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Concluded Party Primaries: A Perspective and Matters Arising

Compiled by: Mr Lazarus m., Miss Jerume Uneje, R.A. Hwande Esq and S.P. Ozobulu Esq.

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If democracy is the government of the people for them and by them, as the popular adage goes, then it is the nexus in the democratic process. Elections are central to the deepening and sustainability of the democratic system of Government anywhere in the world. It provides Citizens with the opportunity to vote in or out any leader of their choice at all levels of Governance. In the election sub-sector of Democracy and Good Governance, elections are not an event but a process. There are three phases in the electoral cycle. They are the pre-election, Election Day and the post-election.

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Currently, we are in the pre-election phase for the 2019 general election and many activities have been carried out and are still being conducted by various stakeholders. The just concluded party primaries held between Saturday, August 18 and Sunday, October 7, 2018 were legally the responsibility of the different political parties to carry out under the supervision of INEC.  Section 85(1) of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended makes it mandatory for political parties organizing congresses, conventions and nomination of candidates to give 21 days’ notice to INEC to enable the commission to observe the process.

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So how did the Political parties fare in the conduct of the just concluded party primaries? Lawyers Alert will attempt to X ray the general conduct of political parties with focus on the major political parties from 3 basic perspectives. These will include adherence to deepening of democracy and its values in the electoral process in Nigeria, Gender equality and respect of Women Human Rights and respect of the electoral Act 2014 and other legal issues thereto.

Globally, elections are intended to deepen the culture and practice of democracy. Political parties are expected to abide by the norms of the electoral process in fielding aspirants by providing a level playing field, equal opportunity. They are expected to be transparent, accountable, provide a participatory process that will throw up the best candidates from which the electorate can then choose. Was this achieved in the recently held primaries?

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In fact, the just concluded party primaries were colored by a range of malpractices as alleged by affected aspirants. Cases included vote buying, violence, intimidation and threats, tampering with the delegates’ list and candidates’ imposition among other forms of anti-democratic acts which were recorded across all parties in different states of the federation. The primaries became warfare, as the power brokers and aspirants seeking tickets turned venues of the intra-party poll to a theatre of war, with the attendant injuries, loss of lives and property and palpable tension. Internal democracy and lobbying were substituted with Machiavellian antics and the reign of impunity and terror.

In Zamfara State for example, the entire election was marred by violence and intra party crises with 2 sets of results brandished by two factions of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Media reports suggest that the INEC has since barred the party from fielding any candidate for the forthcoming elections. So, what happens to all the Aspirants that spent time, money and other valuable resources? What happens to the wishes of the electorate willing to express their franchise under the APC in Zamfara? What will happen to the growth and deepening of democratic values in that State?

The People’s Democratic Party Presidential Primary Elections held in Port Harcourt is also alleged to have been characterized by vote-buying and intimidation. An aspirant purportedly flooded the venue of the party’s convention with so much foreign currency that local parallel market operators opened temporary offices at the venue. At the end did the winner get voted in or did he simply purchase his victory at a price? These are questions.

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APGA, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, was anything but “progressive” in the conduct of its primaries. News reports suggest that certificates handed over to the wrong aspirants are to be recalled. Indeed, the party chairman is said to have apologized to party members explaining that the sudden fame enjoyed by the party caused a rise in some of the confusion that unfolded.

The Social Democratic Party, SDP, had its own share of drama as young politicians who opted for the platform in hopes of avoiding the scheming associated with the big 2, APC and PDP, soon found themselves facing equally unsavory circumstances. In Benue state. the party is said to have allowed itself to be bought over by a certain big wig in who was not welcomed in the first party he defected to. The party has also been accused of not holding any ward congresses whatsoever and merely imposing officials on the party.

There was also the issue of imposition of candidates by Political Godfathers. For example, our investigations reveal that in Benue State under the All Progressives Congress (APC), no primary election took place for the State Assembly. The party big wigs picked and chose the candidates dear to their hearts regardless of how the delegates or the electorate felt.

In the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the African Democratic Congress (ADC), among others, the story was not too different as protests against the manner of primaries and alleged imposition continued to resonate across the states where the parties have strongholds. From Gombe to Benue to Oyo, stories of aspirants threatening fire and brimstone over the primaries abound, with some even already defecting to other parties.

