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CONFIRMED: INEC postpones 2019 General Elections - ITREALMS

ITREALMS : The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has postponed the 2019 General Elections scheduled for Saturday, 16th F...

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ICT4D Week 2018

Saturday, February 16, 2019

CONFIRMED: INEC postpones 2019 General Elections - ITREALMS

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has postponed the 2019 General Elections scheduled for Saturday, 16th February 2019 and Saturday, 2nd March 2019 respectively, reports ITREALMS.

Confirming this to ITREALMS, Chairman, INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, in a press statement dated Saturday 16th February 2019 and personally signed by him, noted that INEC met on Friday 15th February 2019 and reviewed its preparations for the 2019 scheduled for Saturday 16th February 2019 and Saturday 2nd March 2019

According to him, “Following a careful review of the implementation of its logistics and operational plan and the determination to conduct free, fair and credible elections, the Commission came to the conclusion that proceeding with the elections as scheduled is no longer feasible.

“Consequently, the Commission has decided to reschedule the presidential and national assembly elections to Saturday 23rd February 2019.

“Furthermore, the Governor, State House of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Elections is rescheduled to Saturday 9th March 2019.

“This will afford the Commission the opportunity to address identified challenges in order to maintain the quality of our elections.

“This was a difficult decision for the Commission to tke, but necessary for the successful delivery of the elections and the consolidation of our democracy.

“The Commission will meet key stakeholders to update them on this development at 2pm on Saturday 16th February 2019 at the Abuja International Conference Centre,” Yakubu submitted.
Chuks Egbune/DoP

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Friday, February 15, 2019

Why out-of-work men so unhappy? - ITREALMS

We are in an era of progress paradoxes. Unprecedented gains in technological innovation, poverty reduction, and life expectancy around the world coexist with persistent poverty traps in the poorest countries and increasing inequality and anomie in some of the wealthiest ones. In the U.S., one of the wealthiest countries, we see booming stock markets and record low levels of unemployment alongside stories of profoundly unequal hopes, lives, and lifespans.

An important driver of these inequalities is the decline in the status and wages of low-skilled labor at the same time that high-skilled workers have experienced increases. Relatedly, we have seen an increase in prime-age males (ages 25-54)—and, to a lesser extent, women—simply dropping out of the labor force: Fifteen percent have already dropped out and this number will likely increase to over 20 percent in the next few years. Yet despite their increasing numbers, these individuals fall out of the calculation of unemployment rate when they stop looking for work.

Meanwhile, U.S. life expectancy is falling due to suicides and drug and alcohol overdose (“deaths of despair”), primarily among less-than-college-educated whites in their middle-aged years. Out of the labor force (OLF) males are more likely than the average to be opioid users and on the disability rolls, as well as victim to deaths of despair. Our markers of well-being—and in particular the absence of hope—match the patterns in these deaths. Poor and working-class whites report much less hope for the future and more stress than do poor African Americans and Hispanics, even though the latter face higher objective disadvantages. And the same places that have higher levels of these kinds of deaths have lower average levels of well-being along the same dimensions.

In addition to tragically lost lives and human potential, these trends have political ramifications. Prime-aged males OLF are more likely to live in counties that voted for Trump in 2016. And while the trends may be most notable in the U.S., there is frustration among this same cohort in Europe, reflected in the rise of support for right-wing populists there.

In a new paper, we look to shed light on the unhappiness and frustration of this understudied group across several regions as a first step to seeking solutions. We examine prime-age males OLF across four regions: EU, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and the U.S., based on data from the Gallup World Poll from 2010-17. Our analysis provides a more nuanced picture of the well-being and ill-being of prime-age males OLF around the world than the common narrative suggests. OLF males are not the poorest group in any of these regions, and are closer to the low, vulnerable end of the middle-class in their locales. 


While their household incomes are below the average for their countries, they are often slightly higher than those of the unemployed. In the developing regions of LAC and MENA, individuals who report to be out of the labor force may also work in the informal sector and earn comparable incomes to the formal sector, though with more unpredictability. In the U.S., OLF males are often on disability or other social insurance programs, while in Europe there are widely available and generous social welfare programs.

And despite much discussion suggesting that poor life satisfaction among underemployed or unemployed men in the Middle East was a possible catalyst for insurgency and uprisings, our analysis does not find them to be particularly dissatisfied compared to the full-time employed, relative to what we find within other regions. This may have something to do with longer trajectory and social acceptance of male underemployment and unemployment in MENA, compared to the U.S. and the EU, where it is a relatively novel phenomenon. It is also noteworthy that while prime-aged males OLF across all regions typically fare worse than the other out-of-the-labor-force groups, the unemployed often tend to have even lower well-being.

The exception is the U.S., where prime-aged males OLF are a particularly troubled group, not only in health but also in terms of reported well-being and of markers of ill-being. Within the country, they are as unhappy as the unemployed and much less optimistic than either the unemployed or full-time employed. Unlike in the other regions, they are just as likely to report anger and sadness than the unemployed, and no more likely to smile or experience enjoyment. Relative to other regions, they typically have the largest well-being gaps relative to those who work full-time.

*Contributed by Carol Graham and Sergio Pinto, both of The Brookings Institution.

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AGF: Check CCB’s ‘recalcitrant conduct’ over assets declaration of public officers - ITREALMS

A Coalition of 12-member Nigerian civil society group has sent an open letter to Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), urging him to intervene and forestall attempts by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to erode the confidence of Nigerians in the fight against corruption, reports ITREALMS.

In the letter dated 14 February 2019, the CSOs, namely the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy; International Centre for Investigative Reporting;Centre for Impact Advocacy; Public and Private Development Centre; Right2Know; Media Rights Agenda; Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre; Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism; Social Development Integrated Centre; Civil Society Network Against Corruption; Network on Police Reforms in Nigeria; and Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights; specifically requested Mr Malami to address the persistent refusal of the CCB to honour Freedom of Information (FoI) requests for access to the asset declaration forms of past and serving senior public officials in government.

