Monday, 16 September 2013

News Release: Anambra State Polls And Credibility Of Their Electoral Commissions



On 10th of September, 2013, the acting Chairman of the Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission (ANSIEC), Mr. Sylvester Okonkwo announced the shifting of the Local Government poll earlier fixed for 5th of October, 2013, to 14th of December, 2013. One of the main grounds upon which the LGA poll was shifted was given as the inability of about 27 political parties that indicated interest in participating in the poll to submit their candidates’ list in line with the ANSIEC electoral guidelines. The difficulties associated with the obtainment by ANSIEC of the certified true copy of the INEC’s register of voters for the poll was cited as another reason for the LGA poll shift.

It is recalled that the leaderships of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law and Anambra CLO had on 15th of August, 2013 written the Anambra Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof Chukwuemeka Onukogu and the acting Chairman of ANSIEC, Mr. Sylvester Okonkwo, upon which we pointed out serious challenges threatening the successful and credible conduct of the two crucial polls and demanded that they be frontally addressed. We also demanded that the LGA poll date should be slightly adjusted to the second week of December, 2013 so as to give room for popular participation upon tackling of the laps complained of. One of the challenges pointed out is the possible unavailability of the Anambra LGA’s voters’ register to be used for the poll. INEC had earlier announced 17th of October, 2013 as a date for final display of its Anambra voters’ register; expected to be derived from the supplementary voters’ list and the main voters’ register as against the 5th of October, 2013 date fixed for the shifted LGA poll. Similar challenges threatening the credibility and popularity of the two polls were also pointed out in our (Intersociety) public information of 21st and 24th of August, 2013.

We at Intersociety see the adjustment of the Anambra LGA poll date as a two-way traffic; one showing that the two electoral commissions especially the ANSIEC have  listening ears and the other exposing the gross incompetence of the two electoral commissions in conducting the two crucial polls on the basis of popular participation and administrative competence. Though Anambra State has earned notoriety as one of the States in the Nigerian Federation that has not held polls into her LGA System since December 1998, but our insistence on holding such polls popularly and credibly knows no bound. It is on indisputable record that no popular and credible Local Government polls have been organized in Nigeria since December 1998. In other words, the last time popular LGA poll was held in Nigeria was in December 1998; during the expiring military regime of General Abdulsalami Abubakar. Subsequent LGA polls organized since then have grossly run short of international demographic and enfranchisement standards. This has lightened calls for abrogation of State Independent Electoral Commissions created by Section 197 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 amended in 2011 and taking over of their functions by INEC. Anambra State as Nigeria’s electoral Promised Land must always lead the way and avoid returning to electoral dark ages during which the dregs of the society took over her hallowed political corridors and turned them into an enclave of banditry and brigandage. Research has shown indisputably that demographic correctness, security and safety are the three pillars of popular polls in Africa including Nigeria. Where there is demographic correctness; the concerned electoral umpire is administratively competent. It also engenders security and safety, which encourages large voter turnout. Any poll grounded on demographic correctness, security and safety, is beyond judicial revocation on account of judicial review or enquiry afterwards. Where these are the norm, the excesses of errant politicians and their political parties as well as tainted adjudicators in the temple of justice will be cut to sizes.

There is no doubt that many, if not most registered political parties in Nigeria are the major generators of poll rigging and poll violence in the country. They are expressly aided by corrupt and immoral judicial officers who dish out summary orders and verdicts with utter alacrity. The unfolding despicable events in Anambra State are a case in point. The quality of people fielded by some political parties in the forthcoming Anambra governorship poll is alarmingly shocking. For instance, out of four major political parties and their candidates jostling for the crucial governorship poll; that is to say All Progressives Congress, Labour Party, All Progressives Grand Alliance and People’s Democratic Party, it may most likely be correct to say that at least three of their candidates fundamentally fall short of political aristocracy and charisma. In the raw eyes of popular and credible poll, they are pretenders, but from the prism of poll rigging and brigandage, they are real and mean. They are exponents of robotic electoral mandate and opponents of living electoral mandate. To clip their wings and confine them to the tight dictates of popular poll contest is a serious challenge facing INEC and the security agencies.

