●Buhari in dilemma over Executive Order
In reaction to the Federal Government’s attempt to create cattle colonies across the country, some Nigerians have rejected the move, calling it an attempt to bring back the failed Grazing Reserve through the backdoor. The Muhammadu Buhari administration had proposed the Grazing Reserve to forestall the frequent clashes between herdsmen and farmers, through a bill, which failed to sail through at the National Assembly.
The federal lawmakers had thrown out the bill after public outcry against it, as some Nigerians argue that it was an attempt to hijack people’s land for the herdsmen. Nonetheless, the Federal Government re-strategised and changed the idea from Grazing Reserve to Cattle Colony, a move insiders say would be done by fiat through an Executive Order.
A credible source within the corridors of power had confided in Saturday Telegraph that rather than obtain a parliamentary approval, the new model could be achieved without any recourse to the National Assembly. The source further informed that the proposal would have some state governors hijacking land from communities and transferring same to the Federal Government in the overriding public interest.
“The Cattle Colony is not different from the Grazing Reserve, it is the same thing. The bill earlier proposed was to take it through the normal democratic channels, but this time, it is going to be via an Executive Order. “Have you gone through the Land Use Act? It is going to be the channel of operation.
Under the act, state governments can forcefully take over any parcel of land in their domain in public interest. “Once the president signs it as an Executive Order, it becomes a law and the committee in charge would be able to implement it.
But the good news is that we don’t have to take over any land because about 16 states have donated land voluntarily. “When we proposed it under the Grazing Reserve, some states gave us land donated by their local communities, but the House of Representatives kicked against the idea. That was why we could not achieve it through the Grazing Reserve Bill”, he said.
Buhari in dilemma
However, the President is said to be in a dilemma over the issue now, as it has become a public knowledge after a minister reportedly let the cat out of the bag during the week. The minister, who was trying to clarify an earlier statement by the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe, was quoted as saying that there was no difference between the two proposals. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, had said that the policy would not transfer communal land ownership to herdsmen wherever it was established.
Ogbeh, who was reacting to fears by some citizens that the policy was an attempt by the Federal Government to forcibly collect land from citizens and hand them over to herdsmen, noted that there was no truth in speculations that the government was conspiring to grant supremacy over communal land to herdsmen.
The minister also commended the Plateau State Government for its interests in developing agriculture. “Cattle Colony is not using herdsmen to colonise any state. It is going to be done in partnership with state governments that will like to volunteer land for it. The Federal Government will fund the project and those wishing to benefit from it will pay some fees.
“While ranching is more of an individual venture for the herdsmen and those wishing to invest in the livestock sector, cattle colonies is a larger project where up to 40 ranchers can share same facility that will be provided by the government at a reduced rate. Already, 16 states have volunteered land,’’ he said. Findings by Saturday Telegraph confirmed that the President, who was earlier billed to sign the Executive Order next week, is now being careful owing to the mood of the nation after the murderous invasion of Benue State by the herdsmen.
Lawyers, lawmakers kick
In reactions, some Nigerians, including lawmakers and lawyers spoke with our correspondents on the matter. The Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (upstream), Hon. Mark Terseer Gbillah (APC, Benue) said the proposal to establish cattle colonies is archaic and alien to the people of Benue and any modern society. Gbillah, who represents Gwer West/Gwer East Federal Constituency of Benue told Saturday Telegraph that the concept of cattle colonies is a strange one and is totally unacceptable to the people of Benue.
“The concept of cattle colony is alien to us and it is obsolete. Are we going to reinvent the wheel of time? It is unbelievable that at a time when globally everybody is talking about ranching, Nigerian government is proposing cattle colonies.
“The whole of Benue rejects the cattle colonies wholeheartedly because it is a strange proposal to us. Are we going to have a colony for yam farmers, colony for piggery farmers? Speaking further, Gbillah advised that the government should realise that cattle rearing is not an exclusive reserve of a particular tribe or ethnic group so, the federal government should not come up with policies to favour a particular tribe and inconvenience others. “The government should realize that cattle’s rearing is not only for Fulanis.