The organisations noted that “the Nigerian government’s decisive action to suspend Hon. Justice Walter Nkanu Samuel Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria, for his alleged breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, underscored the seriousness and attendant implication for all Nigerian public officers who fail to timely and correctly declare their assets according to law.”

The Coalition accused the CCB which is the sole custodian of asset declaration forms of all public office holders in Nigeria of compromise, betraying public trust, and failing to be transparent and accountable to the Nigerian people, noting that since the Freedom of Information Act 2011 was enacted, the CCB has persistently refused to grant FoI requests to civil society organisations, the media, and concerned citizens, seeking access to asset declaration forms of past and serving elected and appointed public officers.

They stated that events leading to Justice Walter Onnoghen’s suspension began when the Anti-Corruption and Research-Based Data Initiative(ARDI), a civil society organisation, obtained the CCB asset declaration forms SCN000014 and SCN000015 of Justice Walter Onnoghen, which was investigated and cited in ARDI’s petition acknowledged by the CCB on January 9, 2019.

“While the CCB allowed ARDI access to the CJN’s Asset Declaration, it had previously, consistently denied similar request for access to the asset declaration forms of senior public officials of both previous and the current administration,” the statement signed by a dozen CSOs read.

The Coalition submitted to Mr Malami a list of several FoI requests seeking information and access to the asset declaration forms of different categories of public office holders, including Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed, Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria; Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to the President; Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation; heads of government ministries, departments and agencies, etc., which the CCB has ignored.

“We view this repeated action as a contravention of the Freedom of Information Act 2011 and Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution which empower every Nigerian to make such requests as a way of holding government and public office holders accountable,” the Coalition said.

The Coalition called on Mr Malami as Nigeria’s Chief Law Officer to stand for justice and the public good by checking the CCB’s “recalcitrant conduct,” and take immediate actions to preserve the potency and provisions of the Freedom of Information Act and confidence of Nigerians in the current administration’s fight against corruption.

“Such actions should include giving clear directives to not only eschew the emerging trend of arbitrariness in its discharge of its constitutional and other statutory obligations to allow public access to the asset declaration forms of public officials, but also that the CCB should promptly prioritize responding positively to all Freedom of Information requests made in public interest and provide the requested information on asset declarations of public officers,” the statement said.

Uboshe Uboshe/Editor

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FirstBank@125: Adeduntan applauds customers on milestone - ITREALMS

The chief executive officer of First Bank Plc, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan has applauded all the bank customers’ for the past 125 years, ahead of the March 31st milestone anniversary, reports ITREALMS.

First Bank, in a note of appreciation sent to customers and endorsed by Dr. Adeduntan and made available by ITREALMS entitled "Woven into the Fabric of Society, 1894-2019" thanked customers for unwavering support as "your bank clocks 125 - a historical milestone in the annals of our history."

He also appreciated customers for "125 years of supporting and enabling dreams, 125 years of resilience and relevance, 125 years of trust, safety and security, 125 years of long term value to all stakeholders, 125 years woven into the fabric of our society and therefore we dare say, 125 years beyond comparison."

ITREALMS reports that they mean it when "we say FirstBank is You" stressing that as Nigerians, Adeduntan maintained they have made history together and should be proud of this monumental feat because globally, very few institution can boast of such a rich heritage.

From a very modest beginning in 1894 as the Bank of British West Africa, Adeduntan said, the bank has traversed an incredible journey, delivering impeccable financial services to customers and supporting the building of the modern-day Nigeria and indeed, West Africa which included the early pivotal role as the monetary and fiscal policy regulator for the entire West African region.

Equally, he pointed out that at the amalgamation, independence and through the seasons ever since, FirstBank has been here marching hand-in-hand with its customers.

"We have enabled technological, industrial and societal advancements, achieving very many first; been resilient and supportive through periods of rapids and radical changes; pioneered and charted the course in our industry, nay, in the nation at large," he said.

Adeduntan, on behalf of board and management of FirstBank, said its honour and privilege to thank customers at this time and assure them that they look forward boldly and with great confidence and optimism to the next 125 years.

"We are here with you and for you, and promise to remain truly the first by keeping you first," he declared.


Chuks Egbune/DoP

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Dike family proclaims exit of Matriarch, Nneoma Beatrice Okwuchi - ITREALMS

The family of Dike in Umeze Village, Umuozu Autonomous Community, Nwangele Local Government Area of Imo State, has proclaimed the exit of their Matriarch, Late Nneoma Beatrice Okwuchi Dike, nee Ekegbu, reports ITREALMS.

Nneoma Beatrice, ITREALMS gathered, died at the age of 99, having been born in the year 1919.

Her exit was disclosed by Engr. Kevin Dike and was confirmed on behalf of the family by Chief Raph Dike, Omenkeahurunanya on Wednesday to 
ITREALMS.

According to Chief Raph Dike, the burial arrangements as announced by the family will commenced with a special Suya nite on Thursday, March 7, 2019 at 12am till dawn.

This, he said, will be followed same day with a requiem mass by 10am at the Saint Anthony Catholic Parish, Umuozu, Nwangele Local Government Area of Imo State.
ITREALMS gathered that interment follows immediately at her residence, Bisike family, Umeze Village, Umuozu Autonomous Community, Nwangele LGA.

The family further solicited in the passage announcement to eternal glory of the matriarch, Nneoma Beatrice Okwuchi Dike, for tributes or condolences in her honour.

May Nneoma Beatrice rest in peace. Amen

Uboshe Uboshe/Editor

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Broadcast violates Electoral Act: INEC disqualify Buhari now, says Gbadamosi – ITREALMS

The Action Democratic Party (ADP) gubernatorial candidate in Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Gbadamosi, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately disqualify President Mohammadu Buhari (PMB) for violating the Electoral Act, reports ITREALMS.

