John Kerry meets Jonathan, Buhari; urges Nigerian politicians to ensure peaceful elections

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Read Time:1 Minute, 34 Second

The U.S. government has advised Nigerian politicians to work towards ensuring a peaceful and violence-free February general elections.

The U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, gave the advice at a news conference on Sunday in Lagos at the end of a closed-door meeting he held with President Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammad Buhari, the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the All Progressives Congress, APC, respectively.

“The U.S. government strongly believes in Nigeria having credible, free and fair elections next month,” Mr. Kerry said.

He said that the international community and the U.S. government were keenly interested in the conduct of next month’s election.

Mr. Kerry said that he was impressed with the outcome of his meeting with the two major presidential contenders in the forthcoming elections.

He, however, said that the U.S. government would not hesitate to deny American visa to any political office seeker involved in political violence in Nigeria.

“We want to say that any Nigerian who promotes any form of violence during the elections remains ineligible for U.S. visa,” Mr. Kerry said.

Mr. Kerry said that President Obama specifically sent him to meet with the two candidates with a view to having a violence-free election.

On security, the secretary of state also restated his government’s commitment to continue to support Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram sect.

“The U.S. will continue to work with the Nigerian military in putting an end to the continuous killings of innocent Nigerians and attack on communities.

“The U.S strongly condemns these attacks which have escalated in the last few weeks and it is gradually spreading to neighbouring countries.”

Mr. Kerry also refuted allegation that the U.S. would in future discriminate against Nigerians and other West Africans suspected to have contacted the Ebola Virus Disease, EVD.

(NAN)

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Live Report: Mass exodus in Maiduguri ! ( see Photo)

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Read Time:30 Second

The Residents of Moramti, 1000, 777 Housing Estates and some parts of Bulunkutu fleeing away from their residents as result of midnight attack by Boko Haram around Jimtilo in the outskirt of Maiduguri few hours after the visit by President JONATHAN.

Update:s Defence Headquarters confirms by Social Media twitter, that there is an ongoing operation around Maiduguri and Mongunu.
“Troops are repelling a simultaneous attack on Monguno and Maiduguri by Terrorists.”

“Coordinated Air and Land OPs being conducted now.” “Meanwhile curfew has been imposed on Maiduguri with immediate effect till further notice.”

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Jonathan’s PhD certificate authentic — UNIPORT

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Read Time:2 Minute, 10 Second

FOLLOWING speculations in some quarters that President Goodluck Jonathan did not complete his doctorate degree programme at the University of Port Harcourt, the institution has come out in his defence.

But the Uniport Deputy Registrar (Information), Dr. William Wodi, explained that apart from acquiring his first degree in the institution, Jonathan also got his Masters and Ph.D in the same institution.

Wodi, in a statement sent to SUNDAY PUNCH via electronic mail, described the rumour about the President’s educational qualification as baseless.

The deputy registrar of the university specifically stated that Jonathan was among 422 students that matriculated in the school in 1977 and was admitted in the Department of Zoology, which had been renamed Animal and Environmental Science.

“The authorities of the University of Port Harcourt are aware of rumours that are now spreading like harmattan fire over the doctoral degree status of President Goodluck Jonathan. The allegations have neither legs nor grounds to stand on and we hope that its purveyors will now rest in silence.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the authorities of the University wish to state without equivocation that Mr. Goodluck Jonathan, as he then was, was among 422 students, who matriculated in 1977. He was admitted into the then Department of Zoology, now Animal and Environmental Biology in the then School of Biological Sciences, now a Faculty in the new College of Natural and Applied Sciences.

“At the end of a successful residency period, Jonathan was awarded the Bachelor of Science (Upper Division) in 1981. It was rumoured among students that the young university was reluctant to award the First Class to its pioneer class in an effort to consolidate its academic profile,” Wodi said.

He said the President later enrolled into the postgraduate programme and obtained the Master of Science degree in Hydrobiology and Fisheries in 1985 and crowned his academic pursuit in the University with the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Zoology in 1995.

He said, “From the above account, it has become obvious that Dr. Jonathan successfully completed the prescribed courses and programmes as specified by the Senate of the University of Port Harcourt to earn his degrees from the university.”

Stressing that the university remains proud of Jonathan, Wodi advised any person or organisations in need of further information on the educational qualification of the President or any other student of the institution to contact authorities of the university.

“We have absolutely nothing to hide as an institution that has a statutory mandate to advance the frontiers of knowledge,” Wodi added

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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NIGERIA: On Udom Emmanuel’s ‘Imposition’ Mantra

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Read Time:8 Minute, 58 Second

 One of the narratives the opposition and the G22 former PDP gubernatorial aspirants have been peddling for some time now in the hopes of reaping some political mileage and capital has been the obtuse and inane assertion that Deacon Udom Emmanuel the PDP Gubernatorial Candidate for Akwa Ibom state in the February 2015  governorship elections is an ‘imposition’, a ‘stooge’ and a man that is beholden to a political family and thus would not be able to exercise independent thoughts and practices in the discharge of his gubernatorial responsibilities.
This assertion is to say the least, laughable, misleading and a sly and sleek attempt to manufacture an issue that at best resides in the fertile minds of its purveyors.

