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Congress rolls out ‘Better Deal,’ new economic agenda

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Polls: INEC Knocks Tinubu Over Comment On E-transmission

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The Independent National Electoral Commission has knocked the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, for expressing doubts over the credibility of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System and Results Viewing Portal which will be deployed for the 2023 election.

The commission expressed shock that the APC candidate could question the efficiency of the technology which had been used in several polls, including the off-season governorship elections in Ekiti, Osun, and Anambra states.

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The former Lagos State governor had on Monday at the Chatham House in London, United Kingdom, said the electoral body had yet to assure Nigerians of the workability of the BVAS and e-transmission of poll results.

READ ALSO: Youths Protest INEC’s Alleged Refusal To Conduct Bye-election In Akwa Ibom

He spoke weeks after the APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, and the National Organising Secretary, Suleiman Argungu, expressed concerns over the planned deployment of BVAS for next year’s general polls.

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Speaking at Chatham House, Tinubu said, “We are still building confidence in our democratic and voting system. INEC is yet to assure us (that) during this election that electronic transmission, the technology being used for accreditation and the total vote count, is reliable, dependable and assuring in our democratic process before we introduce a complicated element of ballot counting.”

But responding to Tinubu’s uncertainty, the Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of INEC, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, pointed out that the commission has been talking about the features, strengths and advantages of BVAS since 2020.

Oyekanmi spoke in response to inquiries by The PUNCH regarding the APC standard bearer’s comment on the credibility of BVAS and the e-transmission of results.

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He stated, ‘’The Independent National Electoral Commission has been talking about the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, its features, strengths and advantages since 2020 when it was introduced to replace our beloved Smart Card Reader.

“At every quarterly meeting that the commission held with leaders of political parties since this BVAS was introduced, and I am talking about more than five meetings, it has always been on the agenda and discussed. My presumption is that both the national chairman and secretary of all the political parties that attend our meetings also brief their presidential candidates about the issues discussed.

‘’More importantly, we have conducted off-season governorship elections in Ekiti, Osun and Anambra states using the BVAS and all of these elections have generally been described and accepted as free, fair, credible, and inclusive by all and sundry. The governors elected have quietly been enjoying their respective tenures. Don’t forget that we also deployed it for the Federal Capital Territory area council election and it was a huge success.

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‘’The BVAS has been trending on social media platforms and even foreigners visiting Nigeria for the first are asking: ‘What is this BVAS thing?’’

In response to mischief-makers who circulated rumours that the commission had dumped the BVAS, Oyekanmi explained that the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has reiterated severally that there is no going back on the deployment of BVAS for the 2023 general election.

‘’Therefore, if at this moment in 2022, we still have a presidential candidate of one of the 18 registered political parties, saying he needs assurances on the BVAS or he doesn’t know or appreciate its relevance to the 2023 general election, then something is terribly wrong somewhere,’’ he stated.

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But the APC defended the reservations expressed by Adamu and Tinubu on the BVAS, stating that their statements were probably misconstrued.

The APC Publicity Director, Bala Ibrahim, stressed that both men were merely striving to ensure INEC is 100 per cent certain about its readiness for the election.

READ ALSO: Nigerians In Diaspora Sue Buhari, INEC, Ask High Court To Stop 2023 Elections

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Ibrahim said, “I think we are misinterpreting or refusing to understand the broader meaning of concerns in this context. The concern raised by both the party chairman and presidential candidate is that justice should not just be done but be seen to be done holistically.

“What they are doing is to ensure that the right things are done to avoid giving room for complaints to be raised after the 2023 elections. The process should not just be left at 99 per cent; it must meet up with the acceptable 100 per cent standard.

“If there is an iota of doubt or anything that can compromise the integrity of the election, it must be looked into. The right thing has to be done.”

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When asked if the party was apprehensive that the use of the technology might affect its chances in the polls, the director declared that the party has nothing to fear.

This is even as he reiterated that they have the confidence that the commission can successfully conduct the polls if the right things are done.

“No, we are not intimidated. In fact, our imminent victory is more pronounced with what is happening now. If you look at the ongoing rancour, chaos and divisive situation in the camp of the opposition PDP, you will discover that our chances are getting brighter every day,’’ he stated.

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Speaking further, Ibrahim said, “The indices have also indicated that the APC is coasting home to victory and it is certainly going to be an ‘Hallelujah’ at the end of the day. I think we should have confidence in INEC. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t tell the commission to be on its feet. On its part, INEC has assured us that everything is on course and everything has been done to ensure the election will be successful.