Finally, we remain resolute in our demand for free; credible and popular polls in Anambra State on 16th of  November, 2013 and 14th of December, 2013, respectively. To this end, INEC and ANSIEC must live up to their statutory duties and responsibilities. On the part of INEC, all the challenges that can mar the credibility of the crucial governorship poll such as reported existence of polling centers in unapproved areas of the State, missing 53 polling centres in nine LGAs and 93,000 double registration said to have been found in its voters’ register; should be frontally addressed and timely too. All fictitious names and confirmed dead voters should be expunged and those with voters’ cards pinned down to existing polling centers across the State, whose names and pictures got missing through “either data virus attacks” or “ deliberate manual deletion”, should be allowed to vote on voting day. Also, the emergence of some buccaneering characters into the crucial Anambra governorship and LGA races has made it imperative for the Federal and Anambra State Governments to step up forensic security in all parts of the State to ward off any security threats and unnatural unsafe conditions between now till after the two polls.

The ANSIEC on its part, must not slumber as it has previously done that necessitate several postponements of its LGA poll dates. We demand nothing short of epochal and historic popular LGA poll, befitting the State’s current enviable status in the global free and popular poll index. The 14th of December, 2013 date for the poll must be realistic and final. The State Electoral Commission must issue fresh or adjusted guidelines excluding the conduct of fresh party primaries to all participating political parties and the Anambra Public as a matter of utmost immediacy.

The number of political parties that return their candidates’ lists within stipulated time should be allowed to contest and their candidates’ names and their parties’ logos printed on ballot papers. The issue of whether or not an “acting chairman of the Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission” can legally and administratively conduct the LGA poll in acting capacity, should also be legally resolved; likewise the appointment of the substantive chairman of the Commission by the Governor upon his or her confirmation by the State Legislature. Our questions are: Is it true that there is a subsisting court order hindering such substantive appointment?

If yes, what type of court order? Is it interim or ex parte, interlocutory or perpetual? If no, what is holding the appointment of the substantive chairman of the ANSIEC?

Signed:

Emeka Umeagbalasi 
Chairman of the Board
08033601078, 08180103912
emekaumeagbalasi@yahoo.co.ukinfo@intersociety-ng.org

Comrade Justus Ijeoma
Head, Publicity Desk
08037114869


Article: 2015 And The Desperation Of Nigerian Politicians



By Jaye Gaskia

As we approached the 2011 general elections, and given the circumstances under which the preparations were made, and under which the elections were eventually held; corruption, treasury looting took a steep upward spike!

Of course since crude oil is our major export and in the absence of any other viable sector, consequently our major source of revenue; the sector became the main focus for treasury looting, and the fraud and grand corruption which was needed to accumulate the wealth with which to fund the elections. Hence the ruling political elites in general, and the ruling party in particular turned their attention to the Fuel subsidy regime, and the many loopholes and weaknesses in the system that could be exploited to literally steal trillions from the treasury.

Thus it was that so-called daily consumption of Petrol [PMS] rose sharply from 25 to 30 million liters per day between 2006 and 2010, to 60 million liters per day in 2011! This in turn led to a spike in fuel subsidy payments from well under N600bn in 2010 to well over N2.5tn in 2011!

The resultant near bankruptcy of the economy precipitated the fuel subsidy removal debate, led directly to the January 1st 2012 announcement of the removal of subsidy; and directly triggered the January Uprising of 2012!

Hence the roller-coaster of numerous probes, initiated in direct response to the uprising to calm nerves, while also intended to hoodwink and divert attention of an increasingly angry and politically aware citizenry. All the revelations from all of these probes, the recommendations of which were never seriously intended for implementation, have served to confirm this historic levels of state perpetrated fraud, state protected treasury looting, and state condoned public theft and economic gangsterism.

Yet inspite of all the revelations, inspite of all the facts that directly and indirectly implicate serving ministers, the presidency itself, the NNPC, PPPRA, DPR, etc, absolutely no one official, with technical, managerial, or political supervisory responsibility has been investigated, let alone indicted, and prosecuted!

We can only conclude from all of these that historic episode of treasury looting was sanctioned at the highest level of government.

Now as we approach another general elections, the 2015 elections, and under even more daunting circumstances than those surrounding the 2011 general elections; the political elites in general, and the imploding ruling party in particular seem to be leading us once again down the road of another historic levels of economic banditry; the record breaking levels of crude oil theft, which stood at under 200,000 barrels per day in 2011, but which has now doubled in just over a year to 400,000 barrels per day in stolen crude oil; with the attendant loss to the economy of $14bn annually in revenues that could have accrued to the coffers of the state.

