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INEC Replaces Burnt Card Readers For 14 LGAs In Anambra

15 February 2019 - 3:15am


The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says replacement card readers for 14 Local Government Areas (LGAs) affected in the fire incident at the INEC office in Anambra have been configured and delivered.

This was contained in a tweet on its official handle published on Thursday.

The commission however, noted that it is working hard to deliver to the remaining seven LGAs.

The tweet read: "After the fire incident in our office in Anambra State, replacement Card Readers for 14 LGAs have been configured and delivered. Working hard on the remaining 7 LGAs - Ayamelum, Ogbaru, Idemili North, Idemili South, Aguata, Awka North and Oyi."

UPDATE ON ANAMBRA FIRE INCIDENT
After the fire incident in our office in Anambra State, replacement Card Readers for 14 LGAs have been configured and delivered. Working hard on the remaining 7 LGAs - Ayamelum, Ogbaru, Idemili North, Idemili South, Aguata, Awka North and Oyi. pic.twitter.com/ioKw6HQLLR

— INEC Nigeria (@inecnigeria) February 14, 2019

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INEC: We're Studying AGF Malami's Letter On Postponing Elections In Zamfara

15 February 2019 - 2:56am


The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has received the letter from Abubakar Malami, Nigeria's Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, calling for a postponement of the elections in Zamfara State.

Malami had sent a letter to INEC, with documents attached, referencing court judgments on allowing the candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) contest for elective positions in the state.

Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, confirmed receipt of the letter and the attached documents.

He, however, said the commission was still studying the letter and would make it's position known soon.

"The commission has received the letter from the Attorney-General of the Federation. The commission is studying the letter and the accompanying attachments. The commission will make its position known as soon as possible," he said.
 

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Officers Beaten, Detainees Freed As Thugs Burn Down Police Station In Anambra

15 February 2019 - 2:53am


A Police Station in Ajali, Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State, was set on fire by some unknown people, on Thursday.

The perpetrators, according to Punch newspaper, may be affiliated with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), because they chanted ‘No Election in Biafra Land’, while attacking the station.

They were also said to have beaten officers on duty and freed detainees, before setting the station ablaze.

However, a statement by Haruna Mohammed, Anambra Police Public Relations Officer, said it was “a case of fire incident”.

He said: “This is a case of fire incident for now, until the contrary is proved through discreet investigation. The Commissioner of Police, Mustapha Dandaura, is presently at the scene for an on-the-spot assessment.

“He has ordered the Deputy Commissioner in charge of the Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department to conduct a thorough investigation in order to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the incident.”
 

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Boko Haram Seeking Media Attention, Says Borno Governor

15 February 2019 - 2:53am


Kashim Shettima, Governor of Borno State, says the faction of the insurgent group that attacked him are only seeking to attract local and global media attention to themselves.

Shettima was attacked on Tuesday, on his way to Gamboru in continuation of campaigns for the presidential and National Assembly elections.

Three people were confirmed dead in the attack.

Shettima said he would visit the families of those killed to commiserate with them.

Speaking through Isa Gusau, Special  Adviser on Media and Strategy, Shettima said the Boko Haram sect that attacked him is only seeking local and global media attention in order to sustain propaganda strategy and to instill fear in citizens and gallant troops.

He said: “Governor Kashim Shettima mourns, with the deepest thoughts and heartfelt condolences, the demise of some fellow citizens, brothers, associates and loyal supporters following an unfortunate ambush of some vehicles in his convoy by suspected insurgents on Tuesday evening on Gamboru Road, headquarters of Ngala Local Government Area.

“Governor Shettima, who returned at night yesterday, will meet families of those affected by the attack. The governor will also meet some security heads to review the incident and, more importantly, to continue his determined collaboration with all security agencies and volunteers in remaining committed to the ongoing fight against Boko Haram.”

Expressing confidence in the strength of the Nigerian Army to eradicate the insurgent group in the country, Shettima said: “The unfortunate incident will not make the Governor to doubt the capacity of the gallant and patriotic personnel of the Nigerian armed forces, who have dedicated their lives fighting for peace and the freedom of Borno people.

“The Governor has absolute confidence in the armed forces and given his access to raw updates, he is aware of the successes being recorded by the armed forces despite Tuesday’s and previous attacks by the insurgents.

“For one success recorded by the insurgents, the armed forces record dozens against them. The Governor remains optimistic and urges citizens to be calm, prayerful and supportive of the Nigerian armed forces and volunteers through means that include (as they have been doing) the sharing of useful information.”
 

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BREAKING: Onnoghen Appears Before CCT

15 February 2019 - 2:46am



Sahara Reporters Media

Walter Onnoghen, the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), has appeared before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja.

He arrived at some minutes past 10am, in a black Toyota jeep.

Onnoghen is standing trial before the CCT over allegations of fraudulent declaration of assets.

More to follow...

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UK Citizens Warned Against Travelling To 19 Nigerian States During Elections

15 February 2019 - 1:55am


The United Kingdom (UK) has advised its citizens residing or visiting Nigeria against going to 19 states in Nigeria during the election period.

In the latest foreign travel advice to its citizens, the UK noted that the movement warning is due to violence, which may arise because of high tension in these states.

The UK noted that the election could be disrupted on very short notice with protests and demonstrations.

The statement said: “Presidential elections will take place in Nigeria on 16 February. In the run up to the elections, protests in Abuja and other Nigerian cities including Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Rivers are becoming increasingly frequent. Public gatherings and demonstrations may take place at short notice and have the potential to turn violent. You should avoid rallies, public gatherings and demonstrations, and monitor local media.

“The presidential elections could lead to the disruption of travel as a result of potential curfews or road blocks over the weekend of 16 and 17 February. Travel restrictions could also affect passengers arriving or departing from Lagos and Abuja international airports.”

The states and other places warned against are: Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River, and within 20km of the border with Niger in Zamfara State.

Others are: Bauchi, Zamfara, Kano, Abia, Kaduna, Jigawa, Katsina, Kogi, within 20km of the border with Niger in Sokoto and Kebbi, non-riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers.

The UK also predicted the possibilities of terrorist attacks and kidnapping in the country.

The newsletter read: “There’s a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria. Kidnaps can be motivated by criminality or terrorism and could be carried out for financial or political gain.

“Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Nigeria. Most attacks occur in the north east, particularly in Borno (including central Maiduguri and along access routes connecting the city to other major towns), Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe states. There have also been significant attacks in Kano, Kaduna, Jos and Bauchi states and in the Federal Capital, Abuja."

The UK advised its citizens to “avoid places where crowds gather, including religious gatherings and places of worship, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, transport hubs and camps for displaced people".

It added that attacks could be indiscriminate and could affect western interests, as well as places visited by tourists. Besides Abuja, other major towns and cities remain particularly at risk, including Kano and Kaduna.
 

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Suspended ASUU Chair Indicts VC In N5.5billion Fraud

15 February 2019 - 1:51am


Professor Monday Igbafen, suspended Chairman of the Ambrose Alli University (AAU) chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has indicted Ignatius Onimawo, Vice Chancellor of the university, in a N5.5billion Tertiary Education Trust Fund and NEEDS Assessment intervention funds scandal.

