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Nigerian newspapers headlines Monday morning



#ENDSARS: Police Take Stock Of Losses Nationwide [LEADERSHIP]

The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has commenced proper documentation of the losses incurred in 17 states of the federation during the nationwide #EndSARS protests that was hijacked by hoodlums.

The evaluation process began at the weekend when the assessment committee set up by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, chaired by commissioner of Police (CP), Abutu Yaro, evaluated the damages recorded in 37 stations in Lagos State.

The IGP had set up the committee to properly document the losses suffered by the Force for the purposes of strategic planning, re-construction and re-equipment as well as for future references.

Speaking to LEADERSHIP on the level of work done so far, CP Yaro said the committee has covered Abuja and Lagos States since it was inaugurated on October 30, 2020, noting that 15 other states would be covered as well.

He explained that part of the committee’s job is to compile records of officers who died as well as those who were injured, visit the families of the affected officers, and compile records of arms and ammunition carted away by hoodlums who attacked the stations.

He further explained that in order to meet up with the target within the two or three-week time frame given for the assignment, the committee co-opted other officers and divided the team into three.

According to him, simultaneous assessments are going on in the South East and South South zones, while his team is focused on South West so that the task will be effectively done in due time.

While setting up the committee, IGP Adamu had observed that the Force encountered huge losses in terms of human and material resources during the protests which commenced on a rather peaceful note but unfortunately degenerated into violence, loss of lives and wanton destruction of property.

The IGP also charged the team to see the assignment as a call to service which must be undertaken with purposefulness, empathy, dedication and sacrifice.

Reeling out the terms of reference of the committee, Adamu said the delegation should physically visit the scenes of incident and capture the pictorials of all damages done to police infrastructure and personnel, verify the fatalities suffered by the police, establish the weapons holdings that were lost during the incidents, amongst others.


9m Nigerians At Risk Of Food Insecurity, FAO Projects [LEADERSHIP]

The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has said about 9.8million people in 16 northern states of Nigeria are currently facing acute food shortage.

The organization, in its Cadre Hamonise (CH) report on food security and nutrition analysis released last week for 16 states across the country including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), also warned that the number could rise to about 14million if measures are not taken in time to avert the hunger crisis.

The CH analysis results in Nigeria have become the major yardstick for estimating the areas and population of vulnerable people in needs of humanitarian assistance as presented in the annual Humanitarian Needs Overviews (HNOs) and the Humanitarian Response Plans (HRPs).

The report listed the main causes of the crisis to include floods, climate change effects and the ongoing decade-long armed insurgency.

According to the report, “about 9.8million people in Nigeria are expected to be in a hunger crisis or worse between October and December 2020 and if immediate measures are not taken to mitigate the situation, about 13. 8 million people will be facing acute food shortage crisis between June and August 2021.”

The report also showed that the most affected part of the country is the North East region covering Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) States that are affected by the decade-long armed insurgency leaving millions of people without food and other livelihood means.

The three states are classified to be in crisis and emergency phases of acute food and nutrition analysis.

For the October – December 2020 period, it is only Adamawa State, which has completely scored better results of being under pressure but without renewed concerted efforts, much of it will slide into food security crisis.

Speaking during the report presentation event, the permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Dr Mua’zu Abdulkadir, said that the analysis is not just an early warning alert but an inevitable decision making tool to guide points of action for ensuring food security and nutrition situation across all the states involved.

Represented by the ministry’s director of Policy and Planning, Zubairu Abdullahi, the PS said that the October 2020 CH analysis came at a time when households in the country were faced with economic stress due to lockdown and restrictive measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID -19 in Nigeria.

He said, “The results therefore, are expected to reveal the number of those affected by the food and nutrition challenges for the period covered that is October to December 2020 and the projected June to August 2021.

“Consequently, as a food security and nutrition early warning alert presented to the government and all the key stakeholders, the report lays a foundation for planning effective interventions to prevent further deterioration of the food and nutrition situation in those vulnerable areas.”


25 States Yet To Remit Workers’ Pension [LEADERSHIP]

25 states of the federation are yet to remit the pension contributions of their respective workers under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), with most of them now battling to pay a backlog of pension arrears amounting to N400 billion.

While 17 of the affected states have enacted the pension law in their respective domains, eight states have proposed pension laws which are currently undergoing legislative process.

LEADERSHIP findings revealed that due to the inability to contribute both the employees’ and employers’ remittances into the Retirement Savings Accounts (RSAs) of workers the 25

states are now in dire need of over N400billion to offset all pension arrears, insider sources revealed.

Averagely, each of the 25 States owes N16billion in arrears.

Investigations showed that some of the states already owe between 1 to 13 years’ arrears of pensions with no concrete plan to offset them.

A document sourced by our correspondent from the National Pension Commission (PenCom) listed the defaulting states as at December 31, 2019 to include Abia, Adamawa, Akwa-Ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Katsina, Kogi, Kwara and Nasarawa.

Others are Oyo, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Niger, Ogun, Rivers, Yobe and Zamfara States.

In the case of Niger State, investigations showed that it suspended implementation of the CPS in April 2015 but amended its pension law in 2017 to extend transition period/exempt some employees and recommence the CPS, while remittances of pension contributions were stopped.

It is, however, yet to resume remittances for employees remaining under the CPS.