Gbadamosi who was reacting to the national broadcast, Thursday night by President Buhari, which was actually a campaign stunt was a violation of the Electoral Act that require stoppage of campaigns 48 hours before any election.

“Muhammadu Buhari should be disqualified for campaigning within 48 hours of the election, a violation of the Electoral Act,” he declared on his Facebook page.

Also commenting on the broadcast, the former aide to Mr. Peter Ayo Fayose, the immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Lere Olayinka lamented that President Buhari now has the wherewithal to give two national broadcasts within five days.

Olayinka, also wondered that this is the same president who could not say anything while herdsmen were killing Nigerians.

“Two broadcasts in Five days from a President who kept mute when herdsmen were killing Nigerians?” he decried.

Olayinka went on to say that “Election is good ooo. So, Buhari can address Nigerians through local media?”

ITREALMS recalled that Special Adviser Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina had earlier hinted that President Buhari was billed for a national broadcast at 7pm with a repeat at 9pm across all television, radio stations and other electronic media outlets and enjoined them to hook up to the network services of the Nigerian Television Authority and Radio Nigeria for the broadcast on February 14, 2019.

Chuks Egbune/Editor

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Tinubu's 2019 final lap: A choice between progress and retreat - ITREALMS

The future is uncertain until we enter it. February 16 is Election Day and on that day Nigeria shall step into its future. How you vote on that day will determine whether we walk into the future in a manner that guides our subsequent steps toward the national greatness that calls to us or will we walk into it backwards as if feebly trying to reinvent the past.

One road leads to a certain replay of the economic injustices of the past. It is a road well-worn with familiar pitfalls and setbacks built into the very nature of it. The other road provides the truest, brightest chance for us to enter into our hopeful future but only if we are brave enough to believe in our capacity to improve our nation.

This election is more than a contest between two men, President Muhammadu Buhari and former VP Atiku Abubakar, for that one exalted chair. The election is nothing less than a historic encounter pitting one vision and version of our future against another.

Since walking backwards has never appeared to me as an efficient or responsible way for a person to proceed, let alone for a nation to surmount the difficult obstacles that nations must overcome, I cannot find much good in the policies and programs announced by the PDP.

Former VP Atiku misappropriated his eight previous years in high office. His occupancy of high office was best characterized by low deeds. Self-enrichment occurred at lightning speed but social welfare moves slower than a dousing snail. Just a few weeks ago, Atiku offered his vision of the economy when he said that enriching his friends would be an appropriate objective of any government he led. At best, patronage is a regrettable and necessary reality of politics that should be severely curtailed. But Atiku goes in the opposite direction. He bypasses patronage to brazenly elevate the much greater evil of cronyism from the shadows to make it the central plank of his national economic policy.

Look, I have made no attempts to hide my friendship with Atiku. We were friends before this election and hopefully we will be friends after February 16 when he goes into retirement. Despite our friendship, I must say the type of enrichment of friends he envisions does not recommend itself to me. It is unjust and impoverishes all but a handful of Nigerians. I want no part of such enrichment for my love of Nigeria and its people is far greater and deeper than my friendship with Atiku. For the good of Nigeria and even the good of Atiku himself, we do well to send him into retirement on Saturday.

Here I must relate a comment a friend recently made that shows the wide difference between the two parties and their presidential candidates. My friend observed that if you make a deal with President Buhari, you can always be sure of his intention to follow through. Do the same with Atiku, he said, and prepare yourself for disappointment.

Atiku is not alone in his disregard for the common man. Such disregard is the true brand name of the PDP and its powerful, rich allies. Several weeks ago during a television interview, Atiku’s Chief Economic Advisor Chike Obi intimated a strong preference to discontinue the social welfare payments the Buhari government established for the poorest of the nation’s poor. Obi’s rationale was that the nation could not afford to offer even this modest safety net. While in Obi’s eyes a nation possessed of the abundant material wealth of Nigeria could ill afford to give its poorest citizens enough naira merely to survive, Obi’s boss was reveling that he would further enrich already wealthy cronies. Obi was completely wrong that the nation does not have sufficient resources while his boss was utterly wrong in how he would use that abundance to fatten the wallets of his friends while leaving the pockets of the masses lean and empty.

Perhaps, we should also send Obi into retirement along with his boss come February 16. Perhaps together they might manage to discover the place where they might learn compassion for the common man.

Just this week, Atedo Peterside, a banker prominent in PDP circles, published a bewildering lament professing he could not understand why, even in his latest polls, President Buhari maintained a marked lead over Atiku. In essence, Peterside was griping that the people are not wise enough to make up their own economic minds. They would be better off if they allowed him to substitute his judgment for theirs. Peterside’s article was written with the desperate yet arrogant frenzy of those who fear their unjust economic privilege is swiftly unraveling. They fiercely clutch to their position yet the castle they have built in the clouds is crumbling into dust then to vanish into vapor. The clock now tolls midnight on their system economic elitism.

His answer to our economic challenges was to shrink and restrain government from being the active catalyst toward a diversified economy that assured broadly-shared prosperity through the just allocation of wealth and reward according to sweat and toil put forth by the Nigerian people. He proposed an economy that essentially was a free-for-all. If the past has taught anything, is that such an economic free-for-all is never free for most.

It is merely a license for the powerful and wealthy to do as they might while the poor and modest endure what they must.

Like Atiku, this PDP banker advocates an economy that gives free vent to the wealthy. The freedom enjoyed by the wealthy is paid for by a heavy tax on the wages and work of the average person. Essentially, the PDP seeks an economy that provides the welfare of riches to the powerful while telling the average man that there is not enough money to go around to build an economy that will ensure he can take care of his basic needs.

They seek an unfair, unjust and unequal Nigeria. Their definition of Nigeria is a nation run by the greedy, for the profit of the rich, at the command of the mighty.

