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24-Apr-2024 Declaration of African Counter Terrorism Meeting in Abuja

Declaration of African Counter Terrorism Meeting in Abuja

We, the Heads of State and Government of Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, the Prime Minister of Mauritania, the Ministers of Defence, the National Security Advisors, and Senior Government Representatives of African Union Member States, the African Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanism, African Union Commission, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, Africa’s Development Partners, and over twenty Civil Society Organisations converged at the High – Level African Counter – Terrorism Meeting, from 22nd to 23rd April 2024, in Abuja, Nigeria, under the theme: “Strengthening Regional Cooperation and Institution Building to Address the Evolving Threat of Terrorism in Africa”:

  • Recognizethe continuing relevance of the instruments adopted by the African Union/Organization of African Unity (OAU), including the Communiqués of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the United Nations Security Council as well as relevant normative frameworks of all participating Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms, aimed at addressing the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism on the African Continent;
  • Recallin particular the desire of the African Union to silence the guns on the Continent by the year 2030 and note the fact that the spread of terrorism and violent extremism in different parts of the African Continent poses a significant threat to peace, security, and stability in Africa, as well as hinder progress being made towards the achievement of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and African Union Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want;
  • Acknowledgethat the growing activities of terrorist groups and the lethality of their attacks particularly in parts of West Africa and the Sahel, Central, Eastern and Northern Africa, is exacerbating insecurity in these regions;
  • Notethat terrorist groups with affiliations to Al-Qaeda and/or Da’esh capitalize on local grievances, frequently rooted in inequalities, poor governance, lack of development, violations and abuses of human rights, as well as the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, to forge extensive operational networks and disseminate radical ideologies; Further notes that these groups exploit instability and conflict to escalate attacks across the continent and expand their zone of influence and control;

 

  • Acknowledge the need to adequately address the root causes and structural drivers of terrorism, violent extremism in Africa and emphasize the imperative for greater collective action in addressing the challenges of terrorism and violent extremism on the Continent given its spiral effects;
  • Guided by our desire to have an important platform for focused discussions, exchange of experiences, and identification of practical strategies to address the evolving threat of terrorism on the continent, consider the High–Level African Counter–Terrorism Meeting held from 22nd– 23rd April 2024, as one in the series of events being considered as a part of the Abuja Process for addressing terrorism concerns and underscore the following as its focus:
  1. a) an African-led and African-owned approach to countering terrorism;
  1. b) strengthening regional and sub-regional cooperation,;
  2. c) encouraging prevention and effective counter measures to address the spread of terrorism, ;
  3. d) build capacities of Member States critically challenged by terrorism and violent extremist tendencies.
  • Recognised that the United Nations New Agenda for Peace seeks to enhance global peace and security through the building of trust, solidarity, universality and multilateralism, grounded in the UN Charter and further noting that the UN Summit of the Future, to be held in September 2024, in New York, presents an opportunity to build a more effective, inclusive, and renewed multilateralism tuned to the needs of the 21st century, including through forging international efforts to counter terrorism, and deepening investment in regional security and recognizing that the collective actions embodied in the “Pact for the Future,” of the Summit are intended to strengthen dedicated support to peace, security, and stability in Africa;
  • Guided by the above understanding, the High – Level African Counter – Terrorism Meeting was organized around the following four sessions:
  1. The evolving landscape of terrorist threat and operations in Africa;
  1. Lessons Learned and Best Practices in countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism;
  1. Enhancing regional capacities to counter and prevent terrorism on the continent;
  2. Strengthening cooperation between international partners and African Member States affected by the scourge of terrorism.

       Hereby declare to undertake the following:

      ON THE EVOLVING TERRORIST THREAT LANDSCAPE IN AFRICA

  • Unequivocally condemn all manifestations of terrorism and violent extremism on the Continent of Africa and expressly reaffirm our collective commitment to strengthening the security of African States in line with the Common African Defense and Security Policy and within the spirit of finding African solutions to Africa’s security challenges;
  • Condemn in particular, increasing terrorist threat against vulnerable targets, including critical infrastructure and public places in some parts of the Continent;
  • Urge international partners to similarly affirm zero tolerance for terrorism regardless of the motives, and to take appropriate practical measures to ensure that their respective territories are not used by terrorists for the organization and or financing of terrorist acts to be committed against other States or their citizens;
  • Pay tribute to all African citizens and peace keeping and peace enforcement personnel who paid the ultimate sacrifice combating terrorist groups in the Continent and beyond;
  • Acknowledge the existence of critical gaps in counter-terrorism capabilities of most African countries and highlight the intersection of socio-economic disparities, political instability, armed conflict, porous borders, lack of cross-border cooperation, and governance challenges in the evolution of terrorist activities on the Continent;
  • Emphasise that only through unity and cooperation can Africa Member States be able to effectively counter terrorism on the Continent; In that connection, underscore the imperative for African Member States to prioritize countering terrorism within their territories and promoting balanced implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, adopted through consensus by all Member States of the United Nations, as well as the AU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism (1999); Plan of Action on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism in Africa, (2002) and the Protocol to the OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism (2004), and Malabo Declaration on Terrorism and Unconstitutional Changes of Government in Africa (2022);
  • Note the imperative for effective responses to issues of terrorism and violent extremism on the Continent including through implementation of comprehensive border strategies and national action plans;

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  • Agreed that climate insecurity could exacerbate fragile contexts as well as act as a risk multiplier in combination with other underlying drivers of violent extremism conducive to terrorism;
  • Condemn the growing use of a variety of new technologies for terrorist purposes, including use of remotely operated systems, to prepare or conduct terrorist attacks;
  • Express concerns over the undue targeting of youth online by terrorism groups, including through online gaming, gaming adjacent platforms and various social media platforms and in this regard, underscore the need for innovative approaches for countering online radicalization and exposure of African Youths to violent extremist tendencies and the recruitment efforts by terrorist groups. Also underscore the need to counter all mis/disinformation and hate speech leading to violent extremism, and encourage African Member States to leverage opportunities offered by digital tools, including artificial intelligence, to strengthen their counter-terrorism and preventive measures; Underline that respect for international humanitarian law, protection of civilians, ensuring humanitarian access and the prevention of the illicit sales of small arms and light weapons must be prioritized by all, in conflict contexts.