The peddlers of this narrative know full well that Deacon Emmanuel Udom is one of the most successful technocrats Akwa Ibom state has produced in the past three decades. The purveyors of this sick tale know that Udom Emmanuel is tested, proven, has the passion, the right temperament, is ready and is poised to lead Akwa Ibom state to consolidate the gargantuan achievements recorded in the past almost eight years of the consequential administration of Governor Godswill Obot Akpabio.

The peddlers of this narrative know full well, that Udom Emmanuel has navigated the corporate world, mastered its associated intrigues and politics and by displaying a superlative record of achievements and innovative ideas, rose to become one of the highly respected voices in Corporate Nigeria today. You don’t achieve such, by not having a commanding and effective voice and mind suffused by ideas and strong qualities.

The peddlers of this sick narrative know full well that you don’t rise to become an Executive Director of by far one of the most consequential financial institutions in Nigeria and Africa in general – Zenith Bank, by being plaint, docile, or be defined by groupthink; the banking world of today has no space for people who are bereft of independent thoughts, or people who wait for others to think –through complex issues only for them to affirm.

The peddlers of this sick narrative know full well, that Udom has the superlative educational qualifications, the experience, and has dealt  and interacted with the people who run the world’s economy; the Wall Street honchos and you don’t deal with these people if you are seen to be tentative and unsure of your steps and your definitional platform.
Now, let us address the ‘stooge and ‘imposition’ narrative. The peddlers of this laughable narrative would have us believe that because Governor Godswill Obot Akpabio , having worked with those who had desired to succeed him – all of whom today have  coalesced under the aegis of G22 ,and in his considred opinion finally settled  and thrown his support for Deacon Udom Emmanuel – an endorsement G22 had all coveted, but did not get that, that, they are the embodiments of “Independence” or they have what the Americans would call ‘mojo’  and that Udom Emmanuel having won  the governor’s endorsement is an ‘imposition or ‘a stooge’,

It is a known fact that all the candidates who ran in the primaries including the APC flag-bearer, Mr. Umana Umana, before he defected to the APC had at different intervals sought the support and endorsement of Governor Akpabio in their quest to succeed him. As a matter of fact, until July 2013 when Mr. Umana ceased from being the SSG, the conventional wisdom then was that he was the shoe-in to succeed Governor Akpabio.

The system had internalized that notion, and most people treated the erstwhile SSG as the anointed one. Now, let me ask the people on the other side of the political spectrum: If Umana had become the PDP gubernatorial candidate, would they have tagged him a ‘stooge’ an ‘imposition’ or beholden to a political family? The answer absolutely would be ‘no’.
Why then is Udom Emmanuel defined as a stooge? The motivation here is to slyly inject an ethnic agenda into the political calculus in the hopes that such, would gain some traction. This approach was tried in 2011, and it failed miserably. If that play-book didn’t work in 2011, it will fail again in 2015.

Udom Emmanuel, as most dispassionate Akwa Ibomities have acknowledged has seen the transformation of Akwa Ibom state from a rural and civil service oriented state to a modern, purpose-driven entity where its people now are as inspirational as their counterparts elsewhere; where both the psychological mindset and physical layers of the people and the state have been raised to a dizzying height; where the people now believe that government indeed can be a force for good, and not for ill, where  a government’s policy thrusts on key areas of development has opened up the possibilities of engagements in other key sectors, as is done in mature democracies like the united States.

The PDP candidate-Deacon Udom Emmanuel fully aware of the trends in other parts of the world, where there is continuity in certain policy directions of government and where the wholesome reversal of good public policy based on ideological or personal differences are frowned at, has promised to deepen and sustain the developmental strides of the Akpabio administration. When did a promise to continue good policy thrusts of a successor be defined as being a ‘stooge’?

Would the opposition  have preferred, Deacon Udom Emmanuel  in order to establish his independent bonafides to begin to tell Akwa Ibomites who have enjoyed good roads, free education, free heath care and whose quality of life have improved significantly that he would reverse all those platforms that had ensured such achievements? Is that the kind of independence the opposition is desiring or advocating for Akwa Ibom people? If by acknowledging the transformational strides of the past seven and- half years and rededicating oneself to  sustaining and consolidating those gains means that Udom Emmanuel is not his own man, then majority of Akwa Ibom people are stooges and the PDP Gubernatorial candidate should consider himself to be in good company.

In the United states where we copied the presidential system of government, outgoing presidents and governors are eternally invested in ensuring that their successors are those who will continue upholding the vision that are enshrined in the party’s platforms or manifesto. The Establishment is always desirous of ensuring that a candidate of their choice emerges the party’s flag bearer.