In fact, the Benue State governor also rears cattle and indeed has more cows than most Fulani men but he has ranched them”. On the allegations that the government wants to introduce cattle colonies through an Executive Order, the lawmaker said the National Assembly will confront the executive frontally to ensure that it does not implement such a policy. According to him, “doing so through an Executive Order means introducing it through the back door. So, if it is a good policy why do so through the back door? That is where the National Assembly will also rise against it.
This proposal is ill advised and it cannot be forced down the throat of anybody “But if the government does that, it will give credence to the allegations that he is the grand patron of Miyetti Allah and is therefore backing the criminal and nefarious activities of his kinsmen,” Gbillah stated. Also reacting, President of Public Interest Lawyers League PILL, Dr. Abdul Mahmud said the proposal is dead on arrival. “Executive orders are what they are, policy directives not backed by any legislative or legal force or instrument, not founded within the precinct of the Land Use Act (LUA). So I don’t see how such can work.
“The Federal Government has no land recognised by the LUA, except those which devolved into it by Colonial Ordinance. The President cannot usurp the powers of governors as they relate to land ownership and use, preserved by the LUA. “The Land Use Act committed the land in trust to the state governor and not the Federal Government.
It therefore goes to say that the Federal Government cannot over-reach its power as constituted by the constitution”. Also reacting, another lawyer, Dr. Kayode Ajulo, noted that the proposal is logically a sham and that it can’t stand.
“It’s not only politically unsound, it is legally and morally an overshot. The president needs to be reminded that by the effect of the provisions of the Land Use Act, he has no jurisdiction over any land in Nigeria except in Federal Capital Territory, the right, which is exercise by the FCT Minister.
“As it is, any matter on land ownership resides in respective 36 governors. One salient issue stands out from the proposal; If farmers are made to buy land, or possess them through some non-free manner it is only right to make normads buy/own ranches or keep away completely from already owned territories.
“That is just the only way out. Make any one who needs a land for grazing buy at the economic value of such time and not that the state government will be compelled to release their land for grazing”. Another Abuja based lawyer and rights activist, Ben Ugorji, said the proposal has no basis under the law as the Federal Government lacks power to make use of or compel the use of any land in any state for purpose that does not have anything to do with the benefits of the masses. According to law, the only instance where the Federal Government is given an exception is where such land is to be used for building of school, hospital or any other facility that will benefit the citizens.
“But in this case, cattle colony has no benefits it will vest on the citizens, rather it is targeted to benefit few Fulanis of which the President is included. This purpose is not covered in the exception. Therefore, the President and the Federal Government cannot bring it under an Executive Order.
“The proposal can be tested in court. Under the Land Use Act, only the state governors are vested with power to own land in trust and not the president. One now wonders where the President derives his power from to propose Cattle Colony. The Attorney General of the Federation should advise the President appropriately. Cattle colony is a breach on people’s right”.
Reps will resist it –Hon. Edwin
A member of the House of Representa-tives, Anayo Edwin, has said that the attempt to establish the proposed colony through Executive Order would be vehemently resisted by the lower chambers. Edwin also said that many of members of the National Assembly would rise against it because it would be tantamount to be usurping of the powers of the parliament by the President.
He argued that, for the Cattle Colony to be established in the country, it must pass through legislative process, pointing out that the President does not have the constitutional power to take over people’s lands and allocate such for cattle rearing.
The politician noted that cattle rearing are a private business, and therefore, should not attract government’s attention in that magnitude, warning that government should trade with caution to avoid plunging the nation into uncontrollable crisis.
He said that he was totally against the proposal and would mobilise other members of the National Assembly to persuade the President to drop the idea of using executive fiat to establish cattle colony in other people’s lands.
