong things from other countries but leave out the good ones,” she said.

Another voter, Philip Akhibi, a retired soldier, corroborated the idea, adding that it would be easier for citizens, if adopted.

NAN reports that some voters who had exercised their right expressed dissatisfaction over the late commencement of accreditation and voting.

NAN also reports that the electorate turned out en masse to vote for their preferred candidates and that voting was relatively peaceful in Nyanya polling unit 001 and 002. (NAN)

MURIC to Nigerians: Vote for a new Nigeria

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has admonished the Nigerian electorate to ‘vote for a new Nigeria’ as the nation goes to the polls on Saturday 16th February, 2019 and Saturday, 2nd March, 2019.  

MURIC, an Islamic human rights organization declared in its voters’ enlightenment statement issued on Thursday, 14th February, 2019 that Nigerian voters must sustain the tempo of the change mantra and rapid growth which has manifested in various facets of life in the country. The statement was signed by the organisation’s founder and director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.

Expatiating further, MURIC said, “Nigerians were treated with derision outside the country until recently. Transparency International (TI) ranked Nigeria First Most Corrupt Country in 2001, Second Most Corrupt in 2003 and Third Most Corrupt in 2004 while a former prime minister of Britain described Nigerians as ‘fantastically corrupt’ about three years ago.

“Nigeria remains poor despite our humongous human and material resources due to corruption. All these are due to the fact that only 1% of the population (the notorious but powerful tiny cabal) have arrogated 85% of the total wealth to themselves while the overwhelming 99% struggle over the remaining 15% of the resources of the land. As a result of this socio-economic imbalance, Nigeria is rated today as the 26th poorest and 20th hungriest country in the world. The average Nigerian still lives on less than $1 per day. Our per capita income is still under $300.   

“Our oil export revenue between 2010 and 2014 speaks eloquently of our culture of waste. The average price per barrel was $110. But we frittered every kobo away. We enjoyed stable oil production at 2.4 million barrels per day during this period. At the lowest we sold at $93.61 per barrel. Thus we were able to realise $224 million per day and $81b per year (N12.8 trillion at the old rate). The most spectacular year was 2011 when Nigeria earned $99 billion!   

“Yet there is virtually nothing to show for all that money. Successive regimes from 1999 to 2015 struggled to out-Herod Herod. It was an outrageous contest to out-do the biblical prodigal son (Luke 15:11 – 19) and an equally ludicrous quest to ensure that Nigeria matched up to the description of the Qur’anic city of ingrates (qaryatan aaminatan mutmainatan fakafarat bi an‘umillahi Glorious Qur’an 16:112).  

“As a result of their superfluously voracious greed, our roads became death traps. Public hospitals were worse than public mortuaries. The walls of school buildings fell while the roofs leaked. Earlier on, Nigeria’s public assets like the Nigerian Airways and the Nigerian Railway Corporation received the death sentence courtesy of rapaciously greedy political shenanigans and their avariciously gluttonous and pathologically corrupt capitalist business class.  

“Surprisingly, the present administration which earned $95 billion only from oil in its three and a half years was able to perform better. Note that the Jonathan administration had realized $99 billion in 2011 alone. These are the facts that we owe Nigerian citizens as a human rights body. These are facts that can guide them rightly as they go to the polls.

“It is the sacred duty of civil society to educate the electorate with fact-laden analysis. It is the inalienable Allah-given fundamental right of MURIC to lay the facts bare without fear or favour. Besides, it is the duty of every patriotic Nigerian to search for and rely on real facts. These are verifiable facts and figures. Nigerians should not allow political demagogues to hoodwink them. We note with deep concern that those who brought the country to its knees in their 16-year rule of ruination are the most vocal because they have mastered the art of controlling the paraphanalia of false propaganda.   

“Most state governments were owing salaries until the present regime came. In spite of the low income from oil at an average of $45 per barrel and the loss of 1.2 million barrels per day due to disruption by the Niger Delta Avengers, this administration was able to bail out debtor states. Retirees in the railway and airways who had been abandoned for over 15 years were paid. The monthly allowance of youth corpers was increased. The railways roared back to life in Kaduna, Abuja, Abeokuta, Ajaokuta and Itakpe-Warri axis. Lagos-Ibadan distress-way wore its old bright smile as a real express-way. Second Niger Bridge broke more than a decade old jinx.