 

       ON COUNTERING TERRORISM AND PREVENTING VIOLENT EXTREMISM CONDUCIVE TO TERRORISM:         LESSONS LEARNED AND BEST PRACTICES

  • Shared lessons learned and good practices from national, regional, and global experiences in combating terrorism and preventing violent extremism and resolve to explore ways to address conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, including prioritizing investments in education, integration of counter-terrorism and violent extremism efforts into broader agendas linked to the SDG 16 and relevant aspirations of Agenda 2063
  • Reiterate the importance of promoting effective African-led and African-owned strategies for countering terrorism and in this regard, underscore the need to explore practical strategies for community-led approaches and meaningful/safe engagement of local communities, with the need for the United Nations, Africa’s Development partners and the international community to support such efforts that is grounded in local contexts and needs to ensure the achievement of the intended outcomes from their engagement;
  • Emphasise the need for African Leaders to promote youth empowerment and engagement, at both the strategic and operational levels, as an imperative for success given their roles as positive change-makers;
  • Underscore the need for the African Members States supported by the international community, particularly the United Nations and International partners to strengthen their respective control of arms and dual – use goods;
  • Reaffirm the importance of adopting comprehensive national, regional, and continental strategies to tackle the escalating menace of terrorism and its underlying causes, as well as all the factors that contribute to its expansion and dissemination; and in this context, we emphasize the need for countries affected by terrorism to mainstream political solutions to their ongoing security and military measures, and Stress the urgency of developing a comprehensive Continental Strategic Plan of Action on countering terrorism in Africa, to consolidate coordination and enhance actions;
  • Welcomed all African Member States that, at one point or the other, made efforts to address deep–rooted issues with genocidal potential, radicalization and violent extremism and in this connection, encourage peaceful settlement of underlying causes of inter and intra–community conflicts through the adoption of policies that discourages economic, religious and culture–based discriminatory practices/tendencies, the strengthening of inter and intra–community dialogues as well as the implementation of actions with potentials to consolidate social cohesion, promote the culture of peace, and prevent conflicts in societies;
  • Underline the need to promote the meaningful participation, leadership, and representation of women, youth, victims of terrorist activities and/or people in special situations in decision-making processes related to counter-terrorism;
  • Urge all United Nations and African Union Member States to enhance cooperation and collaboration in fighting the scourges of terrorism, radicalization and violent extremism and to deepen and intensify their collective security efforts, through joint operations, signing extradition agreements, as well as establishing platforms for sharing their experiences, best practices and lessons in preventing and combating terrorism, radicalization and extremism;
  • Emphasise the need to address terrorist propaganda based on inter–religious tensions and the clash of civilizations narrative; express respect for all faiths and belief systems noting that distorted narratives based on the misinterpretation and misrepresentation of religion to justify violence are often leveraged to recruit supporters, particularly foreign terrorist fighters, mobilize resources and garner support from sympathizers of terrorism groups and activities;
  • Call upon all external actors to cease support(s) to terrorist groups on the Continent and reiterate the request for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) from the Continent;
  • Acknowledge the establishment of the United Nations Integrated Border Stability Mechanism (IBSM) in 2023, considered that Models based on the IBSM framework could be useful for intercontinental, regional and sub-regional efforts and underscore the need for good practices on the prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration of FTFs to be strengthened and shared more widely, as has been done by UNOCT in collaboration with the Lake Chad Basin Commission in the past;
  • Recognise that innovative approaches, including those leveraging advanced behavioural science, are crucial for effectively tackling violent extremism and radicalization across the continent and in this regard, underscored that such strategies, as embodied in the work of the UNOCT Behavioural Insights Hub in Doha, could contribute significantly to building resilient societies better equipped to withstand and recover from the threats of extremism and radicalization;
  • Further recognise the importance of tackling terrorist financing through targeted and coordinated actions as well as the important role of international, regional, and sub-regional organizations in supporting African States, and in this regard, we welcome UNOCT’s commitment to deepening its support for FATF-Style Regional Bodies in Africa, particularly in the West African Sub – Region, as a way of by promoting the implementation of risk-based approaches to terrorist financing, and to ensure that resources are best allocated according to identified threats and documented vulnerabilities;
  • Resolve to strengthen our individual and collective fight against local and external financiers and funding sources for terrorism and terrorist activities in Africa and promote improvement in the management of natural resources in every part of the Continent;
  • Welcome the important role being played by International Centres for Counter Terrorism as independent think–and–do tanks shaping effective and evidence–based counter–terrorism and violent extremism policies, grounded in human rights and the rule of law across the world and in this connection, decide to upgrade the Nigerian National Counter–Terrorism Centre, Abuja, to a Regional Counter–Terrorism Centre;
  • Request the United Nations, particularly the United Nations Office for Counter–Terrorism and the United Nations Security Council, as well as the African Union, in particular, the African Union Peace and Security Council and the African Union Counter Terrorism Centre, and indeed, international partners, including the European Union, to provide the needed support and resources to ensure the upgrade as well as its immediate take off and effectiveness as a centre of excellence on issues of counter terrorism in Africa.

 

        ON ENHANCING REGIONAL CAPACITIES TO COUNTER AND PREVENT TERRORISM

  • Recognise the importance of promoting and effectively utilizing existing instruments and delivering on previous commitments, including those from the AU Extraordinary Summit held in Malabo in May 2022 and in this regard, we reiterate commitment to the implementation of the decisions related to counter-terrorism in the Declarations of the 16th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union on Terrorism and Unconstitutional Changes of Government;

 

  • Call for the long-anticipated activation of the AU Peace and Security Council’s Sub-Committee on Counter-Terrorism to be immediately and fully operationalised to enable it fulfil its advisory mandate;
  • Affirm that regional economic communities and regional mechanisms are the building blocks for Africa’s continental integration agenda, as well as its peace and security architecture, hence the need to harness the potential of these structures to help strengthen the coordination of counter-terrorism efforts and deliver impactful support where it is needed most.
  • Welcome the regional mechanisms and initiatives established to address security challenges, including sub-regional security arrangements, such as the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) against Boko Haram; Recall that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has stressed the imperative of improved coordination of counter-terrorism efforts, calling for the operationalization of the ECOWAS Standby Force;
  • Emphasise the need to further strengthen existing cooperation mechanisms at the regional and continental levels to enable them more effectively respond to the transnational nature of terrorism, and reiterated the imperative to connect counter-terrorism coordinators in various regions affected by terrorism on the African Continent for better coordination and the sharing of expertise and resources, where possible;
  • Express the desire of Regional Economic Communities and countries affected by the scourge of terrorism to benefit from the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact virtual platform; Urge all African Union Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms to fully utilize the cooperative mechanisms established to address country–and region–specific issues, most notably the Sahel Fusion and Liaison Unit (UFL), the Nouakchott Process on the Enhancement of Security Cooperation and the Operationalization of the African Peace and Security Architecture in the Sahelo–Saharan Region, the Djibouti Process and the Accra and other initiatives established to respond to growing insecurity linked to violent extremism in the regions;
  • Call for the enhancement of coordination mechanisms between the UN and regional organizations, economic communities/mechanisms, such as the African Union (AU), EAC, ECCAS, ECOWAS, IGAD, AIMC and SADC, toward the fostering of synergies in joint programming and the enhancement of information-sharing amongst all key actors;
  • Welcome UNOCT’s capacity building programmes and work in the areas of fusion cells, border security, behavioural insights, countering the financing of terrorism, small arms and light weapons, investigations, cyber, preventing and countering violent extremism and protection of victims of terrorism;
  • Welcome the ongoing commitment of the UNOCT’s to the enhancement of interagency coordination and information sharing and we emphasize the need for international and regional organizations as well as international partners to prioritize providing capacity-building support that responds to the reality of African Member States in different sub-regional arrangements, including through the work of the UNOCT Rabat Training Centre for Africa and the UNOCT Nairobi Office;
  • Recognise the need for Africa to build strong and professional armies, equipped with the correct ideology of Non-Sectarianism; Pan-Africanism; and Nationalism, in order to defeat terrorism; and in this regard, reiteratesthe call for the immediate operationalization of the African Standby Force (ASF), the finalization of the Memorandum of Understanding between the AU and African Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanism on the ASF and the strengthening of coordination between the African Union Peace and Security Council, Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms on its utilization;

