Itohoimo Udosen

Itohoimo Udosen

Foreign election observers who are in the country to monitor the 2019 general elections have counseled the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on how to gain the confidence of the voting public in the new dates it announced for the elections.
 
It would be recalled that INEC had announced the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections from Saturday February 16th to Saturday February 23rd and governorship and state houses of assembly from March 2nd to March 9th just few hours before the commencement of voting on Saturday.
 
The postponement, according to the electoral body was due logistics and operational challenges.
 
The observers, including the European Union Election Observation Mission, Economic Community of West African States Election Observation Mission, among others, in a statement after a meeting in Abuja on Saturday, asked INEC to finalise preparations and adhere strictly to the new February 23, 2019 date for the general elections.
 
They also noted that the suspension of the polls due to logistical and operational challenges had caused disappointment for many, admonishing the commission to provide regular updates and information to the public on its preparations in the coming days and weeks to enhance confidence and trust in the process.
 
The statement read: “We, the Heads of the international election observation missions and the United Nations present in Nigeria, have taken note of the decision of the INEC to postpone the 2019 general elections due to logistical and operational challenges.
 
“We urge INEC to use this time to finalise all preparations and ensure that the new election dates are strictly adhered to. We encourage INEC to provide regular updates and information to the public on its preparations in the coming days and weeks to enhance confidence and trust in the process.
 
“As we continue to closely observe preparations across the country, we stand in solidarity with the people of Nigeria in their desire for credible and peaceful elections.”
 
The President, National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTs) Mr Ken Ukaoha has said that the postponement of the commencement of the 2019 general elections has cost the country over N140 billion.
 
Ukaoha stated this in Abuja on Saturday while speaking with reporters, insisting that the postponement would affect the trading sector adversely.
 
Ukaoha also noted that the postponement would affect the economy adversely in terms of money that the government, political parties and ordinary Nigerians had already expended on logistics and otherwise.
 
Describing the postponement as appalling and unfortunate, Ukaoha said the development could make the nation become a laughing-stock in among comity of nations.
 
The NANTs president said: “I am not talking of the manufacturing sector, transporters and the farmers; even workers were asked not to go to work.
 
“We need to be adequately prepared for elections.
 
“The loss is monumental if you look at the economic consequences, essentially if you look at the trade, Nigeria depends so much on daily turning of fund through distribution and redistribution of goods and commodity.
 
“I am telling you that with this calculation I have just done here, we are losing nothing less than 140 billion naira, because all got this information so late.
 
“If you go round now you will see that the shops are close, so we are losing chunk of money just for this incident.
 
“We are not talking about the manufacturers and the industrialists because they have all sent their workers away to go and perform their civic duty.
 
“Farmers did not go to their farms because they want to exercise their franchise. If you do the computation your guess is as good as mine in terms of what the nation is losing, we should learn.”
 
 
Ahead of Saturday’s (tomorrow’s) presidential and National Assembly elections, President Muhammadu Buhari has said, he would remain in power and take Nigeria forward for the next four years.
 
He told CNN Africa that nobody will unseat him in an interview aired this Friday on the verified Instagram page of the international media platform.
 
Answering question on fears about his ability to run the country for a second term, Buhari said he was ready to continue as Nigeria’s leader and take the country forward for the next four years.
 
“This is a vibrant democracy. You came in, unseating the incumbent. Are you worried the same could happen to you?” his interviewer asked.
 
Responding, Buhari answered, “No. Nobody would unseat me. I am ready to take this country forward for the next four years.”
 
On the issue of Boko Haram Buhari said, “We have 774 local governments in this country. They (Boko Haram) used to hold 17. They are not technically holding any local government now.
 
“But they are indoctrinating young men and women, especially girls, wrap them up with explosives and let them explode them in soft targets like churches, mosques, marketplaces, motor parks and other places.
 
“Of course, we are doing our best (to contain the terror) and we thank some foreign countries in Europe and the United States for training our armed forces and going to the battlefront to see how they have performed.”
 