Igbafen said this while addressing the press in Edo State, on the reason the institution suspended him.

The University's disciplinary panel had found Igbafen guilty of sexual misconduct. He was accused of threatening to have sex with students for marks.

However, he denied any wrongdoing, insisting he was being victimised for asking the VC to account for the N5.5billion the institution received from TETFUND and NEEDS.

Igbafen also stated that the VC promoted his wife from the position of a typist to Lecturer 1, without having required qualifications.

He said: “We challenged him to be open and transparent. You cannot move your wife from nowhere and make her a Lecturer I without a PhD and academic master’s degree. We have been on the matter and he has made attempts to compromise me as the chairman of the union, and I refused.

“That led to his desperation that I should never be chairman of ASUU for the second time.

“The university has collected more than N5.5billion for the past five years. From the TETFUND, he has received more than N3.4billion, while the money from NEEDS Assessment is more than N1.2billion.

“The union is demanding how he has utilised these funds. Is it a sin to ask for how he has utilised our funds?”

However, in response to the allegations, Edward Aihevba, spokesman for the university, said Igbafen was pronounced guilty of the accusation after a panel set up concluded the investigation in the case.

Aihevba noted that the previous administration did not carry out the recommendations of the report submitted by the panel.

Aihevba also explained that the wife of the VC possesses required credentials and qualifications before she was promoted.

He said: “Professor Igbafen should not be shouting. He is afraid that he is sinking. He should face the music. The victim and her mother testified before a panel, but the former administration did not look into the report.

“There are other things he did and at the appropriate time, he will be made to answer for them.

“The VC’s wife entered the university as a young woman. She got her degrees and was converted by a former administration and not her husband. She got her PhD and was made Lecturer I.”
 

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Police Deploy 15,544 Policemen To Rivers

15 February 2019 - 1:26am


The Nigeria Police Force has deployed 15,544 policemen to Rivers State for the February 16 presidential and National Assembly elections.

According to Usman Belel, Rivers State Commissioner of Police, the deployment is to beef up security and ensure smooth conduct of election in the state.

Rivers State is currently heated up due to the barring of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from fielding any candidate in the state.

The party members held a protest at the state office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Thursday, and were dispersed by Police and Army with tear-gas canisters.

Addressing journalists in Port Harcourt, Belel said: “There will be radical departure from the past elections usually characterized by violence. Together, we shall get it right this time. Rivers State will outlive the elections.

“On our part, we promise to be neutral, apolitical and professional and to provide level-playing fields for all the political parties to exercise their franchise.”

Belel added that both land and water ways would be shut from 12midnight on Friday till 4pm on Saturday.

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Nigerian Government To Close Land Borders For 48 Hours

15 February 2019 - 1:25am


The Nigerian government has announced the closure of all land borders from 12 noon on Friday, February 15, 2019, till 12 noon on Sunday, February 17, 2019.

According to a statement by Muhammad Babandede, Comptroller General of Immigration (CGI), the closure is to restrict movement across the borders and prevent foreigners, who may attempt to participate in the elections, from entering the country.

The CGI said: “Further to the presidential election taking place on 16th February 2019, the Honourable Minister of Interior has directed the closure of all Nigeria Land Borders with effect from 12.00 noon of Friday 15th February to 12.00 noon of Sunday 17th February 2019.

“This is to restrict movement across the borders during the election days. The public is to take note and ensure compliance.”

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Police Restrict Movement On Election Day

15 February 2019 - 1:22am


The Nigeria Police Force haas announced the restriction of vehicular movement from 6am to 6pm on February 16, 2019, for the presidential and National Assembly elections.

According to a statement issued on Thursday, Frank Mba, Force Public Relations Officer,  noted that the restriction is to ensure the smooth running of the electoral process.

Mba said: “As part of efforts in furtherance of the overall interest of public order, public wellbeing and safety and national security, as it relates to the general election billed to take place on Saturday, February 16th, 2019, the Inspector General of Police, Ag. IGP M.A Adamu, NPM, has ordered the restriction of vehicular movement from 6am – 6pm on Saturday, 16th February, 2019.

"The IGP notes that the restriction will assist the security agencies in effectively policing the electoral process, thereby preventing hoodlums and criminally-minded elements from hijacking and disrupting the electoral process.”

He stated that the Police would punish anyone who flouts the order.

Meanwhile, Adamu Muhammad, Inspector General of Police Police, urged Nigerians to come out en masse to vote, while advising them to shun electoral violence.

He said: “The citizens should troupe out en masse on the day of the election to exercise their franchise without any fear or apprehension, as the Police and other security agencies have already put in place adequate security measures to ensure a safe, secure and conducive environment for a peaceful and credible election.

“He therefore enjoins the citizens to steer clear of vote buying, vote selling, hate speeches, circulating fake news, snatching of ballot boxes and other act(s) capable of truncating the people’s will, noting that the Force will not hesitate to bring to bear the full weight of the law on anyone who engages in any crime during this period.”
 

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Just Like In 2015, Nigerians Torn Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea By ‘Fisayo Soyomnbo

14 February 2019 - 11:41pm


'Fisayo Soyombo

'Fisayo Soyombo

There is something baffling about the fascination of Nigerians with the lesser of two figurative evils. In fact, the twin-devil concept is popular in Nigeria beyond politics, as exemplified by the widely-applied saying: “The devil you know is better than the angel you don’t.”

In 2015, Nigerians went to the polls torn between the devil and the deep blue sea: Goodluck Jonathan, the then incumbent whose administration was corrupt and largely inept; and Muhammadu Buhari, a perennial presidential candidate with an unsavoury reputation for dictatorship and ethnic bigotry.

On Saturday, after four years, Nigerians go to the polls at similar crossroads. This time the choice is between Buhari, whose four years have served to embellish rather than diminish his pre-2015 perception, and Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President whose campaign has been undermined by repeated and severe allegations of corruption, and whose campaign team — to worsen the matter — is spearheaded by people with a history of siphoning public funds. How did we get to the point where Buhari, the lesser of two evils in 2015, hasn’t managed to get upgraded to the angel Nigerians know?

Honeymoon Gone Sour

No President in Nigeria’s history ascended power with the enormity of goodwill afforded Buhari in 2015. He got away with many things, including petrol price hike, traditionally the public’s tipping point for nationwide protests. He won himself numerous admirers by arresting and prosecuting corrupt former public office holders, the biggest of whom was Sambo Dasuki, Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s National Security Adviser (NSA) believed to have overseen the frittering away of $2.1billion that should have gone into bolstering the Army’s weaponry against Boko Haram. But his administration soon unravelled.

He did fight corruption — that is true and Nigeria badly needed it — but it didn’t take long before it became obvious his anti-corruption campaign was opposition-centric. Not only did he overlook criminal/corrupt elements in his government — including Babachir Lawal, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun— his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), has gleefully welcomed and harboured opposition politicians with corrupt cases who signify intention to defect to the ruling party. He waited six months before composing his cabinet; and as more appointments came in, the bias for his northern origin was unmistakable. On top of this, in Buhari’s four years, the naira has further depreciated, numerous companies have folded up, unemployment levels have spiked.