“The security situation in the country is a very bad one. We will resist the proposal by Buhari to establish cattle colonies across the country by Executive Order because that will be unconstitutional. “If he wants such to be done, a bill to that effect must be submitted to the National Assembly for appropriate legislative consideration. And don’t forget that the bill was already introduced but thrown out by the Senate because majority of Nigerians don’t believe that such should happen. When we resume on Tuesday, we are going to fight against it.
“The security situation in this country now is very terrible and worrisome. Unfortunately, for all these killings across the country by herdsmen, nobody is being held culpable. This is a clear indication that the APC has failed woefully as a government,” he said.
Herdsmen attacks, national challenge -Ortom
Governor Samuel Ortom has said attacks by herdsmen are a national challenge that requires the cooperation of all Nigerians to surmount. He spoke in Makurdi when he received a delegation from the Arewa Consultative Forum led by Senator John Shagaya. Ortom prayed that other states will not experience a situation in where more than 73 people lost their lives to the herdsmen attacks at the beginning of the year alone. According to him, several states including Zamfara, Adamawa, Kaduna, Plateau, Ebonyi, Ogun, Abia, and Niger have suffered attacks, which indicates that the problem transcended individual states.
He stated that the photograph he saw of Buhari at his ranch in Daura recently had given Nigerians the direction that ranching was the way to go in animal husbandry, noting that as a disciplined person, the President knows what is good for the country.
Ortom said he had forgiven all those whose actions and words had caused pains to people of the state including his Plateau State counterpart, Simon Lalong, who is quoted to have made some uncomplimentary comments about the Benue killings.
He expressed appreciation to the president for making frantic efforts to end the attacks including the relocation of the Inspector General of Police to the state and directing the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, to provide relieve materials for distribution to affected communities.
The governor reiterated his position that he had withdrawn from political activities to concentrate on finding a solution to the crisis and advised those politicising the issue to desist forthwith as it would rather aggravate the situation.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Senator Shagaya who said they were in the state to mourn with the government and the people over the killings, urged the governor to continue with his constructive engagement with the federal government, his colleagues and security agencies to find a lasting solution to the challenge. Shagaya condemned the killings while commending Governor Ortom for maintaining calm, law and order despite the callous act, describing those that carried out the attacks as enemies of the state and agents of disunity.
‘We are sorry for Lalong’s statement’
A group operating under the aegis of Plateau Regeneration group (PRG) has apologised to Ortom and Benue citizens over the statement credited to Lalong. The group at a press conference, said Lalong was misquoted that he warned Ortom. According to the Public Relations Officer of the group, Chol Bandung Chuhwak, “Lalong never said he warned Ortom as misquoted, but he only said he adviced Ortom. We however want to state our total and unalloyed support to alternative to open grazing which is ranching, in this regard we stand with Lalong in carefully analyzing alternative options before implementing any policy that would put end to clashes in our dear state.
“We also wish to use this opportunity to clear the air on our governor’s interview, where he was quoted out of context. Our findings revealed that what Lalong actually meant was that implementing a policy like ban on open grazing without alternative measures would be counter productive.
” The group described Lalong as a man determined to restore law and order on the Plateau and who deserves the support of all. “We also stand by our governor that ranching remains the best option to end clashes between herders and farmers, and call on all to explore the benefits in the ranching and cattle colonies proposed by the Federal Government as an alternative to open grazing, which will certainly be banned as part of the solution to the incessant farmers and herdsmen conflicts all around the country.
Lalong: I’m disappointed
Governor Lalong has however expressed displeasure at the manner in which reports about him were making the rounds on social media. Lalong in a press statement signed by his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Samuel Emmanuel Nanle, clarified his statement, saying it is sad that his expression, which centered on the Plateau situation, was taken out of context and completely misquoted.
