Posted by This Day Online on
A N20 billion cheque issued by the Indep-endent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the purchase of some electoral materials has bounced, its Chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu, said yesterday.
• Says AC not recognised
A N20 billion cheque issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the purchase of some electoral materials has bounced, its Chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu, said yesterday.
According to the commission’s chairman, the cheque bounced because the money was trapped at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), but added that the problem would not affect preparations for 2007 general elections.
Iwu, who also told newsmen in Abuja that the Action Congress, which was launched recently in the federal capital, was not recognised by the commission.
Saying INEC had a fallback arrangement, he added that nothing would be allowed to hinder the commission's operations.
The chairman said INEC had fulfilled all the requisite “due process” requirements, adding that the cheque, nonetheless, bounced because it had been embargoed.
Iwu, who described the incident as an embarrassment, gave assurance that the commission had factored all the likely lapses into its planning processes.
“As far as we are concerned at the commission, we are not bothered by that and we shall remain focused in achieving our aims and objectives,'' he said.
Iwu, however, conceded that it would be distracting for INEC to be dragged into any controversy, as the commission was currently occupied with plans for revalidation of voters’ register that would commence on Oct. 7. He disclosed that materials for the revalidation had been ordered for, while the commission had taken delivery of some. The INEC chairman reiterated his determination to conduct free, fair and acceptable elections in 2007, in spite of the sentiments of some cynics.
In a related development, the commission’s chairman at a one-day seminar in Abuja yesterday said the purported merger of parties to form the Action Congress (AC) had no recognition in the electoral law of the country.
Iwu disclosed this at the National Orientation Agency (NOA) one-day capacity-building programme for state directors and non-state actor partners on grassroots communication and advocacy efforts in preparation for the National Voters Registration Exercise.
AC recently formed as a merger of several parities, including the Advanced Con-gress of Democrats (ACD), Alliance for Democracy (AD) and All People’s Congress (APC), was launched in Abuja two weeks ago.
He said INEC was yet to receive any letter of request for merger of parties and stressed that with 30 days notification that must be given to INEC before conventions are held, there would be no merger in 2007. “For you to merge you have to hold parallel conventions and then arrive at a resolution separately to merge. INEC must be given 30 days notification before conventions are held and the INEC Act says there cannot be merger after October 14, 2006. So it is clear there will not be mergers in 2007,” he said.
On the process of recall after elections, the INEC boss said the process of recall was cumbersome because the voters registration was not properly done but with INEC’s effort of using Direct Data Capture, the process would be easier henceforth.
NOA Director General, Alhaji Idi Farouk, said in his opening remark that the programme with the theme “Towards Effective and Intense Grassroots Comm-unication and Advocacy, Strategies for Successful Voters Registration Exercise” was aimed at equipping NOA field officers with a broadened horizon of the subject matter, putting them on a sound footing so as to empower Nigerians from 18 years and above to actively participate in the exercise.
He said the conduct of free, fair and generally acceptable election was pivotal to the entrenchment and sustenance of democracy.
He said: “To many Nigerians, all other development indices of our great country is hinged on the success of next year’s election. This presupposes that all hands must be on deck to work assiduously to achieve an exercise that is uniquely successful. We must all contribute our quota to change the negative mindset of our people.
“We must inspire confidence and hope that the nation is truly moving fast towards cleansing the basic institutions of society from decay. Nigerians need to know that the very least that a democracy requires is for all responsible adults to familiarize themselves with the issues and the candidates as to cast informed votes in each election”.
Farouk however, cautioned those who may consider the possibility of undermining the process that Nigerians are fully mobilized to vehemently resist any attempt by any group or individual to truncate the process and that is a major thrust of NOA campaign.
In his opening address, the Chairman of the Workshop, Alhaji Ahmadu Kurfi (Maradin Katsina, Hakimin Kurfi), said a good, accurate and comprehensive register is the foundation of free and fair elections.
He said INEC and Federal Government must ensure that the lapses identified do not rear their ugly heads again.
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