 

         ON STRENGTHENING COOPERATION BETWEEN INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS AND AFFECTED                       AFRICAN MEMBER STATES

  • Emphasise the need to pursue a multidimensional approach in addressing the structural root causes and drivers of insecurity on the continent, including through the promotion of good governance, constitutionalism, human rights, adherence to the rule of law and democracy;
  • Underscore the need for the promotion of the nexus between peace, security and socio-economic development, and the prevention of the illicit flow of small arms and light weapons into Africa, as well as addressing in a comprehensive manner, the devastating impact of climate change on livelihoods;

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  • Highlight the need to clearly identify priority threats and capacity gaps for targeted responses underscored the need to explore ways to bolster collaboration between international funding partners and African Member States to effectively prevent and/or counter terrorists activities on the Continent;
  • Stress the importance of including non-traditional partners like the private sector, think tanks, and academic institutions, in identifying threats and co-designing initiatives;
  • Underscore the need international partners to respect the sovereignty of African States facing terrorism challenges and to respect international law, particularly the regional ownership, and the enhancement of cooperation in all their assistance to African Member States facing terrorism challenges;
  • Acknowledge the important efforts of the African Union Commission (AUC) in operationalizing the AU Peace Fund as the fund remain a critical instrument for addressing urgent peace and security challenges on the Continent; while commending contributions made by African Member States in this regard

 

  • Underscore the need for coordinated efforts in countering terrorism in Africa as well as the role of adequate, sustainable and predictable funding in combating all forms of insecurity on the African Continent, particularly terrorism and violent extremism on the continent and in this regards, acknowledge the adoption of Resolution 2719 (2023) by the United Nations Security Council on financing of African Union-led Peace Support Operations and emphasized that although it fell short of the 100% access to UN assessed contribution that Africa requested as a way of guaranteeing predictable, adequate and sustainable financing of AU peace and security activities, Resolution 2719 (2023) could contribute to the funding requirement for combating terrorism and violent extremism in Africa, in all its forms and manifestations;
  • Resolve to scale up efforts to combat transnational organized crime especially the deliberate proliferation of illicit arms in Africa, including through enhanced intelligence sharing mechanisms, border management, cooperation and control and we call on the United Nations system and Agencies to support the development/adoption of robust frameworks and legislative, as well as the enhancement of the operational capacities of African Member States confronted by the challenges of terrorism and violent extremism and to contribute towards the sharing of good practices for the effective elimination of the supply of weapons to non – state armed groups in Africa;
  • Stress the urgent need for the improved deployment of greater support and resources towards strengthening cybersecurity activities in Africa and taking concrete steps to prevent the use of social media and other platforms by terrorists;
  • Commend, in this regard, the UNOCT for reaffirming its commitment to integrating emerging technologies in the framework of its technical assistance to African Member States, helping them to prevent and counter cybersecurity related emerging threats in a human rights-compliant and gender-responsive manner, and leveraging the potential of these technologies to support counter-terrorism and violent extremism efforts across the continent;
  • Emphasise the need for closer collaboration among national stakeholders, civil society, regional and sub-regional organizations as well as international partners, in delivering assistance and strengthening support and protection of victims of terrorism,;
  • Stress the importance of strengthening the capacities of the African Union Commission (AUC) and its specialised agencies, as well as those of Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms to enhance the effectiveness of their respective Member States combating terrorism and violent extremism;
  • Urge the AUC to continue providing technical assistance to its Member States through its Continental Counter-Terrorism Early Warning System and w encourage Member States and Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) to improve their coordination, strengthen regional and continental efforts and regularly exchange experiences in their combater terrorism efforts;
  • Welcome the commitment of the UNOCT, in coordination with other partners, to strengthen the development and implementation of dedicated packages of capacity building programmes and other forms of targeted supports to African States in the priority areas of assistance identified during the Meeting;

 

We fully concure that the Abuja Process is an African-led and African-owned series of meetings aimed at strengthening regional and sub-regional cooperation to counter terrorism and prevent violent extremism, strengthen coordination of counter-terrorism initiatives, share expertise, and mobilize resources for critical counter-terrorism programmes.

We thank the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, organisers of the High Level African Meeting on Counter Terrorism as well all Member States, international and regional organizations and civil society groups and international partners who participated in this event and contributed to the discussions.

Given that our objective is to make the process beneficial for all critical situations on the Continent, we decide that the dates and venue for the follow-up meetings of this Process will be made known in due course.

We request the African Union Peace and Security Council to consider and endorse this Declaration and to recommend same to the United Nations Security Council for appropriate action.

 

Adopted on this 23rd day of April, 2024 In Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria

10-Apr-2024 Naira appreciation calls for CBN to sustain Monetary Policies

Naira appreciation calls for CBN to sustain Monetary Policies

In recent times the Naira, Nigeria’s Legal Tender, appears to be getting stronger after an all-time low of N1,900 in exchange to the Dollar in February.

The Currency started its gradual appreciation in March, peaking at N1,230 at the Parallel Market in the first week of April.

Trouble had started for the Naira when President Bola Tinubu, shortly after assuming Office on May 29, announced his Administration’s decision to float the Currency.

Tinubu’s plan was contained in a comprehensive Monetary Policy Reforms meant to ensure a single Exchange Rate for Naira.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), afterwards, adopted a clean Float Foreign Exchange Management Policy and announced immediate changes to Operations in the Nigerian Foreign Exchange (FX) Market.

As part of its Policies to ensure Economic recovery, the CBN announced the unification of all Segments of the FX Market.

Previously, there were Foreign Exchange Rates for different purposes such as Medical Tourism and Studies, Pilgrimages, the Parallel Market and CBN among others.

The FX Market Liberalisation Policy saw the devaluation of the Naira as the “Willing Buyer, Willing Seller” Model was introduced.