The statement added that the governor in a show of solidarity and shared grief with the people of Benue and indeed all Nigerians expressed his deepest sympathy in a phone conversation with Ortom. He prayed for the people of Plateau State for God’s comfort on the bereaved families, and for the repose of the souls of all those killed in the wake of the attack. He advised all to explore the benefits in the ranching and cattle colonies proposed by the Federal Government as an alternative to open grazing, which will certainly be banned as part of the solution to the incessant farmers and herdsmen conflict all around the country.
Anambra on alert
Security agencies in Anambra State have been told to ensure that cattle herders operating in any community in the state do not carry dangerous weapons that may lead to shedding of blood. The call followed the warning by the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano, that any herdsmen caught wielding any form of deadly weapon would be prosecuted. Speaking on the issue in Awka, a legal practitioner, Mr. John Okoli-Akirika said that the alertness of the security agencies in the state would help to check the excesses of the cattle breeders and sustain prevailing peace in the State.
Okoli-Akirika who observed that the issue of security of lives and property ranks first in government’s policies, programmes and activities, noted that Governor Obiano’s stand against any form of insecurity and threat to peace is a demonstration of his responsiveness to the welfare of the people.
He called on other governors to emulate Obiano’s proactive measures and priority approach so as to be able to tackle the challenge of herdsmen across the country. He said: “The agreement initiated by the governor between farmers and herdsmen provides effective platform for the maintenance of law and order as well as promotion of a peaceful co-existence by bringing all parties to a round table dialogue so that no party takes the law into its hands.”
Abia rejects Cattle Colony
The Government of Abia State has said that the state would not be ceding any part of the 17 local government areas for the establishment of ‘cattle colonies’ for the purpose of rearing cattle or grazing by Fulani herdsmen. A release signed by the Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Enyinnaya Appolos, states that Abia State would not cede any part of her territory to Fulani herdsman as colony for cattle. According to Gov. Ikpeazu, the available land in the state would not be enough to accommodate the agricultural plans of the state government, stressing that the available land would not be enough for the agrarian communities in the state to effectively carry out their agricultural activities.
The governor maintained that leasing out the land might cause unrest in the state beyond what his government could handle. “We reject any plan to establish cattle colonies for herdsmen in Abia State. We don’t have enough land for our agricultural activities and our people want more land. Giving away any part of Abia land as a colony to herdsmen, wherever they may be from, will be a most unjust and unfair treatment to Abia State and her people who are largely farmers.
“Such alien land occupation will also cause unrest and crisis that may grow beyond what we can handle when it happens, so the best thing I think we should do is to reject such plans so that those behind it will know that Abia State is not a party to it.”
If Buhari re-contests, Nigeria will sink –Primate Ayodele
Founder and spiritual leader of INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, Primate Elijah Ayodele, has warned that the much anticipated second term bid of President Muhammadu Buhari in next year’s general election will not be favourable to the country, especially should he win.
Primate Elijah Ayodele subsequently appealed to him to do away with such an ambition and rather urged Buhari to step down for the Senate President, Bukola Saraki to contest the presidential election under All Progressives Congress (APC).
According to the Primate: “President Muhammadu Buhari’s time is over in 2019. If Buhari re-contests, Nigeria will sink and there will be problems which may even result in bloodshed. In order to avoid such, we have three options: we either operate a regional system of government; we separate, or Buhari steps down for Senate President, Bukola Saraki, for peace and security in the country.
“A lot of things have gone wrong under Buhari in the present administration. If the All Progressives Congress (APC) presents Buhari as its presidential candidate, he will fail. He is no longer Nigeria’s ‘Messiah.’ There is trouble ahead of 2019 if clerics and Nigerians do not seek divine intervention. We need prayers to sustain Nigeria beyond 2019.”
Primate Ayodele made these prophecies during the church’s Annual Yearly Appreciation Week which ended with a big celebration on Valentine’s Day where gift items of various kinds, ranging from food items to cash gifts to start businesses, were shared out to the less privileged in the society – both Christians and Muslims.
