The Igbo-Speaking Community in Lagos (ISCL) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure peaceful and fair conduct of the 2023 general elections for a competent candidate to emerge.
The President-General, ISCL, Chief Cyril Eze, made the call at a news conference held at the community’s secretariat on Wednesday in Lagos.
He spoke on the theme: “Nigeria at Crossroads: Getting it Right for a Peaceful and United Country.”
Eze said the call was pertinent to achieving a united country as the 2023 general elections draw near, which he said, was a critical deciding moment for Nigeria.
He said that INEC needed to collaborate with security agencies effectively to ensure free and fair elections.
Eze added that the peaceful co-existence and future of Nigeria was dependent on the effectiveness of INEC to deliver.
“INEC must put adequate machinery in place including a commitment to strong will and equity to conduct free and fair elections.
“In addition, the security agencies should be alert and work with INEC with diligence, fortitude and forthrightness.
“It will be in their hands to save Nigeria as we approach the crossroads of 2023,” he said.
Eze said that the Igbo community had embarked on broad-based mobilisation in markets, communities, associations, youth groups and town unions for members to register and get their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
He said that the organisation was also engaging its people through continuous voter education for understanding the newly passed Electoral Act as it related to registration, voting or contesting elections.
He also called on INEC to demonstrate responsibility and efficiency in ensuring that all those who registered for PVCs were issued their cards so as not to disenfranchise them.
Speaking on the community’s stance on an Igbo presidency, Eze said that the organisation was yet to declare support for any presidential candidate.
“For now, we don’t have any candidate that we have decided to support.
“We are not looking for money. We have members who are graduates still looking for jobs. Our youths and women need to be empowered.
“So, we will only support the candidate who meets the demands and needs of the community,” he said.
He congratulated all presidential candidates that emerged from various political parties, urging them to commit to ensuring a free and fair electoral process.
Similarly, Mrs Gloria Amaeze, Woman Leader, ISCL, said that the women in the community would only vote for candidates that would put the needs of the people above personal gains.
Amaeze said that the market women had been educated and mobilised to register and get their PVCs.
She said that members of the community had not been adequately represented at the helm of political affairs, causing neglect to their well-being and development.
“The market women and those at the grassroots are the ones that will vote.
“I am also a market woman and our women have their PVCs. We are only waiting for the right candidate so that we can cast our votes,” she said.
Mr Dominic Aguh, Chairman Igbo-Speaking Community, Mushin Chapter, said the community was agitating for better governance and was not concerned about tribe or ethnicity.
He commended the organisation for continuous efforts toward mobilising members to register for their PVCs, adding that such effort had proved difficult in the past.
He urged members of the Igbo community to wake up, stand united and vote for the right candidate who would care for their interests and needs, regardless of tribe.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Igbo-Speaking Community in Lagos is a registered non-political organisation that seeks to protect and advance the interests of Igbo-speaking people living in Lagos.
Some of its functions include: fostering unity among Igbo-speaking people in Lagos, encouraging peaceful coexistence with other ethnic nationalities, promoting cultural awareness and mobilising people to meet their civic rights and obligations.
An election monitoring group, YIAGA Africa, has identified suspected threats to the peaceful conduct of the Osun governorship election scheduled for July 16.
It told newsmen in Osogbo on Wednesday that recent escalation in the activities of political thugs, cultism, and voter inducement were potential threats.
It commended recent arrest of some political thugs, but added that there was an urgent need for more intelligence to be deployed in addressing the rising threats and ensure more arrests and prosecution of culprits.
The submissions were made by YIAGA Africa’s Director of Programme, Ms Cynthia Mbamalu.
“Yiaga Africa’s pre-election reports have revealed the activities of cultists and political thugs in some local government areas as capable of threatening the peaceful and credible conduct of the election, if not contained.
“In addition to these threats, there are also attempts by some political mercenaries to manipulate the process right from the pre-election stage.
“In spite of the foregoing, the preparation for the Osun governorship election has seen a religious implementation of the electoral timeline by INEC,’’ she said.