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Aggrieved political actors across the six geopolitical zones are not giving up over the perceived high-handedness meted out by the top echelon of influential party elders, doing all they can to salvage “the situation.” Ironically, among the ranks of those involved in subdued anger and frustration in the party are a couple of state governors whose preferred choices as likely successors or anointed candidates for other levels of Grade A contests were frustrated by more powerful forces in Abuja.

As it stands, the questions political observers are now asking are: how do the dramatis personae intend to douse some of the ignited flames? What is the shape of the things to come ahead of the general elections? Considering the unnerving discontent at various levels of the power strata, will the general elections still be a battle of the 2 Titans, APC and PDP or will the discontentment in their ranks give the up-and-coming parties a much-needed boost?

The 2019 elections promise to be a thing of awe…though not necessarily in a good way.

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HARVESTING AND GROWING DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA: WHAT ABOUT THE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

By Jerome, Uneje Mary

Nigeria 28th April 2015. The atmosphere appeared filled with  of hope and expectations as Pa Josiah (not real name) cast his vote with satisfaction. As he emerged from the polling booth, a smile cracks across his old wrinkled face.  As he hobbles away from the polling booth under the support of his walking stick, he feels a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment being part of the process that will effect the desire of the people in the governance structure of his country at all levels.

Three days later, the results are announced. The opposition has won. Pa Josiah is happy. He helped effect change. This he reasoned is democracy. There is no standard definition of the word democracy. It’s said to be “A system of government in which all the people of a state or polity are involved in making decisions about its affairs, typically by voting to elect representatives to a parliament or similar assembly”.  The people clamoring for change are still in the joyous mood on acquisition  of power by the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the ever ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

The 2015 general elections was the fifth time Nigerians had the opportunity to exercise their franchise in selecting their country’s leadership both at the State and National level since the return of democracy in 1999. Though not perfect, as there were recorded pockets of irregularities  here and there, the general perception however is that the elections were to an acceptable extend free and fair. It is believed that the people’s votes did actually count including Pa Josiah’s. It can therefore be said with some level of confidence that our democracy has recorded some level of improvement and growth since 2011 when we last went to the polls.

Despite the seeming growth and development of democracy at the National level it still leaves much to be desired especially at the grassroots. The sustainable growth and development of all things including democracy is better from the grassroots up but not the reverse.

Local governments in Nigeria remain the first and the closest governance structure in Nigeria. It is the governance structure, whose leadership is supposed to reflect the wishes and desires of the people whom it is was created to serve. The reverse is however the case as local governments remains the manor farm of State Governors nationwide.  The State executives have hijacked the local government structures as they determine their leadership by staging charade elections through the state independent electoral commissions. This action deprives the grassroots people the right and privilege to choose leaders of their choice who will represent and defend their interest while in office. As stooges of the governor the implanted local government executives connive in looting the treasuries of their local councils thereby leaving the people impoverished and grossly underdeveloped.

Riding on the crest of the wave of change as recorded in the last general elections 2015, it is high time this change begins to cascade down to the grassroots. As the new Government assumes the reins of Power across the country, the era of local government elections being the manor of State Executives must discontinue. The peoples of Nigeria at the grassroots who form over seventy five percent (75%) of the country’s population deserve to choose and elect the leaders of their choice according to their conscience in a free and fair atmosphere.

In Benue State for example, the tenure of the elected local government executives came to an end since November 2014 and the leadership of the local government councils have been determined by the State Governor since then. Only recently, the outgoing Governor appointed caretaker committee members to manage the resources of the twenty three (23) Local Government Areas in Benue State until the next local government elections is conducted by the State Independent Electoral Commission. This new local administration has been foisted on the people. As they are neither chosen nor elected by the electorate, they owe no accountability to the people but rather to the Executive Governor who appoints them. The State Independent Electoral Commission, saddled with the responsibility of conducting elections in the State has not shown any form of preparedness to conduct the elections any time soon. A recent Media report has it that the Governor-elect Chief Dr. Samuel Ortom has promised to conduct a free and fair local government elections in the State as soon as he gets into power.

This is a sign of good things to come. As it is yet a promise, we earnestly look forward to its fulfillment as democracy can only be entrenched where it is strongest at the grassroots. As Pa Josiah and the rest of Nigerians are jubilating  over the outcome of the last general elections as indicator of a maturing democracy in Nigeria, we must remind ourselves that until every Nigerian, including the villagers elect their leaders in a free and fair elections even at the local councils, our democracy cannot and will never be matured.