Ogun State stopped remitting pension contributions and has accumulated huge arrears of unremitted pension contributions.

Rivers State extended the transition period after the law was re-enacted in 2019, even as pension contributions made under the repealed law are to be refunded to the employees.

However, the state is yet to commence remittance under the new law.

Zamfara State amended its law on CPS and adopted Contributory Defined Benefits Scheme (CDBS) in 2019 and since then, has not commenced deductions and remittance of contributions under the CDBS, at least, till December, 2019. However contributions made under the CPS are currently being refunded to employees.

Yobe has no law on Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) but operating the old Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS) and no action towards adopting CPS.

Aside Yobe, Akwa-Ibom and Cross River States, pension laws are at the Bill stage and as a result no contribution can be made, while that Bauchi, Ebonyi, Katsina, Plateau and Kwara States are undergoing legislative process.

To this end, the affected states have contravened the Pension Reforms Act (PRA) 2014, which requires that employees should remit eight per cent of their monthly salaries as monthly pension contributions, while their employers add additional 10 per cent, thereby, making 18 per cent joint monthly pension contributions that are expected to be remitted into the Retirement Savings Account (RSA) of the workers, not later than a week after their salaries have been paid.

LEADERSHIP checks further revealed that the Pension Reforms Act (PRA) 2014, originally applied to any employee in public service of the federation, Federal Capital Territory, states, local governments and the private sector when it was in the bill stage, but was expunged before being passed into law, as governors mobilised representatives of their states in both chambers of the National Assembly to remove employees of states and local governments from the bill before it was passed into law.

To this end, it was learnt that states have no serious commitment

to the pension welfare of its workers.

The director-general, PenCom, Mrs Aisha Dahir-Umar, had raised

concerns over the series of reports of non-remittance of monthly

pensions by some states and the inability of some state governments to join the new pension scheme.


Rise in COVID-19 cases: Fears over second wave as states shun safety protocols [PUNCH]

There are fears that Nigeria could soon be hit with the second wave of COVID-19 following rising daily cases and the abandonment of safety protocols by states across the country.

For instance, Nigeria recorded 937 cases last week as against 923 the previous week.

Between Monday, November 2 and Friday, November 6, there was a steady increase in the number of confirmed cases, with 72 recorded on Monday; 137 on Tuesday; 155 on Wednesday; with the figure rising to 180 and 223 on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

The figure, however, dropped to 59 on Saturday, but this was because there were fewer tests conducted on Saturday.

The fear of the second wave of the virus is also reinforced by many state governments that have abandoned the enforcement of safety rules.

Our correspondents in Lagos, Kano, Plateau, Edo, Oyo and Ogun states observed that there were no security agencies enforcing safety protocols, which were being freely violated.

States with the highest confirmed cases as of November 7 are Lagos, with 21,655; Federal Capital Territory, 6,212; Plateau, 3,676; Oyo, 3,515; Rivers, 2,866; and Kaduna, with 2,698.

A resident of Ibadan, Taiwo Olayide, in an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, said, “Despite the fact that commercial buses are fully loaded with nobody observing social distancing, there are no security agents to enforce compliance.”

Disregard for COVID-19 guidelines may cause a second wave – NAS President

But the President, Nigerian Academy of Science, Prof. Mosto Onuoha, told one of our correspondents that the country risked being hit by a second wave of COVID-19 if the disregard for the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control’s guidelines by the citizens continued.

Onuoha stated, “Nigerians are behaving as if there is no more COVID-19; even in churches now, nobody is using face masks again. If you wear a face mask now, you will look odd.

“I foresee a very serious problem if we don’t become serious again. And the more important and alarming issue is that we’ve opened travels; so, people are coming in from Germany, the United Kingdom and other high-risk countries. Even if it is their own strain of the virus that is problematic, they will bring it here.

“There seems to be weariness in testing; if you go to many of the test centres, you won’t see anybody. You don’t blame the NCDC; I think they are doing their best. We don’t have to behave as if COVID-19 has gone. Truly, God has been merciful to us, the worst never happened but that doesn’t mean that we should let down guard. We should continue to obey the NCDC guidelines.

“We need to be careful; everybody has to be on guard. The National Orientation Agency, the NCDC and state governments have to drum it into people’s ears that in as much as nobody is advocating that the economy should be shut down again, it can come back to that as it is happening around the world.”

#EndSARS protests may be responsible for recent rise in cases – Virologist

Meanwhile, virologist at the University of Ibadan, Prof. David Olaleye, attributed the rise in COVID-19 cases in the last one week to the recent #EndSARS protests.

Olaleye, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Sunday, said the number of positive cases reported by the NCDC was a function of the number of people being tested.

He stated, “The number of cases in the last one to two weeks may partly be as a result of the #EndSARS protests. Large numbers of youths gathered without wearing face masks. It was an opportunity for a super spreading phenomenon. I’m not talking of whether people can protest or not, but the way it was done that time, not minding that we are in the middle of a pandemic, may have contributed to what we are seeing now.

“The number of positive cases is a function of the number tested. If we test more people, we are likely to have a large number of positive cases. It is also a fact that if there is an increase in the number of cases reported, it should be a source of concern. You have to test to identify positive cases; this is when cases will be isolated.”