Buhari spent 103 days of his first term receiving treatment in the UK. That would have been consigned to the past, but it remains a worry for the future because his nationwide presidential campaign tours have betrayed his frailty and senility. From presenting party flags to the wrong candidates, to mixing up the dates he came to power or held past positions, Buhari has recently been inadvertently confirming his wife’s two-year-old revelation that his government had been hijacked by a cabal. Buhari is a President by proxy; the real presidents are the cabal that so annoyed his wife she threatened not to campaign for his reelection.

Atiku’s Presidential Bid Doesn’t Tickle

Atiku, the man being touted as the alternative to Buhari, comes with his own dissimilar but equally weighty baggage. Unlike the notoriously drab and worryingly uninspiring Buhari — “lifeless” was Donald Trump’s description — Atiku is always at ease discussing Nigeria, his interviews usually offering plenty food for thought and some interesting propositions, including the country’s potentials to solve its everlasting electricity problem with its coal deposits, and the importance of restructuring the country by shedding off a chunk of the power at the centre to states and local governments. As a ‘successful’ businessman, Atiku is tipped to rebuild the economy and reduce unemployment. Possibly he will, but all those gains, were they to happen, would be neutralized by the unsafety of Nigeria’s treasury in his hands.

Atiku himself knows he still cannot be trusted. Once asked by TheCable what impression about him he would love to correct, he answered: “It would definitely be the perception that I corruptly enriched myself during my tenure as Vice President.” In that interview, as he has done in many others, he talked about how US congressman Williams Jefferson claimed part of the $100,000 cash found in his refrigerator was intended as bribe for him for his role in helping American firm iGate secure a contract to expand broadband in Nigeria, and how the court found no evidence backing up the claim. But the report of a probe by a US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Senator Carl Levin, detailed how, between 2000 and 2008, Atiku “used offshore companies to siphon millions of dollars to his fourth wife in the United States, Jennifer Douglas”. Although Atiku has never been convicted for corruption, it must count for something that he has been plagued by corruption allegations all his life — from his days as a young Nigeria Customs Service officer to recent years with accusations of tax evasion.

Curiously, Atiku’s presidential campaign is being spearheaded by people of questionable character. Gbenga Daniel, a former Governor who is the deputy campaign supremo in Nigeria’s South, is still under trial for alleged corruption, while, in addition to several corruption accusations, Senate President Bukola Saraki, who was by his side last month as he stepped on US soil for the first time in 12 years, has been implicated as the sponsor of a notorious robbery gang in his native state of Kwara.

Interestingly, despite the availability of some credible alternatives — including activist Omoyele Sowore and economists Kingsley Moghalu and Tope Fasua — the great majority of the electorate have narrowed Saturday’s race down to Buhari and Atiku, even though neither candidature offers all-round hope for the long-suffering Nigerian masses. Majority of the people do not seem ready for new ideas and fresh faces; but the alternate candidates have their share of the blame: none of them entered the race earlier than a year of the election to go. Buhari’s ‘Next Level’ project offers little to revel in, Atiku’s presidential ambition doesn’t tickle; yet the electorate seem content with either the devil or the deep blue sea. This means Nigeria’s 2019 presidential election has been lost before it has even kicked off. Any victory on Saturday will be for the candidate and his army of political and personal hangers-on. The real victory for the people will have to wait till 2023 — if Nigerians resolve to at once commence the process of building a virile third political force.

 

Soyombo, former Editor of the TheCable and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), tweets @fisayosoyomboA variant of this piece was originally published by Al Jazeera.

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STUDY: Buhari Suffering From A Combination Of Prostate Cancer, Sickle Cell, Crohn’s Disease And Dementia

14 February 2019 - 11:37pm

President Muhammadu Buhari is suffering from a combination of prostate cancer, sickle cell anaemia, Crohn’s disease and dementia, a confidential study on his health made available to SaharaReporters has revealed.

The report also revealed that the prostate cancer afflicting the President “may have become incurable”.

To reach its conclusions, the report examined a string of issues, including the timeline of the President’s international travels alongside medical assessment, the travel patterns, information from sources in independent private hospitals and a list of doctors considered the best in the UK for the treatment of prostate cancer.

A detailed review of data as part of the study revealed that Buhari sought medical treatment abroad (mainly in the UK) multiple times. He had visited both Nigerian and European hospitals, and spent almost half of 2017 being treated in London. It found out that the President may suffer from more than one condition, all of them severe. 

A part of the study read: “Buhari is being constantly treated for prostate cancer in UK. The first diagnosis of prostate cancer dates back to 2014 at the latest. The underlying cause of this cancer may be Crohn’s disease (relationship between these diseases is explained in the report). Moreover, he likely suffers from sickle cell disease, which also could increase the risk of prostate cancer and complicate cancer treatment.  

“He was recently mocked for incoherency and confusion in his public appearances. Dementia may be due to age and fatigue from medical treatment, but is also associated with a common treatment (ADT) for prostate cancer. Therefore, dementia may be either an independent condition, or a result of lengthy cancer treatments. 

“Data analysis suggests a certainty of the prostate cancer diagnosis, a high probability of Crohn’s disease, and a likelihood of both dementia and sickle cell anemia. Each condition in itself can be seen as debilitating; together, and given the nature of cancer treatments, they are preventing Buhari from fulfilling his presidential functions.”
 
The study reached the following conclusions: “The President suffers from multiple severe medical conditions, that are likely to significantly impair his ability to serve for another term. His treatment pattern (detailed in the report) suggests that his cancer may have become incurable. 

“In 2017 he was intensively treated and spent most of the year in the UK. In 2018, he only took short trips for medical reasons, implying he was no longer undergoing significant cancer treatments. This is compatible with statements from individuals associated with the hospital where he underwent treatment. They state he underwent a surgery, following which he must undergo follow-ups at least once in three months for five years."  

Whether due to cancer or to dementia, Buhari did not resume work travels and rarely leaves the country, which raises many concerns, given his previous extensive travel pattern. 

THE FULL REPORT

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CONFIRMED: Facebook Allowed Fake News Ads Ahead Of Nigeria's Elections

14 February 2019 - 2:56pm


Facebook also approved an ad that falsely stated US President Donald Trump supported the Nigerian opposition

In January 2019, Facebook said it would place a temporary ban on political ads related to the 2019 elections in the country, basing its decision on the need to discourage foreign influence in the electoral process.

A Facebook statement issued that month to the effect read: “Earlier this month in Nigeria, we began temporarily disallowing electoral ads purchased from outside the country ahead of the election and will implement the same policy in Ukraine ahead of their election. Advertisers will need to be authorized to purchase political ads; we'll give people more information about ads related to politics and issues; and we'll create a publicly searchable library of these ads for up to seven years.”

However, according to an investigation by Al Jazeera, even false political ads can find their way into the social media space, as the automated ad approval system can be easily tricked to some level.

Al Jazeera placed some ads on Facebook, containing false claims, which were eventually approved. One of the claims was that Boko Haram would take part in the elections. The ads were estimated by Facebook's system to possibly reach between seven and 17 million people.

Among the claims were that US President Donald Trump supported Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); that the deadline for collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) was extended by one week; and that refugees would get a voting extension after February 16.

After slight changes were made to trick the Facebook automated ad system, all four false claims were approved. However, the one on refugees was eventually taken down.