“Nigeria overcame recession within one year. Power generation rose from under 300 megawatts to 7,000. Even Forbes could not ignore the monumental and speedy growth as it listed Nigeria as numero uno among ten other African countries which it described as biggest economies in Africa for the year 2018.

“External reserves now stand at $47 billion from a paltry $28 billion inherited from the past regime in 2015. But the icing on the cake is the fact that unlike past administrations, this regime refused to dip its hands in the external reserve to finance the 2019 general elections. Boko Haram insurgents who occupied 17 local governments in Borno State are now on the run. They now come poaching from Chad and Niger in hit and run guerilla tactics.

“What does this kind of administration deserve? How can we show our gratitude to a leader who gave us so much and took nothing in return? In a country where many public officers hide hundreds of millions of naira, and foreign currencies in multiple local and foreign accounts; in a country where 55 houses are traced to a single public official; what does a leader who has just one 3-bedroom bungalow in his home town and another house in Kaduna, a leader who has no foreign account, no private jet, etc deserve?  

“We in MURIC ask Nigerians: Are you going to be like the ten lepers whom Jesus healed but only one of them came back to show gratitude (Luke 17:11 – 32)? The Glorious Qur’an says Allah will increase His blessings for us if we manifest gratitude (Qur’an 14:7). The hadith says those who fail to appreciate their fellowmen (who they see clearly and whose dividends of democracy they enjoy) will never thank the Supreme Creator (whom they do not see). How best can we express gratitude?

“We affirm that the best way that Nigerians can show their gratitude to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is by voting for him on Saturday 16th February. Contrary to the erroneous impression that groups should remain neutral, MURIC upholds the philosophy of standing up for the truth and rejecting falsehood and fence-sitting. We do not have to please politicians. The only entity we owe allegiance is Nigeria. We have a duty to hit the nail on the head in order to save our country from going back down the drain one more time after making so much progress.  

“We have seen the ‘good’, the ‘bad’ and the ‘ugly’ on the Nigerian political landscape. The ‘good’ are on the side of integrity, transparency, probity and accountability. They are the friends of the masses and the true patriots who are developing the country’s infrastructure and touching the lives of the poor masses in various ways. The ‘bad’ are on the side of selfishness, waste, greed and corruption. They nearly ruined Nigeria. They are agents and sympathisers of the 1% over-pampered tiny cabal. The ‘ugly’ are in-between. They are the onlookers who idolize their oppressors out of ignorance. But in this battle between the good and the ugly, every onlooker is either a traitor (of his country Nigeria) or an accomplice (aiding and abetting the destruction of his country).  

“As we draw the curtain, we remind Nigerians that they should not expect their own country to be fixed in three and a half years when it took Mahathir Muhammad 22 years (1981-2003) to fix Malaysia. Lee Kuan Yew spent 30 years of eight consecutive terms in office (1959-1990) to redeem Singapore. Jerry Rawlings spent 26 years (1981-2002) before he could reform Ghana and Meles Zenawi worked assiduously on Ethiopia for 12 good years (1995-2012). Nigerians must therefore vote for the sustenance of the new Nigeria whose emergence began in 2015. We must not allow the mistake of 1985 to repeat itself. We ask patriotic Nigerians to vote for integrity, infrastructure and steady growth.

INEC registers 1.5m voters in Cross River

By Benson Ezugwu

#TrackNigeria: The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Cross River has said it registered 1,527,058 voters for the forthcoming General Elections.

The State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr Frankland Briyai stated this on Monday in Calabar at a meeting with People with Disabilities (PwDs).

He said that the number represented those registered before 2015 election and during the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) from 2017 to Aug. 2018.

He, however, said that some Permanent Voter Cards were yet to be collected, but expressed the hope that the number would be reduced drastically before the election.

“We have taken the PVCs collection to the wards and reports are coming in and we hope that before the elections all the cards may be collected, ‘’ he said.

Briyai advised the PwDs who were yet to collect their cards to visit the nearest collection centers in their area and collect their cards, so as to vote during the election.

He added that INEC was doing everything possible to ensure that all those eligible voted in the election irrespective of his or her condition.

According to him, the commission is making special arrangements for PwDs to vote easily at the polling boots.

“The aged and People with Disabilities are to be given preferential treatment during voting and INEC is working on ensuring that all votes count this time, ‘’ he said.

The Commissioner said that the meeting was part of INEC’s desire to ensure that all stakeholders in the electoral process were carried along in its preparations for a credible election. (NAN)