Many policemen still missing, unaccounted for – Police panel [PUNCH]

Weeks after many police stations were destroyed, the Inspector-General of Police Committee on EndSARS Protest Damage Assessment has said that many police officers in Lagos State are still missing and unaccounted for.

The committee, which was in Lagos to assess the extent of damage to police assets on Saturday, disclosed that the level of destruction suffered by the force would affect the quality of policing and security in the state.

The chairman of the 10-man committee, Yaro Abutu, a Commissioner of Police, told our correspondent on the telephone on Saturday that many policemen had no stations to resume to, while other cops no longer had uniforms.

He explained that his committee, which was heading for Ogun State in continuation of its assessment, had yet to quantify the losses suffered by the Lagos State Police Command.

Abutu said, “Do you know that at some of the stations, we cannot account for the policemen yet because when the mob came, some (cops) were killed and taken away, some were chased into the bush and the waterways. So, these are the kind of things we are still working on.

“We are still collating the number of destroyed police patrol vehicles, exhibits vehicles, personal vehicles and those belonging to the members of the public parked at the stations.

“From the damage recorded in terms of police patrol vans, it has a heavy impact on the quality and availability of patrol services in Lagos for the next few months, even till next year; it is massive. And to compound it, the patrol vans are brand new.”

The CP explained that police officers whose stations were razed were severely limited by the lack of offices from where they could carry out their operations.

“They (policemen) are hanging around their stations like IDPs (internally displaced persons). Not only were the stations burnt, their uniforms were also burnt. Because of the cosmopolitan and congested nature of Lagos, most policemen keep their uniforms in their offices. A good number of them hardly go back home until the weekend.”

Abutu appealed to those with stolen police firearms to return them.

Ogun police deny abandoning duty

The team also on Sunday inspected police facilities damaged in Ogun State.

The Yaro-led team inspected Atan-Ota Police Division in the Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area of the state, which was razed down by the arsonists after the Divisional Crime Officer in charge of the command, DSP Augustine Ogbeche, was murdered .

The team inspected the nearly-irreparable damage done to structure and the eight vehicles vandalised.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the Ogun State, Abimbola Oyeyemi, described the attacks as one of the hazards of the police duty.

“We are back on our duty. It is not possible for us to expose members of the public to insecurity. Despite what happened, police are back on duty and members of the communities are making efforts to make sure that they put all the facilities that were damaged in place. We are back on duty. Our men are not off the road; far from it.”

‘Protect lives of policemen under you’

The Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone-13, Ukpo, Anambra State, Danmallam Mohammed, has charged Commissioners of Police in charge of Anambra and Enugu states to protect the lives of police personnel and other citizens under their commands.

Scores of police personnel were killed in the area during the #EndSARS protests, hijacked by hoodlums.

In a statement on Sunday by the Zonal Public Relations Officer, Zone 13, Ukpo, Anambra State, Nkeiruka Nwode, the AIG tasked CPs in the zone to repel violent attacks in their commands with reasonable and lawful force.

The statement reads in part, “The AIG, Danmallam Mohammed, has charged Commissioners of Police in charge of Anambra and Enugu respectively to deploy every lawful force to protect lives and property of citizens, police and government property, officers of other law enforcement agencies and their families from malicious attacks from persons, groups who might be operating under any guise and circumstances.

“The AIG stressed that Zone 13 won’t tolerate a repeat of the outing that erupted in the past where police officers under the zone suffered fatal attacks, stations burnt and patrol vehicles set ablaze.”


Lekki shootings: Sanwo-Olu has lost credibility, says FSD [PUNCH]

A group, the Federal Social Democrats, says the credibility and integrity of the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, have been diminished by the alleged shooting of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at the Lekki tollgate on the night of October 20.

According to the group, the Lekki incident has eroded the admiration that Sanwo-Olu won with his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group, in statement on Sunday signed on its behalf by Olutola Mobolurin, also condemned the harassment of #EndSARS protest leaders through the freezing of their bank accounts and stopping them from travelling outside the country.

The FSD’s statement was titled, ‘Statement by the Federal Social Democrats On the #EndSARS Movement and Violence in the Wake of Lekki Shootings.’

The group said, “Governor Sanwo-Olu, who before now has been credited with responsible and energetic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has by this one act lost his credibility and integrity for many. He has a big task in regaining the confidence of the public and youths; his credibility gap surrounding what happened at the Lekki Toll Plaza is not helped by the insensitive bluster of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the governor’s residence stating that those who were injured and presumably those who died had questions to answer.”

Though the group condemned the destruction of public assets and looting that trailed the shootings at the Lekki tollgate, it said the mayhem pointed to the alienation of a large number of youths from society by government.

It said, “The so-called hoodlums are the youths that have been denied any stake in society by the self-dealing and state capture that have characterised governance over the last 30 years. Millions of our youths have been uneducated, unemployable and with no meaningful social safety net. Even for the millions who are educated and skilled, long-term unemployment has been their experience in the Nigerian prebendal political economy that serves primarily the interests of public office holders and their cronies.

“Some of the ‘hoodlums’ responsible for the trashing of Lagos are the youths and ‘the toughies’ that many politicians have over the years employed to subvert the democratic process through intimidation of voters and perpetration of violence during elections.”


No pact as Govt, ASUU ‘shift grounds’ [THE NATION]

Both the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Sunday claimed to have shifted grounds in the knotty negotiations to end the seven-month strike by public university lecturers.

