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Nigeria: Former election commission boss calls for total unbundling of electoral body, political party reforms

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The immediate past Chairman of Nigeria’s electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, has called for the unbundling of the electoral body, and review of the process of appointment of future chairmen of the commission.

He said a total unbundling of the commission and a comprehensive review of the processes and procedures for the appointment of the Chairman and Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) were urgently needed.

Jega, who made the call on Tuesday at a town hall meeting in Abuja organised by the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Electoral Matters, stressed that doing so would give the commission some form of autonomy.

Jega also called for a law prohibiting inter-party defections by politicians who took delight in jumping from one party to another, which he says has destroyed discipline and democratic ethos.

“I will recommend the unbundling of INEC because the Commission has a lot on its plate to deal with, a situation which has made it struggle to meet its core mandate,” the Professor of Political Science said.

“Some functions that INEC is currently performing should be given to another body entirely to handle if we want to make progress on our electoral journey.

“If Nigerians truly want to improve our electoral process, there is a need to proscribe cross-carpeting by political actors. The frequency with which Nigerian politicians cross-carpet has become a big source of worry.

“A candidate will be elected on Party A platform and he gets to the office and joins Party B without first resigning and relinquishing the position he or she holds in trust for the electorate. This has destroyed the essence of our democratic ethos.

“It is my humble recommendation that there should be a review of how political parties field presidential candidates. Look at the number of registered political parties in Nigeria and each fielding presidential candidates but at the end of the day, only two or three score significant votes while the majority do not receive any vote.

“If we are serious about our electoral reforms, there must be a threshold for political parties to meet before fielding candidates in presidential elections.

“The rule must be set that parties that failed to secure a certain amount of votes would not be allowed to present presidential candidates. There must be sanity in the polity and we must get it right.

“It is not only a huge waste of human and material resources, it’s absurd to have parties that cannot win a seat in the local council to field presidential candidates in a general election. The Electoral Act and INEC guidelines should be reviewed”, Jega added.

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Hardship: Nigerian govt to resume direct cash transfers to 12m citizens

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Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Wale Edun, has revealed that the federal government will resume direct transfer of cash to 12 million indigent citizens to cushion the hardship they are currently going through.

The minister, who made the announcement in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State in southern Nigeria on Wednesday during a retreat organised by the ministry, said the direct cash transfer would be for the poorest and most vulnerable Nigerians.

Edun said, presently, about three million Nigerians were recipients of the programmes but due to the escalating cost of living, the “government anticipates that an additional 12 million households could qualify for these direct payments.”

“The presidential panel on the social investment programmes have prepared to go to Mr. President with an internal recommendation to restart the direct payments to the poorest and the most vulnerable. Everything is being done to ease the pain,” Edun said.

“We know that there’s been about three million beneficiaries now, but given the way the rates have gone, there are probably another 12 million people, households that can benefit from that payment.”

He further noted that the expansion of the direct cash transfer is projected to reach a wider population who are currently struggling with the economic situation and to put more money directly in the hands of those who need it most, allowing them to prioritise their needs and alleviate poverty.

“The decision to inform the President of the Panel’s decision before the final report is completed is to keep the President abreast of developments,” he said.

“The only thing delaying that is not waiting for the end of the report. It is something that the intervention is meant to happen immediately.

“We have experts in technology, the commitment was to make sure that we use technology to ensure that we have a seamless payment, a seamless movement between the registered and the direct beneficiaries, without any manual processes in between. So it’s taking time to automate that process immediately that direct payment will resume.

“The goal is to put food, to put feed into the mill, into the market, in an attempt to drive down the cost of food and make food available. Right now, that is the key priority in terms of the fiscal side, in terms of the government side.

“History has shown, evidence has shown that when you pay someone directly, you put money in their hand. It reduces poverty because they decide where the shoe is pinching most.

“So it is a direct benefit, it has a direct effect on poverty. It alleviates, and there’s a commitment to immediately start that process. So that is, as far as these interventions are concerned and the landscape which we as a team are facing, we have a commitment to help to bring down inflation.

“Growing the economy, creating jobs and lifting millions and millions of Nigerians out of poverty, that’s the ultimate goal of President Bola Tinubu and his economic policies.”

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Zambian govt begs citizens in diaspora to help attract foriegn investment

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The Zambian government has called on its citizens in the diaspora to help in attracting foreign direct investment to the country in the face of the economic challenges the nation is going through.

Chief Government spokesperson, Cornelius Mweetwa, who made the appeal in Addis Ababa during a dinner hosted by Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Rose Sakala, for the Zambian delegation that participated in the 37th African Union (AU) Ordinary Summit for Heads of State and Government, urged the diaspora citizens to portray Zambia’s image positively to the outside world so as to encourage foreign investors to invest in the country.

In a statement issued in Lusaka by the First Secretary for Press and Tourism at the Zambian mission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, inutu Mwanza, Mweetwa who is also Zambia’s Minister for Information and Media, said Zambians living abroad are the country’s flag carriers who should ensure that the good image of the country was portrayed at all times.

“It is important for those working abroad to look out for available opportunities and best practices to make Zambia better,” Mweetwa said.

Also speaking, Minister of Education, Douglas Syakailma, who also attended the event, called for hard work among Zambians.

“The AU theme for the year 2024 on Education, provides an opportunity for the government to re-look at aspects of education that require more attention to improve the education system,” he said.

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