Buhari gets another term as president, Atiku kicks over polls results

-INEC presents Buhari, Osinbajo certificates of return

 -By Funmi Falobi-

 Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s incumbent president and candidate of the All Progressives Party, APC has won the 2019 presidential election, thereby re-elected for another term of four years.

Buhari polled 15,191,847 votes to defeat his main opponent, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, along with other 71 candidates. Buhari won in 19 states with 15,191,847 votes while Atiku won in 17 state with 11,262,978 votes.

In his acceptance speech, the president thanked Nigerians for re-electing him for the next four years. He also expressed his regret over the loss of lives during the elections in some parts of the country thereby urging the security operatives to step up efforts to protect voters in the forthcoming state-level elections on March 9.

“The new administration will intensify its efforts in security, restructuring the economy and fighting corruption. We have laid down the foundation and we are committed to seeing matters to the end. We will strive to strengthen our unity and inclusiveness so that no section or group will feel left behind or left out,” he said.

However, Atiku Abubakar has rejected the announced result of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), saying he would challenge it in court.

He said that it was obvious that there were deliberate malpractices in many states which negate the results announced.

“I am a democrat and there are democratic avenues available to present the truth to the nation and the watching world. Already, many international observers have given their verdicts, which corroborate our observations.

If I had lost in a free and fair election, I would have called the victor within seconds of my being aware of his victory to offer not just my congratulations, but my services to help unite Nigeria by being a bridge between the North and the South.

However, in my democratic struggles for the past three decades, I have never seen our democracy so debased as it was on Saturday, Feb. 23,” he said.

Consequently, INEC has given President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo certificates of return at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja on Wednesday.

The certificate was presented to the President by the Returning Officer of the election, who is also the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu. The presentation ceremony was observed by the wife of the President and his vice, respectively.

Certificate-of-return

Speaking at the occasion, the president guaranteed Nigerians that they would soon see “a country moving to the `Next Level’ as the administration strengthens on its accomplishments.”

He also promised to continue to engage all parties as his administration would be operating an open government for the general progress of the country. 

 

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Nigerians vote their choice candidates

-By Funmi Falobi-

Nigerians across the country today cast their votes for candidates of their choice.

Over 72 million Nigerians performed their civic rights to choose their leaders in the presidential and national assembly elections. Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) after initially cancelling it on February 16, had rescheduled February 23, 2019 for the presidential and national assembly elections.

Generally, the elections have been peaceful and voters performed their franchise role. Most of the places visited, voters explained that the voting started on time as INEC ad-hoc staff arrived on time though some areas declared that INEC staff did not arrive until around 8.30am. For instance, at Ward C, Ogba, the conduct was well organised but INEC ad-hoc came at 8.30am.

In line with INEC regulations, each of the polling unit visited had police personnel on ground to ensure peaceful conduct of the elections and maintain law and order. In some areas, especially the estate residential areas, the conduct of the elections were well organised as the estate associations provided canopies, snacks and bottled water for the voters. From Toyin in Iju-Ishaga area to Elliot, Obawole, Iju road, Pen Cinema, Ogba, Ikeja areas of Lagos state, voters conducted themselves peacefully.

IMG_20190223_113837.jpgThe ever Lagos busy roads were deserted and teenagers and youths turned the roads to football playing fields. For instance, the stretch of Agege road linking Oba Akran was turned to football fields by different groups of youths.

Similarly, there were military presences on some of the roads as they blocked some portions of the roads and only opened it to people who have genuine business especially those that had to carry out duties on the Election Day. At Fagba junction, Pen Cinema, Akilo road, Mosalasi Alhaja, Agege market all recorded the presence of military personnel.

Speaking with sdnonline.net, Mr. Bankole Adetola, a resident who cast his vote at Oladipo-Ayeni, Obawole Ward F confirmed that the elections have been peaceful.

“There is no problem here. It has been peaceful. The INEC officials came on time and we have two places where you check your names. Immediately you find your name, you proceed to the INEC staff who check your name and you cast your vote. However, some people don’t know that immediately you check your name you vote; they thought you can go home and come later to vote,” he said.

