President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday warned his ministers that he will not authorise the use of any money from the nation’s treasury to fund campaigns for the 2019 general elections. Speaking at the close of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the president who reiterated his commitment to eliminating corruption in campaign financing in the country said Nigerians can no longer be won over by money politics. Accordingly, he directed the ministers to take advantage of modern technology to reach out to voters on the need to return the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration in the next general polls.
A statement by presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, quoted Buhari as saying: “As political parties spread their ideologies and views to every nook and corner of the country, the issue of cash payment to voters and its corrupting influence in electioneering has once again become a topical issue. “Try and use text and multi-media messages to seek votes for the party and government. There is no money from the treasury for use in the campaigns. I will not authorise that”. President Buhari noted that the APC-led administration has a clear development agenda best suited to take Nigeria forward and sustain economic development. He continued: “This message needs to be taken to all Nigerians but we cannot use money from the treasury to share out to prospective voters. “Nigerians want change and we alone can deliver that change. Our people can no longer be swayed by money politics”.
The President also used the occasion, which was a valedictory session for the Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Hajiya Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim, to wish the minister success in her electoral contest. The minister had signified her desire to resign from the cabinet in line with existing regulations to run for a legislative seat in her home state, Yobe. She resigned to contest the February 16 House of Representatives election in Yobe State for the Damaturu/Tarmuwa/Gujba/Gulani Federal Constituency seat. The former minister who is the wife of a Senator and former governor of Yobe State, Bukar Abba-Ibrahim had last year contested against and defeated her son-in law, Mohammed Bukar-Ibrahim, to pick the ticket of the All Progressives Congress in October 2018.
INEC Demands Change Of Security Arrangement Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) hinted yesterday that it is seeking new security architecture for the conduct of the 2019 general elections. The commission said the experience in some of the 195 off-season elections it conducted since 2015 prompted it to demand for a different approach to the deployment of security forces during elections. While noting that INEC is responsible for requesting for the deployment of relevant security personnel necessary for elections as well as registration of voters and assigning them in a manner to be determined by it, the commission warned against parallel security arrangement in the 2019 polls. Speaking at this year’s first quarterly meeting of inter-agency consultative committee on election security (ICCES) held at the INEC headquarters Abuja, chairman of the commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu insisted INEC is responsible for requesting for the deployment of security agencies in consultation with relevant security agencies. “Learning from the experience of some of the 195 off-season elections conducted since 2015, it is pertinent to draw our attention to the need for a different approach to the deployment of security forces during elections,” Yakubu said.
According to him, the Nigeria Police Force remains the lead agency for election security, while other security agencies will play a supportive role to the Police. Yakubu said, “We need a new security architecture for 2019 consistent with the provision of Section 29 (3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which provides as follows: ‘29 (3): Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law and for purposes of securing the vote, the commission shall be responsible for requesting for the deployment of relevant security personnel necessary for elections or registration of voters and shall assign them in a manner to be determined by the commission in consultation with the relevant security agencies.
“Provided that the commission shall only request for the deployment of the Nigerian Armed Forces only for the purposes of securing the distribution and delivery of election materials and protection of election officials”. Noting that the meeting will help in the modalities for actualising the provision of the law, Yakubu added that INEC is committed to ensuring that elections are organised in such a manner that the security agencies are not perceived to be running parallel arrangement with INEC.
“Rather, it should strictly be INEC’s plan for the election that should be implemented,” he said. Yakubu who pointed out that INEC has so far accomplished 10 out of its 14 activities on the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the election, mentioned the four outstanding activities to include publication of the list of candidates, submission of the names of polling agents by political parties, the last day of campaign and the dates for the two categories of elections. He continued: “For emphasis, the Presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on Saturday 16 February 2019 followed by the Governorship, State Assembly and Area Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to be held on Saturday 2nd March 2019. “The Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) for new registrants as well as those who are already registered but had requested for transfer of their registrations to other locations or the replacement of PVCs for various reasons have been reprinted and available for collection”.
According to Yakubu, with 84,004,084 voters in the country’s register, it is simply the largest database of citizens in Africa and one of the largest voter registers in the world. Also speaking, the representative of the National Security Adviser, Idowu Owohunwa, said even though his boss was attending National Security Council meeting, he has already made provision for security personnel for the elections. “He (NSA) has organised a security management workshop to prepare the security personnel for the elections,” Owohunwa said.