The ads were, however, deactivated by Al Jazeera before they ran on the platform and the website where the news stories were posted was hidden from the public to ensure the stories were not visible to search engines.

Speaking on the development, Herman Wasserman, Professor of Media Studies at the University of Cape Town, said: "This is worrying. One would like to see Facebook doing more to fact-check claims in political advertising during a political campaign period. The evidence seems to suggest that their system does not work as effectively as it should.”

To buy ads on Facebook, users have to go through Facebook's Ad Manager, an automated system that not only allows users to focus their advertisements on a very specific audience, but also approves ads before publication. Any of the four ads by Al Jazeera should have been disallowed, since they were placed from Qatar and Facebook had announced that it would not allow users to buy political ads from outside Nigeria.

Speaking on its commitment to discouraging fake ads, a Facebook official said the comoany "is committed to fighting the spread of false news on Facebook, and protecting election integrity", but that "there is no silver bullet to this issue".

Facebook said preventing such adds from its space "requires a multi-pronged approach", noting that several solutions had been implemented, including teaming up with local third-party fact-checkers, rolling out educational tips on national and regional media across Nigeria, and introducing new options in English and Hausa so people can report posts that contain incorrect election information, encourage violence or otherwise violate its Community Standards. 

"Although false news does not in and of itself violate our Community Standards, it often violates our policies in other categories, which can lead to removal, as occurred here," Facebook told Al Jazeera.

"The majority of these ads were rejected for policy violations and never appeared on Facebook. The small number that were approved were paused before they went live and likely would have received limited to zero distribution on Facebook as a result of additional violations of our advertising policies.

"While we have made good progress, we recognise there is always more we can do because the threats we face keep evolving - but we'll continue to work on improving our systems and technology to prevent abuse."

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PDP Raises The Alarm Over Plans To Arrest Party Leaders In Ondo

14 February 2019 - 1:43pm


The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State has raised the alarm over a plan by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to arrest party leaders ahead of the Saturday presidential election in the state.

Clement Faboyede, the PDP Chairman in the state, stated this during a press conference in Akure. He said part of the plan was to cause mayhem during the elections.

Faboyede, flanked by other PDP leaders, accused Agboola Ajayi, the Ondo Deputy Governor, of plotting to disrupt the polls and threatening the opposition leaders with thugs.

According to him, Ajayi had been “using thugs and fake security agents to harass and detain PDP leaders in the district”.

"The information at our disposal has fingered some leaders of APC in Ondo State to cause electoral violence; and first on the list is the Deputy Governor, His Excellency Agboola Ajayi. He is exploiting all opportunities and avenues, including the use of thugs to cause violence in this election.

"It is an open secret that he has mobilised thugs and unofficial security agencies to harass and detain our party leaders in the southern senatorial district. We are appealing to the whole world to please talk to the Deputy Governor to allow free and fair elections.

"It is worthy to note that he has sworn an oath to protect lives and properties; he is the Deputy Governor of the state and not of APC. It will be negative of his office to unleash harassment, terror and to detain opposition party leaders in his district or anywhere in the state.

"There should be free and fair elections in the three senatorial districts of this state, most especially Ese-Odo Local Government, the Apois and Arogbo/Ijaw axis, where the Deputy comes from.”

The Ondo PDP Chairman said Ifedayo Abegunde, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Senator Tayo Alasoadura representing Ondo Central District, and Jacob Adebo, the Chairman of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), have “started unleashing terror on the opposition parties”.

"We also have on record militancy and thuggery in past elections, and information at our disposal reveals that they are stocking arms at the new stadium under construction in Akure to be used to disrupt the election and cart away ballot boxes in the central senatorial district.

"Tayo Alasoadura should know that he is holding a distinguished position and know that he should be law-abiding. He has to be electoral act-compliant. Nurturing thugs is undemocratic; it is against the electoral act. We are begging him also to please check his friends using thugs to cart away ballot boxes or shooting sporadically in the air to scare away voters."

The party chairman, who appealed to the traditional rulers to intervene, decried the meddling of NURTW members in partisan politics, lamenting that they were being used as political thugs to repress the opposition parties.

"The APC party parades hooligans and thugs under the disguise of NURTW headed by Idajo. It is becoming too much of him; this state belongs to all of us. We on our side, we are law-abiding and won't go against the law. We love peace. We know we are winning this election and want every vote to count in Ondo State. We are appealing to Idajo to be law-abiding and to sheathe all his hooliganism. He should allow peace to reign,” he said.

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Bayelsa Journalists To Boycott Election Coverage Over Non Accreditation By INEC

14 February 2019 - 1:35pm


Bayelsa journalists have raised the alarm over an alleged attempt by authorities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deny them accreditation to cover the February 16, 2019 elections in the state.

As a result, they say they will boycott the coverage and monitoring of the presidential and National Assembly elections in the state.

Comrade Samuel Numonengi, Chairman of the State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), made this known while addressing journalists who besieged the press center in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, to get their accreditation tags for coverage of the elections.

The chairman disclosed that of more than 300 journalists whose names were presented to INEC for clearance, the electoral body was only able to provide 80 press tags and kits, leaving out more than 250 journalists stranded, and “at the mercy of security personnel who have been directed to deal summarily with any truant without due accreditation on election day”.

Speaking on the matter, Wilfred Ifoga, Head of Voters Education and Publicity, said the inadequacies was based on what was sent from the headquarters.

However, when the issue was raised during the INEC stakeholders meeting in Yenagoa, Pastor Monday Tom Udoh, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, and Lebaru Nduh, his Administrative Secretary, defended INEC, stating that it was what was made available.

Nduh said: "If your employer gives you instruction on what to do, which would you obey? Your own directive or that of your organization? So journalists should be thankful to INEC for even providing them with 80 press tags and kits for identification, rather than asking for more.”

However, the NUJ says the Nduh is “showing his incompetence by making mockery of the situation on ground, except it is a deliberate attempt not to allow the press carry out its full coverage of the election”.

The NUJ state council had an impromptu meeting after several consultations with the journalists, and decided to boycott coverage of Saturday's polls, unless INEC provides journalists with adequate/sufficient kits to ensure safety and unhindered access to all units and collation centres on election day.

According to the state NUJ Chairman, Edo State was issued 250 press kits, Rivers State got more than 300, while Bayelsa was downsized to 80.

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CDHR Condemns Deaths At Political Campaign Rallies

14 February 2019 - 12:28pm


The Committee for the Defence Of Human Rights (CDHR) has condemned the high rate of deaths at rallies organised by political parties.

Malachy Ugwummadu, National President of CDHR, said the deaths were "avoidable and disturbing", noting that no election campaign is "worth the spilling the blood of innocent Nigerians".

He said: “It must be recalled that several people have been killed in a stampede on Tuesday, February 12, 2019, during a political campaign rally organised by the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), which took place in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

“In the same vein, on January 8, 2019, violent clashes between members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers and party supporters marred the inauguration of the campaign of the Lagos State APC gubernatorial candidate, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in Ikeja.

“No election campaign is worth spilling the blood of innocent Nigerians who are expressing their support for their political candidate by simply exercising their fundamental right to assemble freely, associate with other persons and belong to any political party for the protection of their interests as provided for by Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).”