However, there is no agreement yet to pave the way for the reopening of schools.

ASUU has been on strike since March 23, leaving the students stranded at home. They have now lost an academic session.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, said the Federal Government had tried its best to meet the demands of ASUU.

Ngige listed the additional concessions given to ASUU as follows:

.               Receipt of ASUU’s University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) salary payment proposal and presentation to NITDA for verification

.               Readiness of the government to pay N40b for Earned Allowances for ASUU members, other unions

.               Setting up of visitation panels for all universities

.               The FG-ASUU renegotiation team now likely for inauguration week, now headed by ex-NUC Secretary, Prof. Munzali Jibril.

.               Availability of N20billion for the revitalization of universities.

He said: “As we are now, the Visitation Panels for all the universities have been approved and it is in the Federal Ministry of Education for gazetting. The gazetting will make for the announcement of the lists and swearing in. All the panels will go to their various universities and work for six weeks. Hopefully, the list will be announced this week.

“Also, the renegotiation team will be named this week. Since Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN) is out as the chairman of the negotiating committee.

“ASUU leaders wrote to the government that they have developed their UTAS and it is ready for testing. The Federal Government wrote to the agency that can do testing, which is the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), to accept from them their system and subject it to test without fear or favour or bias and as quickly as possible.

“It was only last week Thursday that ASUU passed on the documents on UTAS and everything for transmission to NITDA. Just last week.

“ But the government still insisted that they must be on IPPIS because whether you like it or not, even with UTAS developed, you must have  a handshake with IPPIS.”

He said the development of UTAS by ASUU has been rejected by other unions in the universities.

He said:” Again other unions in the universities claimed that they have developed their own system too. These are National Association of Technologists, SSANU and NASU.

“They said they have developed a system which they gave another name too. They said they will never be part of UTAS; they said they should be counted out of UTAS.”

The Minister said “only three key issues needed to be resolved.”

“The first issue is that ASUU is insisting that the Revitalization offer of N20billion for universities is unacceptable. They said they can only take N110billion. The government is saying we do not have N110billion to give you, it can only afford N20billion.

“Secondly, they said N30billion for Earned Allowances is for ASUU members only. The government says no, it is for all the unions in the universities because that is the agreement we reached earlier before we went into subsequent negotiation with these other unions and made offer to them.


Southwest leaders: tighten security, reopen borders [THE NATION]

Southwest leaders on Sunday called for the strengthening of security in the geo-political zone and in the country.

“The security architecture of the country requires adjustment to adequately address the threat and realities of insecurity in the country. There should be more police presence in communities in Southwest states”, they said in a communiqué.

Yesterday’s meeting of Southwest governors and traditional rulers with a presidential delegation led by Chief of Staff to the President Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, was the third leg of the consultation initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari following the #EndSARS protests and its aftermath which resulted in massive looting and reckless destruction of public and private properties – especially in Lagos.

The Presidential delegation which included Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu and Minister of Information Lai Mohammed met with North’s leaders last week in Kaduna and with Southeast leaders in Enugu on Saturday.

At yesterday’s meeting were Governors Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and host Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos).

Ministers from the zone at the meeting were Babatunde Fashola (Works and Housing), Sunday Dare (Youth and Sports), Adeniyi Adebayo (Trade and Investment), Rauf Aregbesola (Interior), Tayo Alasoadura (Niger Delta, State), Olalekan Adegbite (Mines and Steel), and Olorunimbe Mamora (Health, State).

Traditional  rulers at the session included Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, Alafin of Oyo Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, Oba of Lagos Rilwan Akiolu, Alawe of Ilawe Oba Adebanji Alabi, Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Ogunye, Orangun of Oke-Ila Oba Adedokun Abolarin, Ayangbunre of Ikorodu Oba Kabiru Shotobi, Olu of Ilaro Oba Kehinde Olugbenle and Owa-Ooye of Okemesi Ekiti Oba Adedeji Gbadebo.

The meeting said the police should get more attention for their needs so that they can do more to protect lives, properties and enhance security all over the country – the police are currently grossly underfunded.

It called for more intelligence-driven policing to prevent “the repeat of what happened in the country, following the #EndSARS demonstrations.”

The communiqué also called for the review of the report of the 2014 national conference with a view to implementing “some of the recommendations especially with reference to security, economy and equal treatment for citizens.”

The leaders called for the reopening of the country’s international borders.

“We believe that the prolonged closure of the borders has caused economic difficulties and should be re-examined to alleviate problems of the people in the border communities and prices of some essential commodities. There is need to review the closure and permit resumption of economic and trading activities”

They also called for specific measures and proposal to repair the damage done to the physical infrastructure and economic assets of the Southwest and praised the Federal Government for responding quickly to the initial demands of the #EndSARS protesters.

The regional leaders called for a comprehensive programme to address youth employment and empowerment and the reopening of universities by concluding negotiations with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

They gave their backing to the plan by the Federal Government to regulate social media.

“We recognize the damaging and negative impact of fake/false news and worry about its destructive and dangerous potency of fake news. We call on federal government to use he instrumentality of existing laws and those regulations bench-marked from other countries to provide safeguards against the spread of fake news. 2015 Cyber Act will also be fully used.