In 2008, the establishment ordained Barack Obama as the presidential candidate of the party and all efforts of Senator Clinton to change that dynamics failed totally. The super delegates had pledged their fidelity to Obama and the numbers just didn’t add up for Senator Clinton, and she lost. The Establishment got who they wanted, and Barack went on to win the general election. The establishment was the Democratic National Committee (DNC) led by its then National Chairman, Howard Dean. Did the media define Obama as a stooge of Howard Dean? Has Obama led the US, as a stooge of any particular bloc of power? The answer is absolutely no.

The 2016 presidential elections in the United States, has already thrown up the establishment’s favorite, Mrs. Clinton and she is expected to have a coronation next year- would that make her a stooge if she wins the election in November 2016? G.W. Bush was thrown up by the establishment led by former Secretary of State George Shultz; did that make him a stooge? In Akwa Ibom state, the establishment had zoned the party’s gubernatorial position to Eket Senatorial district and the delegates in their considered opinion had identified Udom Emmanuel as the best person to continue the developmental strides of the past eight years, does that mean he is a stooge or lacks independent thoughts?

The notion that a PDP candidate, a loyal party man should disavow and condemn the superlative performance of a leader he is succeeding just to prove that he will be different is not how modern political campaigns are run. Al Gore in 2000 elections in an attempt to prove he was an independent person had distanced and repudiated the success of the Clinton administration. The last time I checked, he was not the president of United States from 2001-2009. Electorates hate politicians that deploy expediency as a tool of winning elections. They prefer people who are consistent, focused, and dependable, have the right temperament, are onward looking and Udom stands for all of the above. He will continue to foster Unity, Development and Onward Movement (UDOM) for the good people of Akwa Ibom State.

Udom Emmanuel represents the next level of development in Akwa Ibom state where the resources of the state will not be deployed for road construction and other infrastructural upgrades, Gov. Akpabio, like President Eisenhower did in the United States, has done that, already. Udom will grow our economy, provide jobs for our teeming youths, and ensure rapid industrialization while building capacity. This line of thought was amply represented in his New Year message when he stated inter-alia “After the euphoria of the elections, we shall be left to face the challenges of wealth creation, continuous infrastructure and man power development, need for provision of basic amenities amongst other pressing economic, social and political demands. We must grow above the ethnic impulses, falsehood and propaganda. We must put our best hands forward to save the future for posterity.
‘I solicit your votes to become the next governor of our dear state because I am prepared for this task. I have married the strides of the past with the expectations of the future. I acknowledge that Akwa Ibom State has been transformed from the pedestrian destination that nobody ever considered visiting, to a must-see wonder of infrastructure development, a prized destination, an economic hub and a recreational get-away. The journey to our dreams is still far away but we have made significant steps and with your support, I will take us there.” If these laudable programs mean Udom Emmanuel has no vision of his own, then let the opposition tell us what they would do differently.

As our political culture deepens and consolidates, our politicians must learn the graceful art of conceding defeat and pledging to work with the eventual winners of the contests. The political space and pot is big and deep enough to accommodate all interests. Resorting to vile propaganda and asinine assertions should be disavowed and eschewed.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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NIGERIA: Now That Ugwuanyi Has Received PDP Guber Flag…

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Read Time:6 Minute, 12 Second

 With whatever doubts left as to whom is the authentic governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Enugu State laid to rest following the presentation of the party’s flag to Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi by President Goodluck Jonathan at the kick-off of the party’s presidential campaign in Lagos and also by the party Chairman, Alh. Adamu Mu’azu, when the party’s campaign train stopped over at the Enugu mega rally, political discourse in Enugu have inevitably shifted to whether or not Senator Ayogu Eze forged the PDP result sheet with which he returned himself as the “winner” of a supposed parallel primary election on 8th December 2014.

It would be recalled that the Enugu State Chapter of the PDP petitioned the Police on 17th December asking the agency to  “arrest and prosecute Senator Ayogu Eze for the uttering (legal term) and forgery of PDP Result sheet in accordance with the dictates of the law.”
Perhaps a little backgrounder would do. The PDP conducted a governorship primary election on 8th December last year where it elected a Member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as its candidate for the 28th February, 2015 governorship election. Ugwuanyi was declared winner by the PDP national electoral panel led by King Asara Asara having polled 937 out of the 983 votes. The primary election had since been upheld by the party’s national headquarters and the INEC and capped with the aforementioned presentation of flag to Ugwuanyi by the President and PDP National Chairman as the party’s standard bearer in the State.

On the other hand, Senator Ayogu Eze had rebelled against Ugwuanyi’s emergence, insisting that delegates deemed to be loyal to him had also conducted a parallel primary election where they supposedly elected him candidate with 530 votes, while Dr. Samuel Onyishi supposedly got 30, Anayo Onwuegbu 10, Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi 15, Hon Eugene Odoh 25, Prof. Onyeke Onyeke 20, and Chinedu Onu 31. However, unlike the official primary of the party that produced Ugwuanyi, no member of the PDP national electoral panel, party’s state or local government executive, and INEC observation team was in attendance in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act. This leaves a lot of gaping legal punctures in his claim.