“For now, we don’t have any fear. Our only worry is misinformation or wrong information being peddled. We hope people won’t believe the antics of the opposition that is giving the public the impression that the party is not ready for the election.

“Of course, we are more than ready. In fact, let me also remind them that the APC is the party to beat. The ruling party is in power and will want to continue by consolidating what the Buhari administration has done. When the Jagaban takes over, we are confident that he will hit the ground running.’’

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Ibrahim’s position was echoed by the Director of Media and Publicity for the Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, Bayo Onanuga, who said the party leadership and APC candidate simply wanted the electoral body to get its acts together.

The former boss of the News Agency of Nigeria was also positive that his principal would beat the opposition candidates by a landslide.

He said, “What Adamu and Tinubu are trying to tell INEC is to get its acts together. They are not saying anything more than that. Of course, they are not against BVAS. Tinubu as a candidate, even when he was in the opposition, has been at the forefront of using technology to campaign for the election. So he cannot at this time be saying that he is not in support of BVAS.

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“What he is simply saying and what Adamu also said is that INEC should get its acts together to be able to use BVAS seamlessly. This is all they are saying contrary to the twist and distortion of the opposition that they are against technology.

“You can see what happened in Osun State, for instance. In one breath, INEC gave the APC a set of results. The party went to tender it in court. Instead of the commission to disclose that they made a mistake, it printed another set of results. How can you print two contradictory results?

“That’s not the kind of thing we are looking forward to. We don’t want an election where people will be arguing that INEC cheated them or anything related to that. This is why we are saying the commission must get its acts together.

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READ ALSO: 187 Million Ballot Papers For Presidential Election – INEC

“If it presents a result, it should be ready to say ‘That’s the result.’ Not running to get another result. It is so embarrassing.”

On the biggest fear of the APC ahead of the polls, Onanuga maintained that if the exercise was devoid of mischief or rigging, the ruling party would win.

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We are not threatened by the use of BVAS or any technology because we know we are winning this election. In fact, we are winning with a landslide. We have no fear because we believe we will win if there is no mischief or attempt to rig the elections by the opposition.

“Just some months ago, some people told Peter Obi that they could hack the INEC portal when he went on a tour. Once everybody allows the process to go on seamlessly, we don’t have any fear about the 2023 election. We are prepared and believe that with the Almighty God on our side, we are going to win massively,” he stated.
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APC, PDP, LP Chieftains In Heated Debate Over Nigeria’s Economic Woes

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Tanko Yunusa, Niyi Akinsiju and Ilemona Onoja on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme on December 7, 2022

Chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) were engaged in a heated debate on Nigeria’s crippling economy and dwindling fortunes on Wednesday.

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LP’s spokesman Tanko Yunusa, Niyi Akinsiju of the APC and Ilemona Onoja of the PDP clashed on Channels Television’s Politics Today.

Akinsiju said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration in May 2015 inherited debt from the PDP government of 16 years but the APC government has been able to deliver despite fall in the price per barrel of crude oil.

READ ALSO: INEC Debunks Viral Video On Voter Identification Number

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On the other hand, Onoja said the PDP handed over an economically stable country to the APC than it inherited from the military but the APC has bastardised the Nigerian economy.

However, Yunusa concluded that the PDP’s failure gave the APC a chance in 2015, adding disappointingly that the APC has doubled the mismanagement of the country in the last seven and a half years since it has been in government.

Since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999 after years of military rule, the PDP has produced three Presidents (Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan) for a cumulative period of 16 years. The APC took over in May 2015 with the election of Buhari, a former military head of state.

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‘PDP Left A Hollow Economy’
Akinsiju, a member of the APC Presidential Campaign Council for Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima, insisted that the Buhari government has not done badly, noting that Tinubu and his running mate will consolidate on the economic gains of the present administration if they win the February 25, 2023 presidential election.

According to him, PDP left a hollow economy when Buhari came into power in May 2015 but the incumbent has managed to stabilise the economy.

“When this party (APC) came into government, the PDP left a hollow economy, a hollow government and because we have a Buhari in place, we stabilise the economy.

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“We are at 21.09% inflation and we met 9.6% but there was no COVID-19 pandemic in 2005 August when we recorded the highest possible inflation rate in this country – 28.21%…And we are talking at a time when the price of crude oil per barrel was moving up. In 1999, it was $19/barrel. By 2005, it had moved up to more than $60/barrel.

