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A Must Read: Nigeria holds its breadth as Edo elects next governor Tommorrow.

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With the stage set for the Edo State governorship poll tommorrow Wednesday, September 28, Nigerians are waiting with bated breath for a free, fair and transparent election process. But once again, the build-up has been marred by allegations of fraud, even after the elections were postponed. An allegation of connivance to rig the polls was levelled against INEC, the Police and the ruling APC. The PDP in a statement by its publicity secretary, Chris Nehekhare claimed it had credible information that there was an arrangement by the APC to thumbprint fake ballot papers and take them to local councils where its candidate is expected to lose. He further said there was another plot to plant fake permanent voters cards on PDP supporters and get them arrested. Although the Edo the state police command and INEC have in separate reactions, denied the allegation, these are ominous signs that portend to trouble. If, as we say, the morning tells the day, then politicians, their supporters, power mongers, security agencies and all sorts of irredentists who take advantage of such situations of chaos should spare a thought for peace and security in Edo state and indeed the country.

According to the PDP, this sinister plot hatched between the APC and INEC with the connivance of the police was a ploy to manipulate or disrupt the results on the field at polling stations where they may be losing the elections. “They are planning to destabilize the election at Uromi, Ovia and parts of Oredo in order to provoke inconclusive elections in their areas of weakness. We are also reliably informed that members of the APC have been granted remote access to the INEC servers and its e-collation platforms. We are informed that certain officials of the commission had granted the APC real time access to the platforms in furtherance of their plan,” the PDP statement said.

Interestingly, the two governorship candidates, who hail from the ancient Benin Kingdom, have served the state in various capacities and on the platform of the same political party before this contest separated them. This, of course, could make the contest very divisive. On an optimistic note, it could also make it less so! Nigerians hope the latter prevails. What is more, incumbent Governor Adams Oshiomhole who is rounding off his constitutional second term has presided over a relatively peaceful state. While he is entitled to some partisanship as expected of an outgoing governor who would want his legacies consolidated by a successor, the least that is expected of Oshiomhole, a well-known unionist is to help ensure that the will of the Edo people prevails at the ballot box. That is the only way to guard his reputation as a statesman.

The APC governorship candidate, Godwin Obaseki defeated other aspirants at the APC primaries of Saturday, June 18, while Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who will fly the PDP flag, won his party’s ticket on June 20. Ize-Iyamu and Obaseki have both been in the same political camp before going their separate ways.

Ize-Iyamu, a pastor, is a former Chief of Staff and Secretary to Edo State government. He was an APC bigwig before decamping to the PDP. Ize-Iyamu was also the National Vice-Chairman, South-South Zone of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). He was the director general of Oshiomhole’s second term campaign organization in 2012. He had also once coordinated the office of the Goodluck/Sambo campaign organization on the PDP platform.

Obaseki was managing director and board chairman of Afrinvest (West Africa) Ltd until June 2016. He served on the Presidential Committee on the Reform of the Nigerian Pensions System; and also on the Committee on Reactivation of the Nigerian Bond Market set up by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). He is an active member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and currently serves in its Governing Council. He has also served on many NSE committees. In 2001, he was nominated Global Leader of Tomorrow (GLT) by the World Economic Forum. He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers and an alumnus of the Lagos Business School. He is the founding and current Chairman of Edo State Economic and Strategy Team which was inaugurated by Governor Oshiomhole in March 2009. So, both men come to the race with good enough credentials as managers and politicians.

Next Wednesday’s election offers another important test case for what to expect in 2019 and INEC should seize the moment to send the right signals about its capacity to organize free, fair and credible elections. With only 1,925,105 registered voters, INEC has more than adequate material, personnel and security wherewithal to do a diligent job in Edo, if it wants to. Therefore, there was no excuse for INEC, to have postponed the election from September 10, to September 28 after deploying all the requisite logistics, other than gross incompetence, partiality, corruption and mischief. The postponement of the vote over some imaginary security threats led to all sorts of speculations and opened the electoral umpire to charges of impartiality; and in the process, undermined its own credibility. INEC now has a historic opportunity to try to salvage its increasingly battered public image and gain some measure of public respectability.

