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EU Says Lot Needs to Improve Nigeria’s Electoral Process

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EU Says Lot Needs to Improve Nigeria’s Electoral Process

By: Michael Mike

The European Union (EU) has reiterated its commitment to supporting democratic governance in Nigeria, insisting that a lot still needs to be done to improve the country’s electoral process,

It noted that while the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) faced enormous challenges, it was able to deliver the 2023 General Election.

The EU, however, stated that a lot still needs to be done to improve the country’s electoral process, particularly as the overall conduct and quality of the last elections did not meet the standards and expectations of INEC.

The European Union Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Samuela Isopi, made this known in Abuja, during the inaugural Steering Committee meeting of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) Programme.

Isopi, while urging stakeholders to increase efforts towards strengthening democratic governance in the country, lauded the critical and essential support provided by the EU-SDGN cohort during the elections.

She said: “I think there are important lessons learnt from the elections last year. If I am not mistaken, INEC’s own assessment concluded by saying that the elections, let me just quote, ‘overall, the conduct and quality of the elections did not meet standards and expectations set by the Commission itself.’ I think that this is a conclusion in line with the conclusion of the main domestic and international observation missions. I think this provides an agreed basis, a common ground on which we can build our future work together.

“At the European Union, we look forward to seeing how these reflections can be taken forward. As partners, we are ready to engage not only with all of you but also with relevant stakeholders to take that work forward.”

Isopi explained that the EU considers supporting democracy at home and outside its borders, and working with partners to strengthen democracy worldwide, as essential and important.

“We want to continue to support and invest in Nigeria; to invest in the largest democracy on the continent because this is also a message about the importance and the vitality of democracy in the region of West Africa where democracy is obviously backsliding,” she said.

In his remarks, the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, expressed worries concerning the high number of court cases challenging the conduct of primaries by political parties.

He revealed that while many politicians file their cases in court, about 70 to 80 percent of them end up being withdrawn either before the commencement of trial or soon thereafter.

He noted that this act wastes the time and resources of the Commission, as it would typically engage and pay lawyers for the cases.

Yakubu therefore called for more engagement with political parties to improve their internal democracy and the process of electing and nominating candidates for elections.

He said: “Election is not just about what INEC does, but election is a multi-stakeholder responsibility. There are the responsibilities that other people discharge and perform.

“From the data available in the Commission, we have observedthat there have been more cases challenging the conduct of primaries by political parties than cases challenging the conduct of the election by INEC.

“For instance, with regards to post-election cases in 2023, we had over 1,300 cases, but at the end of the day, only 38 cases were upheld by the court. So, we conducted 38 court-ordered rerun elections. But year-in-year-out, we see 70 or 80 percent of them voluntarily withdrawn by the petitioners.

“Is there a way we can have a conversation with the political parties to improve internal democracy and the process of electing and nominating candidates for elections? They are right in a democracy to go to court, but is there a way we can have a conversation with them so that we can improve on that aspect?”

The Programme Steering Committee is co-chaired by the EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS and the Chairman of INEC, with membership consisting of representatives of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and the EU-SDGN II beneficiaries.
This Committee provides high level policy support and oversight of the programme and ensures that the programmeremains aligned and compliant with the EU and beneficiaries’ requirements and needs.

EU Says Lot Needs to Improve Nigeria’s Electoral Process

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ActionAid Nigeria Condemns the Abduction and Arrests of Peaceful Protesters on Democracy Day

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ActionAid Nigeria Condemns the Abduction and Arrests of Peaceful Protesters on Democracy Day

By: Michael Mike

ActionAid Nigeria, a local Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) affiliated with ActionAid International, a global federation of social justice groups with a presence in over 70 countries, has condemned the clampdown by security operatives on peaceful demonstrations by some Nigerians on Democracy Day.

A statement on Wednesday by the Country Representative of ActionAid Nigeria, Andrew Mamedu read: “We witnessed a disturbing crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy activists. In Lagos, one of the leaders, Juwon Sanyaolu, was forcefully abducted by suspected Department of State Security (DSS) operatives, and his whereabouts remain unknown.

“In Abuja, students and activists from Activista who went out to advocate for good governance were also arrested in Gwagwalada and are currently placed in detention.

“We condemn this blatant suppression of constitutional and democratic rights, and demand:

  • The immediate release of Juwon Sanyaolu and all arrested activists
  • An end to the repression of peaceful protests and respect for our constitutional rights
  • An investigation into the abduction and arrests, and accountability for those responsible.”

Mamedu said: “President Tinubu’s speech today highlights the importance of democratic values, human rights, and the protection of freedom of expression and assembly. Yet, his government’s actions contradict these principles. We urge the President to practice what he preaches and ensure our rights are respected.

“The Nigerian Community of Activists for Good Governance which ActionAid Nigeria is part of will not be silenced. We will continue to demand justice, equality, and democracy for all Nigerians. The true meaning of this Democracy Day is not just to celebrate the past but to commit to a better future. We will hold the government accountable for their actions and ensure that democracy is not just a historical fact but a living, breathing reality.

“We remember the sacrifices of pro-democracy activists, including our current president, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who fought for our democratic rights, and we will continue to honour their legacy by standing up against oppression. We will not be deterred by intimidation and violence but will persist in our struggle for a better Nigeria.