“Federal Government should ensure that technology is used effectively for the advancement of the Nigerian Security and not its destruction by working with the technology cum social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. The regime of checks and gate keeping should be fully employed,” the meeting said.

Before the meeting went into a closed session, some of the monarchs called for a Southwest Development Commission that will undertake socio-economic intervention programme in the region.

The royal fathers, who also called for the true federalism and power devolution, said the development commission should perform similar functions like the Northeast Development Commission and the Niger Delta Region.

To the traditional rulers, true federalism will foster development and enable the component units to develop according to their pace and to cater for their people.

Akeredolu said the objective of the meeting was to find a lasting solution to the twin problems of youth restiveness and unemployment”.


INEC, Yakubu and challenges of second term [THE NATION]

Professor Mahmood Yakubu made history when he received President Muhammadu Buhari’s endorsement for a second term as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). With this development, the Professor of Political History and International Studies from the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) becomes the first head of an electoral agency to achieve tenure elongation in post-independence Nigeria. All his 11 predecessors served just one term. Thus, of all the country’s 12 electoral chairmen since independence, Yakubu becomes the first to serve two terms, having been appointed by President Buhari in 2015 to succeed Professor Attahiru Jega.

This would not be the first time Yakubu would be cracking records. In the University of Sokoto (now Usmanu Danfodiyo University) where he obtained his first degree, this Bauchi-born academic-technocrat owns the exclusive glory of being the first Northerner to obtain a First-Class in History. He is also an alumnus of the prestigious Oxford and Cambridge universities.

Born in 1962 at Bauchi, Yakubu had served as the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, a position to which he had been appointed by the late President Umar Yar’Adua. He would later work as Assistant Secretary of Finance and Administration at the 2014 National Conference organised by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Although he may not share Professor Jega’s Ivory-Tower popularity, the eloquent erudition of Professor Humphrey Nwosu, the dignified ambience of Justice Victor Ovie-Whiskey, nor the international clout of Professor Maurice Iwu, Professor Yakubu has unquestionably carved his imprint into the country’s electoral process.

At the outset, critics had dubbed Yakubu “Mr. Inconclusive,” an annotation to the spate of hung elections that INEC under him conducted with results delayed beyond the electoral cycle. It began with the first governorship elections Yakubu organised in Bayelsa and Kogi in 2016 that the commission ruled inconclusive. Suspicions were rife that in such keenly contested polls, INEC had deliberately suspended the conclusion of elections and the announcement of results to afford the ruling party breathing space to resuscitate its chances in the unfinished elections.

In 2019, for the first time in the country’s electoral journey, the general polls witnessed a further rash of inconclusive governorship elections. This affected seven states. Ironically, apart from Plateau and Kano, all the others were states where the opposition had held incumbent governorship. They included: Sokoto, Bauchi, Adamawa, Benue, Kano, Plateau, Rivers and Kano.

Defending the incident, Yakubu said: “First, what is an inconclusive election? It’s an election in which a winner has not emerged at first ballot; that is essentially what it is. So now you mobilise and remedy the problem and make a declaration… There are two sections of the Electoral Act that we need to focus on. The first one is Section 26, which says, ‘In the event of violence or natural disaster, INEC should not proceed with an election; and if the total number of registered persons in the place affected is more than the margin of lead where you have conducted the election, then don’t make a declaration until you go back and complete the election.’ Section 53 of the Electoral Act is very clear, in the event of over-voting; INEC is prohibited by law from making a declaration. The law says, Don’t make return until you go back to those polling units and you conduct election where the number of registered voters will make a difference to the margin of lead. I’m yet to hear any Nigerian say this commission has declared any election inconclusive outside the law.”

Although the era of hung elections cast a slur on his credential as a stooge of the ruling party, the INEC Chairman soon got a chance to demonstrate that he could maintain a principled and objective stand on his national assignment. In the governorship elections of Zamfara and Rivers states where intra-party squabbles prevented APC from posting candidates within the statutory timeframe, he chose to stand by the law. Insisting on maintaining due process, INEC refused to accept APC’s late filing for the two states. The party sought redress in court, but it lost all the way to the Supreme Court that endorsed the commission’s stand.

However, by far the most controversial case Yakubu faced revolved on the 2019 presidential election. PDP and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, had asked the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal to rule that contrary to the result that INEC announced in favour of Buhari, the commission should present the results stored in a central server into which field collation officers purportedly sent outcomes from all over the nation to Abuja. The litigants insisted that the commission bypassed the server.

Why had INEC trained personnel on direct transfer of results from polling units and card-reader machines to the supposed server? Why had at least one INEC official gone on television to say that the election results would flow directly from the field to the commission’s Situation Room and IT Centre in Abuja? Finally, the court delivered a verdict upholding INEC’s position that it possessed no such server.

Despite wallowing in all such past controversies, however, Yakubu may have found saving grace for his career in the last two governorship elections. In Edo, the commission conducted what has been adjudged a free and fair election reflective of the true wishes of the electorate. Governor Godwin Obaseki who had left the ruling party at the Centre for the opposition PDP won the September 29 election. INEC repeated the feat in the Ondo governorship election of October 10 that saw the incumbent Governor Rotimi Akeredolu winning the poll. Those last two elections certainly upped Yakubu’s reputation. Why change a winning team?