Malachy urged the Nigerian government and all parties to put in place plans to avoid deaths at rallies.

“Rather than only render apologies for these unfortunate deaths, the CDHR demands tangible attempts must be made by governments at all levels to ensure that such avoidable loss of lives does not occur in any future political campaign rally organised in Nigeria," he said.

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Ex-militant Ateke Denies Endorsing Buhari

14 February 2019 - 12:13pm


Tom Ateke, a former militant, has denied the report that he endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari.

He denied ever taking part in partisan politics, stressing that he did not at any time support the president’s reelection bid.

In a statement made available to SaharaReporters, Ateke said it is not in his character to “cheapen” himself for such purpose.

“My attention has been drawn to an online publication in some media outlets, Premium Times in particular, that I, King Ateke Michael Tom, Sekuro of Niger Delta, Amanyanabo of Okochiri Kingdom, has endorsed the candidature of President Buhari.

“I want to state here that there is no element of truth in the said publication. It is never in my character to cheapen myself to such act for the purpose of anything. More so, as a traditional ruler loved and respected by my people, I will not betray the respect and love they have for me on the altar of partisan politics, let alone endorsing a candidate.

“My disposition as a traditional ruler is to advise my people and indeed my millions of admirers to stay out of violence and peacefully cast their votes for their preferred candidates in this election.

“I am directly using this medium to warn the author and all those behind this misleading publication to desist from it. I am advising politicians to be mindful of jobbers who would stop at nothing to fill their pockets, and media outlets should also be professional enough to verify claims from sources before publishing.

“I also use this medium to draw the attention of Nigerians and the international community to be aware of the Nigeria army's unprovocative intimidation and militarization in my kingdom.

“Today, at about 12noon, almost fifty truckloads of soldiers besieged my palace and home. This is unacceptable. I call on the Nigerian Army to play by the rules of the game, because their militarization is causing panic and fear around Okrika, which has been adjudged as the most peaceful Local Government Area (LGA) in the country.”

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2019 Presidential Election: Foretelling The Outcome By Omoshola Deji

14 February 2019 - 12:10pm


Election is the recruitment of persons the largest percentage of the electorate feels are capable of actualizing their imaginings of an ideal nation. Nigerians elect their leaders every four years and the time is here. Parties are campaigning; candidates are promising; sociocultural groups are endorsing; observers are arriving; and Nigerians are preparing to elect their President and federal lawmakers on February 16. This piece appraises the election winning determinants to foretell the outcome of the presidential poll.

A brief introduction and clarification is essential at this point. The writer, subsequently titled Pundit, is Nigeria’s election result Nostradamus. Foretelling election’s outcome is a reflection of his political analysis prowess, not an endorsement of any party or candidate. The accuracy of his past forecasts has attracted the media and many Nigerians, home and abroad, to look out for his prediction during elections. Foretelling an election outcome doesn’t mean the pundit has access to one sacred information or the election winning strategy of any candidate. Assessing candidates’ fortes and flaws to foretell the winner is a common practice in developed nations. This doesn’t mean the pundits are demeaning the electoral process or influencing the election results. Nigerians have already decide who they’ll cast their votes for and nothing – not this prediction – can easily change their minds.

The Candidates

The 2019 presidential election is going to be the most keenly contested in the history of Nigeria, not because there are many contestants, but due to the rise in power struggle and the personality of the top candidates. 73 persons are running, but the election is a two horse race between incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Other leading contestants are Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress (AAC); Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) and Kinsley Moghalu of the Young Progressive Party (YPP).

Sowore, Durotoye and Moghalu are ‘young’ vibrant newcomers, but their political structures are too weak to win a presidential election in a plural nation like Nigeria. Power greed made coalition efforts that would have made them a formidable third force fail. Teaming up to support a fellow candidate shouldn’t cause disaffection, if their main desire is to rescue Nigeria from the old order.

The alike background of the two main candidates, Atiku and Buhari, renders ethno-religious based predictions impotent. Unlike 2015 when a Christian southerner contested against a Muslim northerner, the two leading presidential candidates in 2019 are both Northerners, Fulanis, Muslims and septuagenarians. Both candidates are veteran contestants and have crisscrossed parties. This election is Atiku’s fourth attempt. Buhari won on his fourth attempt in 2015 and wants another term.

Buhari’s Performance and Obstacle

Buhari, like every other incumbent, is contesting against two things: his performance and his opponents. His main opponent, Atiku, has far-reaching networks and has been campaigning vigorously. Unlike candidates who are running for the fame, Atiku’s rigorous campaign is a testimonial that he is running to win. He is leaving no stone unturned, knowing this opportunity may not present itself again as he is aging and power is expected to return to the south, if Buhari wins. Atiku has been working on the electorates psyche, reconciling with foes, getting endorsements, and turning his major liabilities into assets. His recent visit to the Unites States (US) is a political masterstroke that revived his diminishing electoral value tainted by corruption.

Nigerians are sharply divided on Buhari’s performance. In all sincerity, both the praise singers and condemners of Buhari’s performance are right. The praise singers are rating Buhari based on the achievements of his predecessors, many of whom score low on the provision of basic amenities, security and socioeconomic development. Buhari has performed satisfactorily when compared with his predecessors. He is reviving the railway, constructing the Second Niger Bridge, building a number of roads, and combating Boko Haram. Buhari has also paid the defunct Nigerian Airways pensioners and introduced social incentives such as school feeding, N-power and Trader Moni - which the opposition has criticized as voter inducement. The presidential election is partly a referendum on Buhari’s performance. He would earn the votes of people who think he has performed, while those who think otherwise and mindful that the second term of governments are often not better than their first would vote other candidates.

The condemners of Buhari’s performance are rating him based on the un-fulfillment of his 2015 campaign promises. They are berating him for performing below expectations after raising Nigerians hope. Buhari promised restructuring, but backtracked. His appointments are lopsided northwards. Insecurity is rife as bandits, insurgents and herdsmen are carrying out genocidal bloodletting at will. The fight against corruption has been incredibly selective, making Transparency International rank Nigeria the 144 least corrupt nation out of 175. Buhari has serially flouted court orders; persecuted activists and journalists; tolerated the massacre of unarmed IPOB and Shiite members; harassed the legislature and judiciary; ruled in a dictatorial manner; and hounded critics. Basic amenities are either dysfunctional or unavailable, the exchange rate is high, consumables are costly and unemployment is at an alarming rate. Buhari’s performance is unsatisfactory if he’s assessed by the oversweet promises he doled out in 2015. His misrule and incompetence is winning hearts for Atiku.

Atiku’s Challenge

Buhari has reiterated his resolve to further tackle corruption, insecurity and revive the economy, while Atiku boast of capacity to provide jobs, eradicate poverty and resuscitate the economy. One major minus for Atiku is the comment of his former boss, ex-President Olusegun Obabsanjo when their relationship was uncordial. In his book titled My Watch, Obasanjo said "what I did not know, which came out glaringly later, was his parental background which was somewhat shadowy, his propensity to corruption, his tendency to disloyalty, his inability to say and stick to the truth all the time, a propensity for poor judgment, his belief and reliance on marabouts , his lack of transparency, his trust in money to buy his way out on all issues and his readiness to sacrifice morality, integrity, propriety truth and national interest for self and selfish interest". Though Obasanjo has reconciled and endorsed Atiku, many Nigerians are still using the statements in ‘My Watch’ to discredit Atiku.