The Apex Bank abolished the hitherto Multiple Exchange Rate windows and collapsed them into the Business-based Investors and Exporters (I&E) Window.

Afterwards, the Naira, which had exchanged at N400 to the Dollar at the CBN-controlled Official Window and N700 to the Dollar at the Parallel Market, went on a free fall, to over N1,000 to the Dollar in Decembere 2023.

The Policy also worsened Inflation in the Country, evidenced by sky-high Costs of Goods and Services.

Some Stakeholders believed that floating the Naira at that time, even with so much Dollar Illiquidity, was ill-advised.

Others urged the CBN to employ Monetary Policy Tools to stabilise and strengthen the Naira and to also tackle Inflation.

Okechukwu Unegbu, a past President of Chattered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), urged the CBN to use its Monetary Policy tools to moderate the Exchange Rate and drive down Inflation.

“President Bola Tinubu already took some sensitive Policy Decisions, even before appointing the CBN Governor and the Finance Minister.

“Floating the Naira was a major error that has caused the Nation so much pain,” he said.

Bismarck Rewane, an Economist and Managing Director of Financial Derivatives, a Business Management Consultancy Firm, said that loose Monetary Conditions were totally different from tight Monetary Policy.

“You fight loose Monetary Conditions by tightening Monetary Policy.

“There will be an effect of that because Interest Rate will increase, People will save more and consume less, and the Currency will stabilise over time. There is no quick-fix,” he said

However, at the Meeting of its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in February, the first to be chaired by Yemi Cardoso as Governor, the Apex Bank adopted an aggressive tightening of the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) by 400 Basis Points, from 18.75 per cent to 22.75 per cent.

Cardoso said that on-going Reforms at CBN would check rising Inflation and address distortions in the Foreign Exchange Market.

He listed some of the Reforms to include the Unification of the Foreign Exchange Market and the promotion of a Willing Buyer Willing Seller Model.

Carfoso said that other Reforms were removal of all limits on margins for International Money Transfer Operators (IMTO) Remittances, introduction of a two-way Quote System, and the broad Reforms in the Bureau De Change (BDC) Segment of the Market.

After that Meeting, the Naira began its progressive movement upward, an indication that the it responded positively to the MPC decision to tighten the lending rate aggressively.

Shortly after, the CBN announced revocation of Operational Licences of 4,173 Bureaux De Change (BDCs) for failure to observe some Regulatory Provisions.

The Apex Bank stated that it was revising the Regulatory and Supervisory Guidelines for BDC Operations in Nigeria, adding that compliance with the new requirements would be mandatory for all Stakeholders in the Sector.

Again, at its MPC Meeting in March, the CBN announced another aggressive Policy tightening, raising the MPR by another 200 Basis Points, from 22.75 per cent to 24.75.

Cardoso said that recent stability achieved in the Foreign Exchange Market were commendable and had started yielding results.

“The Committee noted with satisfaction the level of stability achieved in the Foreign Exchange Market in the last few weeks.

“This, in the view of Members, reflects the impact of the CBN’s recent Policy Actions and Reforms, as well as increased transparency in the Market.

“In addition, the Committee noted the efforts of the Apex Bank in offsetting verified Foreign Currency Obligations, an action that will greatly enhance Investor Confidence and attract Foreign Investments to Nigeria,” he said.

The President, Association of Bureau De Change of Nigeria (ABCON), Aminu Gwadabe, said that recent Monetary Policy Decisions of the CBN had made the Naira to gain value.

According to Gwadabe, the Dollar exchanging at between N1,300 and N1,900 was inorganic.

“I see the Naira maintaining its organic journey, which is N1,200 to the Dollar, ” he said.

He said that the CBN had taken a lot of measures to stabilise the Foreign Exchange Market by way of Treasury Bills that had attracted billions of Dollars, with the promise of almost $30bn coming in.

“The CBN has also fixed the Lending Rate to 24.75 per cent so as to reign in Inflation.

“The Apex Bank also raised the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) of Banks to reduce Liquidity that is chasing after the Dollar,” he said during a recent interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Gwadabe said the most effective measure was the inclusion of Bureaux De Change (BDCs) into the Official Foreign Exchange Window.

He said that the Security Agencies were also tracing Unearned Incomes that were used to chase Foreign Currencies.

“There is a lot of progress in that regard. A lot of Information on how stolen money is being moved around is being gathered.

“And now, there is deterrent. People are watching keenly now to know whether to speculate. The trajectory is sustainable,” he said.

The CBN recently sold N676.65bn through the Open Market Operation, (OMO), at a 21 per cent Interest Rate to manage Money Supply.

Findings by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) revealed that the CBN has sold Treasury Bills worth over N1trn since the First Quarter of 2024.

This is a move to mop up Excess Cash Liquidity in the Economy in a bid to further strengthen the Naira and also to tame Inflation.

The Apex Bank is projected to spend around N1.01trn in Interest Rate to defend the Naira.

Primarily, the move targets the management of the Banking System’s Liquidity to prevent an oversupply of Naira, which could trigger Inflationary pressures.

Also, it aims to provide an avenue for the CBN to stabilise the Financial Market by offering competitive Returns to Investors, thus aligning the Country’s Monetary Policy with its Economic Objectives.

The CBN also announced that it had processed and cleared an inherited backlog of $7bn in Foreign Exchange Claims to Beneficiaries, a step that has improved Investors’ Confidence in the Nigerian Economy.

However, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) complained about the effect of high Interest Rate of CBN’s Treasury Bill.

The LCCI Director-General, Chinyere Almona, said that such high Interest Rate was drying up Funds from the Private Sector into Government’s Treasuries.

She urged the CBN to reconsider its decision on Interest Rate hike.

She said that the objectives of the Apex Bank to curb Inflation and stabilise the Exchange Rate were commendable.

She, however, said that there was a need for such objectives to be achieved without impeding Private Sector endeavours and Economic expansion.

As Naira continues to respond positively to various Monetary Policy measures by the CBN, Stakeholders are hoping that the Currency sustains its upwards trajectory.

Most Nigerians project, at least, a two-digit Exchange Rate against the Dollar and other strong Currencies in the not too distant future. 

 

Credit Kadiri Abdulrahman/NAN

30-Mar-2024 Fact Check: Has FG, NLC, TUC agreed on N155,000 Minimum Wage?

Fact Check: Has FG, NLC, TUC agreed on N155,000 Minimum Wage?

CLAIM: A post on X (formerly Twitter) by one Ayofe on March 26, claimed that the Federal Government has agreed on N155,000 Minimum Wage with the Nigeria Labour Union (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

The X User said both the NLC and TUC Leaders had thanked all the Members involved in the Negotiations during a Press Conference.