Even then, sceptics still believe Yakubu returned to INEC due to Buhari’s nepotistic leaning towards Northern appointees. However, such thinking is faulted by the fact that the President had also rolled over the appointment of the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, when it expired in 2019.


Onitsha market yet to bounce back one year after inferno [THE NATION]

On Wednesday, October 16 last year, there were great wailing and gnashing of teeth emanating from the famous Ochanja Market in Onitsha, the commercial nerve centre of Anambra State.

That day, aptly described as Black Wednesday was the day everything went wrong for traders and their customers who had converged on the market for the day’s normal transaction. However, they never had an inkling that it was going to be a disastrous day for them.

The traders and their customers were busy haggling prices of when suddenly there was pandemonium. Traders as well as their customers were confused as they were yet to know the source of the confusion.

On inquiry, it was discovered that a fuel-laden tanker fell and exploded around the Upper Iweka axis of Onitsha. It was a sad day for the residents of the commercial city as lives, properties and goods were burnt to ashes.

The explosion occurred after the petrol tanker had an accident on the road along the Upper Iweka axis of the city.

Dozens of residential buildings and part of Ochanja, the second-largest market in the town were razed down. Hundreds of vehicles were also touched. Goods worth millions of naira were destroyed in the incident.

After the fire incident, Governor Willie Obiano visited the scene. He consoled the traders and promised to provide them with some money as compensation.

Nevertheless, there are still complaints of non-compensation from the Obiano administration, one year after the incident.

There have been claims and counter-claims among the traders and officials of the state government over compensation to cushion the effects of the fire incident on the traders.

While some claimed to have been benefited from the state government’s assistance, others say they were yet to commence full business as they were yet to receive the compensation as promised by the government.

While addressing reporters, The Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the market, Chief Nelson Ojukwu had said victims of the fire incident received financial donations from the state government which assisted them in restarting their businesses.

He said: “With God on our side, we no longer talk of the tanker inferno that gutted the market.

“We thank Governor Willie Obiano, corporate bodies and public-spirited individuals, who came to our assistance either in cash or in kind.

“All victims of the fire incident in the market received the state government’s financial donation that assisted in restarting businesses after the fire.

“We have moved on as we have forgotten the fire incident and focus on the Christmas period sales, as we will not continue to cry until the Kingdom come.”

However, the spokesperson of the landlords of the affected buildings, Chief Chinedu Okonkwo described the claim of the Chairman of the Ochanja Market Traders’ Association Chief Ojukwu as false and misleading.

He said Ojukwu was not in a position to speak for the entire traders as he did not represent the interest of traders at Emodi/Amobi Street where the fire incident occurred.

He insisted that there were scores of victims yet to receive the state government’s compensation, one year after the fire incident.

He said: “I want this to be on the record. The Chairman of Ochanja Central Market, Chief Nelson Ojukwu, does not represent the interest of traders at Emodi/Amobi Street, where the fire incident occurred mostly.

“We are the ones that were mostly affected; we were the ones that our buildings/plazas got burnt; we were the ones that are rebuilding our burnt structures.

“You can see that traders at the Ochanja Market are going about their businesses because they were not affected, but we are still reconstructing the buildings gutted by fire.

“If Ojukwu says traders at the Ochanja Market are not complaining; they would not have complained because they are not affected, but we that are affected are speaking on behalf of those landlords/tenants of the victims of the fire incident of October 16, 2019.

“Ojukwu cannot speak for us; he has not visited us. He has not come to ascertain the level of destruction to our shops and buildings since the day of the incident.

“He would not know the traders that have been compensated or those that have not been compensated. We are still holding what we got from individual donations, because we had a lot of pledges from people and we hope they will come to redeem them.”


Averting food crisis in Nigeria [THE NATION]

About 9.8 million Nigerians are expected to be in a hunger crisis or worse between November and December this year, as 16 northern states including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), have been identified in the Cadre Harmonise (CH) report on food security and nutrition analysis released on November 5, 2020.

The 16 states include Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba and Yobe States as well as the FCT. It noted that the findings did not include those from

Zamfara State because they were still being finalised.

While it reported that about 13.8 million people will be facing acute food shortage crisis between June and August 2021, it said the number could grow to about 14 million if measures are not taken in time to avert the hunger crisis.

The report shows that more Nigerians in northern States are pushed to acute food shortage crisis mainly due to floods, climate change effects and the ongoing insurgency.


Cadre Harmonise analysis


The Cadre Harmonisé (CH) is a current regional framework aimed to prevent food crisis by quickly identifying affected populations and proffering appropriate measures to improve their food and nutrition security.

The CH analysis results in Nigeria which have become the major yardstick for estimating the areas and population of vulnerable people in needs of humanitarian assistance as presented in the annual Humanitarian Needs Overviews (HNOs) and the Humanitarian Response Plans (HRPs),

provides early warning alert to national and state governments as well as development partners including the humanitarian community on looming food insecurity and nutrition gaps faced in the states and is used to galvanise support towards targeted actions.

However, the tool has provided opportunities for the governments and actors in food security and nutrition to continually monitor and track the progress made in improving food security and nutrition situations, particularly in the northeast that has been burdened by insecurity caused by a prolonged armed insurgency.