He also spoke on the expectations of the recently launched Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM), as well as issues affecting the polity, economy, forthcoming elections in Ekiti and Osun States and state police among others.
“Yes, it is true that Nigeria needs state police but the country is not matured yet for such else there will be serious cracks in the system of our government.
“I also believe Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s coalition force is just going to be an ordinary discussion of the day. This is because Obasanjo is playing his last politics and he has to be very careful with the kind of politics he is trying to play or else people will no longer take him serious. For the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM), it will be tough. I see a kind of amalgamation of some parties coming together.
“There will be trouble in Buhari’s cabinet. Unemployment will be a tough issue for the present administration, despite attempts to improve the situation. The government should also guard against the outbreak of cholera in some states, I see that coming soon. Only if the APC picks the right person, can they win in Ekiti State. APC in Osun State must embrace unity,” he prophesised.
While stating that he had nothing personal against President Buhari, he noted that: “Buhari will take various steps to balance all the accusations against him, but the point is that his government is weak and a ‘cabal’ has held his government to ransom.”
Twenty-four govs endorse Buhari’s re-election
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), Chief John Odigie- Oyegun, has said that the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari liberated the country from an impending economic doom. This came just as Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, yesterday endorsed Buhari for President in 2019, stating that all the 24 APC governors will give him full and unalloyed support to ensure his re-election. Speaking while receiving some defectors into the APC in Lokoja yesterday, Chief Oyegun said: “Today, Nigeria under Buhari no longer depends on oil to survive.
Today, Nigeria under Buhari has taken the lead in agricultural production.
Today, Nigeria under Buhari is operating on a stable economic progression. So let those who are saying the Buhari-led government has failed go back to their holes and keep quiet while we continue in delivering dividends of democracy to Nigerians.”
Chief Oyegun, who led some of the national officers of the party, including the National Secretary, Mala Buni, itemized Buhari’s success in fighting Boko Haram, also commended Governor Bello for his efforts in attracting more members into the party. According to him, the large turnout of people at the rally is an indication that the APC is sure of victory come 2019 elections.
“With what I have seen here today, Kogi State APC will continue to be victorious in 2019 and future elections. I will go back to Abuja and tell them that Kogi APC is very much in charge and ready to maintain its position as the most acceptable party.
“Kogi State will be among the first states that will endorse President Muhammadu Buhari after he has declared for reelection next year. Kogi people, I want to congratulate you for having an energetic governor in Yahaya Bello. This is a governor that is a good organiser at any time the party needs him. He is always restless, energetic and full of ideas. I can feel a new energy in Kogi State,” he said.
The ancient city of Lokoja, the state capital came back to life at the gathering described as “Mother of all Rallies” to usher in thousands of defectors from the opposition of Peoples Democratic party (PDP), to its fold.
The ceremony which attracted several party supporters across the 21 local government areas of the state was held at the main bowl of the Confluence Stadium Lokoja.
Governor Bello said APC is the only viable and strongest party in Kogi State, as PDP is no more on the state’s political map. The governor stressed that all the PDP members that matter have all decamped to the APC, because they have seen the light and realized that APC has a better programme for the people of the state and Nigeria in general.
Meanwhile, the crisis rocking the APC in Kogi has assumed a new dimension as Governor Bello on yesterday announced the constitution of a new state executive to pilot the affairs of the party in the state.
This follows the dissolution of the state executive last Thursday by the North Central Zonal Exco which allegedly found the Hady Ametuo-led executive culpable of the anti-party activities accusations leveled by the governor.
However, in a statement issued on Saturday announcing the constitution of a new state executive council, the Director General Media and Publicity, Kingsley Fanwo, stated that Ahovi Salam Ibrahim is the State Acting Chairman while Abdulrahman Ibrahim, the Acting Deputy Chairman and Mr. Bola Oshe is the State Acting Treasurer.
