Recently, N2.117.5 billion was approved by the federal government for the second phase production of additional 33.3 million permanent voters cards which will be valid for the 2015 and 2019 general elections.
The minister of information, Mr Labran Maku who made this known stated that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has also been authorized to use the National Identity Card as voters cards for 2023 while the permanent voters card will enjoy a life span of 10 years.
Harping on the same issue later, the INEC boss, Prof Attahiru Jega hinted that 73 million electorate are to be issued with the permanent voters card. He told resident electoral commissioners from 30 states of the federation that the cards will be electronic in nature and are to be used for identification, authentication and voting to forestall multiple voting and fraud. Jega further observed that the delimination of constituencies across the country will be the commission’s major project for the time being.
Indeed, the INEC boss got it right when he identified the delimination of constituencies as the commission’s major task for now. It is hitting the nail at the head as a result of the massive movement of certain ethnic groups away from the inferno enclave of the rampaging Boko Haram, the blood thirsty Islamist sect with headquarters in Maiduguri, Borno State.
The bloody insurgents always baying for human blood have killed thousands of electorate residing in Northern parts of the country besides forcing millions to flee for their lives. Because of the unavoidable relocation to their states of origin, the delimination figures used for the 2011 general elections in the Northern states have become over bloated, outdated, obsolete and unacceptable.
No matter the degree of confidence reposed in the new electronic voting cards, wealthy politicians aided by the incumbency factor could crash through the security structures on the ground.
There is much to this that meets the eye. INEC must exercise the greatest caution and thoroughness in the delimination exercise which has the key to the rigging, rejection or acceptance of the outcome of the 2015 national poll. This is not much ado about nothing because to some geo-political zones, the 2015 presidency is a red line which must not be crossed. Only providence can tame their unrestrained ambition and obsession for the presidential slot.
On the inviolability of the electronic voting cards, it is possible to manipulate them given the degree of negativity in Nigeria. If Nigerians can fake the national currency, the Naira, the counterfeit production of the electronic voting card is not an impossibility. The fact that its life span is 10 years amply indicates that the counterfeit experts have much time to perfect the imitation.
With 2015 general election year by the corner striding like a colossus, INEC should ensure that all the risk factors are addressed in good time to enable the game be played on a level ground devoid of the Nigerian factor. One way to get this done is to begin now to detraumatize Nigerians over the imagined absoluteness and finality of the 2015 presidency.
Okorocha pays Pupils, Owes Parastatals
Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has ordered the immediate payment of pupils and students allowances in Imo State for the 2012/2013 quarter academic year. According to a Press Release by the Information Ministry signed by its Perm. Sec. Goddy Dike, the payment commences Monday 29 April, 2013. The Owelle Rochas Okorocha administration as a way of encouraging pupils and students in Imo State to benefit from the free education programme of the government decided to be paying pupils and students some stipend on monthly basis to encourage them come to school.
This development has not gone down well with all the parents in the state as some claimed it might lead the kids to stealing cash when they run out of it. Others said during their days in school if one comes to school with cash, the parents of such is summoned, warned and advised to put edibles in the pupil’s bag instead of cash. Others are of the opinion that the move is for political reasons as regards to Okorocha’s presidential ambition since some of the students would be eligible to vote by then.
Interestingly, these pupils and students are on free education in the State, kudos to Imo State Federal Allocation and Tax payers money. Unfortunately staff of parastatals in the same state are yet to receive several months salaries including the minimum wage for some.
It will be recalled that Governor Rochas Okorocha had asked some parastatals to generate money and pay themselves even though they are not in any means set or designed to generate revenue for the state nevertheless their official responsibilities for a state are irreplaceable and quite expedient.
The confusion now is that several State government parastatals have not been paid salaries since February 2013, and these salaries are built into the federal allocation sent to Imo on monthly basis as government workers. It is said that Imo state receives a minimum of N12 billion as monthly allocation now as against the N4.5 billion received by the immediate past administration.
Mr. Okite Anyaso, a staff of one of the parastatals queried the revenue generated by the pupils, their teachers, staff of Ministries and Government House who seem to be the only beneficiaries of the state allocation since that has been the governor’s excuse for owing these parastatals. He also added that he would not ignore the unique bureaucratic workings of the Ministries which are also available in the parastatals.
“I know in the northern part of Nigeria, I mean the rural areas, staff of council areas are seen at the council headquarters only on pay day. Abroad, it is said, even those who do not work collect salary under Social Welfare. Surprisingly, the Governor collects his salary monthly when he is not even generating any revenue, therefore, I appeal to the Governor to pay these Imo citizens their salaries and entitlements having in mind their families and benefactors, since they are working for the State and have been paid salaries since the inception of the state and moreso they fought for him to be in the Government House to rescue them”, he added.
Another staff of one of the Ministries situated at Orlu Road secretariat frowned at the Governor’s wife not soliciting for these Imo workers but got her self engulfed into the sharing of monthly stipends to pupils and students which nobody can give account of how much that is involved, previously and that of now.
Mrs. Obodoukwu said: “It is amazing for his wife not to talk to the husband on issues of sensitive importance as family upkeep of these workers. I read from the papers that the Governor’s wife had a chat with Head Teachers that there would be 27 Desk Officers and 27 Team Leaders that will be sent to the 27 Local Government Areas backed by security personnel from the Nigeria Police Force, to aid the payment. That, the Desk Officers and Team Leaders will be paid N2,500 each and the Police N1,500 each. Sum all these cash plus the ones to be shared to school boys and girls together and tell me why those parastatals’ workers should be owed in all fairness. How can Free Education be given to school children and money still paid to them when their parents with several responsibilities are owed, what an unsolicited largesse”, she exclaimed.
Anyaso also reminded Gov. Okorocha to ensure that unemployment is not just a global phenomenon but a serious menance to the society in Nigeria leading to Kidnapping, Armed Robbery, Assassins, Political Thuggery, 419 etc, therefore, should not in any guise run state employed staff out of jobs as some have already started resigning to fend for a living elsewhere. The aftermath would be more disastrous to the state than his thinking.
He urged the Governor to look into the parastatals and see ways of reviving them to meet with the standard for which they were established, in order to execute their statutory functions.
Ihioma-Orlu Imo State