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INEC To Start e-Voting In 2021, Seeks Cancellation Of Bye-Elections

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it has resolved to pioneer electronic voting in the country by 2021, as it intends to be using more technological tools in discharging its mandate going forward.

INEC disclosed this in a 17-page document released Monday in Abuja which was tagged, “Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the Covid-19 Pandemic”, and signed by its Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.

The Commission stated that it would suspend the Continuous Voter Registration CVR due to the Covid-19 pandemic while by 2021, it would pilot the use of electronic voting in the country.

The policy states that INEC shall; “Suspend the Continuous Voter Registration CVR for the time being to prevent the health risks associated with it in the context of COVID-19. Continue to make available its electronic channels for voters to check their registration status.

“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 electoral umpire also decried the rising cost of elections in the country, saying it would be liaising with the National Assembly to see how political parties can nominate replacements for dead representatives in line with a Supreme Court judgment that votes belong to the parties and not individuals.

INEC said its records showed that it is only in 10 percent of all bye-elections conducted since 2015 that the party which originally won the election went ahead to lose, saying it would engage federal lawmakers and other stakeholders to explore ways of defraying the costs associated with bye-elections.

“As already announced by the Commission, the dates for the Governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States remain 19th September 2020 and 10th October 2020 respectively. Dates for the four postponed bye-elections in

Bayelsa, Imo, and the Plateau States, as well as other bye-elections that become due during the COVID-19 pandemic will be announced by the Commission following its established procedures.

“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% 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”, INEC said in the policy.

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‘It’s Suicidal ’, Labour Rejects FG’s Plans To Slash Salaries

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Agency Report

The Organised Labour has condemned and rejected the plan by the Federal Government to slash the salaries of workers in the country.

The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, who said this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, noted that the plan was tantamount to a “mass suicide” wish, for Nigerian workers.

Waba said that NLC was shocked at a statement credited to the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, on the plan to reduce the high cost of governance by cutting down on the workers’ salaries.

”The minister also allegedly directed the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC), to immediately review the salaries of civil servants as well as the number of federal agencies in the country.

”It is almost unthinkable that the government would be contemplating to unilaterally slash the salaries of Nigerian workers at this time,” he said.

Wabba added that, “the question to ask is which salary is the government planning to slash? It certainly cannot be the meager national minimum wage of N30, 000, which right now cannot even buy a bag of rice”.

He expressed the belief that the proposed slash in salaries was certainly not targeted at the minimum wage and consequential adjustment in salaries that some state governors were still dragging their feet to pay.

According to him, it is in public knowledge that the multiple devaluations of the Naira in a short time, and the prevailing high inflation rate in Nigeria, have knocked out the salaries earned by Nigerian workers across the board.

”Nigerian workers are only surviving by hair’s breadth. Indeed, Nigerian workers are miracles strutting on two legs.

”It is, therefore, extremely horrendous for a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to pronounce salary slash for Nigerian workers currently.

”This call for salary slash by Mrs Zainab Ahmed is tantamount to a “mass suicide” wish, for Nigerian workers,” he said.

While opposing the move, he demanded an immediate retraction and apology by the Minister of  Finance.

The NLC president, however, said that if there was any salary that needed serious slashing, “it is the humongous remuneration and allowances pocketed by political office holders in Nigeria, who do extraordinarily little but collect so much.

”Workers generate surplus value and revenue for the government.

”We do not constitute any unnecessary cost or burden to governance. It is also important to make the point that salaries are products of contracts governed by laws. They cannot be unilaterally adjusted.”

He said that many countries of the world were increasing the salaries of their workforce and extending social security coverage for their citizens.

According to him, many are providing all forms of palliatives to help their people through the terrible socio-economic dislocations occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Waba said that it would be completely strange for the Nigerian government to be thinking of a salary slash.

“This move is not only at great odds with global best responses to the COVID-19 pandemic but also in violation of relevant ILO Conventions and Declarations on Wages and Decent Work.

“We urge the government as a social partner to quickly respond to the demands by Labour for an upward review of salaries of all Nigerian workers.

“Nigerian workers have shown sufficient understanding with the government through the tough patches of the pandemic.

“Now, Nigerian workers demand reciprocity of our understanding. Nigerian workers demand an increase in their remunerations and allowances,” he said.

NAN

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Paying ransomt To Kidnappers Is Foolishness —Obasanjo

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Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, on Wednesday, has cautioned against the payment of ransom to kidnappers.

He, however, submitted that the government must develop means to deal with kidnappers and bandits heavily in place of ransom payment.

He noted that the governments of both President Goodluck Jonathan and Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) paid ransom to kidnappers but they denied it.

Obasanjo said he does not believe in payment of ransom to kidnappers and bandits, saying it encouraged criminals indulging in the act.

The former president berated any government that pays ransom, describing them as follies.

Obasanjo spoke on Wednesday at his residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State, while playing host to members of Tiv professionals Group led by Prof Zacharys Anger Gundu.

Obasanjo insisted that it requires a “carrot and stick” approach to fight insecurity challenges to a standstill.

He said “Some people are still reaching out, and hoping that lives can still be saved. But a situation whereby anybody thinks paying ransom is the way out, that person is folly. He is a folly. This is because when you pay ransom, you encourage. But if you are not going to pay ransom, you must have the means to deal heavily with it. You must have the stick to deal with it.

“Government has always paid ransom. Not only this government, even during Jonathan (administration). They paid ransom, but they denied it.”

Obasanjo expressed fears that those beating drums of division in Nigeria don’t think about the interest of the minority ethnic groups.

He added, “Where do we want those minor groups to stand? Wherever they stand, now they are by virtue of Nigeria’s present situation a little bit protected. But if Nigeria breaks up and they are in a smaller country, they will be oppressed. They will always be exterminated. Are we thinking of that?

“I believe that if we will get it right in Nigeria, any leader must look at Nigeria with the prism of the diversity of Nigeria. For as long as you look at Nigeria with the prism of your ethnic group, then you aren’t going anywhere, either your ethnic group or religious group.

“But is there hope? There is hope.”

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Gumi Warns Against Sacking Pantami, Says Nigeria Will Regret If…

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Popular Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi Monday warned that Nigerians will regret if the embattled Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami is sacked from office.
Gumi who gave the warning during an interview with Roots TV said allegations against the embattled Minister were not true and should be discarded.
You would recall that different groups, politicians have since called for the resignation of the Minister over his past support for terror groups insisting that Pantami’s renunciation was not enough.
But in the interview, Gumi said Nigeria should get more people like Pantami and put them in power instead of calling for his removal.
“You cannot Islamise the whole world. Jesus Christ came; he could not Christianise the whole world. Nobody can Islamise or Christianise Nigeria,” Gumi began.
“All his actions, one hundred percent, shows he is not a terrorist. Those who are terrorists are after his life. The Minister should continue. His presence there is fighting the terrorist ideology.
“Show me, one person, he has killed. He has not killed anybody. He has not ordered the killing of anybody. Discard the fake news.
“The man is stabilizing a government among a section of youths, which we want them to come and join in nation-building. They should not throw him away. Leave him. He is not a terrorist sympathizer.
“And you people are fighting them. No. You should get more people like Pantami and put them in power. It will stabilize. Don’t remove him. You’ll regret,” he stated.

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