2019: Unease over spread of PVCs
There are palpable reservations in some parts of the country over the distribution of the number of registered voters in the on-going continuous voter registration (CVR) exercise being carried out by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Figures released by INEC show that 73,944,312 people have so far registered across the country, with the North-West, North-East and North-Central having 18,505, 984, 9,929,015 and 10,586,965 respectively, an indication that about 39 million have registered for the elections in the North.
Conversely, in the South- West, South-South and South-East, the figures of registered voters are 14,626,800, 11,101,093 and 8,293,093 respectively, totalling about 35 million.
Lagos State alone has over six million registered voters. INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, is, however, optimistic that the number of registered voters would hit 80 million mark before Nigerians go to the polls in February next year to elect their leaders.
Prof. Yakubu said INEC disclosed that out of a total of 68, 833, 476 persons that registered before the 2015 election only 56, 431, 255 collected their Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC).
Also, only a total of 31, 756, 490 registered voters were at the polling stations across the country to cast their votes during the last presidential election. However, the latest figures coupled with the appearance of photographs of some under-age persons who allegedly participated in last weekend’s local government election in Kano State and the constraints being experienced by many prospective electorates to get their PVCs in the South have made many people to allege that the PVC collection is skewed in favour of the North.
The Commission is further accused of conniving with politicians from a particular section of the country to deny eligible voters, registration, as well as sending few and non-functional registration machines to attend to intending voters who besiege registration centres on a daily basis.
The General Overseer of City of Refuge Ministries, Bishop Oscar Ossai, did not mince words when he accused INEC of robbing eligible voters in the southern part of the country of their fundamental right to register and be able to vote in the forthcoming 2019 general elections. Bishop Ossai said: “What we are seeing is that this same government is frustrating people who want to register.
For instance, between Epe and Lekki Phase One, in fact the whole of Lekki, in Lagos, Marwar Primary School is the only registration centre. And if you go there, they say they only register 30 people in a day. So this and other instances show that they want to prevent us from registering in the Southern part of the country.
“I went there to register, there was a large crowd but you could not even see the register, because of the large crowd. So what they do is to make everybody to take a number and come back three days later for their turn. Knowing that we have suddenly woken up and we are willing to let our votes count so they are trying to frustrate us by making our people not to register,” he added. Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in the South-West, Chief Eddy Olafeso, said if the picture of under-age voters in the Kano election and allegation of favouritism of the North is true, then it means that “INEC has been overtly biased and the whole incident makes a huge joke of President Buhari’s victory in 2015 and portends great danger for the nation in 2019.”
Olafeso, who acknowledged that INEC has commenced investigation into the pictures and allegation, said “it is not only very ridiculous to see under-age people having PVCs and voting, that singular act is a great embarrassment to our democracy.” Deputy National Chairman of the National Rescue Movement (NRM), one of the recently registered parties, Mr. Niyi Dada, not only decried the allegation, but also called on the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission (KNSIEC) to cancel the results of penultimate Saturday’s local government elections because the exercise was fraught with irregularities, including alleged under-age voting.
“NRM believes that a faction of the All Progressives Congress-led government that participated in the election could not have garnered over 2.6 million votes to clinch all the election in the 44 local governments which is a touchstone for future elections,” he said. The main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), recently told the visiting United Nations (UN) delegations that the party does not have confidence in INEC to conduct free and fair elections in 2019.
PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, told the delegation led by Mr. Serge G. Kubwimana that the 2019 general election would make or mar the country. “We have had our fears since APC came on board, if an election is not in their favour there is a rerun….
There is a great fear whether INEC will be able to conduct free and fair elections. Free and fair elections will guarantee the unity of this country, and we are afraid if INEC will conduct free and fair election,” Secondus stated. And last week, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, also alleged plans by the Commission to rig the Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Delta State governorship elections in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The governor also alleged that the mass registration of new political parties was a deliberate plan by INEC to manipulate elections in the three states. But Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, expressed surprise that people were coming up with such insinuations. “Nobody is tele-guiding INEC on how to register voters. People are free to go to registration centres close to them where they are sure to vote in 2019 and register.