“BREAKING NEWS”

The Federal Government has agreed on 155k as the new National Minimum Wage the NLC and TUC Chairmen respectively thanked all the Members involved in the Negotiations in a Press Conference and urged the Federal Government and State Governments to implement the Minimum Wage as earlier agreed on more details shortly…, claimed Ayofe in the Post.

As of March 28, more than 200,000 other Users have viewed the Post with 301 Retweets. Similarly, the Post has garnered 414 Comments with over 1000 Likes and 62 Bookmarks.

This Post has been generating mixed reactions from other X Users with many believing the story while others expressed doubt.

https://x.com/abdullahayofel/status/1772720739583443399?t=RqQqvD0djT2JPaESxkfiww&s=08

The same claim is also being circulated on WhatsApp and credited to the Punch Newspaper.

VERIFICATION: Checks by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reveals that an accord is yet to be reached amongst the 37-Man Tripartite Committee for the implementation of a new Minimum Wage.

The committee according to the release of the Federal Government comprised Representatives of the Federal and State Governments, Employers as well as the Labour.

More so, there has not been any Press Statement issued by any of the Parties involved in the Negotiations or a News Report from any credible News Platform on the purported Agreement.

Speaking with the Head of Information, NLC, Benson Upah, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that he was not aware of such development.

Similarly, the Deputy President I, TUC, Tommy Okon, said the Social Media User, who posted the Claim was only being sensational.

Okon said as a Leader in the TUC, he was not aware of such an Agreement.

“Maybe they agree with their own Union (Social Media User), because for us, there is nothing like that.

“There is nothing like that at all. I am not surprised because Social Media (Users) can decide to write anything and send it because there is no censorship.

“It is garbage in, garbage out; they can put anything, but it is unfortunate that we are still spreading false Information.

“That is not true; it is mischievous. We have not even started negotiating with the Government on the Minimum Wage.

“Let them not mislead the Public,” said the TUC Deputy President.

Also when a search was conducted on the site of the newspaper, such Report was not found on the News Site.

VERDICT: The claim that the Federal Government has agreed on N155,000 as new Minimum Wage with the Leadership of the Organised Labour is FALSE. While a Tripartite Committee including the Representatives of the Governments, Labour and the Employers, has been inaugurated for Negotiations, no Agreement is yet to be reached. 

 

Credit NAN/Usman Aliyu: Texts excluding Headlines

01-Jan-2024 Tinubu: I have taken some difficult decisions to save Nigeria from catastrophe

Tinubu: I have taken some difficult decisions to save Nigeria from catastrophe

Dear Compatriots,
 
It gives me immense joy to welcome each and everyone of you – Young and Old- to this brand New Year 2024. We must lift up our hands to Almighty God, in gratitude, for his grace and benevolence to our Country and our Lives in the Year 2023 that has just gone by.
 
Though the past Year was a very challenging one, it was eventful in so many ways. For our Country, it was a Transition Year that saw a peaceful, orderly and successful Transfer of Power from one Administration to another, marking yet another remarkable step in our 24 years of unbroken Democracy.
 
It was a Year, you the gracious People of this blessed Nation, entrusted your faith in me with a clear Mandate to make our Country better, to revamp our Economy, restore Security within our borders, revitalise our floundering Industrial Sector, boost Agricultural Production, increase National Productivity and set our Country on an irreversible path towards National greatness that we and Future Generations will forever be proud of.
 
The task of building a better Nation and making sure we have a Nigerian Society that cares for all her Citizens is the reason I ran to become your President. It was the core of my Renewed Hope Campaign Message on the basis of which you voted me as President.
 
Everything I have done in Office, every decision I have taken and every trip I have undertaken outside the Shores of our Land, since I assumed Office on 29 May 2023, have been done in the best interest of our Country.
 
Over the past seven months of our Administration, I have taken some difficult and yet necessary decisions to save our Country from Fiscal catastrophe. One of those decisions was the removal of Fuel Subsidy which had become an unsustainable Financial burden on our Country for more than four Decades. Another was the removal of the chokehold of few People on our Foreign Exchange System that benefited only the Rich and the Most Powerful among us. Without doubt, these two decisions brought some discomfort to Individuals, Families and Businesses.
 
I am well aware that for some time now the conversations and debates have centred on the rising Cost of Living, high Inflation which is now above 28% and the unacceptable high Under-Employment Rate.
 
From the Boardrooms at Broad Street in Lagos to the Main-Streets of Kano and Nembe Creeks in Bayelsa, I hear the groans of Nigerians who work hard every day to provide for themselves and their Families.
 
I am not oblivious to the expressed and sometimes unexpressed frustrations of my Fellow Citizens. I know for a fact that some of our Compatriots are even asking if this is how our Administration wants to renew their hope.
 
Dear Compatriots, take this from me: the time may be rough and tough, however, our Spirit must remain unbowed because tough times never last. We are made for this period, never to flinch, never to falter. The Socio-Economic challenges of today should energise and rekindle our love and faith in the promise of Nigeria. Our current circumstances should make us resolve to work better for the good of our beloved Nation. Our situation should make us resolve that this New Year 2024, each and everyone of us will commit to be better Citizens.
 
Silently, we have worked to free Captives from Abductors. While we can’t beat our chest yet that we had solved all the Security problems, we are working hard to ensure that we all have peace of mind in our Homes, Places of Work and on the Roads.
 
Having laid the groundwork of our Economic recovery plans within the last seven months of 2023, we are now poised to accelerate the pace of our Service Delivery across Sectors.
 
Just this past December during COP28 in Dubai, the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and I agreed and committed to a new Deal to speed up the delivery of the Siemens Energy Power Project that will ultimately deliver reliable Supply of Electricity to our Homes and Businesses under the Presidential Power Initiative which began in 2018.
 
Other Power Installation Projects to strengthen the reliability of our Transmission Lines and optimise the integrity of our National Grid are ongoing across the Country.
 
My Administration recognises that no meaningful Economic transformation can happen without steady Electricity Supply. In 2024, we are moving a step further in our quest to restart Local refining of Petroleum Products with Port Harcourt Refinery, and the Dangote Refinery which shall fully come on stream.
 
To ensure constant Food Supply, Security and affordability, we will step up our plan to cultivate 500,000 Hectares of Farmlands across the Country to grow Maize, Rice, Wheat, Millet and other Staple Crops. We launched the Dry Season Farming with 120,000 Hectares of Land in Jigawa State last November under our National Wheat Development Programme.
 
In this New Year, we will race against time to ensure all the Fiscal and Tax Policies Reforms we need to put in place are codified and simplified to ensure the Business Environment does not destroy Value. On every Foreign Trip I have embarked on, my message to Investors and other Business People has been the same. Nigeria is ready and open for Business.
 
I will fight every obstacle that impedes Business Competitiveness in Nigeria and I will not hesitate to remove any clog hindering our path to making Nigeria a Destination of choice for Local and Foreign Investments.
 
