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Electronic Voting May Start in 2021, INEC Reveals

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The Independent National Electoral Commission on Monday said it would engage with the National Assembly and other stakeholders to explore ways of responding to the rising cost of conducting frequent bye-elections in Nigeria.

The commission premised its decision on the Supreme Court judgment which states that votes belong primarily to political parties, as well as its records, which show that only in 10 per cent of all bye-elections since 2015 did the party that won originally lose the election.

INEC also said it would “pilot the use of Electronic Voting Machines at the earliest possible time (not Edo and Ondo), but work towards the full introduction of electronic voting in major elections starting from 2021.”

The commission gave these details in its 17-paged policy document on conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, signed by its chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made available to journalists in Abuja.

According to the document, the commission would ensure the use of electronic and non-contact means to recruit ad hoc staff beginning with the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states scheduled for September 19 and October 10, 2020 respectively.

The commission also said it would reduce to a minimum interstate movement of staff, including ad hoc staff, for off-season and bye-elections to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus.

The document reads, “The commission will engage with the legislature and other stakeholders to explore ways of responding to the rising cost of conducting frequent bye-elections, especially in consideration of the Supreme Court position that votes belong primarily to political parties, as well as the Commission’s records, which show that only in 10 per cent of all bye-elections since 2015 did the party that won originally lose the election.

“The commission will engage relevant authorities, including the legislature, to designate election as an essential service to enable the commission function effectively in times of national emergency.

“The commission shall revamp its election planning and implementation-monitoring processes in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, the commission in planning elections shall respond to the growing demand for deepening the use of technology in the electoral processes, including the introduction of electronic voting.”

Apart from developing a new election budget template to reflect the likely impact of the COVID – 19 pandemic on the funding profile of electoral activities, INEC said it would constantly re-evaluate planned electoral activities in the light of COVID – 19 and the health risks it poses for voters, stakeholders and staff during elections.

For pre-election activities, the commission said it would “develop a Voter Code of Conduct document detailing how voters are expected to act and conduct themselves at the polling units in the light of the COVID – 19 pandemic.”

The document reads further, “The commission will ensure the use of electronic and non-contact means to recruit ad hoc staff by deploying its INECPres portal, as well as in notifying ad hoc staff of invitations and postings (for example, use of SMS) to prevent large gatherings at INEC offices during staff deployment.

“The Electoral Operations and Logistics Department will harvest all past ad hoc staff from its databases and send to each State preparing for elections.

“All ad hoc staff databases in the commission will be harmonised for better management. To reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, the commission shall reduce, to a minimum interstate movement of staff, including ad hoc staff, for off-season and bye-elections.

“The rule shall be that only shortfalls requested by the States are filled from outside the state. As much as possible, all election staff will be sourced in-state.

“In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the commission shall encourage political parties to develop appropriate guidelines and regulations for conduct of party primaries that take into account the COVID-19 prevention protocols.”

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Uduaghan Dumps APC, Returns to PDP

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The immediate past Governor of the State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, has formally defected from the All Progressives Congress to the Peoples Democratic Party.
Uduaghan re-joined the PDP at his Unit 1, Ward 6, at Abigborodo, his country home, and was accompanied to the venue by thousands of his supporters amid cheering solidarity songs on Monday.
“I am back to join forces with other party greats to strengthen our party, the largest party in Africa -PDP!,” the ex-governor had earlier stated on his Twitter handle.
The return to PDP is coming barely one year after he took a critical decision to join APC on 29 August, 2019, in protest of his alleged maltreatment in PDP.
Uduaghan, who was Delta State Governor for eight years in the build-up to the 2019 elections defected to the APC where he contested and lost the Delta South Senatorial seat in 2019 to incumbent Senator James Manager.
There have been insinuations that the former governor is planning a comeback to the PDP in a bid to boost his chances in 2023 as PDP now fully controlled the South-South region.
Uduaghan met with Governor Ifeanyi Okoya two weeks ago to fine-tune plans to return to PDP, his former base.
He also met with James Ibori, who was also a former governor in Delta State.
Uduaghan was the Governor of Delta State on PDP platform for eight years (2007-2015).
He had earlier served as the State’s Commissioner for Health and later Secretary to the State Government under the administration of Ibori.
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Electoral College Appoints Rate Your Leader Founder, Joel Popoola As Member, Board of Directors

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By Eric Elezuo

The Electoral College, Nigeria, has appointed the Founder, Rate Your Leader, Mr Joel Popoola, into its board of trustees as director to oversee International Mobilisation.

