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Posts Tagged ‘Nigeria’

Nigeria president urges electoral reform by year-end

In Uncategorized on May 29, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday vowed to ensure elections due by next April were free and fair and called for the passage of electoral reforms by the end of the year.


In a broadcast to the nation to mark Democracy Day, which celebrates the end of military rule just over a decade ago, Jonathan said the challenge for Africa’s most populous nation was to hold elections in which every vote counted.


“That is why the consummation of the process of electoral reform is a collective task that must be done this year,” he said in the address.


“Let me once again assure all Nigerians that this time, under my watch, all votes will count.”


Jonathan is keen to avoid the sort of shambolic elections which brought late president Umaru Yar’Adua to power in 2007, polls so marred by ballot-stuffing and voter intimidation that independent observers deemed them not to be credible.

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan waves after an official visit to the family house of late president Umaru Yar’Adua in the northern city of Katsina, May 8, 2010.

Electoral reform legislation has been before parliament for months but time is quickly running out for meaningful changes to be implemented ahead of the next polls, due by April 2011.


One of the recommendations is a six-month buffer between polling day and the swearing in, which always takes place in May, to allow the resolution of legal challenges. That could mean polls as early as the end of the year.


An unwritten agreement in the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) states that the office of president should rotate between the Muslim north and Christian south every two terms.


Late President Umaru Yar’Adua, who died at the start of May, was a northerner in his first term meaning the ruling party nominee should be another northerner who can complete at least the second term.


But Jonathan has not ruled out standing and has won support from some northern politicians, even though a bid by him could split the PDP, which has won all of the past three elections since the end of military rule in 1999.


Critics say the PDP’s overwhelming dominance in national politics — with a strong majority in both houses of parliament and control of over three quarters of Nigeria’s 36 states — has turned Nigeria into a virtual one-party state.


The powerful governors’ caucus in the party has handpicked presidential nominees who have always gone on to win the polls, leading some Nigerians to question the relevance of Democracy Day, meant to commemorate the day in 1999 when Olusegun Obasanjo become the first elected leader since the end of military rule.


“For the parties to be relevant in the nation’s democratic enterprise, it is compulsory that a regime of internal party democracy must prevail,” Jonathan said.


Jonathan also took the opportunity to announce a new salary scale for public workers to address “pay distortions,” but gave no details, and said 10 billion naira ($67 million) would be disbursed in loans for civil servants to buy their own homes.

Source: SGGP

Nigeria rebels extend truce by 30 days

In World on September 16, 2009 at 6:40 am

The main armed rebel group in oil-rich southern Nigeria said early Wednesday it was prolonging by 30 days its truce which expired at midnight, but warned it was not giving up the fight.








File photo shows fighters of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) in Niger Delta. (AFP Photo)

“The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is extending its unilateral ceasefire which expired midnight (2300 GMT), September 15, 2009 by 30 days,” the group said in a statement.


MEND, which has waged an “oil war” targeting oil installations and the military deployed in the oil hub, declared in July a 60-day truce in response to a government offer for unconditional amnesty.


The ceasefire came shortly after the release of its leader Henry Okah, who had been jailed for close to two years on charges of treason and gun-running.


The group added, however, that it “does not recognize” the amnesty offered by President Umaru Yar’Adua “that has not made any provision for meaningful dialogue on the root issues that gave birth to the Niger Delta unrest in the first place.”


It would therefore “continue fighting.”


MEND, which appeared in 2006, says it is fighting oil companies operating in the Delta and the federal authorities to ensure that the desperately impoverished people of the Niger Delta benefit from the oil income.


Militant activities have disrupted operations of oil companies in southern Nigeria, resulting in a sharp decline in production since 2006.


“The government should use this extention of time to do the right thing instead of pretending to talk peace while arming the military for a war it can not win,” the group said in Wednesday’s statement..


“The Oil and Gas industry who will bear the brunt of renewed hostilities should not be deceived by the amnesty charade or the recent military hardware purchases as this is only leading to another cycle of violence.”


On June 25 Yar’Adua offered the amnesty to all militants who laid down their arms in the Delta region. The arms were to be handed over in centres where the fighters would be registered under a reintegration programme running from Aug 6 to Oct 4.


While some of the activists have publicly denounced the militancy and surrendered their arms, there are many other groups and factions yet undecided on the amnesty offer.


MEND has not clearly stated its position as a group although one of its commanders has already surrendered some arms.


In August MEND said of the ceasefire: “We are prepared to keep it and even extend it if the conditions are encouraging.”


On Monday it said it was waiting for directives from Okah on how to proceed after the expiration of the ceasefire.


A government team overseeing the implementation of the deal said early this month a “huge” number of militants had embraced the amnesty offer making it so far a “huge” success. But no figures have been given of the estimated 10,000 militants believed to be in the region.


It also said it was holding “informal talks” with key leaders of the various armed groups in the oil-rich region of Nigeria, the world’s eighth largest oil exporter.


The violence in the Niger Delta has brought about a plunge in Nigeria’s crude production to about 1.7 million barrels a day compared with 2.6 million in 2006.


Source: SGGP