Endorsement Effects

Endorsement still influences voters, even though political parties belittle its effect when they are unable to secure it. People living in the rural areas and traditional societies where the recommendation of leaders are highly revered largely vote based on endorsements. Candidates also use endorsements to convince dissenting voices and undecided voters. Atiku has gotten influential endorsements than Buhari. Leaders and elders of notable regional sociocultural groups, including the Middle Belt Forum (North-Central), Ohanaeze Ndigbo (South-East), PAN Niger Delta Forum (South-South); and the prominent faction of Afenifere (South-West) have all endorsed Atiku. The most shocking endorsement Atiku got is that of the Northern Elders Forum, which has a significant influence on the conservative Muslim Northerners who are largely supporters of Buhari. The Arewa Consultative Forum however gave a counter endorsement in favor of Buhari.

Ruling parties are always the most favored on endorsements. The opposition PDP’s numerous endorsement is a pointer that the regional leaders distrust APC, or the party simply choose to connect the people directly through the distribution of business aid such as Trader Moni. The latter may not earn Buhari votes. The beneficiaries of Trader Moni are largely sympathizers of their various sociocultural groups which have endorsed Atiku. An Igbo trader who’s aware that Ohaneze Ndigbo endorsed Atiku to end the marginalization of his ethnic group under Buhari would most likely vote Atiku, despite receiving Trader Moni. Sociocultural groups have a way of awakening the ethnic sentiments that’ll make people vote their endorsed candidates. The culture is gradually changing as people are increasingly voting based on personal convictions.

The Generals Influence

When getting less, the APC discredit endorsements, but applaud same when persons or groups back Buhari. 71 retired Military Generals endorsed Buhari for second term. This is a coming against some of the prominent Generals and former Head of State’s opposition to Buhari’s reelection. Generals Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida and Theophilus Danjuma are against Buhari, General Yakubu Gowon has been apolitical, while General Abdulsalami Abubakar is the head of the National Peace Committee. Buhari’s rejection by his powerful and influential contemporaries may hinder his win as the Generals, especially Obasanjo, have always determined who becomes President.

The Generals have vast political structures as they were the ones who nurtured almost all the leading political actors in Nigeria presently. Obasanjo is one of the ruling APC’s major nightmares as he is determined to end Buhari’s reign and install PDP’s Atiku. His choice candidates have always emerged, including Buhari in 2015. Obasanjo is well-respected by the international community. His global weight and networks can ruin Buhari, if he’s declared winner based on electoral fraud and post-election conflict arises. Obasanjo is doing his best to ensure Buhari doesn’t win as such will diminished his relevance and retire him from politics.

The Aso Rock Cabal

Aisha Buhari’s statement that her husband’s government has been hijacked by a cabal would make Buhari lose votes. Aisha disclosed at the National Women Leadership Summit that two powerful individuals have been commandeering her husband and preventing him from performing. Buhari denied the allegation, but many Nigerians believe his wife’s statement is a revelation of the goings-on in Aso Rock. The President’s failure to regain public confidence by rejigging his cabinet would make many people vote against him to end the cabal’s reign.

Health Factor

Buhari’s deteriorating health and failing memory would also diminish his votes. Many Nigerians believe Buhari would spend most of his tenure receiving treatment abroad, if he wins. His inability to remember basic things and serial gaffes such as forgetting the year he was sworn-in, referring to the APC gubernatorial candidate in Delta State as senatorial and presidential candidate, as well as lifting the hand of the wrong candidate in Cross River State makes many Nigerians see him has mentally unfit to continue ruling. Atiku has shown more mental alertness, but his pledge to enrich friends is making him lose public trust. Nigerians may decide to return a sick, dictatorial and incompetent Buhari to power because of Atiku’s corruption tendencies and embracement of crony capitalism - enriching friends through privatization.

Elites Gang-up

The APC intraparty crisis across states and the exit of influential persons from the party may deny Buhari a win. APC was formidable in 2015 than it is now. The party immensely profited from the mass exit of political heavyweights from the then ruling PDP. This largely helped President Buhari defeat then President Jonathan. Most of the heavyweights are back in the PDP and are determined to unseat Buhari. Some of them includes the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar; Senate President Bukola Saraki; Governors Samuel Ortom and Aminu Tambuwal of Benue and Sokoto States; House of Representative Speaker, Yakubu Dogara; and ex-Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State. The exit of these bigwigs from the APC would certainly not make victory easy for Buhari. The ruling APC tried to make up for this by winning over ex-Governors Godswill Akpabio and Emmanuel Uduaghan of Akwa-Ibom and Delta States. These former governors cannot garner many votes for Buhari. Their influence is limited to their states which are PDP strongholds and majority of the people in the Niger-Delta region are anti Buhari.

The array of political elites that Buhari have been persecuting and prosecuting would also unleash their arsenal to ensure he never gets reelected. Those affected by Buhari’s unfavorable economic policies and others not profiting from his government would likewise do all possible to make him lose.

The International Community

Atiku’s entry into the US and the foreign condemnation of Buhari’s anti-democratic actions are crucial pointers that the international community would prefer an Atiku Presidency. Buhari’s imperfection must not make one take the international community’s preference as best for the country. Buhari is not getting their support, not because of his underperformance, but because he has resisted dependency and neocolonialism; hindering them from exploiting the nation. The western nations are only friends with governments that allow them have their way and they are renowned for going the extra mile to remove uncontrollable leaders. Kwame Nkruma, Patrice Lumumba and Julius Nyerere are credible lessons. Buhari’s shortcoming is creating an avenue for the West to have their way through Atiku. The PDP campaign to ‘get Nigeria working again’ is coming at a time when the majority is complaining that virtually nothing is working.

INEC and Security

An excellent professional conduct should not be expected from the security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The secret midnight meetings allegedly being held by the INEC leadership and Buhari’s henchmen may lead to intentional misconduct by the electoral umpire. The security chiefs would try to appear neutral, but their partisanship would manifest if the election is a tight race and Buhari needs some misconduct to pave way for a rerun or make him win. The heads of the security agencies, especially the police commissioners in many states would most likely turn a blind eye on wrongs done to aid Buhari’s win.

Voting

There are 84,004,084 registered voters in Nigeria. By population ranking, the number of registered voters and persons who have collected their permanent voters card (PVC) across the six geopolitical zones are as follows:

North West: 20,158,100 registered voters, 18,882,854 PVCs collected.

South West: 16,292,212 registered voters, 12,444,594 PVCs collected.

North Central: 13,366,070 registered voters, 11,849,027 PVCs collected.

South South: 12,841,279 registered voters, 11,574,944 PVCs collected.

North East: 11,289,293 registered voters, 10,402,734 PVCs collected.

South East: 10,057,130 registered voters, 9,071,939 PVCs collected.