The CH analysis led by the Federal Government is facilitated through the National Programme for Food Security (NPFS) with financial and technical support from Food and Agriculture of the United Nations (FAO), the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), European Union, the French Development Agency and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Others members of the Cadre Harmonise Technical Committee are the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET), Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Oxfam, Administration for Children & Families (ACF) and Save the Children.

Analysing the need for the CH, FAO Representative in Nigeria and the ECOWAS, Fred Kafeero said the results of the analysis had exposed the need for urgent intervention by the government.

Kafeero said the exercise, which has now been adopted by the Nigeria Food Security stakeholders since 2015 aims at applying the outcome of the analysis in preventing food crisis by identifying the areas affected and the populations as well as proffering appropriate measures towards improved food and nutrition.

The exercise, which has now been adopted by the Nigeria Food Security stakeholders since 2015 aims at applying the outcome of the analysis in preventing food crisis by identifying the areas affected and the populations as well as proffering appropriate measures towards improved food and nutrition

This October/November 2020 CH analysis happens to be different from the previous years, as it took Into consideration the unprecedented impact of the COVID -19 pandemic on the various outcomes of FNS and the inference of the various FNS contributing factors.

“Despite the relaxation of the COVlD-19 lockdown measures, several households are still currently experiencing difficulties in accessing their basic food and nonfood needs due to disrupted livelihoods. This has resulted in reduced HHs opportunities for income and food and nutrition security”, he stated.


South West govs, monarchs want implementation of confab reports [SUN]

Critical stakeholders in the South West including governors and traditional rulers have called for the review of reports of constitutional conferences, including the 2014 National Conference.

They made the call in a communique issued after a meeting also attended by ministers from the South-West following the EndSARS protest mayhem in Lagos, yesterday.

It was also attended by a presidential delegation led by the Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.

The communique signed by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi and the Governor of Ondo State/Chairman South-West Governors’ Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu equally called for the implementation of some of the recommendations of the conferences, especially with reference to security, economy and equal treatment for citizens all over the country.

The meeting commended the Federal Government for its responsiveness to the initial demands of the EndSARS demonstrators and the firm handling of the aftermaths of the protest.

It called for an adjustment of the security architecture to adequately address the threats and realities of insecurity in the country.

“There is need to undertake preventive actions aimed at prevention of repeat of what happened in the country following the EndSARS demonstrators. Security needs to be strengthened in all states.

“We wish to encourage the Nigeria Police by responding to their needs and appeal to them to do more to protect lives and properties and enhance security all over the country.

“We call for specific measures and proposals to repair damage done to the physical infrastructure and economic assets of the South-West,” the communique said.

The South-West governors and monarchs said the prolonged closure of border had caused economic difficulties for the people of the region.

“The border closure should be re-examined to alleviate problems of the people in the border communities and prices of some essential commodities.

“There is need to review the closure and permit resumption of economic and trading activities.”

The meeting said a comprehensive programme that would address youth employment and empowerment should be prioritised and ensure closer coordination and complementarity between the states and the federal government.

“In this regard, the curricular of tertiary institutions should be reviewed, with emphasis placed on skills acquisition and entrepreneurship.

“We urge that every effort should be made to resolve the impasse between ASUU and the federal government so that students can return to school in earnest,´´ they said.


US poll: Trump supporters protest as world leaders laud Biden [SUN]

Former Governor of Abia State and Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Kalu and world leaders have congratulated the candidate of the Democratic Party, Joe Biden, who emerged winner of the Presidential election in the United States at the weekend.

And as Trump has refused to accept the outcome, so too have many of the around 70m people who voted for him, claiming instead that his loss was the result of ballot fraud, a baseless assertion promoted by the White House and media manipulation.

“We need to make sure every legal vote is found and to make sure this election is fair,” the Yorktown state representative Mike Jones told a cheering crowd. “If we allow this country to succumb to socialism, it will not because the left overpowered us, it will be because good men and women did nothing.”

“The election has been called by the media. The government has not certified the votes, so anything could still happen,” said Mary Wallace, a Harrisburg resident, adding: “I want nothing more than for Donald Trump to have four more years.” Trump called the election ‘stolen’ yesterday  morning as he tweeted claims from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich that Democrats ‘stole what they had to steal.’

But he avoided using his own voice in a series of tweets, instead highlighting Gingrich who had appeared on Fox and Friends and Turley, a registered Democrat who had spoken against Trump’s impeachment as a Republican witness to the House Judiciary Committee. Almost immediately, the tweets were flagged by Twitter as possible misinformation.

At the same time, Trump left the White House to play golf again, just like he did on Saturday.

Describing the victory of Biden as victory for the world, Kalu emphasised the role of the U.S. in global development. He  stressed that the bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the US has deepened over the years, adding that both entities have sustained their economic and political ties.

In a goodwill message he personally signed, the former governor said, “ the news of the emergence of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President- elect and Vice -President -elect respectively of the United States of America (USA) is a good development not only for the US but the world at large. “The electoral process demonstrated in the US presidential election is worth emulating by other countries across the globe.

“Democracy must be sustained in all parts of the world for the sake of global peace and stability.

“The victory of the candidate of the democratic party is indeed well-deserved, remarkable and historic.  The duo of Biden and Harris have the goodwill to lead the USA” While calling on the USA to further strengthen its ties with Africa and Nigeria in particular, Kalu wished the newly elected President and Vice President  of the USA success in their new roles.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo added his congratulations and spoke of Africa’s pride in seeing the election of Ms Harris, who has an Indian-born mother and Jamaican-born father. “We in Africa are proud of her success.