Consequently, an Enugu High Court restrained Senator Eze from parading himself as the gubernatorial candidate. On the other hand, the Senator and Sam Onyishi are already in an Abuja Federal High Court to slug it out with the PDP and Ugwuanyi. But contrary to some obviously sponsored media reports, the Federal High Court presided over by Justice Eboh Chukwu declined his prayers to restrain the PDP from submitting any name and INEC from accepting name of candidate other than Ayogu’s. It instead fixed 14th January for hearing of both Senator Eze and Sam Onyishi’s litigations. Although senior lawyers have listed many grounds upon which the Court would readily dismiss the suits, both litigants would nevertheless have to wait a little longer to hear their fate from the Court as judicial workers remain on strike.
For now, all eyes are now fully on the Police as Nigerians, especially Enugu residents and PDP faithful are waiting to see what becomes of the allegation of forgery against Senator Eze. The petition signed by the State Chairman, Chief Ikeje Asogwa, reads in part: “The party, from the National headquarters, appointed a five-man electoral committee to conduct the primaries for the election of the Governorship candidate for Enugu State. The members of the panel were King Asara A. Asara (Chairman), Barrister Ukpai Ukairo (Secretary), Barrister Saratu Umar, Engr. Alamu Adeyemi and myself as the State Chairman of the party.

“The members came with the official result sheets from the party headquarters, as well as the ballot papers and other materials required to conduct the primary election.  At the end of the electoral exercise, the members issued a result of the election wherein they returned Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as having won the election.
“Surprisingly, Senator Ayogu Eze who was a candidate at the said primary election has now uttered (legal term) a result purporting same to be the result of the said primary election of 8th December, 2014.  The said result was produced on a forged result sheet purporting same to be the result sheet of the Peoples Democratic Party”.
“I hereby enclose the original result sheet of the party, which has the name of the party, the logo of the party, the address of the national Secretariat and the serial number of the result sheet issued out to the panel, the signatures of the National Chairman, the National Secretary, the National Organizing Secretary, the returning officer and the Electoral Officer. I mark same as Annexure I.

“I also annex as Annexure 2, the purported result of the primary election written on the forged result sheet purporting same to be the result sheet of the party. A look at this Annexure 2 will show that it does not contain the essentials of the authentic result sheet of the party as enumerated above”.

The details are too compelling and the differentiations quite elaborate. It is not for me to say who is lying, but one thing is sure- there can only be one genuine PDP result sheet. The question then is “How did Ayogu Eze come about the result sheet he used”? And if the PDP, which is in the best position to know which are its genuine electoral materials and which are forged/altered says Ayogu’s result sheets were not genuine, and provides such marked differences, then the onus is on the Senator to clear his name. This, Ayogu Eze has not done. Apart from his expression of anger, he is yet to explain why his result sheet should be regarded as the authentic and the party’s result sheet forged.

Section 465 of the Criminal Code Act CAP C38 LFN provides that “A person who makes a false document or writing knowing it to be false, and with the intent that it may in any way be used or acted upon as genuine, whether in the State or elsewhere, to the prejudice of any person, or with intent that any person, may in the belief that it is genuine be included to do or refrain from doing any act, whether in the state or elsewhere, is said to forge the document or writing”
On punishment for forgery, Section 467 provides that “Any person who forges any document, writing or seal is guilty of an offence, which unless otherwise stated, is a
felony, and he is liable, if no other punishment is provided, to an imprisonment for three years.”

It therefore follows that the issue of making a false result sheet of the PDP raises serious issues of forgery contrary to Section 465 of the Criminal Code Act and such puts the Nigerian Police and the judiciary on the spot to urgently follow the matter to a conclusive end. This is no PDP family affair either. The Police must get down to business immediately. Perhaps, this would help to halt the gale of “parallel” primaries, which now threatens our parties and indeed our democracy.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Nigeria Will Survive

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Read Time:6 Minute, 4 Second

 The political atmosphere in Nigeria is currently charged.  But it is no more charged than what happens in major democracies especially during an election season.  International interest in the elections happening in February 2015 has been aroused mainly by the strategic importance of Nigeria in Africa, its size, its economic importance, the diversity of its human and material resources and what implications the outcome of the elections would have on democracy building in Africa.  Friends of Nigeria and Africa are hoping that with the successful outcome of the elections, a government based on the will of the people would further the cause of democracy in Africa in the same manner that the government that emerged from the 2011elections secured the legitimacy to push for democracy in Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, and is currently doing same in Burkina Faso.

The re-alignment of political forces leading to the emergence of a strong opposition has made the forthcoming elections particularly interesting.  This is further re-enforced by the on-going debate on the observation of the zoning formula of the ruling party.  The changes in political loyalties by the leading members of both the PDP and APC continue to heighten tension.  The destruction caused by Boko Haram activities especially the abduction of the Chibok girls from their hostels, has led to animated debate on the performance of the government in fulfilling its major task of protecting the lives and properties of the citizens.  The very valid explanation that Boko Haram is not a local group pressing for local demands but that it is the West African brand of the global al-Qaida terrorist movement has been conveniently ignored by those who are looking forward to a regime change.