She said the critical job of effectively securing citizens, electoral materials and stakeholders without any bias should remain a priority for security agencies before the election.
Mbamalu added that the rate of voter inducement across the state was on the increase.
She noted that if the practice of vote merchandising was not curbed, it would consistently delegitimise political mandate and undermine the electoral process.
She said the group was also concerned about the uncouth and unguarded utterances by some political actors in the state in their efforts to woo voters.
“There is no doubt that these desperate utterances by major actors going into the election demonstrate a lack of caution and sportsmanship.
“This is capable of not just intimidating prospective voters, but also inflaming the political environment, if not checked.
“We call on these actors, especially those of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to exercise restraint and advise their supporters to play by the rules,’’ she stressed.
Mbamalu also commended INEC on its efforts on Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) collection by old and new registrants.
She said: “however, we are concerned about the strategies deployed to ensure that the more than 333,179 newly-produced Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) are collected by voters before July 16.
“The PVCs are currently being collected at the local government councils’ offices.
“Reports from the `Watch The Vote Long Term Observers’ (WTV LTOs) reveal that prospective voters are crowding some INEC Local Government Area offices with little hope of getting their PVCs before the election.’’
In his remarks, a YIAGA Africa board member, Ezenwa Nwangu, commended INEC for its preparatory activities and called on it to provide better oversight at its local government areas offices.
He charged security agencies to ensure that all personnel deployed for the election were adequately trained and operated with all sense of responsibility, professionalism and neutrality.
“Security agencies should ensure the arrest and prosecution of those involved in any form of violence and voter inducement in the days leading to the election.
“Security agencies, especially the police, should publicise telephone hotlines for citizens to register complaints, report incidents, or access information on the election,’’ he said.
Nwagwu also said the distribution of money, gifts and food items by political parties and candidates to induce voters featured throughout the campaign period.
This, he added, was observed and reported by the group’s Long Term Observers.
“This ugly trend is undermining the credibility of electoral mandates.
“During this reporting period, more events associated with voter inducement were reported in Ife Central, Ife North, Ifedayo, Ilesa West and Odo-Otin local government areas.
“Specifically, food items such as garri and beans were seen being distributed to people as a campaign strategy in these local government areas,’’ Nwagwu said.
The APC Nigerian Women in Politics (ANWIP) have sensitised more than 1,000 women in the Federal Capital Territory on the need to register and collect their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).The National Convener of AWINP, Princes Bola Kazeem, during the sensitisation in Abuja on Tuesday, said women were the deciding factors in elections in Nigeria.Razak said the only requirement for qualification to vote in the 2023 general election is the possession of PVC.“If you don’t have your PVC, it means you would not be allowed to vote in 2023 General Election.“I am calling on all women in the FCT and those in the 36 states of the federation to, without delay, go and register and obtain your PVCs.“We are the mothers of the nation and we are suppose to show good example to our children, husbands and relations. We can do this by going to register and get our PVCs.“Also, we are mobilisers. The 2023 General Election is fast approaching and we thought we need to contribute our quota to the scheme of things in the nation’s politics.“There is need to sensitise our women to get their PVCs, because it is a weapon they could use to usher in a government that would take Nigeria to the next level.“We know that without PVC, we would not be allowed to cast our votes. That is why we are here; to create impact in APC and Nigeria in general,” Kazeem said.According to her, women are working very hard in all electoral processes across the country, stressing that they have the numerical strength to decide who becomes the next president of the country.“We believe that we women can vote Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu as the next president of Nigeria. We believe he can bring positive changes to Nigeria and take it to the next level.“He has the experience to make things happen; he has done it in Lagos, he would do it for Nigeria. Nigeria would be great under Tinubu.“People are saying he is old, but the truth is that he is not too old to lead Nigeria, he has the capacity to move Nigeria forward.“The president of USA, Mr Joe Biden, is an old man, but he is performing well for the American people; Tinubu will do better as President of Nigeria.“We, women in Nigeria will produce over 40 per cent of vote to APC and Tinubu in the 2023 General Elections,” Kazeem said.The News Agency of Nigeria reports that while some women were there with their PVCs, others promised to go and register to get their cards soonest to ensure they vote APC and Tinubu in 2023.