 
 

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VERIFICATION STATEMENT OF THE OFFICIAL 2015 PRESIDENTIAL RESULTS BY THE TRANSITION MONITORING GROUP

INTRODUCTION:

The TMG conducted a Quick Count as part of its overall observation of the 2015 presidential elections. The Quick Count is an advanced observation methodology that employs well established statistical principles and sophisticated information technology. Quick Counts, also known as Parallel Vote Tabulations (PVTs), provide the most timely and accurate information on the conduct of voting and counting and is the only observation methodology that can independently verify the accuracy of official election results.

TMG undertook the Quick Count to provide voters, candidates, political parties, and INEC with independent information about whether the official results for the presidential election truly reflect the ballots cast at polling units. If INEC’s official results fall within TMG’s estimated range then the public, political parties and candidates should have confidence that the official results reflect the ballots cast at polling units. If the official results don’t reflect the ballots cast, TMG will expose it.

2015 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS: THE QUICK COUNT METHODOLOGY

The Quick Count for the 2015 Presidential Election involved deploying citizen observers to a representative random sample of 1,507 polling units at which there are 849,460 registered voters. There are sampled polling units in every geopolitical zone, every state and 774 Local Government Area (LGA) of the Country. The sample is carefully constructed by a trained statistician to ensure every geopolitical zone, state and LGA of the Country is included proportionally in the sample. The number of sampled polling units and registered voters in that geopolitical zone, state or LGA. For example, South west geopolitical zone has 20.6% of all polling units in the Country (24,683 of 119,979) and 20.6% of polling units in the Quick Count sample (310 of 1,5070) are in South West. Similarly North West has 25.6% of all registered voters (17,620,728 of 68,845,062) and 25.5% of the registered voters in the Quick Count sample (217,011 of 849,460) are in North West.

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

Ladies and Gentlemen, TMG’s Quick Count estimates and INEC’s official results clearly show that MUhammadu Buhari of the All Progressive Congress (APC) received the most votes and Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) received the second most votes and that all other candidates only received a very small number of votes. TMG’s Quick Count also confirms that the APC and PDP presidential candidates attained “not less than one-quarter of the votes cast… in each of at least two-thirds of all the States in the federation and Federal Capital Territory” as required by the Nigerian Constitution.

According to INEC, APC received 53.9% of the vote while TMG’s Quick Count estimates that APC received 59.4% (+/-2.3%) of the presidential vote. Similarly, INEC’s figures show PDP received 45.0% of the vote while TMG’s Count estimates that PDP received 39.2% (+/-2.2%) of the presidential vote. Therefore TMG confidently verifies the accuracy of the official results for the presidential election based on the independent collection of official results from sampled polling units.

INEC’s official result for APC and PDP do not fall within the margin of error of the TMG’s Quick Count estimates. This does not invalidate the official results as announced by INEC as both INEC and TMG’s Quick Count show the same national voting pattern and both clearly show APC receiving the largest number of votes. In addition, for 31 of the 36 states and the FCT INEC’s official results are consistent with TMG’s Quick Count estimates.

However, TMG’s Quick Count estimates strongly suggest that turnout was inflated during the collation process in the South-South. The official turnout figures for five geopolitical zones are consistent with TMG’s estimated turnout for South-South is 40.6% (+/-4.5%). Thus official turnout in South-South was likely inflated during the collation process by at least 10.8%.

TMG’s Quick Count shows that in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers states the official turnout figures were inflated. For Cross Rivers and Edo the INEC official turnout figures are consistent with TMG’s Quick Count estimates.

At over 95% of polling units voters were able to cast their ballots. However, TMG citizen observers also reported a limited number of places, predominantly in the South-South, where the election started, but were never completed due to problems such as card reader malfunction and violence. While it is regrettable that some Nigerians were unable to vote, the votes from these polling units would not have affected the outcome of the presidential election given the margin of victory. As a result, all candidates and parties should accept the presidential results.

CONCLUSION

TMG calls on the winning candidate and party as well as their supporters to be magnanimous in victory. For those candidates who did not win, we urge them to accept the results because they reflect the votes cast. TMG calls upon all candidates, all parties and all Nigerians to show political maturity and to maintain the peace during the political transition as committed to by both leading presidential candidates in the two recently signed Abuja Peace Accords. According TMG commends President Goodluck Jonathan for taking the bold initiative of congratulating Muhammadu Buhari on his victory.