 

The above data shows that out of the 84,004,084 persons who registered to vote, only 74,199,092 can vote having collected their PVCs. 9,804,992 are yet to collect theirs. APC’s Buhari comes from the Northwest, while PDP’s Atiku is from the North-East. Both candidates would garner huge votes in each other’s zone, but Buhari would come top. This is largely due to the cult followership Buhari enjoys in the North. Majority of the northern voting population supports Buhari blindly; they believe PDP’s 16 years of misrule is responsible for Buhari’s failings.

Another plus for Buhari is that his party, the APC, controls the largely populated states – Lagos and Kano. Out of the 36 states of the federation, APC is the incumbent government in 23 states, while PDP is the incumbent government in 13. APC is also the incumbent government in majority of the Northern states and the entire 6 states in the Southwest. Atiku would likely defeat Buhari in the North-Central. He would defeat Buhari in the South-South and South-East. Atiku would earn substantial votes in the Southwest, but Buhari would earn more.

Vote Buying

Agents of the two prominent candidates will induce voters with money. People thinking Buhari’s anti-corruption stance would make his team desist from inducing voters would be disappointed. As it is before now, the party stalwarts would utter untruths that the money being shared is not from the Presidency, but from supporters who are passionate about the continuity of Buhari’s government. There would be several I-love-you-more-than-God behaviors during the election. People will voluntarily commit electoral fraud, threaten supporters of rival parties, cause mayhem, and kill to ensure their favorite candidate wins.

The APC and PDP supporters boasting their candidates would win by landslide are just being over emotional. Both candidates have major flaws that can’t make that happen. Atiku is widely considered corrupt, while Buhari is broadly seen as nepotistic and unfit. These negatives limit their chances of winning by landslide. Such win is often earned by candidates with minor flaws.

The Pundit’s Verdict

Buhari’s shortcomings will affect, but can’t hinder his win. The three main determinants of electoral victory in Nigeria are the votes cast, the conducts of the electoral umpire (INEC), and the security agencies, especially the police. Buhari apparently has INEC and the security agencies on his side and would get many votes as a popular candidate, but may need a push. His henchmen will not hesitate to do anything, licit or illicit, to retain power when the chips are down.

Notables like Dele Momodu and prominent institutions such as Williams and Associates, and the Economist Intelligence Unit predicting Buhari would lose did not consider something crucial – recent happenings and Buhari’s arbitrariness. Up to the minute actions of Buhari are pointers that his government would stop at nothing to retain power. The intimidation of voters and staggering electoral fraud that was allegedly perpetrated during the Osun governorship and rerun elections; the reported secret meeting with INEC heads; the alleged political removal of Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen; the untoward display of force by the military across states; and the politically motivated transfer of police commissioners and other top officers are not for nothing. An incumbent government that is obsessed with power cannot put all these strategies in place in an undeveloped democracy and lose.

Nigerians are worried that a partial conduct by INEC and the security agencies may lead to a rerun, the Venezuela situation or foist the Odinga-Kenyetta model on Nigeria. Except God touches the mind of those occupying Aso Rock, relinquishing power to the opposition doesn’t look like what the ruling cabal is willing to do, except Atiku wins by a landslide, which is almost impossible. Against the predictions of Williams and Associates and the Economist, the Pundit foretells that the APC candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, would be declared President-elect.

 

*Omoshola Deji is a political and public affairs analyst. He wrote in via moshdeji@yahoo.com

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IN FULL: Text Of Buhari's Pre-Election State Broadcast

14 February 2019 - 11:39am


President Muhammadu Buhari addressed a rare state broadcast on Thursday ahead of Saturday's presidential and National Assembly elections.

Here's everything he said:

Fellow Citizens,

On Saturday, February 16, 2019, you will, once again, be called upon to choose the leaders who will pilot the affairs of our great nation for the next four years. This is a constitutional right which should be freely exercised by all eligible voters.

2. I wish therefore to start by assuring all Nigerians that this Government will do its very best to ensure that the 2019 elections take place in a secure and peaceful atmosphere.

3. It was indeed such free, fair and peaceful elections that made it possible for our Government to emerge, despite the fact that we were contesting against a long-standing incumbent party.

4. And as your president and a fellow Nigerian, I ask that you come out and queue to fulfill this important obligation you have to yourselves and your fellow citizens – and to our common future.

5. Let me at this point, reaffirm the commitment of the Federal Government to the conduct of free and fair elections in a safe and peaceful atmosphere. Just yesterday, I signed the Peace Accord alongside 72 other presidential candidates.

6. I want to assure all Nigerians, the diplomatic community and all foreign election observers of their safety and full protection. Any comments or threats of intimidation from any source do not represent the position of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

7. As Government has a critical role in maintaining the democratic traditions, so do citizens. I therefore urge you all, as good Nigerians, to take a personal interest in promoting and maintaining peace in your respective neighbourhoods during the elections. This is certainly not a time to allow personal, religious, sectional or party interests to drive us to desperation.

8. At this point, I want to make a special appeal to our youth: Do not allow yourselves to be used to cause violence and destruction. The people who want to incite you are those preparing the ground for discrediting the elections. Having lost the argument, they fear losing the elections.

9. When you elected me in 2015, it was essentially in consequence of my promise of CHANGE. We committed ourselves to improving security across the country, putting the economy on a sound footing and tackling rampant corruption, which had in many ways become a serious drawback to national development.

10. Our Government spent the last 3 years and 9 months striving faithfully to keep this promise, in spite of very serious revenue shortages caused mainly by a sharp drop in international oil prices and an unexpected rise in the vandalisation of oil installations, which, mercifully have now been curtailed.

11. We nevertheless pressed on in our quest to diversify the economy, create jobs, reduce commodity prices and generally improve the standard of living among our people.

12. The damage that insecurity and corruption have done, over time, to our collective livelihood is incalculable. However, it is pleasing to note that our frontal attack on these twin evils is gaining momentum and bringing about visible progress.

13. The recovery of the economy from recession is complete and Nigeria is back on the path of steady growth.

14. The key to creating more jobs lies in accelerating this momentum of economic growth. Happily, we have succeeded in making the fundamental changes necessary for this acceleration, and we are now beginning to see the efforts bearing fruit.

15. Our ease of doing business policies and programmes are already impacting medium, small and micro industries, as well as Manufacturing, Mining and Agriculture, among other key sectors.

16. Our commitment to critical infrastructure – that is Roads, Rails, Bridges, Airports and Seaports – will create more jobs, improving the efficiency and competitiveness of our industries.

17. Many of these projects are at different stages of completion, and those who use them regularly will attest to the fact that even while construction is ongoing, they are beginning to see reduced travel times. This will ultimately translate to reduced costs and greater convenience, making transportation, and business in particular, much easier.

19. The economic recovery that we promised is well underway, as demonstrated by the recently released statistics. In 2018, the economy grew by 1.93%, with the Fourth Quarter growth being 2.38%, up from 1.81% in the Third Quarter.

20. Remarkably, the strong economic performance was driven by the Non-Oil sector, which grew at 2% as at full year. Indeed, Non-Oil growth rose to 2.7% in the Fourth Quarter of 2018, up from 2.32% in the Third Quarter. These results further underscore our commitment to diversifying the economy away from the past dependence on Oil.