Popoola’s appointment was contained in two letters addressed to the technology entrepreneur and digital democracy campaigner as well as the board members of the college and signed by its Executive Director, Mr Kunle Lawal.

The Electoral College observed that the democracy campaigner, who has made headlines in recent times with reference to his technological innovations and writeups has been a great ally of the college while expressing utmost happiness and pride to have him on the board of the College.

“We are sure the board would be proud with the impact he can bring,” Kunle Lawal noted.

While expressing the best wishes of the College, and acknowledging that Popoola’s appointment is with immediate effect, Mr Lawal added that the award winning techpreneur is ‘valued as an asset addition and most of all for his love for country (Nigeria).’

“I look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship between us all and the expansion of the college,” Lawal stressed.

Responding to his appointment, Popoola noted that the reward for hard work is more work, stressing that the appointment is not just a recognition of his efforts, but an opportunity to do a lot more for humanity.

“I see the appointment to the board of Nigerian Electoral College as not just a recognition of efforts, but an opportunity to do a lot more to raise the bars of the Nigeria’s electoral system and serve humanity for the good,” he said.

It would be recalled that Mr. Popoola was earlier in the month welcomed on board of the UK Tech Nation Founders’ Network as a full fledged member.

Among many other honours trailing his humble contributions to the digitalization of democratic process around the world,  he is an advance member of the Institute of Directors Great Britain & Northern Ireland, and a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Also appointed is⁩ Hakeem Condotti, a well seasoned entrepreneur and African player in business and diplomacy. He would serve as Director: External Relations.

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Wike Locks Horns with Amaechi in War of Words at Justice Karibi-Whyte’s Funeral

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Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, and his predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi, on Saturday engaged in a verbal fight at the burial of a former Justice of the Supreme Court, Adolphus Karibi-Whyte, in the Abonnema, Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of the state.

Amaechi, who is the Minister of Transportation, while speaking at the funeral service, lamented what he term the rising insecurity and political intimidation in the state, saying the state was back to the time of Ateke Tom, a former militant leader, who is now the traditional head of Okochiri town in Okrika LGA of the state.

“You have lost your voice. The sage (the late justice) has gone under and nobody is speaking. When I was governor, I gave people voices, but they have blocked those voices.

“Everyone is scared. We are going back to when Ateke held sway. We are going back to the period where we run away from our people. We are back to a period when nobody could speak. But from next year, I will begin to speak, if nobody wants to speak.

“We are all here because we need to bury a man God has blessed. I have stopped travelling because of bad weather, but I told myself I must be here because of Justice Whyte.

“If you knew Justice (Karibi-Whyte) very well, you will know I was close to him. I was one of the few people he mentored,” Amaechi stated.

Wike on his part described the late Karibi-Whyte as an epitome of unshakable integrity, civility and dignity, but noted that comments credited to Amaechi were embarrassing.

Responding to Amaechi, Wike who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Chief Emeka Woke, said the minister had lost touch with developments in the state, adding that since the launching of Operation Sting by his administration, the security situation had improved greatly.

Wike said, “It is unfortunate for Amaechi to come to Kalabari land and accuse former President Goodluck Jonathan of not developing the area six years after he had left office.

“I wonder why the former governor will choose to make such embarrassing remarks at the funeral of late Justice Karibi-Whyte, a man he (Amaechi) claimed to be his mentor.”

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