“We are managers of an economy that is impacted by global headwinds and there is little we can do than to adapt and deploy our own creativity and we have been able to do that since 2015 when we inherited $63bn debt from the PDP government. Today, we are talking about $102bn debt all put together. Please, subtract $63bn from that debt,” he said.

This combination photo shows the Presidential candidates of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi (L); All Progressives Congress, Mr Bola Tinubu (C); and Peoples Democratic Party, Mr Atiku Abubakar (R).

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READ ALSO: Nigerians In Diaspora Sue Buhari, INEC, Ask High Court To Stop 2023 Elections

APC, A Monumental Failure – Atiku’s Man

Onoja, a member of the Presidential Campaign Council for Atiku Abubakar and Ifeanyi Okowa, however, disagreed with Akinsiju, saying the APC has been a party of sorrow, pain and confusion marred by maladministration and bad governance.

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He also faulted the cash withdrawal limits of the APC government amid the implementation of a currency change, saying the policy is doomed to fail, lead to job loss and throw several millions of people into poverty.

“In 1999, Nigeria’s GDP growth was 0.9%. 2000 – 5%. 2002 – 15.3%. This economy grew under Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as chairman of the National Economic Council. For the APC for seven and a half years, we are talking 3% growth that your population growth outstrips. How? In their (APC’s) private moment, the failure that keeps them up at night is so monumental.

“The PDP handed over to the APC a much better country than it inherited from the military. And what has the APC done to that country? It has bastardised it, ripped it to shreds, taken food out of the mouth of our children, taken education from our youths, has taken safety and security from our parents, and has taken healthcare from all of us,” he said.

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APC, PDP Are Siamese Twins – Obi’s Ally

On his part, Yunusa, the chief spokesman for the 2023 campaign of LP’s Peter Obi and his running mate, Datti Baba-Ahmed, said both the PDP and the APC are Siamese twins when it comes to economic failure and maladministration.

If the PDP has done so well during its eight years, the APC won’t have come to defeat it. It is because of the mismanagement of resources that we have that time. The APC has come up and doubled the mismanagement.

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“The National Bureau of Statistics said 133 million Nigerians are in abject poverty, how else can you describe a failure of a government? Both of them left debt for Nigeria but in Obi’s case, he left N75bn in Anambra after leaving office,” he said.

READ ALSO: Floods: Group Drags Buhari To Court Over ‘Missing Ecological Funds’

Atiku, a former Vice-President; Obi, a former Anambra State governor; and Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State are frontline candidates for the 2023 presidential election which has been described by analysts as a three-horse race.

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INEC Debunks Viral Video On Voter Identification Number

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The Independent National Electoral Commission on Wednesday debunked a viral video on Voter Identification Numbers.

This was as the Commission also warned against fake news and disinformation.

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The Commission said the picture painted by the video circulating was not the true picture.

The viral video showed some INEC staff at the FESTAC Town, Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area Office, Lagos, extracting the VIN from permanent voter cards and entering the same into their cellphones.

While praising the alertness of Nigerians, the Commission however said the conclusion in the video that the VIN were been harvested for the purpose of undermining the 2023 general election was far from the truth.

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The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, INEC, Festus Okoye, in a statement explained that what was seen done in the video was only part of an inventory of uncollected cards.

READ ALSO: Oil Thieves Arrsted, 43 Ammunition Recovered In Rivers

Besides, he said it was in line with the new guidelines for the management and collection of the PVCs, approved by the Commission for implementation nationwide.

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He added, “In its determination to enhance the rate of collection of the PVCs, the Commission decided to establish a PVC collection process that includes an online component. The procedure entails that registered voters with access to the Internet could go to a dedicated portal to ascertain whether their PVCs are ready and to find their locations for subsequent collection.

“All they are required to do is to provide their details such as name, date of birth, state of registration or the last six digits of the VINs that they provided/received during registration, to locate their cards. This would improve the PVC collection process, but without prejudice to those who wish to go directly to the collection centres.

“For the newer PVCs, that is, those from the Continuous Voter Registration that took place between January and July 2022, the VINs were harvested automatically and made available online. However, for the older uncollected PVCs that predate the new guidelines, their VINs must be harvested manually and painstakingly for upload to the PVC collection portal. The portal will also improve the records of the Commission regarding collected and uncollected PVCs.

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“While the Commission appreciates the vigilance of Nigerians and their determination to see the conduct of free, fair, credible and inclusive elections in 2023, it is exceedingly important that information such as contained in the said video is verified before sharing it with the public.”

 

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