Steps should be taken to ensure a smooth and peaceful transition of power. This will be Nigeria’s first democratic transition from an incumbent president to an opposition political party candidate. This is an important milestone in the democratization of our country. All Nigerians, regardless of the party they support, should be proud of this accomplishment. In the absence of any legal translational provisions of this nature, TMG recommends that Nigeria draws from best practices around the world to initiate a smooth and peaceful transition and ensure the handover of power on May 29, 2015.

At the same time, the election cycle is not yet over. TMG calls INEC to immediately investigate the inflation of turnout figures during the collation process from Akwa-ibom, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers. If this was a deliberate attempt to subvert the vote of the Nigerian people, then those responsible must be held accountable.

TMG urges INEC to take all necessary steps to address the logistical challenges that once again plagued the delivery of materials and deployment of staff to polling units as well as to resolve the issues with the ability of the card readers to reliably verify voter fingerprints in a reasonable amount of time.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2015 in Elections

 

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CYBERCRIME BILL : RECREATING AN ORWELLIAN NIGERIA?

On Tuesday 24 February 2015, a bill, Cybercrime Bill passed second reading at the House of Representative – the lower legislative arm in Nigeria. The Bill which seeks to intercept and monitor personal communications empowers security agents to intercept, monitor, and record electronic communications between individuals and seize usage data from Internet Services Providers (ISPs) and mobile networks. It further gives power to security agency to order telecommunication companies to conduct surveillance on individuals and release user data to authorities. Now, personal emails, text messages, voicemail, and multimedia message can all be intercepted, recorded and monitored under the guise of facilitating criminal investigation. And there are penalties attached to an infraction of the provisions. First, a person is liable to not less than 1 year jail term or a fine of N2 million; “guilty” of using public electronic communication network to send a message deemed “indecent, obscene, menacing, or false”; which causes annoyance, inconvenience, or anxiety. Second, the Bill prescribes death penalty for a person who “commits crime” against critical national information infrastructure – computer systems, networks and information infrastructure vital to national security of Nigeria, or the economy and social well-being of its citizens. However, where the offense results in grievous bodily injury; the offenders shall be liable to imprisonment for a minimum term of 15 years. And a life jail term awaits any person that accesses or causes to be accused any computer system or network for the purpose of terrorism. Now, here’s our fear and source of agitation.

Fundamentally, the Bill is a blatant breach of and slap on the face of constitutionally protected right to privacy of citizens communication which lies at the very heart of human dignity. If the Bill is passed into Law, it would officially give power to our power-drunken security agency to snoop on us, monitor our communications, and possibly blackmail the citizenry with recording of our private activities.

Closely linked to this limb is the violation of the right of the citizenry to free expression. Now, a situation where a person can be jailed for not less than 1 year of fined N2 million for sending, tweeting, posting, and saying obscene, annoying, false or inconvenient things through electronic communication means is nothing short of draconian. It returns us to the Orwellian milieu where the State as Big Brother knows, watches and monitors every thought and opinion we hold and propagate. Let it be known that free expression includes the right to hold and impart opinion and information whether true or false, decent or obscene, secular or religious etc without fear. And to add, a restriction of free expression stifles creativity and the thriving of democratic culture; as well as degrades human dignity and freedom. To be human is to be freely expressive; to hold and express personal worldview which must not always conform to others and the state. We will all lose our humanity and democracy when we are afraid to air our mind especially on the cyberspace which is a product of human creativity fertilized on the soil of free thought and ingenuity.

Finally, for want of space we’ll say that government cannot be trusted with unbridled access to peoples’ personal data and private communications on the wide and ambiguous grounds of national security. We know that since the days of Wikileaks and Snowden, citizens have become a lot more aware of the massive surveillance and invasion of privacy of net citizens; thus, we’ll stand up to any attempt to gag our internet freedom for whatever reason because if we give them a yard, they’ll go a mile!

  • Elvis-Wura Towolawi.
 
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Posted by on February 25, 2015 in Human Rights, Internet Governance

 

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EGYPTIAN CRISIS: WHITHER DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS?