In this, the PDP is involved neck-deep in the greatest political swindle of this generation. Their real slogan should be “more for the rich, nothing for the rest!”

Only then will they be telling the plain truth about themselves.

Our objective must be no less than to remake Nigeria into a great nation. This is a lofty goal but we should not be afraid of lofty aspirations. Only by reaching upward can we pull ourselves from where we are that we grow closer to what we should become.

The world economy is in rapid flux. To progress we need to establish a new economic model suitable to this dynamic future.

Our vision is the opposite of theirs.

Unlike the PDP, we, the APC, are anchored to the proposition that every Nigerian is entitled to equal access and sufficient economic opportunity so that he may use his talents, skills and committed exertion to carve for himself and his loved ones the decent and good life every human being seeks.

Yes, the rich and wealthy are entitled to the full enjoyment of the fruits of their exertions and enterprise. But so is the common man. The ordinary person is not to be shortchanged of the fair dividends of his honest sweat and diligent labor simply because he may be poor or because the powerful wealthy want more.

We believe government can spur the economy toward full employment of labour and our national resources during those times the private sector is not strong enough to shoulder this responsibility alone. Government is the agent of the people to further reform our political economy such that the light of shared prosperity, social tolerance and collective purpose shall forever shine across our national landscape and never be extinguished.

Because of the APC’s concerns for the struggles of the average person, we launched beneficial social welfare programs such as the school feeding program, Trader-Moni and N-Power.

As such, we have made progress caring for our most needy and vulnerable through these and other innovative and unprecedented policies. These programs are of the type all great nations do for their citizens.

However, the APC is not satisfied by what has been accomplished. What has been done is but the opening phase of a more ambitious undertaking. We have just begun to fight poverty and reform this economy on the scale required.

Though we have helped millions, several million more need to end poverty’s stranglehold on their lives. We must expand the scope and reach of our social welfare programs to encompass those other people who have been denied access to the productive economy through no fault of their own.

Additionally, we must put idle hands to work to build a modern infrastructure that will energize agricultural output in rural areas and foster labour-intensive industrialization in our growing cities.

Our objective shall be more and decent jobs on the farms and in the factories. Like no Nigerian government before, I believe the second administration of President Buhari shall dedicate itself to changing the very structure of our economy for the better.

We must amend our national economic architecture to unlock the full potential of our people and our land. To me, this is the core mandate of government for and of the people.

Throughout the campaign, we have talked about taking Nigeria to the Next Level. To me, this Next Level is informed by forging a New Partnership between government and the governed in order to create a more just, more prosperous economy for all.

The essence of this partnership is that government will provide each and every Nigerian either the modern public infrastructure or the targeted public assistance needed to build a better life for themselves and their loved ones.

The beginning of this New Partnership are already taking shape. As stated before, we have initiated a first phase of social welfare programs.

Additionally, the availability of fuel last December shows President Buhari has solved the perennial problem of year-end fuel crises that plagued all governments before his.

The Southwest has always been at the vanguard of progressive governance in Nigeria. Today should be no exception to this historic role we have played. I ask the people of the Southwest to join the APC so that we attain the Next Level by implementing this bold and good NEW PARTNERSHIP built on the following pillars:

1. POWER:

We have made more progress in this area in 4 years than the PDP did in 16. Still, our work remains unfulfilled until we can bring light to all Nigerians when they need it, at costs they can well afford.

I believe the second Buhari administration will work to increase electricity generation, transmission and distribution by 5000 MW within the next 4 years.

Under the spirit of true federalism, greater latitude will be provided states in their efforts to build and attract investment for their own power generation initiatives.

We shall push to end the practice of billing people for electricity they never received. This practice is a vestige of the past that should not accompany us into the future. A person should only be charged for the power used.

2. INFRASTRUCTURE:

Government should put a national infrastructural plan into action. First, we must commit ourselves to a national highway system linking our major cities and towns, our centres of commerce, with each other.

Travel times and costs will dramatically reduce. Farmers will bring more food to market quicker and more cheaply, reducing food costs. Traffic safety will be enhanced. The private sector will save millions of dollars which can be redirected to investment and job creation. More importantly, thousands of lives will be saved.

And hundreds of thousands of young Nigerians will find jobs on these projects.

Water catchment and retention systems in strategic locations should also be built to end the destructive cycles of flood and drought affecting many areas.

3. INDUSTRIALIZATION:

A national industrial plan aimed at bringing labour-intensive light industries to our cities to provide meaningful employment for our growing urban population should be implemented. To increase our GDP and wisely position the economy for the future, we must increase the percentage that manufacturing contributes to that GDP.

We should focus on strategic industries such as textiles, food processing, automobiles, consumer appliance and machine assembly, communications and manufacture of goods important to the bulk of domestic consumers.

This will require bold and comprehensive tax reform to encourage business investment. We shall help strategic businesses by ensuring inexpensive access to the infrastructure required for their profitability.

We must work with the Central Bank to bring lower interest rates to this sector.

4. AGRICULTURE:

I believe the government will work with the states and private sector to develop low-tech but efficient irrigation systems to reclaim more land for cultivation.

Commodity boards should be established to provide minimum prices for strategic crops so that farmers will be assured a decent income for their hard labour.

We need a national strategic food reserve. This will enable government to moderate food prices to aid the average person when harvests are lean and to prevent wastage when harvests are plentiful.

5. HOUSING:

To provide adequate housing for more people, government should integrate under one roof the numerous residential housing and mortgage programs now existing.

This integrated recapitalized home mortgage institution will deepen the mortgage market by provide direct loans to homeowners and by guaranteeing qualified loans made by private banks.

5. SOCIAL SECURITY:

In the spirit of the social programs inaugurated during the president’s first term, I fully support efforts during his second term toward establishing a government-run social security system for the elderly. Such programs are central and humane aspects of the governments of all great nations. We shall be no exception to this good rule.