As at the time sdnonline.net got to some polling units, voting were almost concluded as at 11.20am as was witnessed at Ward F, Oloti polling unit, Ikeja. This could be as a result of the area being industrial area with residents, as the area is a buzzing business district rather than residential.

However, in few instances, voters expressed that the card readers did not work though they found their names on the list. They were however allowed to vote without the card reader, once their names was on the voters list.

It was also noticed that there were quite a number of polling units in close proximity to where residents could easily vote. In some instances, major streets had up to three polling units, so it was easily accessible to the electorates.

Nigeria Decides: IPC tasks journalists, relevant stakeholders on safety consciousness

International Press Centre (IPC) has tasked journalists and other relevant stakeholders on safety consciousness in the performance of key institutional roles as the re-scheduled presidential and national assembly elections holds on Saturday.

IPC Director, Mr. Lanre Arogundade sounded this caution in the light of the emerging accusations and counter accusations by political actors and other players in the electoral process.

“It is very important for journalists covering the general elections to be safety conscious in the discharge of their duties, and to avoid situations that will put them in harms way.  Journalists are expected to be non-partisan. Being partisan is not only about being a member of a political party, but also includes the use of expressions and/or impressions with statements,  tags, symbols and colours that portray or identify with a particular political party or personality,” he said.

Arogundade also admonished other stakeholders, especially the security agencies to undertake their tasks in a very professional manner.

“The security agencies in recent times are the perpetrators of violence against journalists. Recent incidents as witnessed in the Osun re-run elections had shown vagrant abuse and violations of the rights of journalists. The security forces should note that the media is a critical part of the electoral process and so the media should be accorded due rights and privileges to enable them carry out their social obligations as partners in enshrining the credibility of the electoral process.

“Other stakeholders, including elections observers should also proactively provide journalists covering the elections with information to ensure that all work together for the credibility of the electoral process,” he added.

As part of initiatives to keep tab on the safety consciousness of journalists, IPC said that there are safety alert officers across the zones who journalists under threat can report to.

Arogundade said that in cases of attacks or insecurity issues, concerned journalists on the field can contact any of the following persons:

Lanre Arogundade (Director, IPC) – 08023186845

Melody Akinjiyan (Safety Alert Officer, IPC) – 08132776441

Nwaebuni Rosemary (South South) – 08035146978

Bello MujtabaRamalan (North West) – 08037004618

Moses Ojo (South West) – 08034399077

AbdulkareemHaruna (North East) – 08057244878

Elizabeth Achuagu (South East) – 08033538251

Naomi Okoh (North Central) – 07031265156

He therefore enjoined journalists to report any threats to the National Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) or the NUJ state chapters.

2019: Nigerian media need to do more in coverage of women, PLWD

By Funmi Falobi

Nigerian media have been urged to do more in the coverage of women and people living with disability that are vying for political positions in the 2019 elections. The media is also tasked to report challenges that People Living with Disability (PLWD) face in their quest to exercise their civic rights before and during the elections.

The analysis of trends in the reporting of 2019 electoral process by 12 print/online newspapers for September to December 2018 undertaken by the International Press Centre, IPC, with support of the European Union, EU-SDGN revealed that men dominated the space of media reports with 1, 417 mentions, representing 50.61% as against women which have 102 mentions, representing 3.54%, while youths have 109 mentions, representing 3.7% and PLWD have 33, mentions representing 1.14%.

DSC_2544.JPGReviewing the monitoring project, Mr. Richard Akinnola, Executive Director, Centre for Free Speech said, “There is gender imbalance either by those interviewed or those reported in the media. There is concentration of the big political parties in the media to the detriment of the small political parties.

All Progressives Party, APC, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, got 85% while other parties got insignificant mentions of 25% in the monitored newspapers. As journalists, we focus majorly on big parties to the detriment of small parties.”