By Elvis –Wura Towolawi

The World has been enthralled, and then enraged by the disturbing events unfolding in Egypt. At first, it was hailed as the triumph of the human spirit yearning for a change and liberty: a break from the manacle of dictatorial leadership propped by military whim and squeeze – the Arab Spring. Expectedly, the Arab Awakening like every other revolution swept like hurricane through the Arab world, dislodging several sit tight rulers, and in one unseeming  instance resulted in a fierce war as we still have burning in Syria with its attendant blood-bath and human suffering. And suddenly in Egypt, the sweat, tears and blood of the people crying for democracy and respect of their rights were all lost, in one full swoop of military adventurism, apparently goaded by acts of religions bigots and extremists laced with illiberal leadership. Since the coup, Egypt has been boiling in the Cauldron of mass protests and sit-shed; tainted with violence and blood and one wonders whether the Military and its puppet government can truly restore and satisfy the thirst of Egyptians for a democratic state where human dignity, tolerance and progress reign supreme like rainbow in the sky.

Historically, the paths leading to Tahir Square are well-documented. But when the Muslim Brotherhood assumed the leadership and wielded the staff of power, manned by ousted President Mohammed Morsi, religion started to have an unnerving romantic affair with politics, policies and rights. This unexpected fits of fanaticism as evinced by the Muslim Brotherhood created a breach in the hedge of democracy and enticed a reluctant retiring military to take another bite at governance and politics; imposing its surrogate, thus putting out the gathering light of democrarcy and the will of the Egyptian people. There is no doubt that the Morsi-Muslim Brotherhood – led government was fast transforming itself into a theocratic-quasi-democracy, marked by Constitutional restrictions on the peoples’ hard-won rights; but is it sufficient ground for the military to rush back to the arena and impose its will and puppet with utter disdain for the tenet of democracy and the peoples’ will? Military junta is an aberration; a leper’s hand which should be confined to the barrack to carry out its Constitutional duties. Allowing the Military to oust the Morsi -led government is a great minus for the sacrifice of the Egyptian people in the Arab Spring. It is like giving something with the left hand and taking it back with the right hand – a child’s circus!

Whenever a peoples’ legitimate will expressed through democratic processes are suppressed and subverted through coup d’etat, the ground becomes open and level for the rule of might to reign; an era the world has moved away from and tries to avoid as a nightmare. Now, the chicks are coming home to roost. Reports have it that hundreds of people have been killed as Egyptian security forces moved in to clear camps in Cairo occupied by supporters to ousted President Mohammed Morsi (See: www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east/). And what is more – a one- month nationwide state of emergency proclaimed in Egypt. It appears it is really going to pour in Egypt.

 

What beautifies any democracy is the leverage for the people therein to express their legitimate and civil right to dissent; either through an election or other lawful means accorded to them through the instrumentality of human rights regime which is clearly universal. The Egyptian people in the course of the Arab Awakening expressed their rights and desire for democracy and the fruitage of human rights, and like every teething child should expect some pains and falls. Therefore, it is imperative that the baby should not be thrown away with the water and bath-tub. We must understand that for democracy to grow, it must be watered by dialogue, respect for human rights and the Rule of Law.

A situation where the Military wakes up one morning and depose a democratically elected President, perhaps for not liking the shape of his lips and nose, and further trample under its jackboot legitimate dissatisfaction and dissent does not augur well for democracy and human rights. Sadly, it creates the impression that the seeds of the Arab Spring were sown on hard and unfertile grounds and the Will to enthrone human rights a charade! Let it not be so. Figures concerning death toll since the crack-down on dissents keep soaring; not to mention indiscriminate arrest of protesters and leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood which smacks of vengeful humiliation. These unpalatable occurrences are glaring set-backs for human rights regime in the Arab world and the world at large. The United Nations and a league of other human rights respecting nations have openly shown their displeasure through unfeigned condemnation of the events in Egypt.

In summation, the Arab Awakening and its repercussion for despotic regimes has added fillip to the wings of human rights and democracy in that region. But the fall-out in Egypt puts a sad face on the benefits of the Awakening. One lesson remains: states, especially democratic states must try as much as it can to avoid legislating one religion over the rest, especially in this world of variegated beliefs and practices. And two, the Military must be checked as a monster capable of making light and valueless the struggles for democracy and respect for human rights. It must not be allowed to misadventure into politics for its capricious and tyrannical propensities as well as its impatience for dialogue and reconciliation. What Egyptians need now is dialogue. All Egyptians want is a viable democracy and respect for their human rights; not bullets, jackboots and some puppet-government riding on the back of some khaki – leathered tiger!

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2013 in Governanace, Human Rights

 

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