In my 2024 Budget Presentation to the National Assembly, I listed my Administration’s 8 Priority Areas to include National Defence and Internal Security, Job Creation, Macro-Economic Stability, Investment Environment Optimisation, Human Capital Development, Poverty Reduction and Social Security. Because we take our Development Agenda very seriously, our 2024 Budget reflects the premium we placed on achieving our Governance Objectives.
 
We will work diligently to make sure every Nigerian feels the impact of Government. The Economic aspirations and the material well-being of the Poor, the most Vulnerable and the Working People shall not be neglected. It is in this spirit that we are going to implement a new National Living Wage for our Industrious Workers this New Year. It is not only good Economics to do this, it is also a morally and politically correct thing to do.
 
I took an Oath to serve this Country and give my best at all times. Like I said in the past, no excuse for poor performance from any of my Appointees will be good enough.
 
It is the reason I put in place a Policy Coordination, Evaluation, Monitoring and Delivery Unit in the Presidency to make sure that Governance output improves the Living Condition of our People.
 
We have set the Parameters for Evaluation. Within the First Quarter of this New Year, Ministers and Heads of Agencies with a future in this Administration that I lead will continue to show themselves.
 
Fellow Nigerians, my major ambition in Government as a Senator in the aborted Third Republic, as Governor of Lagos State for eight years and now as the President of this blessed Country is to build a Fair and Equitable Society and close the widening inequality. While I believe the Rich should enjoy their legitimately-earned Wealth, our minimum bargain must be that, any Nigerian that works hard and diligent enough will have a chance to get ahead in life. I must add that because God didn’t create us with equal Talents and Strengths, I can not guarantee that we will have equal outcomes when we work hard. But my Government, in this new year 2024 and beyond, will work to give every Nigerian equal opportunity to strive and to thrive.
 
For the New Year to yield all its good benefits to us as Individuals and collectively as a People we must be prepared to play our part. The Job of building a prosperous Nation is not the Job of the President, Governors, Ministers, Lawmakers and Government Officials alone. Our Destinies are connected as Members of this Household of Nigeria. Our Language, Creed, Ethnicity and Religious Beliefs even when they are not same should never make us work at cross purposes.
 
In this New Year, let us resolve that as Joint-Heirs to the Nigerian Commonwealth, we will work for the peace, progress and stability of our Country. I extend this call to my Political Opponents in the last Election. Election is over. It’s time for all of us to work together for the sake of our Country.
 
We must let the light each of us carries – Men and Women, Young and Old- shine bright and brighter to illuminate our path to a glorious dawn.
 
I wish all of us a happy and prosperous Year 2024.
 
May God continue to bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
 
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR
1 January 2024
 
31-Dec-2023 Naira harsh ride: Can Government tame its volatility?

Naira harsh ride: Can Government tame its volatility?

By Lydia Ngwakwe
 
The depreciation of the Naira against major International Currencies has been a major concern for both Nigerians and the Government in 2023.
 
This volatility in the Naira has had a significant impact on the overall Economy and has put pressure on Foreign Reserves.
 
Having an unstable Currency like the Naira hampers Economic Planning, discourages Investment, and fuels Inflation, ultimately affecting Ordinary Nigerians.
 
Therefore, the pursuit of a stable Naira remains a top priority for the Government.
 
To address the issue of Naira instability, the Government has implemented various strategies through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
 
It came up with Fixed Exchange Rates and adopted a managed Floating Regime to strike a balance between stability and flexibility, aiming to free the Naira.
 
However, achieving a stable Exchange Rate is crucial, as it fosters confidence, encourages Trade, and attracts Foreign Investment, paving the way for Sustainable Economic Growth.
 
It is important for all Stakeholders to work together and address the underlying factors contributing to the Naira’s volatility to build a more resilient Economy.
 
President Bola Tinubu, while presenting the 2024 Budget to the National Assembly,  set the Exchange Rate between the Naira and the U.S. dollar at N750 to a Dollar.
 
 
Analysts said that to control the Naira unpredictable instability, concerted efforts were required from all Stakeholders to address the underlying factors contributing to its volatility and to build a more resilient Economy.
 
Reacting, the Chief Executive Officer, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, Muda Yusuf, said that for any Government to truly control Naira unpredictable, a comprehensive step must be taken to address the issue.
 
Yusuf acknowledged that the CBN was currently implementing a new Market-based approach in managing the Foreign Exchange Market, which is perceived as more efficient and transparent.
 
He said that this had led to a weaker Naira Currency but noted that the situation could improve over time.
 
According to Yusuf, the success of this new approach will rely on its ability to attract Foreign Investment, promote Economic Growth, and effectively manage Inflation.
 
He, however, said that the Government decision to officially adopt a new Exchange Rate of N750 per Dollar for 2024 could have positive and negative consequences for the Economy.
 
According to him, the current Exchange Rate is more realistic and reflects the true Value of the Currency, as well as Government efforts to eliminate Foreign Exchange Subsidies.
 
The Economist said that the development had resulted in increased Government Revenue, as the conversion of Dollar Earnings at N750 is more favourable compared to the previous Rates.
 
He explained that the major advantage of the new Exchange Rate is its positive impact on Government Revenue.
 
“Unlike what was used before, the current Exchange Rate, as it is used, is more realistic and reflects the Market situation-the true Value of the Currency of the Exchange Rate.
 
“More importantly, the attempt to eliminate the Foreign Exchange Subsidy that has existed before has helped to increase Government Revenue.
 
“So, these are some of the major advantages that this new Exchange Rate will bring to the Economy and the Government; there will be major Revenue advantages.
 
“Can you imagine when we were converting our Dollar Earnings at N450? You can imagine what it was under the previous Government compared to the Dollar Earnings at N750 to a Dollar.
 
“You can see that the Revenue implication is huge. So, there’s a major Revenue advantage,’’ he said.
 
He noted that challenges encountered during previous attempts to manage the Exchange Rate include corruption and a large difference between the Official Rate and the Parallel Market Rate.
 
According to him, such discrepancies create Incentives for Round-Tripping and hinder Economic stability.
 
“The premium between the Official Rate and the Parallel Market Rate was very high; getting close to almost 100 per cent. You can’t run an Economy that way such that you now create Incentives for People to now be round tripping.
 
“So, there’s a major problem of corruption and Round-Tripping that the previous Foreign Exchange Regime created.
 
"Secondly, it lacked transparency because we didn’t know who was getting what and what the criteria for the Allocation was. This eroded Public Trust and confidence in the Financial System, among others.’’
 
Ndubisi Nwokoma, Professor of Financial Economics and Director of the Centre for Economic Policy Analysis and Research (CEPAR), University of Lagos, stated that adopting a particular Exchange Rate for the Country at any time, Fiscal Policy was easy to do.
 