Now this is a shift in strategy with respect to the nature of the grand theft, though not with respect to the source of the crime – crude oil, our main export and revenue earner!

Knowing full well that the level of heightened scrutiny now put on management of the fuel subsidy regime, thanks to the January Uprising; as well as the highly sensitive nature of the issue; would not permit a return to a re-run of the 2011/2012 fuel subsidy scenario; the ruling elite, and regime seems to have thought out what it felt would be a safer route to unprecedented levels of treasury looting and amassing a war chest for the 2015 elections and any other eventual post 2015 scenario which could develop.

Their answer and choice is crude-oil theft! Thus it is that in just one year we have witnessed a spike in crude-oil theft to unprecedented levels of 400,000 barrels per day [by the way this is the entire production capacity of the new oil field in Kazakhstan]; amounting to annual loss to the economy [and gain to the organised crime syndicates] of over $14bn.

Now this is by any standards a huge war chest, not only to wage a divisive and bitterly contested election; but to also enable the not so Ex-Militant Generals, who have been threatening war and destruction if their favourite candidate, the serving president, [who is yet to publicly declare his intention to seek re-election, and is yet to be adopted as his party’s candidate; if he should lose the 2015 presidential elections], fulfill their threat of war!

We are forced to reach this conclusion by the strong circumstantial evidence available! Ex-Militant Generals, and their troops are awarded multi-million dollar/ multi-billion Naira pipeline and maritime security and surveillance contracts; crude oil theft continues its astronomical upward spike under the watch of these Ex-militant generals; the Presidency goes to self-destructive lengths to seize control of the ruling party machinery, precipitating a split of the NGF, and subsequently of the PDP into ‘New’ and ‘Old’PDP, and the PDM; while Ex-Militant generals and so-called ‘elder Statesmen’ from the Niger Delta continue to threaten hail and brimstone, and even threaten the end of Nigeria if their candidate is not returned to office! These are just too numerous coincidences. They do represent a pattern, and a trend, one that is directly inimical to security and safety of ordinary citizens.

Just so we understand what is at stake here, a little reminded is necessary: the actual amount of the various security contracts annually to our public purse is: Tompolo - $22.5m; Asari - $9m; Ateke & Boyloaf - $3.5m each making $7m in total! This is annually and yet inspite of these; or more appropriately, because of these security contracts; we are now losing $14bn annually to criminal gangs, that we can only assume are being protected by these Ex-militants, and who must therefore be linked to, and under the protection of the state at the highest levels!

It is upto us as ordinary impoverished citizens, who have seen our poverty levels grow steeply from 54% in 2004 to 70% in 2012; who have seen unemployment rate rise sharply from 8% in 1999 to 23.9% in 2011; and who continue to be homeless; to rise up, once again take a definitive stand, take our destiny into our own hands, Take Back Nigeria and stop this inept, greedy, and incompetent elite from destroying our lives and nation, and further ruining our future.

We must not allow them to use us and play us against one another as they pursue their ultimately selfish and greedy ambitions. They do not care about this us, much less about this nation. They hold diplomatic passports and foreign passports; they have secured dual citizenship for their children; they impregnate their wives here, and fly them at public expense to give birth abroad just so their kids can have foreign citizenship; they steal and loot our treasury dry here at home, and buy their choicest properties abroad, while saving the bulk of their loot abroad, to boost the economies of other countries! They are not patriotic; they are not Nigerians!

They have destroyed education, healthcare delivery system, and other basic infrastructures at home; they escape the consequence of their destruction at home by going abroad at public expense to access these same basic services and infrastructure; and now they are threatening and marching ceaselessly towards destroying the nation itself! And of course while they have a choice, we do not have a choice. This is the only home we know, the only home we have; it is up to us to make it work for us; it is up to us to realise that the greatest obstacle to our realization of ourselves is our parasitic ruling elite; it is up to us therefore to Take Back Nigeria from their death grip.

(Visit: takebacknigeria.blogspot.com; Follow me on Twitter: @jayegaskia & @[DPSR]protesttopower; Interact with me on Facebook: Jaye Gaskia & Take Back Nigeria)