As this is the second state-wide election to be organized by new INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, expectations are high that INEC would discharge itself creditably. The first election on Yakubu’s watch was in Kogi where a strange development neither envisaged by the constitution nor Electoral Act occurred: the presumed winner died before the results were announced and that created a new phrase in Nigeria’s political lexicon – “inconclusive election.” In Nigeria where cynicism, political opportunism and inordinate ambition is the currency of choice of politicians, the prospect of any “inconclusiveness” over the Edo election should be banished by INEC with fairness in its conduct of the poll.

INEC should ensure that Edo politicians are not given any opportunity to engage in a shouting match to the news media when certain hiccups occur. INEC should work hard to plug all loopholes and save itself any embarrassment. The politicians in Edo State must behave in a decorous manner if they are truly out for service to the people, and the security agencies must show a high degree of professionalism and neutrality. Election is a process that has many components and stages. The Election Day itself is however the most critical, when its integrity can be easily compromised and outcome discredited. Once trust, the building block of credibility of the process is doubtful, people and observers automatically suspect injustice and that can be the trigger of widespread violence.

Politicians, their supporters, power mongers, security agencies and all sorts of irredentists who take advantage of the absence of an Election Offences Tribunal should spare a thought for peace and security in the state and indeed the country. All told, the people of Edo State should also be conscious of the fact that extant electoral laws empower the election umpire, INEC, to suspend or cancel elections where actions are suspected to have compromised the integrity of the process. That is why all Nigerians need to reflect on the implications of their negative attitude before, during and after elections. The people of Edo should realize that they are the source and the pillars of democracy and good governance. They owe themselves the duty to make it work in their State. They should help deepen democracy by voting peacefully on Wednesday and ensuring that all votes count.

 

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Lawyers petition Senate over alleged oil theft in Niger Delta

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The lawyers said about $15 million per month accruable to the federal government could potentially be lost due to the absence of a functional measurement system for exported crude oil volumes at this Ugo Ocha terminal.

A group of lawyers has petitioned the Senate Ad-Hoc committee over alleged oil theft from the Ugo Ocha export terminal at OML 42 in the Niger Delta region.

The OML 42, an oil field located in the swamps of the western Niger Delta, is operated by NECONDE Energy Limited. The terminal has four flow stations with a combined production capacity of around 30,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd).

The lawyers complained that an average of one million barrels of Nigeria’s crude oil is taken away monthly by the company without accurate measurement – due to the absence of meters at this export terminal.

In the petition seen by PREMIUM TIMES and presented at the committee’s investigative hearing on “Oil Lifting, Theft and the Impact on Petroleum Production and Oil Revenues” on 21 September, the lawyers said since the terminal was established in 2017, NECONDE has frustrated efforts by the federal government to install a metering system also known as LACT Unit at the terminal. The company, they said, continues to operate the terminal in full violation of the federal government’s requirement for accurate custody transfer measurement at all export terminals.

The petition, dated 21 September, was submitted through O. F. Emmanuel & Co. It comes on the heels of oil theft and vandalism in the Nigerian oil sector.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) disclosed that it loses 470,000 bpd of crude oil amounting to $700 million monthly due to oil theft.

This paper also reported how Nigeria, amid dwindling revenue, lost $10 billion to crude oil theft in seven months.

The lawyers, in the petition signed by the Principal Partner, Oluwatosin F. Emmanuel, alleged that as of the time of the petition, there are no meters at the Ugo Ocha export terminal to accurately determine the volumes of Nigeria’s crude oil sold to foreign buyers.

They said enormous amounts of revenue – to the tune of $15 million per month – accruable to the Federal Government of Nigeria could potentially be lost due to the absence of a functional measurement system for exported crude oil volumes at this terminal.

They also claimed that NECONDE continues to operate the terminal in flagrant violation of the federal government’s mandate for accurate custody transfer measurement at all export terminals.