“But the question is, can the Government fund the Foreign Exchange Market to sustain the Rate? That is the million Dollar question.
 
“The sustainability of N750 to a Dollar Exchange Rate will depend on the efficient management of both the Supply and Demand Forces in the Market.
 
“Currently the Investor and Exporters Rate is in the Region of N880 to the Dollar and bringing it down to N750 will require some great effort by Government to beef up supply through Remittances, Export Proceeds and other Foreign Capital Inflows,’’ he said.
 
Nwokoma said at present, Foreign Capital Inflows to Nigeria are largely not good enough, noting that there is also the demand management dimension which according to him, work needs to be done in these areas.
 
 
Credit Lydia Ngwakwe/NAN
05-Dec-2023 Will Aviation Sector shake off turbulent 2023, fly higher in 2024?

Will Aviation Sector shake off turbulent 2023, fly higher in 2024?

As 2023 draws to an end, it is gladdening that there was no Civilian Plane Crash recorded. This is noteworthy for a Country that used to with witness such mishaps at intervals.

In the Aviation Sector, safety is the ultimate.

In spite of the success story, some other challenges persist. Experts and Airport Users say the state of Infrastructure at the Airports need to improve.

In 2023 many Airlines groaned under high Operational Costs which have stifled their expansion.

Flight delays and or cancellations, poor Customer Care, epileptic Cooling System, and Conveyor Belt Issues, Poor Funding, and Insecurity are among other challenges experienced in the Sector.

Some of these challenges pose a major threat to the smooth Operations of the Airports and hinder them from handling certain Services.

Recently, Musa Nuhu, the Director-General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that many Airports cannot handle Night Flights because of some of the highlighted challenges.

“All manners of security risks including kidnapping, robbery and others are evolving rapidly in many parts of the Country.

“The evolving security challenges make Night Operations dangerous because many Airports, by reason of Construction and Operational requirements are located mostly on the outskirts of Towns’’, he told NAN.

Some Stakeholders argue that Aviation should not be seen as a mere Sector but as a Business Model capable of generating Revenue for those operating in it.

They say that it must be made competitive with the required Infrastructure on ground to make the Business thrive.

An Aviation Expert, Olumide Ohunayo, said Nigeria has the highest number of Domestic Airlines in Africa, not by number of Aircraft but by Registered Operators.

“In the number of Equipment, we are behind; we have the highest Attrition Rate. We have crossed the ICAO Registration Process, our Airlines are IOSA Certified.

“We have the highest Attrition Rates, as our Airlines are not viable out there. Those operating are yet to obtain profit margin. We have been absent on the International Routes despite numerous BASA in place.

“We have increased the number of Airports in the Country over the years, although most of them are under used because of the limitation of Sunset Airport Policies which has reduced usage“, the Vanguard quoted him as saying.

BASA is an Air Transport Agreement between two Countries that allows Designated Airlines to operate Commercial Flight, covering Transportation of Passengers and Cargoes.

To achieve that objective, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Buhari Abdulatif, says it is important for the Federal Government to improve Aviation Business Environment to make it attractive to Foreign and Local Investors.

Abdulatif, told a Retreat organised by the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development recently at Warri, Delta State that Government should address the issue of high Cost of Aviation Fuel and other Operation Logistics.

The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, said the Government is conscious of the need to upgrade the Sector to make it the Hub of Air Travel in Africa.

According to him, the Aviation Industry is a main key for Sustainable Growth and Development of all other Sectors in the Nigerian Economy.

He said the Federal Government was ready to intensify efforts through Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) to tackle the challenges militating against the Industry.

Keyamo said his priority Agenda would be fine-tuned into Actionable Programme and projects by all Department and Agencies under the Ministry.

“These Agenda are: to ensure strict compliance with Safety Regulations and continuous upward movement of Nigeria’s Rating by the ICAO.

“Others are support for the growth and sustenance of Local Airline Businesses whilst holding them to the highest International Standards in the Aviation Industry, and improvement of Infrastructure in the Aviation Industry.

“It also includes the development of Human Capacity within the Industry and optimising Revenue Generation for the Federal Government, “ recent Media Reports quoted him as saying.

In the coming years, Stakeholders in the Industry expect the Federal Government to also leverage International Agreements and Instruments to stimulate growth in the Nation’s Aviation Industry.

“Government must direct the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to monitor closely the Foreign Exchange Earnings on Commercial Aviation including the Earnings on Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA)“ says John Ojukitu, Secretary General of Aviation Round Table, in a Media Interview.

Some Operators in the Sector canvass the review of BASA to enable Government identify Areas that need improvement and renegotiate such Terms.

“Currently, the Multiple Entry Points and Frequencies of Foreign Airlines are commercially disadvantageous to Nigerian Airlines and do not achieve fair reciprocity“, says Nick Fadugba, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), African Aviation Services.

Fadugba who is also the Chairman of the African Business Aviation Association (AfBAA) said this during a Webinar.

As 2024 approaches, Stakeholders expect that the challenges of the past years including underutilisation of Airports, dearth of Professionals, Financial Instability leading to bankruptcy of Airlines would be addressed.

Doing these will enable the Sector fly at the right altitude.


Credit NAN/Gabriel Agbeja














23-Oct-2023 Can INEC deliver hitch-free Polls in Bayelsa, Imo, Kogi?

Can INEC deliver hitch-free Polls in Bayelsa, Imo, Kogi?

On November11 Residents of Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi will return to the Poll to elect new Governors that will run the Affairs of the States for the next four years in an off Election Circle Exercise.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is expected to conduct the Elections in 10, 510 Polling Units spread across the three States.

In Bayelsa, the Election will take place in 2,244 Polling Units, while it will hold in 3,508 Polling Units in Kogi. Imo has 4, 758 Polling Units where the Election will hold.

INEC has targeted about 5.4 million Voters for the Elections, with Bayelsa having 1.05 million Voters; while 2.4 million Voters are expected in Imo. Kogi has about two million Voters.

INEC has been engaged in series of activities in the past few months toward ensuring the successful conduct of the Elections.

However, some Stakeholders have expressed concerns over the ability of the Electoral Umpire to conduct hitch-free Elections in these States, going by the experiences of the 2023 General Polls.

Although the Umpire insists that it did a good job in the Polls, many Nigerians, particularly those on the Opposition side think otherwise.

They cite the some logistics challenges, especially late arrival of Election Materials and Election Officials in Polling Units as examples of areas that need improvement.

There is also the reoccurring problem of malfunctioning of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) in Polling Units, leading to delay in the accreditation of Voters and voting.

In some Polling Units, voting was delayed for many hours, as Voters remain on queues to perform their Civic Rights of electing their Leaders.

Although INEC has reassured of its resolve to address the challenges, Stakeholders say the Commission must buckle up, if it wants to conduct hitch-free, free, fair and credible Elections.