In the recent past, the drop in the price of oil and its possible impact on the Nigerian economy, especially the stock market, and the ability of the government to fulfil its financial obligation to its citizens has tended to add more to the cloud gathering on Nigeria.

There is so much tension in the air that a few members of the international community are beginning to cast doubt on the future stability of Nigeria.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am here to assure you that Nigeria will emerge from these elections stronger and more united.  Here are my reasons:

a. The drop in oil prices is not expected to last forever.  It is expected to pick up sometime soon.  It may not be as high as before but the current price level is abnormal.  Government has re-adjusted its spending plan to cope with the situation.
b. On the elections, the atmosphere may be charged but from our historical experience, we have gone through this cycle before in our political history, from which we emerged stronger.  We fought a three-year civil war as a result of which we realized the importance and the advantage of our size and complexity in the global arena.  Nigerians are resolved to live as a united, strong corporate entity before and after the elections.

c. We have experienced both civil and military rule and we know the difference.  We are not about to forego the dividends of democracy which we have been enjoying since 1999 for a military imposition that has no sense of responsibility or accountability.  Whatever differences we have before and after the elections, we will resolve it through our established institutions which we have been strengthening since 1999.

d. Part of the dividends of democracy is accountability.  Various political parties and succeeding governments tried to justify their stay in office by pointing to their achievements in various areas of development.  We have especially, in the last 4 years, emphasized the supremacy of the rule of law.  No doubt, sections of our judiciary need improvement but by and large pronouncements of the judiciary are now speedily implemented by all organs of the government, including pronouncements on election petitions.  It is expected to be the same with the post- 2015 election petitions.

e. We have a National Electoral Commission that is independent in all its ramifications.  The conduct of the 2011 elections was largely satisfactory to the majority of the local populace as well as the international community.  With the assistance of our foreign partners, the capacity of the Electoral Commission to discharge its duty effectively have been strengthened.  Between 2011 and now, it has conducted elections at the state and local government levels, the results of which have been accepted even when in some states it led to regime change.  The number of election petitions since 2011 has gradually decreased. The Commission is far from being perfect; in fact, as of now, there have been criticism of its handling of Permanent Voters Card, but the Commission is very responsive and is expected to address this and other gaps before the elections in February.

f. The candidates of the two leading political parties – President Goodluck Jonathan of the ruling PDP and Muhammadu Buhari of the opposition APC – recently signed an undertaking committing themselves, their political parties and supporters to non-violence.  This is unprecedented in Nigeria’s electoral experience.

6. The issues involved in the elections can be summarized briefly as follows:  Whether Nigerians would like to see the continuation of an agenda which has restored the supremacy of the rule of law; has embarked on the diversification of the economy by emphasizing on non-oil sectors of the economy, created more universities, improve the quality of infrastructure such as airports, roads, re-introduced the railway, turn agriculture into a business and allow freedom of expression by which there are no political prisoners.  On the other hand, there are some who believe that the present government could have done much better in the area of internal security, fight against corruption, internal and external terrorism and the provision of basic amenities like electricity, water and road.  They claim to have a much better solution to the myriads of problems confronting Nigeria, dismissing explanations like the international impact of global terrorism.

7.      The results of the elections could be affected by a number of factors.  The persistence of ethnicity and religion cannot be ignored, although their importance is declining.  The beauty of the situation is that the political atmosphere, even though charged, is relatively free.  There have been no arrests and detentions since the campaign started. Opposition parties enjoy equal air time in government-owned media.  To the pessimists, my message to them is that they will be disappointed.  They seem to me as one foolish man who goes to the bank of the river waiting to see the time that the crab will go to sleep.  He will be there for the rest of his life because the crab never sleeps.  Nigeria will emerge from these elections stronger, united and more prosperous.

––Professor Adefuye is Nigerian Ambassador to the United States of America, made the presentation at roundtable discussion on Nigeria’s forthcoming general elections at the Corporate Council on Africa.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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International Observers and the 2015 General Elections

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Read Time:7 Minute, 50 Second

 The excitement in the air is palpable. There is some tension, too. And a lot of frenzy – as the political gladiators jostle for advantage over one another. The epochal 2015 general elections, which start on February 14, will be on us in barely three weeks from now, just like that (JLT) – as the great Fela Anikulapo Kuti would say.

The Federal Government, under President Goodluck Jonathan, has, at various times, reaffirmed its commitment to ensure the conduct of free and fair polls in the 2015 general elections – just like it did in the 2011 general elections which have been widely assessed as the best elections ever carried out in Nigeria.

As I asserted in another report, the international community and Nigeria’s development partners played a key role in providing technical assistance and financial support across the board to enhance the conduct of the 2011 general elections. They are playing the same critical role again – to enhance the conduct of the 2015 general elections which come up barely 20 days from now.

The support of the development partners focuses on assisting Nigeria to achieve and sustain the conduct of free, fair and credible elections – as well as to cultivate, nurture and advance the processes that embed and deepen sustainable democratic values in Nigeria.