21. Other indicators confirm the economy’s steady recovery. Our monthly food import bill has declined from $664 million in January 2015 to $160 million as at October 2018. Inflation fell from 18.72% in January 2017 to 11.44% in December 2018. Our External Reserves have risen from $23 billion in October 2016 to $43.12 billion as at 7th February 2019.

22. Now that the recession is well behind us, our next task is to redouble our efforts, accelerate the growth and use it to create even more jobs for our people.

23. The Executive Orders, No. 5, and No. 7 issued by me, and the recently approved National Infrastructure Maintenance Policy demonstrate our commitment to accelerated job creation and infrastructure development.

24. We believe that Governments cannot simply proclaim jobs into existence. Job creation will only expand as a result of economic policies that enable the private sector to flourish, and this is the approach our Administration has taken.

25. Executive Order No 5, which Promotes Nigerian Content in Contracts, as well as Science, Engineering and Technology, will preserve and prioritize job creation for our citizens.

26. Executive Order 7, on the Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme, seeks to mobilize private capital and capacity for infrastructure development.

27. It responds to the demands of manufacturing and industrial complexes which wish to construct access roads without waiting for government, so long as they are allowed to recover the cost from taxes they would have paid to government.

28. We expect that this approach will boost industrial expansion and rural development, consequently creating more jobs for our people.

29. Similarly, our recently issued Maintenance Policy targets artisans, carpenters, welders, tailors, painters, bricklayers, electricians, plumbers, landscapers and many more Ordinary Nigerians at the base of our economic pyramid who will get regular and large-scale opportunities to improve themselves.

30. It is an economic solution that also brings the relevant artisans and professionals into long term sustainable employment to maintain our Schools, Court Rooms, Hospitals, Police Stations, Federal Secretariats and other Public Buildings.

31. Human Capital Development has also been a key priority for this Administration, which has increased investments in health and education. Innovative measures have been introduced to complement the traditional budgetary allocations to the relevant Ministries.

32. For instance, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority has invested US$21 million in three healthcare projects as a Public Private Partnership with three Federal medical institutions. These include two modern Medical Diagnostic Centres located at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano and the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia; as well as one outpatient Cancer Treatment Centre in Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos – which I commissioned on 9th February 2019.

33. Of course, our radical commitment to developing Critical Infrastructure is the foundation upon which we will deliver an all embracing national prosperity and a shared commonwealth.

34. There is no country that aspires to greatness without spending massively on its Critical Infrastructure. Rather than the discredited policy of ‘stomach infrastructure’, which could only benefit a few for a little while, we are focused on real infrastructural development for the growth of our economy and the long-term benefit of all Nigerians.

35. When you voted for our message of CHANGE, you invited us to assume office and depart from that bad and most regrettable choice. We have responded by making a choice for real infrastructure of Roads in every State, Housing in 34 States, Power Stations across Nigeria, Rail from Lagos to Kano.

36. The choice that now confronts us is whether we want to continue with real infrastructure development, which is the road to prosperity and jobs or return to the era of ‘stomach infrastructure’.

37. Agricultural Self-Reliance and Food Security is also a choice we made in fulfilment of your mandate for change.

38. Our Presidential Fertiliser Initiative has resulted in savings of US$150 million in foreign exchange due to local sourcing of inputs at 16 Blending Plants. It has also conserved N60 billion in Subsidies as well as supported tens of thousands of farmers and agro-dealers nationwide.

39. Our Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has substantially raised local rice yields from as low as two Metric Tonnes per hectare, to as high as eight Metric Tonnes per hectare.

40. Through this programme, the Central Bank of Nigeria has cumulatively lent over N120 billion to over 720,000 smallholder farmers cultivating 12 commodities across the 36 States and Abuja. Targeted crops and livestock have included cattle, poultry, fish, cassava, soybeans, ground nut, ginger, sorghum, rice, wheat, cotton and maize.

41. As a result, we have seen a remarkable rise in the production of key agricultural commodities. I am pleased to note that in major departmental stores and local markets, there has been a surge in the supply of high quality Nigerian agricultural produce.

42. Behind each of these products, are thousands of industrious Nigerians working in factories and farms across the nation. Our interventions have led to improved wealth and job creation for these Nigerians, particularly in our rural communities.

43. Again, these outcomes have been a major departure from the previous focus on consuming imported food items, which literally exported our children’s jobs to food-exporting nations, whilst depleting our precious foreign exchange reserves. This, of course, caused a closure of our factories while keeping open other peoples’ factories.

44. The choice made by this Administration to assist farmers directly and promote agriculture in every way possible has gone a long way to enhance our food security while enabling us to tackle poverty by feeding over nine million children daily under our Home-Grown School Feeding Programme. It also puts us clearly on the road to becoming a food secure and agriculture exporting nation.

45. Next to Agriculture, we are focusing on Manufacturing Sector. The Purchasing Managers Index, which is the measure of manufacturing activities in an economy has risen for 22 consecutive months as at January this year, indicating continuous growth and expansion in our manufacturing sector.

46. I will conclude by going back to where I started: that our choices have had consequences about employment and cost of living.

47. In making your choice this time, please ask yourself whether, and in what ways, others will do anything different to address the issues of Agriculture, Infrastructure, Security, Good Governance and Fighting Corruption.

48. If they are only hoping to do what we are already doing successfully, we are clearly your preferred choice.

49. Think carefully and choose wisely. This time, it is a choice about consolidating on growth for Jobs and Prosperity.

50. February 16th is all about a choice. But it is more than a choice between APC and the opposition. It is a choice about you, it is a choice between going back or keeping the momentum of CHANGE.

51. The road to greater prosperity for Nigeria may be long, but what you can be assured of is a Leadership that is not prepared to sacrifice the future well-being of Nigerians for our own personal or material needs. You can be assured of my commitment to remain focused on working to improve the lives of all Nigerians.

52. Thank you very much for listening. God bless you, and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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BREAKING: 'We're Clearly Your Preferred Choice' — Buhari Campaigns For Votes In State Broadcast

14 February 2019 - 11:27am

President Muhammadu Buhari has just finished a rare state boradcast during which he generously listed the achievements of his administration and urged the people to "vote wisely".

Buhari began the speech by urging the people to freely exercise their rights, but then spent virtually the rest of the 20-minute speech subtly campaigning for his reelection. 

"In making your choice this time, please ask yourself whether, and in what ways, others will do anything different to address the issues of Agriculture, Infrastructure, Security, Good Governance and Fighting Corruption," he said as he wound up his speech.

"If they are only hoping to do what we are already doing successfully, we are clearly your preferred choice. Think carefully and choose wisely. This time, it is a choice about consolidating on growth for Jobs and Prosperity.

"February 16th is all about a choice. But it is more than a choice between APC and the opposition. It is a choice about you, it is a choice between going back or keeping the momentum of CHANGE. The road to greater prosperity for Nigeria may be long, but what you can be assured of is a Leadership that is not prepared to sacrifice the future well-being of Nigerians for our own personal or material needs. You can be assured of my commitment to remain focused on working to improve the lives of all Nigerians.

"Thank you very much for listening. God bless you, and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria."

#NigeriaDecides Elections Politics Breaking News News AddThis :  Featured Image :  Original Author :  SaharaReporters, New York Disable advertisements : 
Categories: audio