Yabagi Sani, the National Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) tasked INEC to strengthen its capacities to ensure hitch-free Elections in the three States.

He expressed optimism that INEC would strive to rebuild trust between itself, Political Parties and the Electorate by ensuring hitch-free Polls.

“We in IPAC believe that INEC has learned some lessons and they know that there is a huge deficit of trust between the Commission and Nigerians.

“This happened because INEC was over ambitious and wanted things to work very well during the Presidential Election, but underlined conditions did not allow them to achieve the high standards they set for themselves.

“So INEC will have to go back to its drawing board and take a look at things that went wrong and correct them.

“And this doesn’t mean that they should throw away their Technological Advancements because they served their purpose and there is nothing wrong with the use of Technology,” he said.

Sani said that the use of Technology was not the problem of INEC in the conduct of the 2023 General Elections but the conducts of its Officials, Political Parties and their Agents, as well as the conduct of Nigerians.

He advised the Commission to improve on its Technology usage in order to set a better standard for Nigeria in the Global scene as the largest and strongest Democratic Country in Africa.

‘’INEC must show a good example in the November11 Off-Cycle Governorship Elections, it should show that we have Technology and we can use them perfectly,’’ he said.

Sani said that all hands must be on deck to ensure that Electoral Officers are not pressured by Governors to falsify results in the Elections.

“As we approach the Off- Cycle Elections in Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi States in November, all hands must be on deck to ensure the Resident Electoral Commissioners and Returning Officers are not pressured by some Governors and INEC itself to falsify results in their States.

“The Adamawa State 2023 Governorship Election result declaration saga and the embarrassment caused INEC and the Nation at large is a case in point.

“The prosecution of the Adamawa REC in Court by INEC is highly desirable and commendable.

“Equally desirable is action by all relevant Security Agencies to check the misuse of State Resources in violation of the Electoral Act 2022,” he said.

Hamzat Lawal, the Chief Executive Officer, Connected Development (CODE), a Civil Society Organisation, corroborated Sani’s claim, urging INEC to improve on its logistics management, ahead of the November Elections.

Lawal, also the Founder, Follow the Money, said that INEC must strive hard to close the logistics gaps observed in the 2023 General Elections to achieve a successful Off-Cycle Elections.

“If we in CODE are saddled with the responsibility of undertaking Electoral Management, first, we will invest heavily in Logistics, which is one impediment.

“The second is Human Capital Development and training of Ad Hoc Staff in time, not a few weeks to Elections, this is because these are two major gaps we faced in the last Elections.

“This is an Off Circle Election so there should be no pressure on the Commission,” he said.

Emmanuel Njoku, the Director, Democracy and Governance, CODE, said there is a need for INEC to seek for more Electoral Reforms to tackle some issues in organising Elections in Nigeria.

Bayo Balogun, a Member of the Yiaga Africa Observer Mission at the just concluded Liberia’s Election, urged INEC to take lessons from the smooth conduct of the Election, toward improving on the November11 Off-Cycle Elections.

Balogun, is also the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters.

He said that INEC needs to change the Format of its Ballot Papers to include Photographs and Names of Candidates to improve the quality of Electoral Preferences and reduce Invalidated Votes.

“We also noticed that the Liberian National Elections Commission (NEC) displayed high devotion to Rules and Procedures throughout the Elections.

“Polling Officials displayed excellent knowledge of the Rules and enforced the Guidelines at all Election levels,” he said.

Balogun also urged National Assembly to strengthen the Electoral Laws by making Electronic Transmission of Results mandatory in future Elections in Nigeria.

He said this should include the upload of Polling Unit-Level Results and Results Sheets at different levels of Results Collation.

Balogun urged Political Stakeholders in Nigeria to demonstrate firm commitment to Democracy and Nation-Building by upholding National Values such as Patriotism, Integrity and Public Interest in Electoral Politics.

Mahmood Yakubu, INEC Chairman, acknowledged some challenges in the conduct of the last Elections as the Commission is working hard to ensure that the Elections are free, fair and credible.

“We are giving our words to Nigerians that we must open Polling Units at 8.30a.m on the dot on the Election Day.

“Therefore, Registration Area Centres (RACs) must be activated for commencement of Voting at 8.30a.m.,” Yakubu said at the Kogi Local Government (LGA) Office of the Commission during INEC Mock Accreditation for the Election in Lokoja on October14.

He said one of the main concerns of the Commission is the prevailing security challenge in the Country.

Yakubu said that the Commission is working with the Security Agencies to provide Secured Environment for peaceful and credible Elections.

“Wherever you go in Nigeria, you are sure to see two Government Offices. One is INEC. You will see an INEC Office in the LGA headed by an Electoral Officer, an Electoral Officer (EO).

You will also see the Police Office headed by a Divisional Police Officer (DPO) for the Local Government.

“So, we are everywhere working together. And I’m happy that we are working together as we prepare for the Elections,“ he said.

Yakubu said that INEC plans to deploy 46,084 Officials comprising of both Permanent and Ad Hoc Staff for the conduct of the Elections in the three States.

“While we are leaving no stone un-turned in other areas of preparation for the Governorship Elections, the Commission plans to deploy 46,084 Regular and Ad Hoc Staff for Exercise.

“We are also finalising arrangements for Vehicles and Boats for Land and Maritime movement of Personnel and Materials,” he said.

Yakubu said that such massive deployment requires a Secured Environment which he said was beyond the Commission’s immediate responsibility.

“On our part, we will continue to deepen our engagement with the Security Agencies and more Meetings are planned in the next few days.

“Similarly, the Commission will hold series of Meetings with Stakeholders at the National Level in addition to ongoing engagements at the State Levels,” he said.

The INEC Chairman expressed confidence that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) would perform better in the November11 Elections.

“Last week, we conducted a Mock Accreditation involving Actual Voters in Designated Polling Units in the three States; we had two objectives for the Exercise.

“Firstly is to test the efficacy of the BVAS for Biometric Authentication of Voters; secondly, to upload the Result to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV). Both Tests were successful.

“We look forward to improved performance of the BVAS in Voter Accreditation and Result uploading in the forthcoming Elections,” he said.

Yakubu said that all Non-Sensitive Materials for the Elections had been delivered to the three States, so far.

He said that the Elections would involve 5,409,438 Registered Voters in 10,510 Polling Units spread across 649 Electoral Wards in 56 Local Government Areas (LGAs).

He said that other preparatory activities, including Training, were on course, while valuable lessons learnt from the 2023 General Elections would be used to improve performance of the November11 Elections.

As preparations for the Elections hit top gears it is important that all INEC Personnel, Stakeholders and Politicians in the affected States cooperate with INEC to ensure hitch-free Polls. Failure should not be an option. 

Credit:  Ali Baba-Inuwa/NAN