The Kwara House of Assembly on Tuesday confirmed the appointment of five commissioner nominees submitted by Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.
The confirmation of the nominees was sequel to their thorough screening at the Committee of Whole during the plenary.
The newly confirmed commissioners are Afeez Abolore Alabi from Ilorin East; Adenike Afolabi Oshatimehin – Ifelodun; Wahab Femi Agbaje – Offa; Gidado Lateef Alakawa – Asa; and Ibrahim Akaje – Ilorin West.
The Speaker, Mr Yakuhu Danladi, thereafter directed the Clerk of the House, Hajia Haleemah Kperogi, to communicate the notice of the confirmation to the governor.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the confirmed commissioners are expected to replace some cabinet members who resigned their appointments recently to pursue political ambitions.
Also during Tuesday’s plenary, the suspension of the lawmaker representing Ilorin-South Constituency, Mr Raheem Jimoh-Agboola of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was lifted.
The suspension of Agboola was lifted following an apology letter written to the House by the suspended lawmaker and read by the Speaker during the plenary.
The speaker directed that Agboola be ushered into the hallowed Chamber to resume in the legislative business.
NAN recalls that the lawmaker was suspended by the House in January 2022, after he was disallowed to attend the presentation of the 2022 Appropriation Bill by Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.
Agboola, while speaking with NAN on his reaction to the lifting of his suspension, confirmed that he wrote an apology letter to the Speaker to allow peace reign in his constituencyy in particular and the state at large.
“I am one voice out of the majority and for peace and harmony of the state to continue to prevail and desired development to my constituencyy, l have to make amend with them,” the lawmaker said.
“The people of my constituencyy should beef up as we prepare for another elections by acquiring their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to vote credible leaders,” Agboola added.
Dr Mutiu Agboke, the outgoing Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Oyo State, has decried vote buying in the nation’s electoral processes, describing the development as “a brazen assault on Nigeria’s democracy” .
Agboke made this assertions on Tuesday at a valedictory conference held at the State headquarters of INEC in Ibadan.
He said the commitment of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) toward the conduct of credible, free and fair elections in the state was paramount.
Agboke said the issue of vote buying remain a major area of concern.
He urged relevant stakeholders to play vital role in tackling the menace “to enhance credibility of our electoral processes”.
The resident electoral officer lauded the roles being played by the anti-corruption and security agencies in apprehending some of the vote buying perpetrators in the recent Ekiti governorship election.
On PVCs collection, the REC said, “Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) is key to the participation of any voter in the upcoming general election and that no electorate shall be allowed to vote under any condition”.
He urged eligible voters to take advantage of the extension of the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) to register for their PVCs.
The REC said that more registration gadgets had been deployed to areas of pressure in the state to enable intending registrants to participate in the exercise without stress.
Agboke, whose tenure as REC ends on Wednesday July 6, appreciated major stakeholders, ranging from the National Orientation Agency, the Media, Inter-Party Advisory Committee, Youth Council of Nigeria, religious bodies, among others for their support during his stay in Oyo State.
He said INEC, under his leadership, gave the electorate the value for their votes by ensuring that votes of the people count at various elections conducted in the state.
“Indeed, 2019 general election was most critical exercise for the electorate to exercise their franchise.
“The election was a good experience for me to test and measure the acceptability of INEC in Oyo State,” he said.
The REC implored electorate in the state to be prepared for the coming 2023 general elections, promising the commission would always ensure that people’s votes count.
He said that the commission, after the 2019 general election, converted additional 1,607 polling units to the initial 4,783 polling units, “making a total of 6,390 polling units in the state”.
Agboke urged the media to assist in educating the electorate on the need to populate or migrate to these newly converted polling units before the conduct of the general elections in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the outgoing REC started with INEC in Ondo State in August 2017 before his deployment to Oyo State on Jan. 25, 2018, where he completed the mandatory five -year tenure as REC.