“We call on all Nigerians to join us in demanding an end to the crackdown on peaceful protests and the immediate release of all arrested Activista members. Together, we can build a Nigeria where democracy is not just a celebration but a way of life.”

ActionAid Nigeria Condemns the Abduction and Arrests of Peaceful Protesters on Democracy Day

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How Zulum demonstrates rare leadership in Borno

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How Zulum demonstrates rare leadership in Borno

By: Yusuf Adamu

Borno state governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, has again demonstrated an unequal leadership prowess in the governance of the state by transmitting power to his deputy, Hon. Usman Kadadur. Such a move by the governor since coming to power in 2019 has put Professor Babagana Umara Zulum on a pedestal of trust and honor. 

The governor has continued to show the world that power is transient, and as such, leaders must learn to appreciate the fact that harmonious working relationships with their subordinates are key to governance. 

This is, to my knowledge, the second time the governor is doing this. On Friday, he wrote to the assembly stating his desire to hand over
power to his deputy, Alhaji Umar Kadafur, in an acting capacity, as he left for Hajj in the Holyland of Saudi Arabia. 

The executive communication to the Borno State House of Assembly (BOHA), which was read by the Speaker, Honourable Abdulkarim Lawan, during an emergency session on Friday, speaks volumes about the kind of relationship the governor has with his deputy. This is a demonstration of trust, which is lacking in some states of the federation, and Borno has remained a point for others to emulate. 

The speaker, Honourable Lawan, said that the letter is in accordance with the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, adding that Kadafur will act from June 10th to July 8th, 2024. He further explained that the move is necessary to ensure the continuity of governance and the smooth running of the affairs of the state in the absence of the governor. 

This also demonstrated the cordial working relationship and understanding between the executive and legislative arms in Borno State. This singular act of the governor has once again brought to light the desire of the governor to leave by his constant statement that he remained the servant of the people and will always abide by the Constitution of the Federal Republic in discharging his duties as governor. 

*Yusuf Adamu is the former Adviser to then Borno state governor and current VP, Kashim Shettima

How Zulum demonstrates rare leadership in Borno

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ACReSAL Takes Center Stage in Adamawa State’s Development Journey

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ACReSAL Takes Center Stage in Adamawa State’s Development Journey

By: Michael Mike

The Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL) team, on a joint World Bank/Federal Government of Nigeria Implementation Support Mission, made a stop-over assessment of implementation activities in Adamawa state. The team was warmly received by three commissioners of the state, who expressed their commitment and support to the project.

“We have only two things in Adamawa today, ACReSAL and other projects,” declared Alh. Mohammed Sadiq, Commissioner for Environment, Adamawa state. “ACReSAL has become a household name in Adamawa state, and I am very happy to be part of this laudable initiative. The journey of ACReSAL will never finish without Adamawa state reaping its maximum impact.”

He noted that hundreds of people call him daily to testify that the ACReSAL Project has transformed their lives completely. “Communities that have never seen any development in Adamawa before are now flourishing, courtesy of the ACReSAL Project. We are now enjoying different impactful and livelihood enhancement activities because of the ACReSAL Project.

Over 20,000 farmers have been trained on regenerative agriculture and landscapes restoration across 21 local government areas in the state. Some farmers have been provided with the use of one hectare of land each for a period of 10 years, free of charge, along with agricultural inputs. Additionally, many communities now have access to clean solar-powered boreholes for drinking water, and we are witnessing a significant improvement in dry season farming.”

Alh. Audu Tanko Ayuba, Commissioner for Water Resources, remarked, “I have seen lots of projects carried out by ACReSAL in Adamawa state. ACReSAL is one of the best sustainable developmental programs currently in the state, and I assure you that all the necessary support the project needs is available.” He assured the team of the state and stakeholders’ willingness to collaborate for the success of the project.

On his part, Prof. David Finchiwa Jatau, Commissioner for Agriculture, Adamawa state, emphasized the importance of land restoration in all sectors of production. “Some communities never knew what dry season farming was, but today, I am happy to report that the ACReSAL project has made dry seasoning farming possible in communities in Adamawa state.” He expressed his excitement for the ACReSAL Project, noting the state’s full support.

Abdulhamid Umar, the National Project Coordinator for the ACReSAL Project, expressed his delight with the level of support and collaboration among the key lead implementing ministries of the ACReSAL Project in Adamawa state, evident in the presence of the three commissioners. “I feel really fulfilled with the success stories emanating from Adamawa state, which means the ACReSAL Project can bring more investment to the state.”

Dr. Joy Iganya Agene, Task Team Leader for the ACReSAL Project, announced that ACReSAL will support farmers and agro-business initiatives through its Community Resolving Fund (CRF) loan scheme. “We will provide loans to 140 communities in Adamawa state to support their agro-business initiatives. She encouraged the Adamawa State ACReSAL Project Management Unit (PMU) to scale up the intervention and monitor the projects closely to ensure impacts on communities, sustainability, and effective utilization of the funds.” She thanked Governor Fintiri, the commissioners, and the entire team for their efforts to ensure the project’s success in the state.

The ACReSAL project has received widespread support from stakeholders, and its success is expected to have a lasting impact on the communities in Adamawa state.

ACReSAL Takes Center Stage in Adamawa State’s Development Journey

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