One regular method which the international community has adopted in this regard, in different countries including Nigeria, is through direct observation and monitoring of the conduct of the general elections in emerging democracies, in order to ensure that they conform to international standards and best practices.
Indeed, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) last week released the list of 88 institutions and organisations which have received the Federal Government’s approval to observe the 2015 general elections, having complied with the guidelines and requirements issued by the Commission for the accreditation of observers. Of this number, 16 are international organisations and agencies, while 72 are national bodies and institutions.

The International Observers
The international bodies accredited for observing the 2015 elections include the diplomatic missions of nine countries in Nigeria: the United States of America (USA), Australia, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, the Republic of Ireland, Japan and Switzerland.

Other major non-state international bodies accredited for the elections are the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES); the International Republican Institute (IRI); the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs; the United Nations Democratic Governance for Development Project (UNDP-DGD); UN Women; the European Union Delegation to Nigeria; the ECOWAS Commission; and the African Students Association of Ireland.

In line with their mandates, some of these international groups have already hit the ground running, in their efforts to assist in refining and deepening Nigeria’s democratic process. For instance, the delegations of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the IRI, led by former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Mr. George Moose, have already concluded a five-day pre-election mission to Nigeria.

During the mission, the teams have visited different parts of the country and assessed the preparations for the general elections. They have also not been shy in bringing to the attention of the authorities any lapses they have noticed so far in the run-in to the elections.

One of such areas which, they noted, require urgent remediation is the tardy distribution of the Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) by INEC. The international observers urged INEC to complete, as a matter of urgency, the distribution of the permanent voters’ cards to all eligible voters. They also urged INEC to complete urgently the procurement of card readers and simultaneously communicate relevant information on these issues to the electorate as soon as possible.

The delegation also urged INEC to embark on an extensive voter education campaign to demonstrate to the public the use of new technology such as PVCs and card readers.

Given the fact that the elections are but a short period away, the group also advised INEC to accelerate the recruitment and training of polling officials and explore ways to increase voting by internally displaced persons (IDPs).

No doubt, INEC needs to address these challenges identified by the international observer missions and other well-meaning Nigerians, especially the challenge of urgent and efficient distribution of the permanent voters’ cards: in order to ensure that millions of voters are not disenfranchised.

These critical issues which require urgent attention cannot be over-emphasised, of course, given the independence, objectivity and non-partisanship of the international observer missions. They also urged the Federal Government to make all possible efforts to provide adequate security and the necessary support for the conduct of the general elections.

The group reportedly observed that unlike the three previous elections conducted in 1999, 2003 and 2007, the 2011 elections were successfully conducted, marking a “turning point in the country’s democratic trajectory.”

The EU Election Observation Mission (EUEOM)
Among these bodies and organisations, the positive role of the European Union in supporting the deepening of Nigeria’s democracy comes in also for special mention.

As it has done in several elections since Nigeria’s transition from military dictatorship to civil democratic governance in 1999, the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU-EOM) is fully set to observe the Nigerian general elections, starting with the Presidential and National Assembly elections on February 14, 2015 and the Governorship and House of Assembly polls on February 28.

Indeed, the EU has already deployed its Election Observation Mission to Nigeria, with its base in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, from where it will dispatch monitors to different parts of the country. The EU-EOM will, as usual, issue its independent reports at various stages during and after the period of the general elections.

The EU EOM’s team of 30 Long Term Observers (LTOs) arrived in Nigeria from January 13, one week after nine analysts of the Core Team arrived on January 6. An advance team was earlier deployed to Nigeria to observe the political party primaries in November and December 2014. A Spaniard and a Member of the European Parliament, Mr. Santiago Fisas Ayxela, is the Chief Observer and Leader of the EU Election Observation Mission for Nigeria’s 2015 general elections.

Like the other major international organisations and agencies, the EU was invited by the Nigerian authorities to deploy an observation mission for the general elections. Indeed, the EU was one of the first organisations to sign a Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with the INEC and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria in respect of monitoring the elections – an indication of the EU’s commitment to the conduct of inclusive, transparent and credible elections in Nigeria.

The EU EOM will assess the Nigerian general elections against national law and international principles for elections contained in regional and international law and standards.

Areas to be covered in the EU-EOM’s comprehensive evaluation of the elections will include the following: assessment of the legal framework; the performance of the election administration; voter registration; candidates’ nomination and political parties primaries; campaign activities; respect for fundamental freedoms; access to and conduct of the media; voting and the counting; the announcement and acceptance of results; and complaints and appeals.

Although the EU Election Observation Mission is a creation of the European Union, the EU-EOM is fiercely independent of the institutions and organs which set it up – including the European Commission, the European Parliament, the EU Member States and the Council of Europe. The EU EOM is committed to remain neutral and abide by the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and the Code of Conduct, as well as the laws of Nigeria.

Indeed, the EU-EOM usually asserts and maintains its independence in its reports and findings – and transition countries and emerging democracies usually do well to pay close attention to these reports as useful tools in refining their electoral processes.

In the last 15 years, while working as a staff of two major international organisations, the UN Development Programme and the European Union, I have been privileged to observe, at close range, and often supported, the work of international election observers.