Also, The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has congratulated Biden and Americans “for a successful and peaceful election in strict adherence to democratic principles and extant laws of their country, despite the intense competition.”

The party, while wishing the US President -elect a  successful tenure, urged Nigerians  to use the polll “ as a catalyst and preparatory template to consolidate on our democratic processes ahead of subsequent general elections in the country.”

Former President George W. Bush congratulated Biden in a phone call Sunday and said that, while Trump has the right to pursue legal challenges and recounts, the 2020 race was “fundamentally fair” and “its outcome is clear.”

The gesture by Bush, the only living former Republican president, was a break from his party’s outgoing president, Trump, who has so far refused to concede the race. In the statement, Bush said he had called Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris yesterday.


We’ve no powers to investigate, disqualify Obaseki over certificate, INEC replies ADP [SUN]

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has stated that it has no powers to investigate and disqualify Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, over the certificate he (Obaseki) presented for the governorship election, pointing out that only “an order of court” could do so.

The electoral umpire said it could not investigate the originality or authenticity or otherwise of the disputed certificate and document submitted by Governor Obaseki because it was beyond its responsibility.

This was contained in the commission’s reply as 1st respondent in the petition filed by Action Democratic Party (ADP), challenging Obasseki’s election at the Edo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting  in Benin City.

The reply signed by INEC’s lead Counsel, Mr. Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, said: “It is also not the duty of the first respondent (INEC) to investigate the origin of the said documents duly submitted to it.

“The information given by the 3rd respondent (Mr. Godwin Obaseki) in the affidavit and documents submitted by him as a candidate at the election in INEC’s nomination form  (Form C.F. 001) are presumed manifestly true or prima facie correct until and only if the contrary is proved and/or pronounced false by an order of the court.”

The PDP had admitted that there was noticeable errors in Obaseki’s certificate, but explained that it was while filling the forms for the election in 2016 that Obaseki inadvertently and mistakenly wrote 1976 in a portion of the form for the year of graduation which was the year of his admission into the University of Ibadan.

“At the time Obaseki was completing his Form CF001 in 2016, he deposed to an affidavit stating that he had misplaced the originals of all of his certificates while changing offices with the intention to apply for a re-issuance if his certificates”, the PDP had stated in its reply to the ADP petition.

It, however, blamed the error in Obaseki’s certificate on the mechanism of the photocopier saying, “the original certificate was issued in A5 size, however, in order for the photocopy of the certificate to be attached to the Form CF001, the size was reduced to A4 and in the process, leaving out some information on the certificate.”


Restructure Nigeria before vacating office, Iwuanyanwu tells Buhari [SUN]

Elder Statesman, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu has urged president Muhammadu Buhari to restructure the country before leaving office in 2023.

He said there was great need to restructure Nigeria for proper and peaceful co-existence of its various peoples.

He also advised that the post of president be rotated among the three zones of the country.

Iwuanyanwu also contended that  Igbo are not properly accommodated in the scheme of things in Nigeria even with their enormous contribution  to nation building.

“Igbos have made enormous contributions to deserve the number one seat in Nigeria. Of all the countries colonized by Britain, it is only in Nigeria that the man who pioneered the independence of the country did not become the President.

“This is because of the Igbo man’s nature of ensuring peaceful coexistence, other zones have had their turns and i believe they will support Igbo this time. It will be unfair to deny Igbo the presidency.”

Iwuanyanwu condemned what is happening in Southern Kaduna, where innocent civilians were killed every day.

He, therefore, called for the immediate end to the crisis,  pointing out that it was unacceptable to ask the people to live in peace while a section was carrying sophisticated arms and hurting others not armed.

“I wonder why no one has been prosecuted since the Boko Haram disturbances in the country, who are there sponsors, Nigerians wants to know,” Iwuanyanwu queried.

Meanwhile, a political group, Nigeria Presidential Project 2023, said that it has been reaching out to prominent leaders in the country to solicit  support for the 2023 presidential aspiration of the South East.

The group said it had consulted four former heads of state, current security chiefs and other notable Nigerians to woo them to support the project.

National Director of Media and Publicity of the group, Mr. Tony Nwachukwu, stated this at the weekend during the inauguration of Anambra State Chapter of NPP in Awka, the state capital.

“We have consulted four former Heads of State Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, current security chiefs, ministers, religious and traditional leaders to seek for their unalloyed support for the Igbo presidency project,” he said.

Nwachukwu said over 46 Nigerian professors across the six geopolitical zones had volunteered to work to ensure the South East region produced the next president of the country in 2023.

Chancellor of the group, Dr. Walter Obiora Oji, appealed to all political parties to pick their 2023 presidential candidates from the South East.

He said the emergence of Nigeria’s president of South East extraction would help to promote unity, ensure equity and fairness in the country and help in the promotion of socioeconomic development of Nigeria.

“We have assured Nigerians that the South East will provide formidable candidates for the 2023 election and will continue to work for the peace and unity of the country. We are also calling on those men and women of South-East extraction interested in contesting for the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023 to commence consultations aimed at actualising their ambition,” Oji said.












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