This system shall not be intended to abolish the private pension system. The two systems will complement each other so that no elderly person is left unattended during his or her waning years.

The plan I just outlined is a brave step into our proper future. I ask that you have the courage not to be tempted to return to the past as the PDP wishes.

I believe Nigeria is better than this.

If we act wisely yet boldly, no Nigerian should fear what tomorrow will bring.

Election Day comes near. Let it be that dramatic moment where we showed the courage to vote for our larger, more excellent future instead of voting to recede into the shadows of the past as Atiku desires.

Let us continue to fashion a Nigeria that serves all its people, not just Atiku and his band of revellers. In this, we must face the future not turn our back to it. Great possibilities await but we must grab them.

Through this new partnership, let the Southwest once again rally around the banner of progressive governance for the benefit of all people, young and old, educated and not, the wealthy and the modest. This is the future we must enter. This is the future the APC champions. This is future you must choose on Election Day. Vote for yourselves by voting for President Buhari.

In the exercise of our civic duty at this historic and important moment, I ask that you conduct yourself with utmost tolerance and in equal peace toward both political ally and political opponent. Let us show the world that we know the true meaning of democracy. On Election Day let not an angry hand be raised against any Nigerian. No matter our political differences, let us remember we are of one land and of the same national family. This election shall be free and fair and conducted without the arm of violence. For this is as Nigeria and our democratic exercise must be to achieve the excellent destination intended for us.

*Contributed by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu

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What PMB told Nigerians on Valentine broadcast - ITREALMS

HIS EXCELLENCY, PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI’S BROADCAST TO THE NATION, FEBRUARY 14, 2019. 
Excerpts:

"Fellow Citizens,
"On Saturday, February 16, 2019, you will, once again, be called upon to choose the leaders who will pilot the affairs of our great nation for the next four years. This is a constitutional right which should be freely exercised by all eligible voters.
2. I wish therefore to start by assuring all Nigerians that this Government will do its very best to ensure that the 2019 elections take place in a secure and peaceful atmosphere.
3. It was indeed such free, fair and peaceful elections that made it possible for our Government to emerge, despite the fact that we were contesting against a long-standing incumbent party.
4. And as your president and a fellow Nigerian, I ask that you come out and queue to fulfill this important obligation you have to yourselves and your fellow citizens – and to our common future.
5. Let me at this point, reaffirm the commitment of the Federal Government to the conduct of free and fair elections in a safe and peaceful atmosphere. Just yesterday, I signed the Peace Accord alongside 72 other presidential candidates.
6. I want to assure all Nigerians, the diplomatic community and all foreign election observers of their safety and full protection. Any comments or threats of intimidation from any source do not represent the position of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
7. As Government has a critical role in maintaining the democratic traditions, so do citizens. I therefore urge you all, as good Nigerians, to take a personal interest in promoting and maintaining peace in your respective neighbourhoods during the elections. This is certainly not a time to allow personal, religious, sectional or party interests to drive us to desperation.
8. At this point, I want to make a special appeal to our youth: Do not allow yourselves to be used to cause violence and destruction. The people who want to incite you are those preparing the ground for discrediting the elections. Having lost the argument, they fear losing the elections.
9. When you elected me in 2015, it was essentially in consequence of my promise of CHANGE. We committed ourselves to improving security across the country, putting the economy on a sound footing and tackling rampant corruption, which had in many ways become a serious drawback to national development.
10. Our Government spent the last 3 years and 9 months striving faithfully to keep this promise, in spite of very serious revenue shortages caused mainly by a sharp drop in international oil prices and an unexpected rise in the vandalisation of oil installations, which, mercifully have now been curtailed.
11. We nevertheless pressed on in our quest to diversify the economy, create jobs, reduce commodity prices and generally improve the standard of living among our people.
12. The damage that insecurity and corruption have done, over time, to our collective livelihood is incalculable. However, it is pleasing to note that our frontal attack on these twin evils is gaining momentum and bringing about visible progress.
13. The recovery of the economy from recession is complete and Nigeria is back on the path of steady growth.
14. The key to creating more jobs lies in accelerating this momentum of economic growth. Happily, we have succeeded in making the fundamental changes necessary for this acceleration, and we are now beginning to see the efforts bearing fruit.
15. Our ease of doing business policies and programmes are already impacting medium, small and micro industries, as well as Manufacturing, Mining and Agriculture, among other key sectors.
16. Our commitment to critical infrastructure – that is Roads, Rails, Bridges, Airports and Seaports – will create more jobs, improving the efficiency and competitiveness of our industries.
17. Many of these projects are at different stages of completion, and those who use them regularly will attest to the fact that even while construction is ongoing, they are beginning to see reduced travel times. This will ultimately translate to reduced costs and greater convenience, making transportation, and business in particular, much easier.
19. The economic recovery that we promised is well underway, as demonstrated by the recently released statistics. In 2018, the economy grew by 1.93%, with the Fourth Quarter growth being 2.38%, up from 1.81% in the Third Quarter.
20. Remarkably, the strong economic performance was driven by the Non-Oil sector, which grew at 2% as at full year. Indeed, Non-Oil growth rose to 2.7% in the Fourth Quarter of 2018, up from 2.32% in the Third Quarter. These results further underscore our commitment to diversifying the economy away from the past dependence on Oil.
21. Other indicators confirm the economy’s steady recovery. Our monthly food import bill has declined from $664 million in January 2015 to $160 million as at October 2018. Inflation fell from 18.72% in January 2017 to 11.44% in December 2018. Our External Reserves have risen from $23 billion in October 2016 to $43.12 billion as at 7th February 2019.
22. Now that the recession is well behind us, our next task is to redouble our efforts, accelerate the growth and use it to create even more jobs for our people.
23. The Executive Orders, No. 5, and No. 7 issued by me, and the recently approved National Infrastructure Maintenance Policy demonstrate our commitment to accelerated job creation and infrastructure development.
24. We believe that Governments cannot simply proclaim jobs into existence. Job creation will only expand as a result of economic policies that enable the private sector to flourish, and this is the approach our Administration has taken.
25. Executive Order No 5, which Promotes Nigerian Content in Contracts, as well as Science, Engineering and Technology, will preserve and prioritize job creation for our citizens.
26. Executive Order 7, on the Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme, seeks to mobilize private capital and capacity for infrastructure development.
27. It responds to the demands of manufacturing and industrial complexes which wish to construct access roads without waiting for government, so long as they are allowed to recover the cost from taxes they would have paid to government.
28. We expect that this approach will boost industrial expansion and rural development, consequently creating more jobs for our people.
29. Similarly, our recently issued Maintenance Policy targets artisans, carpenters, welders, tailors, painters, bricklayers, electricians, plumbers, landscapers and many more Ordinary Nigerians at the base of our economic pyramid who will get regular and large-scale opportunities to improve themselves.
30. It is an economic solution that also brings the relevant artisans and professionals into long term sustainable employment to maintain our Schools, Court Rooms, Hospitals, Police Stations, Federal Secretariats and other Public Buildings.
31. Human Capital Development has also been a key priority for this Administration, which has increased investments in health and education. Innovative measures have been introduced to complement the traditional budgetary allocations to the relevant Ministries.
32. For instance, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority has invested US$21 million in three healthcare projects as a Public Private Partnership with three Federal medical institutions. These include two modern Medical Diagnostic Centres located at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano and the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia; as well as one outpatient Cancer Treatment Centre in Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos – which I commissioned on 9th February 2019.
33. Of course, our radical commitment to developing Critical Infrastructure is the foundation upon which we will deliver an all embracing national prosperity and a shared commonwealth.
34. There is no country that aspires to greatness without spending massively on its Critical Infrastructure. Rather than the discredited policy of ‘stomach infrastructure’, which could only benefit a few for a little while, we are focused on real infrastructural development for the growth of our economy and the long-term benefit of all Nigerians.
35. When you voted for our message of CHANGE, you invited us to assume office and depart from that bad and most regrettable choice. We have responded by making a choice for real infrastructure of Roads in every State, Housing in 34 States, Power Stations across Nigeria, Rail from Lagos to Kano.
36. The choice that now confronts us is whether we want to continue with real infrastructure development, which is the road to prosperity and jobs or return to the era of ‘stomach infrastructure’.
37. Agricultural Self-Reliance and Food Security is also a choice we made in fulfilment of your mandate for change.
38. Our Presidential Fertiliser Initiative has resulted in savings of US$150 million in foreign exchange due to local sourcing of inputs at 16 Blending Plants. It has also conserved N60 billion in Subsidies as well as supported tens of thousands of farmers and agro-dealers nationwide.
39. Our Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has substantially raised local rice yields from as low as two Metric Tonnes per hectare, to as high as eight Metric Tonnes per hectare.
40. Through this programme, the Central Bank of Nigeria has cumulatively lent over N120 billion to over 720,000 smallholder farmers cultivating 12 commodities across the 36 States and Abuja. Targeted crops and livestock have included cattle, poultry, fish, cassava, soybeans, ground nut, ginger, sorghum, rice, wheat, cotton and maize.
41. As a result, we have seen a remarkable rise in the production of key agricultural commodities. I am pleased to note that in major departmental stores and local markets, there has been a surge in the supply of high quality Nigerian agricultural produce.
42. Behind each of these products, are thousands of industrious Nigerians working in factories and farms across the nation. Our interventions have led to improved wealth and job creation for these Nigerians, particularly in our rural communities.
43. Again, these outcomes have been a major departure from the previous focus on consuming imported food items, which literally exported our children’s jobs to food-exporting nations, whilst depleting our precious foreign exchange reserves. This, of course, caused a closure of our factories while keeping open other peoples’ factories.
44. The choice made by this Administration to assist farmers directly and promote agriculture in every way possible has gone a long way to enhance our food security while enabling us to tackle poverty by feeding over nine million children daily under our Home-Grown School Feeding Programme. It also puts us clearly on the road to becoming a food secure and agriculture exporting nation.
45. Next to Agriculture, we are focusing on Manufacturing Sector. The Purchasing Managers Index, which is the measure of manufacturing activities in an economy has risen for 22 consecutive months as at January this year, indicating continuous growth and expansion in our manufacturing sector.
46. I will conclude by going back to where I started: that our choices have had consequences about employment and cost of living.
47. In making your choice this time, please ask yourself whether, and in what ways, others will do anything different to address the issues of Agriculture, Infrastructure, Security, Good Governance and Fighting Corruption.
48. If they are only hoping to do what we are already doing successfully, we are clearly your preferred choice.
49. Think carefully and choose wisely. This time, it is a choice about consolidating on growth for Jobs and Prosperity.
50. February 16th is all about a choice. But it is more than a choice between APC and the opposition. It is a choice about you, it is a choice between going back or keeping the momentum of CHANGE.
51. The road to greater prosperity for Nigeria may be long, but what you can be assured of is a Leadership that is not prepared to sacrifice the future well-being of Nigerians for our own personal or material needs. You can be assured of my commitment to remain focused on working to improve the lives of all Nigerians.
52. Thank you very much for listening. God bless you, and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria."

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

2019 Polls: Don't throw Nigeria into anarchy, FG warns opposition - ITREALMS

The Federal Government has warned the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) not to throw Nigerian into anarchy out of its desperation to grab power at all cost, saying Nigeria's unity and survival override any party's ambition, reports ITREALMS.

Briefing the media in Ilorin, Kwara State, on Thursday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the ongoing attempt by the PDP to discredit the results of the yet-to-be held 2019 general elections is an invitation to anarchy.

He said the latest manifestation of PDP's avowed determination to discredit the results of the 2019 elections is the statement credited to the opposition party that it lacks confidence in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the party's decision to set up what it calls the Parallel Voting Tabulation (PVT) System.