 Director, IPC, Lanre Arogundade said that there are frameworks that govern media coverage of elections and they deal with its social responsibilities, reporting the underprivileged like the PLWD.

_20190213_113932.jpg“Media content monitoring is very important. IPC is not the only one monitoring the media, the international organizations also do and they release reports after the elections. The public is also interested in how well the media is doing, to see to what extent we capture the public interest. If the media get it right, the electoral body will also get it right. One single report can spark up crisis via hate speech. As journalists, our duty is to go beyond what politicians say and report peaceful conduct of elections”, he said.

 Arogundade however enjoined journalists on duty to be safety conscious on the elections day saying “there are some violence flash point like Lagos, Ogun, Kaduna, Kano, Zamfara, Benue, Plateau, Rivers as well as North East. Journalists should be safety conscious while covering the elections.”

DSC_2529.JPG On her part, Director, International Cooperation, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Elizabeth Egharevba commended the project. Egharevba represented by Mr. Nwaeze Afam, Project Officer, EU-SDGN commended the EU for supporting IPC to carry out the project in strengthening democratic governance in Nigeria.

Similarly, Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalist, NUJ, Lagos chapter, Dr. Qasim Akinreti lauded IPC for working in the interest of Nigerian journalists while urging journalists not to be partisan during their coverage saying, “report the elections, in doing so, be extremely responsible and careful, so we don’t end up reporting you as a casualty of the election”, adding hopefully that, “It won’t be as much violence as people have predicted.” 

DSC_2539.JPG

DSC_2552.JPG
Cross section of participants at the event

MRA Urges Nigerians to Use Radio as a Tool for Building Peace

+By our Correspondent+

The  Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has called on Nigerians to use radio as a tool for building peace across political, economic, religious and ethnic divides particularly at this period when Nigeria is holding general elections to elect a new set of leaders.

MRA made the call in a statement issued in Lagos by Mr. Ayode Longe, MRA’s Programme Director, to commemorate the eighth edition of the World Radio Day, a Day celebrated every year on February 13, and in line with the theme of the celebration: Dialogue, Tolerance and Peace.

Mr. Longe said, “Radio has touched billions of lives around the world positively and made a lot of impact; and with the convergence of technology, this impact is expanding. The world needs to explore every avenue to strengthen radio and make it a tool for dialogue, tolerance and peace, in line with the theme for the 2019 celebration of the World Radio Day.”

He noted that the world, including Nigeria, has witnessed so many crises. “The world needs peace through tolerance and dialogue and radio being the cheapest and farthest reaching means of communication is so much suited to bring peace to the world and technological advancement has made radio portable and its signals accessible from remote areas using different gadgets and devices, including even the most basic mobile phones available today”, he said.

Mr. Longe identified the importance of radio in many different ways and how it can be used to promote peace, noting that it is a medium that is being used to foster participation and engagement in local languages; it is the first medium people turn to for information and updates about just anything including during natural disasters, wars, as well as communal, national and political activities of all hues.

He said: “Radio is unarguably the widest reaching medium of communication in Nigeria, as it is in most other parts of the world. It has become cheap to acquire and maintain, very portable and is a highly ubiquitous means of receiving real time information, entertainment and education.”

He noted that this year’s theme was very appropriate, saying it is coming at about the time of Nigeria’s general elections which have frequently been characterized by violence in the past. He stressed that for free, fair and peaceful elections in Nigeria, there is need for tolerance from everybody, especially the political actors and their most ardent supporters, adding that dialogue will enhance understanding and tolerance which will ultimately bring about peace, and that the radio is best positioned to facilitate this.

He also called on all Nigerians, particularly broadcasters, to use radio to douse tension and ensure peace, reminding them that radio has the potential to stoke violence and as well as to be an instrument for building peace.

World Radio Day was proclaimed at the 36th session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 2011 to take place on February 13 each year. It was then unanimously endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly on January 14, 2013 at its 67th session as a UN Day. The Day commemorates the establishment of the UN R on February 13, 1946 and is now set aside as the day to celebrate radio as a medium to improve international cooperation between broadcasters and to encourage networks and community radio alike to promote access to information, freedom of expression and gender equality over the airwaves.

