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INEC must ensure availability of Voters Cards- DWG

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…Says the last exercise was too shoddy!

The Democracy Watch Group (DWG) has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC to establish without further delay, a Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) desk in it’s wards and local government offices to ensure Nigerians can get registered before the stipulated time of 30 days as allowed under the Electoral expires.

The group, in a letter signed by its Chairman and Secretary, Barrister Wale Ogunade and Nelson Ekujumi, also tasked the INEC to immediately create a Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) collection desk in the wards of all the local governments, backed by adequate publicity, so that the general public can access it.

The DWG, a civil society organization with primary focus on entrenching democratic ethos in the Nigerian polity offered the advice, based on Observation Report of Distribution of PVC and CVR by INEC in Nine (9) Local Governments of Lagos State, from 28th – 30th November and 3rd – 8th December 2014.

“We took it upon ourselves to monitor the distribution of Permanent Voters Card (PVC) and the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) by INEC in its second phase in nine (9) local governments areas of Lagos state namely Alimosho, Apapa, Amuwo Odofin, Epe, Badagry, Eti Osa, Oshodi Isolo, Surulere, Somolu”, the body highlighted, noting that the haphazard manner showed that except INEC takes corrective measures, many Nigerians would be disenfranchised.

“From our monitoring exercise and reports gathered on the field, we observed that just like in the first phase of eleven (11) local governments distribution exercise of 7th – 10th November, 2014, INEC did not show up on time on the first day of the exercise on 28th November, 2014 in most of the local governments visited. Infact, in Alimosho local government, they arrived at most polling units late.

“On day two, 29th November, 2014 of the exercise, the INEC personnel showed up but were unable to cope with the crowd due to shortage of personnel. The distribution of PVC took place but could not make amends for the near or total absence of the first day

“On day three, 30th November, 2014, INEC showed up in the polling units in the local governments and all the problems observed on the earlier days such as missing names and PVC still persisted as people trooped out to collect their PVC.

“INEC conducted the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) in the 9 aforementioned local governments of Lagos State from 3rd to 8th December, 2014.

“On day one of the CVR exercise, 3rd December, 2014, INEC arrived late in most polling units visited in the local governments and Alimosho local government was the worst affected as the INEC personnel were nowhere to be found till 3pm. However, from reports gathered, they came at about 3.30pm and so couldn’t work as a result of the restless crowd who had besieged the polling units since day break.

“On day 2, December 4th, INEC personnel arrived at polling units at about 9-10am and were faced with the rowdiness of the registrants who struggled to ensure that the register of people compiled the previous day was used to make people form a queue, but it took the intervention of elderly people for sanity to be restored and registration commenced. But unfortunately in some of the polling units, the data capturing machines were malfunctioning and breaking down due to lack of public electricity supply. This problem caused delays in some polling units until public spirited Nigerians provided alternative power supply with private generators.

“On day 3, 4, 5 and 6, December 8 which was the last day of the CVR in the above mentioned 9 local governments, the registration of voters continued in most of the designated polling units but at the end of the day, not all voters were able to register.

“In all the polling units visited in the 9 LG’s, there were no public power supply to power the data capturing machines which were going off when the battery level is low and had to be powered by alternative energy provided from privately owned generators.

“We equally observed that a lot of PVC’s remained uncollected due to inability of INEC personnel to show up in some polling units whose status have become unknown to the general public.

“We as well noticed that a lot of voters have not yet been captured in the voters registration exercise due to unavailability of enough personnel and functional equipment to carry out the assignment, as well as inadequacy of registration time lag.

“We have also taken note that the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise which is supposed to continue at designated points in the wards or INEC offices in the local governments is yet to commence till date” the Group noted further, stressing that if the possession of PVC remains a pre-requisite for voters to cast their votes come February 2015 when the general elections will hold, what would be the fate of Nigerians who are going to be disenfranchised due to no fault of theirs; more so, when the capacity to vote without inhibition is equally, critical to a free, fair and credible democratic process. 


Yours Sincerely,



Barrister Wale Ogunade                                                                        Nelson Ekujumi

Chairman.                                                                                                Gen. Secretary



CC:

The National Chairman,

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC),

INEC Headquarters, Abuja.

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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