''Consistently, the PDP has been attacking the two national institutions that are most pivotal to the elections - the INEC and the police. This is part of the party's strategy to erode confidence in the institutions, preparatory to faulting the outcome of the elections.

''We have also been calling national and international attention to this strategy by the PDP. We warned that the PDP will do everything to scuttle the polls, failing which the opposition party will work to discredit the results. The persistent accusation of planned rigging of the polls, which is not evidence-based, the not-so-subtle threat of violence issued by the PDP at its press conference on Wednesday and the setting up of the PVT are all geared to achieve one objective: discredit the election results,'' Alhaji Mohammed said.

He said while it is standard practice for political parties to have their own monitoring system during elections, what the PDP intends to achieve through the PVT is to set up a pseudo electoral commission that will announce its own concocted results and throw the nation into crisis.

The Minister however warned the PDP of very dire consequences, should it proceed to usurp the role of INEC.

''INEC is the only body statutorily imbued with the power to collate and announce the results of national elections. The penalties for any individual or organization that usurps these functions are clearly spelt out. It is therefore necessary to remind the PDP not to sabotage the 2019 general elections on the altar of desperation,'' he said.

Alhaji Mohammed said it is particularly instructive that the PDP's threat was issued on the same day its presidential candidate joined the candidates of other political parties to sign the second peace accord.

''The threat of fire and brimstone issued by the PDP, for no reason at all, is incongruent with the stated position of its presidential candidate that his ambition is not worth the life of any Nigerian. Attacks on the institutions charged with organizing and securing the elections constitute a recipe for anarchy, while anarchy spares no one's life!'' he said.

The Minister called on the security agencies to ensure that no one precipitates chaos before, during and after the elections, and urged Nigerians to come out in large numbers to peacefully exercise their
franchise.

Ayo Midele/Editor

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Sanwo-Olu to rehabilitate national stadium, site mini stadia - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:
The All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has reiterated his commitment to revive sporting activities in the state if elected, reports ITREALMS.

He made the commitment while he was speaking with members of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) at its secretariat in National Stadium, Surulere.

The dearth of recreation centres and the dilapidated state of the National Stadium, a Federal Government-owned sport facility, were the focus of an interactive discussion with SWAN members, with the APC candidate pledging to revive obsolete facilities in the National Stadium, on the condition that the Federal Government would agree with its condition to revive the national monument.

Sanwo-Olu said his government would prioritise the recovery and regeneration of recreational centres across the state for the benefit of Lagos residents. He maintained that Lagos is challenged by inadequate land size, but said he would keep to his promise to build two mini stadia in the highly populated areas of Ikorodu and Kosofe.

He said: “I grew up in Surulere, which is the epicentre of sporting events in Lagos. But, I am personally not comfortable to see the National Stadium rot away like this, because I knew what it is used to be like. The current state of the stadium is an open reminder to us, that we must stake up investment in sports.

“If elected, I am giving you my words that my government will take up the rehabilitation of the National Stadium and we will engage the Federal Government on terms and conditions. The rot in the stadium is an eyesore. We will rebuild the stadium provided the Federal Government will cooperate with us.

“Our agenda for sport and youth development will also lead us to recover recreation centres located in our communities, repair them and make them useful for the purpose for which they were created. We are not going to renege on our promise to build mini stadium in Ikorodu and Kosofe not only to promote sports among the youth, but also to improve healthy lifestyle of residents.”

Sanwo-Olu made a promise to expand the private sector sponsorship of youth sporting events, pledging that Paralympic Games for the physically challenged sportsmen would be supported.

Appreciating the APC candidate and his running mate, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, for creating time to attend the forum, the Chairman of SWAN in Lagos State, Mr. Debo Oshudun pledged the support of the association to Sanwo-Olu if elected and commitment to support the state government in developing sports in the state.

"Lagos has always been a centre of excellence in sports development and production of talents in various sports in Nigeria. Some of our footballers and athletes who later became national and international icons were discovered in Lagos, Sports are very important to national development and promoting the right image for a country and state. Lagos should commit and invest in grassroots sports development so we can have new Okocha, Kanu Nwankwo, Mary Onyali, Segun Odegbami among others.

Baji Boye/Editor

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

2019 elections: Internet shutdown looms, FG imports equipment from Israel says Fayose - ITREALMS

The immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Peter Ayodele Fayose has alleged that the Federal Government of the All Progressive Congress (APC) has concluded plans to shut the telecommunications networks including the Internet for the purposes of manipulating the forthcoming general elections, reports ITREALMS.

Fayose made this allegation through his Twitter handle, @GovAyoFayose, on Tuesday evening.

As said by him, he has it from high authorities that the Federal Government imported jamming equipment from Israel for this purpose.

The telecom infrastructure shutdown, he said, would commence from 5am on Saturday till 5pm on Sunday.

This, ITREALMS gathered, he said, would make it impossible for Nigerians to use the Internet and make phone calls during the elections.

Also, he alleged that the imported equipment from Israel has been installed already and was on trial last Thursday and Friday, when calls were purportedly not going through across networks.

The tweet which has since attracted 1,300 comments and 3,800 retweets had some 5,600 likes as at the time of filing this report.

Chuks Egbune/DoP

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Breaking: INEC chairman, Prof. Yakubu must resign say tweeps - ITREALMS

Some Nigerian tweeps have called on the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Mahmood Yakubu to resign with immediate effect, reports ITREALMS.

Tweeps are Twitter enthusiasts who often use the Twitter online message service to send and receive tweets.

According to tweeps who are canvassing for his resignation, Yakubu has crossed the redline by this alleged endorsement of the Presidential candidate of All Progressive Congress (APC), President Mohammadu Buhari (PMB) by adorning purported APC campaign cap to the National Council of States meeting recently, reports 
ITREALMS.