2019: US, UK reiterate support for free, fair, peaceful elections

…to sanction violators of peaceful democratic process

=By Funmi Falobi=

United States and United Kingdom have reiterated their support for a genuine free, fair, transparent and peaceful 2019 elections in Nigeria.

According to the two world power, the conduct of the coming elections in the country is important not only for Nigeria, but for the African continent.

The US in a statement said that, “The United States government does not support any specific candidate or party in Nigeria’s upcoming elections.  The United States supports the Nigerian democratic process itself.  We support a genuinely free, fair, transparent, and peaceful electoral process.

“We, and other democratic nations, will be paying close attention to actions of individuals who interfere in the democratic process or instigate violence against the civilian population before, during, or after the elections.  We will not hesitate to consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for those found to be responsible for election-related violence or undermining the democratic process.  Under U.S. immigration law, certain violations may also lead to restrictions on family members.”

The US added that it welcome the signing of peace pledges by Nigerian candidates and their commitment to a peaceful electoral process.

Similarly, the UK said that it will continue to provide significant support to Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and to Nigerian civil society to help them deliver credible elections.  It further said that it will also regularly engage with actors across the political spectrum to encourage them to respect electoral rules and maintain an atmosphere of peace and calm.

“The British High Commission in Abuja would like to reaffirm our strong support for free, fair and peaceful elections in Nigeria. We and our international partners remain committed supporters of Nigeria’s democracy.  We do not support any party or individual and believe that the Nigerian people should be able to choose their leaders in an environment free from hate speech and insecurity. “

The UK said it will deploy an extensive observation mission for the forthcoming elections, including coordinating with the European Union, EU’s Election Observation Mission.  “Our monitors will in particular be looking out for any attempts to encourage or use violence to influence the elections, including on social media. We would like to remind all Nigerians that where the UK is aware of such attempts, this may have consequences for individuals.  These could include their eligibility to travel to the UK, their ability to access UK based funds or lead to prosecution under international law.

 

MRA, IMS nominated for global freedom of expression awards

 

 

=By Funmi Falobi=

 

Two Nigerian non-governmental organisations, Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and the Institute for Media and Society (IMS) have been named among 15 “Global champions of free expression” that have been shortlisted for the 2019 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards.

In a statement issued in London, the United Kingdom-based campaigning organisation, Index on Censorship, announced the 15 shortlisted individuals and organisations from around the world, saying they were drawn from more than 400 crowd sourced nominations which include “artists, writers, journalists and campaigners fighting for freedom of expression against immense obstacles.”

“Free speech is the cornerstone of a free society – and it’s under increasing threat worldwide. That’s why it’s more important than ever to recognise the groups and individuals willing to stand up for it,” Ms Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship, said in the statement.

The Awards fellowships are offered in four categories, namely: Arts, Campaigning, Digital Activism and Journalism. Final winners in each category will be announced at a gala ceremony to be held in London on April 4, 2019.

Judges for this year’s awards include the award-winning investigative journalist and Rappler.com Editor-in-Chief, Maria Ressa; actor and filmmaker Khalid Abdalla; computer scientist and author Dr. Kate Devlin; and writer and social activist Nimco Ali.

Index on Censorship noted in its statement that Media Rights Agenda “has spent the last two decades working to improve media freedom and freedom of expression in Nigeria by challenging the government in courts,” adding that “Through its active legal team, MRA has initiated strategic litigation targeting dozens of institutions, politicians and officials to improve the country’s legal framework around media freedom.”

It said MRA’s “persistent campaigning and lawsuits on freedom of information have helped improve access to government-held data.”

Index on Censorship noted that IMS “aims to improve the country’s media landscape by challenging government regulation and fostering the creation of community radio stations in rural areas at a time when local journalism globally is under threat” and praised the organisation for combining “research and advocacy to challenge legal restrictions on the media as well as practical action to encourage Nigerians to use their voices.”