“Been aware of this monumental revenue loss, the government of Nigeria, through NUPRC, recently placed a ban on all exports of crude oil from NECONDE’s OML 42 UGO Ocha terminal until a functional LACT Unit is installed on the terminal,” part of the petition read. “In spite of the subsisting government ban, NECONDE continues to export Nigeria’s crude oil illegitimately from the Ugo Ocha terminal while frustrating every effort to install a LACT Unit on the terminal.”

They asked the Senate panel to ensure that the ban on exports from the Ugo Ocha terminal is enforced and that the company is compelled to install a 1.25 million barrels per day LACT Unit (metering system).

The lawyers further prayed the committee to direct the Nigerian Navy to “arrest and detain the vessel “MT COPPER SPIRIT” which is currently lifting oil at the Ugo Ocha terminal, direct the NMDPRA and NUPRC to cancel all barging permits granted to NECONDE and NPDC until a LACT Unit is installed and commissioned at the Ugo Ocha terminal – as directed by NUPRC and direct the Nigeria Ports Authority to prohibit the movement of crude oil barges and tankers to and from the Ugo Ocha terminal.”

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Just In: Again, national grid collapses to zero megawatts

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Nigeria’s national grid crashed to zero megawatts (MW) at 10:51am on Monday, causing power outage nationwide outage.

The collapse occurred days after electricity consumers said they had enjoyed improved supply.

The national electricity grid as of 10am on Monday had 3,712MW generated from 21 Generation Companies (GenCos) before it dropped to 0MW one hour after.

According to the information from the System Operations, a section of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), only Afam IV was on the grid but with zero supply as of 12noon.

As of Sunday, the highest generation was 4,100MW while the lowest was 3,652MW with the frequency hovering between 49.04 Hertz (Hz) and 50.34Hz.

Since July 1 this year, consumers said power supply had increased in their various areas.

For instance, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) recently confirmed increment in its daily allocation to over 500MW from the actual 300MW it had distributed before then.

Though the national grid had not cross 5,000MW, Daily Trust observed that level of load rejection especially around the DisCos’ networks had dropped significantly with some customers entitled to five-hour supply, recording over 12 hours daily.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had attributed the improvement in power supply nationwide to the partial activation of contracts that seeks to hold sector operators liable for deliberate incompetence.

The national grid collapsed twice, in July and in August but was quickly restored and power supply improvement was sustained before the latest system collapse on Monday.

According to records, this is the seventh system collapse this year, much more than the three recorded last year.

Although TCN, the national grid manager was yet to establish the cause of the crash, some insider said it could be as a result of a maintenance of the 330 kilovolts Jos – Bauchi transmission line maintenance slated for Monday.

Some DisCos including Kaduna Electric, Enugu, and Kano, had already communicated the nationwide outage to their customers noting that efforts were ongoing to restore supply.

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Police Deploy More Personnel To Seaports In Lagos Over Nigerian Students, NANS’ Protest

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Following the ASUU strike that has kept university students across the nation at home for over seven months, NANS declared “Occupy The Airport” nationwide protest.

The Nigeria Police Force has announced that it has deployed personnel to adequately secure seaports across the nation following a threat by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to shut down commercial activities at the nation’s busiest seaports ¬¬¬¬¬¬- the Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports in protest over the lingering strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Following the ASUU strike that has kept university students across the nation at home for over seven months, NANS declared “Occupy The Airport” nationwide protest.
The aggrieved students who protested on Monday at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport also reportedly threatened to ground commercial activities at the Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports in Lagos State.
Disclosing the security beef up to Daily Trust, the Commissioner of Police in charge of Western Port Authority Command, Jonathan Towuru, said security was tightened around the Western Ports to avoid any breakdown of law and order although the student body did not show up as threatened.
The commissioner said, “People went about their businesses while operations at the terminals went on seamlessly, without any hindrance. But if the students eventually turn up, we will engage them in discussions. I must say that they conducted themselves well on Monday at the airport even though you still saw police monitoring the protest.”

 

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