“Since April 2017 when the Commission rolled out the continuous voter registration exercise, we have registered over four million people.
Of course, we appreciate the fact that probably because of the confidence people have in INEC, many more people have turned up to register, and that has created hiccups… but then, we are addressing the challenges as much as we can,” Oyekanmi stated.
He denied the allegation that the Commission was registering more people from one region than others, adding: “This should be a continuous exercise, there is no closing, except, of course, we will close, 60 days to the 2019 general elections because the law says we should produce the voters’ register and distribute to all the registered political parties. After the conclusion of 2019 elections, we will still continue to register more voters.”
Again, INEC assured that it would not engage in any election rigging, telling Governor Wike that if he is entertaining any fear that he would be rigged out, “such fears should not be located in the INEC’s conduct of elections.” INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu also disclosed that about eight million PVCs were yet to be collected by their respective owners but said the Commission was making arrangements with the states to ensure they were collected. Some state governors have, however, made presentation of PVCs as condition for payment of workers’ salary.
Also, former Education Minister and Leader of the Red Cap Movement, Dr. Oby Ezekwesile has taken to her twitter handle and media interviews, calling Nigerians of voting age to ensure they obtain their PVCs in order to vote out the current government in 2019. However, a PDP chieftain in Lagos, who pleaded anonymity, said there has been tremendous awareness ahead of the 2019 elections and many Nigerians are clamouring to change the change.
“Many religious leaders like Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Tunde Bakare and Bishop David Oyedepo have been calling on Nigerians to obtain their PVC ahead of the elections. “There has been massive registration of voters in many parts of the country in recent times. We have been motivating our people and hundreds of thousands of Nigerians have joined the clarion call in order to ensure that they go beyond being arm chair critics to being active participants. They know their vote is their power,” he said.
Afenifere Spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, said: “With the great consciousness of 2019 gaining ground now, it is incumbent on all churches and other religious institutions, community leaders and Non-Governmental Organisations to enlighten the people to register en-mass for the next elections. “Already, we are aware of the desperation to register under-age people in some parts of the country, but all eligible ones should register first while deliberate efforts must be taken by INEC and law enforcement agencies to stop ineligible voters.”
Last week, two staff of a local government in Enugu State died in an accident while going home to pick their PVCs, which the council said was a condition for payment of last month salary. Despite assurances of free and fair polls, some politicians still doubt the sincerity of INEC to conduct free and credible elections in 2019. Olafeso said PDP has continued to sensitise the people not only to register but to collect their PVC and come out to vote on election day.
“It is part of the strategic plan of the National Working Committee that powers are devolved to state local government and ward executives. In line with this, they are also mandated to mobilise people to register as party members and also at INEC to collect their PVCs.
“The PVC is the electorate’s power to effect change, not only in 2019, but to also contribute to national electoral process and governance. Leadership of the party at all levels must pay special attention to the on-going registration and mobilise people for it.
“The South-West is of strategic importance not only to our party but also because of the central role it plays in elections. It is a fact of history that it determines the direction of the elections and who wins. So the current figures from INEC are challenging and it means that we must continue to mobilise our people not only to collect their PVC but also come out and vote in the elections,” he said.
On her part, the Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Enugu State, Mrs. Kate Offor, called for the creation of more registration centres in the South-East geopolitical zone of the country for easy registration and collection of Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) by the people.
Mrs. Offor while reacting to the low registration and collection of PVCs in the zone, told Sunday Telegraph in Enugu, at the weekend, that there were few centres in the zone, and even then, they were located far in between. The APC spokesperson said a situation where some people had to travel to such centres constitute a great disincentive to the people to do so.
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