This accusation spurred from a tweet @SweetShantel alleged that Prof. Yakubu was wearing a cap with APC’s logo, the broom.

She pointed out that this was the same cap President Buhari of APC wore recently during his campaign tour to Taraba State.

“What this means, is that @inecNigeria has endorsed PMB,” she lamented and called for his immediate resignation from office.

Another Tweep who goes with @Mr. Profit, says that if it were to be a cap designed for Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) campaign that APC will cry out and drummed support for @Sweetshantel.


PMB in Taraba campaign tour 2019
Uboshe Uboshe/Editor

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You can vote with any finger says INEC - ITREALMS

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has declared that voters could actually vote with any of the fingers, insisting that the ballot papers are not finger sensitive, reports ITREALMS.

INEC advised that what is important is that the finger does not cross to the next box due to the number of political which has brought about reduction in the box, stressing that any error resulting in voting for two parties, would invalidate the vote.

“A voter can use any finger to vote but should ensure that his or her mark is clear and placed inside the box of the political party of his or her choice and does not stray into another box,” INEC cautioned.

Responding to what has been making news round, INEC via its Twitter handle @inecnigeria, denied ever insisting that voters must vote with a particular figure, maintaining that 
the ballot papers are not finger sensitive.

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Stop victimizing whistleblowers @NBET, AFRICMIL urges MD - ITREALMS


The African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) has called on the MD/CEO of Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc, Dr. Marilyn Amobi, to immediately stop the victimization of two whistleblowers, Sambo Abdullahi, Deputy General Manager and Head of Internal Audit, and Waziri Bintube, General Manager and Chief Finance Officer, reports ITREALMS.

Chido Onumah, Coordinator of AFRICMIL in a press statement available to 
ITREALMS, said the organization expressed concern over the management style of the NBET boss which has for long been overshadowed by allegations of fraud, abuse of office and harassment of both management and non-management staff. A high point of the public criticism of Dr. Amobi’s management, the statement said, “is the persistent victimization of two officers – Sambo Abdullahi and Waziri Bintube, for carrying out their duties in accordance with the rules and regulations of public service.”

“We are aware that you have stopped the salaries and other entitlements of these officers since December 2017 allegedly for offences including writing petitions and embarking on leave without approval. We are also aware that Messrs Sambo and Bintube have since been absolved of any wrongdoings after an investigation by the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing which supervises NBET. Indeed, it is on record that the Hon Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, had on more than one occasion directed you to treat these officers as NBET staff and effect the payment of their outstanding salaries and other entitlements,” AFRICMIL noted in a letter to Dr Amobi. The organization said it was disturbed that Dr. Amobi had not complied with the directive of the Ministry of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.

AFRICMIL reminded the NBET boss that these officers deserve commendation and protection, and not victimization, for acting as whistleblowers in line with the anti-corruption policy of the current administration.

The organisation requested Dr Amobi to take immediate steps to end the ongoing victimization of these officers by complying with the directives of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing asking that they be recalled and their outstanding salaries and allowances paid.

The AFRICMIL statement comes on the heels of a two-part investigative report published last week on the alleged fraudulent activities at NBET under Dr. Amobi, and her victimization of whistleblowers who refused to co-operate with her in the perpetration of illegality at NBET. The report by Leaks Ng was compiled by the Coalition for Whistleblower Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF).

Ayo Midele/Editor

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MRA urges Nigerians to use radio for peace building - ITREALMS

The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has called on Nigerians to use radio as a tool for building peace across political, economic, religious and ethnic divides particularly at this period when Nigeria is holding general elections to elect a new set of leaders, reports ITREALMS.
MRA made the call in a statement issued in Lagos by Mr. Ayode Longe, MRA’s Programme Director, to commemorate the eighth edition of the World Radio Day, a Day celebrated every year on February 13, and in line with the theme of the celebration: Dialogue, Tolerance and Peace.
World Radio Day was proclaimed at the 36th session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 2011 to take place on February 13 each year. It was then unanimously endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly on January 14, 2013 at its 67th session as a UN Day. 
The Day commemorates the establishment of the UN R on February 13, 1946 and is now set aside as the day to celebrate radio as a medium to improve international cooperation between broadcasters and to encourage networks and community radio alike to promote access to information, freedom of expression and gender equality over the airwaves.
Mr Longe said “Radio has touched billions of lives around the world positively and made a lot of impact; and with the convergence of technology, this impact is expanding. The world needs to explore every avenue to strengthen radio and make it a tool for dialogue, tolerance and peace, in line with the theme for the 2019 celebration of the World Radio Day.”
Saying that the world, including Nigeria, has witnessed so many crises, he added “The world needs peace through tolerance and dialogue and radio being the cheapest and farthest reaching means of communication is so much suited to bring peace to the world and technological advancement has made radio portable and its signals accessible from remote areas using different gadgets and devices, including even the most basic mobile phones available today.”
Mr. Longe identified the importance of radio in many different ways and how it can be used to promote peace, noting that it is a medium that is being used to foster participation and engagement in local languages; it is the first medium people turn to for information and updates about just anything including during natural disasters, wars, as well as communal, national and political activities of all hues.
He said: “Radio is unarguably the widest reaching medium of communication in Nigeria, as it is in most other parts of the world. It has become cheap to acquire and maintain, very portable and is a highly ubiquitous means of receiving real time information, entertainment and education.”
Mr. Longe described this year’s theme as very appropriate, saying it is coming at about the time of Nigeria’s general elections which have frequently been characterized by violence in the past. He stressed that for free, fair and peaceful elections in Nigeria, there is need for tolerance from everybody, especially the political actors and their most ardent supporters, adding that dialogue will enhance understanding and tolerance which will ultimately bring about peace, and that the radio is best positioned to facilitate this.
He called on all Nigerians, particularly broadcasters, to use radio to douse tension and ensure peace, reminding them that radio has the potential to stoke violence and as well as to be an instrument for building peace.
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