I am aware also that sometimes, some Nigerians, who may not be fully aware of the critical and positive work of election monitors, largely regard international election observers with suspicion and disdain – as if they were interlopers and Nosey-Parkers. This attitude is, of course, most erroneous and certainly uncalled for.

Election observers are bound by a code of conduct which requires strict neutrality and no interference in the process. And election observers, domestic and foreign, play a crucial role in refining the democratic process, ensuring the integrity of elections and enhancing the nation’s overall socio-political development.

Indeed, one of the enduring legacies of the Jonathan administration is in the area of electoral reforms and political transformation. At the inception of his administration, President Jonathan promised to sanitize and restore integrity to the country’s electoral process by ensuring that votes are not only counted but truly count.
And he has done just that over the past few years. The International Community acknowledged that the 2011 elections were the freest and fairest in Nigerian history. Nigerians hope and pray that the 2015 general elections will be just as free and just as fair.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Nigerian couple abandon twin children in US

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Read Time:1 Minute, 35 Second

A Nigerian couple was questioned after it was revealed that they abandoned their 9-year-old twins in their apartment in United States during a trip back home.

Jerusalem and Gladys Monday, left the boy twins mostly to themselves in their New Hampshire apartment for four months and took their other three children with them to Nigeria.

Police started looking into the case in November when the boys' school notified the State Division of Children, Youth and Families that the twins had been living on their own for months.

The kids were getting themselves up and on the bus, then eating breakfast and lunch at school. The boys were taken into protective custody and then placed into foster care.

Police authorities say the couple left the twins in the care of an uncle who also abandoned them.  The uncle 25-year-old Giobari Atura promised the kids that he would be checking on them regularly to drop food but when police came to the house in November 2014, they found no edible food in the refrigerator and only ramen noodles in a cabinet.

Giobari Atura, 25, was hit with a one count charge of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor. He was freed on $500 bail.

The Nigerian couple left for Nigeria in July and was scheduled to return in August but told police that they were delayed by illness and passport problems.

Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Michael Valentine said the parents returned to United States shortly after they learned the boys were being left alone.

They had instructed Giobari Atura who is the younger brother of Jeremiah to stay in the apartment to help take care of the boys. They said Giobari always assured them that all was well when they called him from Nigeria.

Michael Valentine said the parents won't be charged and have been reunited with their children.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Zambia’s New President Sworn Into Office

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Read Time:3 Minute, 22 Second

Edgar Lungu has been sworn in as Zambia’s sixth president, following a closely fought election. Zambians voted Tuesday for a successor to President Michael Sata who died in October of last year. The new leader will take the helm of the copper-rich country for the remainder of Sata’s term before the country returns to the polls in September 2016.

Lungu, from the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party, clinched the presidential seat by a slender margin (48.3 percent to 46.7 percent), beating his closest rival, Hakainde Hichilema from the United Party for National Development (UPND).

As he was inaugurated in Lusaka, President Lungu said Zambia will maintain a new mineral royalty tax despite fears that it could lead to mine closures, reported Reuters.

Africa's second biggest copper producer hiked open pit mining royalties to 20 percent from 6 percent and underground royalties to 8 percent from 6 percent in its 2015 budget, a move mining companies have said could cost 12,000 jobs.

The metal accounts for about 70 percent of Zambia's exports and 13 percent of its GDP (Gross Domestic Product), but at current prices the industry is barely viable.

Speaking after being sworn in at a colorful ceremony at the National Heroes Stadium, Lungu said his government's policies would remain consistent and predictable.

An 'ordinary Zambian'

The tall, slim, former lawyer who describes himself as an "ordinary Zambian of humble beginnings," helped form the PF with Michael Sata in 2001. When the party first came to power in 2011, he held a junior position in disaster management but climbed the ranks to become justice and defense minister, leading the country in Sata’s absence last year.

A lawyer, who requested anonymity, described his former colleague as the, “strong, quiet type,” telling VOA in Lusaka that Lungu was driven by his discipleship to Sata, which allowed him to stay in the inner circle of the Patriotic Front.

Lungu’s presidential campaign tapped into the sympathy and popular support for President Sata, promising to fulfill the late president’s ambitious development mandate.  He will also have to unify a party that was badly fractured by a power struggle following Sata’s death, says political analyst, Alex Ng’oma.

“One would expect Lungu in the first place to try and bring all the factions together in a unity of purpose so as to strengthen the party’s position," he said. "But beyond that, I think that Lungu will have to continue along the same path that was walked by the late President Michael Sata. He has to make sure that the country has a new constitution before 2016, he has to make sure that this unprecedented infrastructure development that Michael Sata started is not halted.”

Voting irregularities alleged

United Party for National Development (UPND) candidate Hakainde Hichilema, who made his fourth run at the presidency, has alleged discrepancies in the vote counting process.

Canisius Banda, deputy president of the UPND in charge of politics, said the results must be verified thoroughly.

"We have evidence that this election has been rigged. There are gross irregularities, which the Electoral Commission of Zambia itself is aware of and has admitted that a number of results had been adulterated by people they don’t know. But we know the people. Some of them are workers within the Electoral Commission of Zambia,” said Banda.

Polling was protracted over three days as heavy rains thwarted the delivery and collection of ballot boxes in rural areas. The electoral commission expressed concerns about voter turnout, the lowest in the country’s democratic history, averaging around 32 percent, but in some areas falling as low as 20 percent.

The U.S. State Department congratulated the people of Zambia for upholding their democratic traditions and said it looks forward to strengthening its relationship with the country and its newly elected president.

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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New Sanctions on Russia Threatened After Rebels Attack Mariupol

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Read Time:4 Minute, 42 Second

U.S. President Barack Obama and European leaders are threatening new sanctions on Russia after pro-Russian rebels launched a deadly rocket attack on the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.

On a state visit to India Sunday, Obama said he would "ratchet up" pressure on Moscow in the wake of the attack the day before that killed at least 30 people and injured more than 80 others when the rockets slammed into a market and apartment buildings.

"We are deeply concerned about the latest break in the (Ukrainian) cease-fire and the aggression that these separatists, with Russian backing, Russian equipment, Russian financing, Russian training and Russian troops, are conducting," Obama said.

"We will continue to take the approach that we have taken in the past, which is to ratchet up the pressure on Russia, and I will look at all additional options that are available to us short of military confrontation and try to address this issue," he added.

'Greater acts of violence'

Some European leaders have recently talked of easing economic sanctions against Moscow. But Donald Tusk, the former Polish prime minister who now chairs European Union summits, tweeted in a message, "Once again, appeasement encourages the aggressor to greater acts of violence. Time to step up our policy based on cold facts, not illusions."

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko said that radio and telephone conversations intercepted by Kyiv prove that Russian-backed separatists were responsible for the Mariupol attack.

Mariupol lies between Russia and the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula. Heavy fighting in the region in the fall raised fears that the Russian-backed separatists would try to capture the city to forge a land link between the two.

Rebels launched new attacks on Sunday against government positions elsewhere along the front line that winds through the two rebel-dominated eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, the Kyiv army said.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking separately with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, said Sunday that Kyiv's forces were responsible for increased fighting in recent days in eastern Ukraine.

Lavrov told Mogherini in a phone call in a phone call Sunday that Moscow wants the EU to pressure Ukraine to negotiate with the rebels to implement a frequently broken cease-fire agreed to last September.

Kerry told Lavrov that the U.S. was ready to participate in serious efforts to settle the conflict, but made clear that "Russia will be judged by its actions and that the costs to Russia will only increase of attacks continue," the State Department said.

In the wake of the Mariupol attack, Mogherini said she is calling an urgent meeting Thursday of EU foreign ministers to discuss the new violence in Ukraine and to map out the bloc's response.

Poroshenko returns

After the Mariupol attack, Poroshenko vowed to protect Ukrainian territory.  He cut short his trip to Saudi Arabia for the late King Abdullah's funeral to instead chair an emergency meeting of Ukraine's security council.

Poroshenko spoke about the situation in a telephone call Saturday with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who condemned the attacks and violence he said was initiated by Russia-backed separatists.  

White House officials said the two expressed grave concern about Russia's disregard for its commitments under the September Minsk cease-fire agreement.

Latvia, which currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency, called for the bloc to hold an emergency meeting with its foreign ministers to discuss the situation.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the offensive "is in utter disregard of the cease-fire."  

Stoltenberg said Russian troops have been supporting rebel operations with surface-to-air missiles and "advanced multiple rocket-launcher systems."

Both Stoltenberg and Mogherini urged Russia to stop providing the rebels with military and financial support. Mogherini called on Russia to use its influence to halt the offensive.

Russia said it has not sent troops into Ukraine, and any Russians there are volunteers. NATO said that is nonsense.

“I strongly urge Russia to stop its military, political and financial support for the separatists, stop destabilizing Ukraine and respect its international commitments,” Stoltenberg said.

Mariupol damage

Dozens of mourners held a minute of silence and lit candles in Kyiv's Independence Square Saturday evening to commemorate those killed in Mariupol.

Ukraine military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said rebel shelling had killed an undetermined number of civilians and damaged 60 residential buildings in Mariupol. He said there was no electricity or heat in the city of 25,000 people.

Lysenko also said four Ukrainian servicemen were killed and 17 wounded over the past 24 hours.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation's monitoring mission said Saturday that the Grad and Uragan rockets that hit Mariupol were fired from areas under rebel control.

The OSCE said its Permanent Council would meet Monday in Vienna “in light of the rapid deterioration of the situation in eastern Ukraine.”

In Mariupol on Sunday, emergency workers disposed of rocket fragments left by the attack. Police said two unexploded rockets were found in a bank and an apartment building.

U.N. refugee agency workers handed out blankets to people left homeless or without heat because of the shelling, which hit schools, homes and shops.

“The city is in shock,” Mariupol resident Yelena Khorshenko said by telephone. “The streets are empty, and people are boarding up their windows and preparing for the worst.”

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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