The race for the presidency seat is considered to be between incumbent President Buhari and Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
 
The two are Fulanis and from the northern part of Nigeria while their running mates are from the Southern part of Nigeria.
 
 
U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to declare the situation on the border with Mexico a national emergency, in a move that would grant him vast powers and would likely be contested in Congress and in the courts.
 
Some members of Trump’s own Republican Party have expressed concerns about the national emergency, fearing both a degradation of the role of Congress and setting a precedent.
 
Democrats have long argued there is a humanitarian issue at the border but there is no national emergency.
 
The national emergency comes at the end of a process which saw Trump largely lose to Congress over funding for his proposed vast expansion of the border wall.
 
Trump pushed the federal government into the longest shutdown in history, ending last month after 35 days.
 
Trump announced his intention a day before funding for the government was again set to run out and as Congress was approving appropriations, but without cash for Trump’s wall.
 
The president has agreed to sign the funding bill and keep government open.
 
Trump is expected to take executive action to announce funding for the wall from alternative funds.
 
The entire process is being denounced by Democrats as a blatant attempt to bypass Congress, which is constitutionally viewed as having the power of the purse.
 
The appropriations bill has set aside 1.375 billion dollars for physical barriers on the border.
 
Trump campaigned on the border wall and pledged Mexico would pay for it.
 
He was also once a fierce critic of former president Barack Obama when he took executive action, evading Congress.
 
 
Nigeria’s inflation dropped by 0.07 percent in January 2019, the National Bureau of Statistics reports.
 
According to the NBS, the consumer price index, (CPI) which measured inflation increased by 11.37 percent (year-on-year) in January 2019.
 
“This is 0.07 percent points lower than the rate recorded in December 2018 (11.44) percent. Increases were recorded in all COICOP divisions that yielded the Headline index,” it said.
 
On month-on-month basis, the NBS said the Headline index increased by 0.74 percent in January 2019, same rate as was recorded in December 2018 (0.74) percent.
 
“The percentage change in the average composite CPI for the twelve months period ending January 2019 over the average of the CPI for the previous twelve months period was 11.80 percent, showing 0.3 percent point from 12.10 percent recorded in December 2018.
 
“The urban inflation rate increased by 11.66 percent (year-on-year) in January 2019 from 11.73 percent recorded in December 2018, while the rural inflation rate increased by 11.11 percent in January 2019 from 11.18 percent in December 2018,” it added.
Twenty two stocks witnessed an increase in their prices on Thursday on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, leading to a rebound in the market, with investors gaining N14.83 billion.
 
Prices of 13 stocks however witnessed a decline at the end of trading.
 
The rebound is coming after the market witnessed a decline on Wednesday, with market capitalisation shedding a total of N18 billion.
 
At the end of trading on Thursday, market capitalisation rose from N12.087tn to N12.102tn, with the All Share Index increasing by 0.12 per cent from 32,413.92 basis points on Wednesday to 32,453.69bps on Thursday. Thereby improving the year-to-date return to 3.4 per cent.
 
Activity level however weakened as 423.379 million shares worth N3.729bn exchanged hands in 4,417 deals, representing a 10.1 per cent and 12.1 per cent decline in volume and value traded, respectively.
 
The top traded stocks by volume were Diamond Bank Plc (97.6 million units), Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (41.1 million units) and Zenith Bank Plc (40.3 million units), while the top traded stocks by value were Zenith Bank (N997.1m), Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (N992.6m) and Access Bank Plc (N263.7m).
 
Performance across sectors was largely bullish as three of five indices closed in the positive territory.
 
The insurance index was the biggest gainer, recording a 1.2 per cent increase, while the industrial and consumer goods indices gained 0.7 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively due to buying interest in Dangote Cement Plc, Lafarge Africa Plc, Unilever Nigeria Plc and P Z Cussons Nigeria Plc.
 
The oil and gas and banking indices however declined by 0.8 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively on the back of profit-taking in Oando Plc, Eterna Plc, Zenith Bank and Access Bank.
 
Investors’ sentiment strengthened to 1.7x from the 0.7x recorded on Wednesday.
 
Associated Bus Company Plc, Livestock Feeds Plc, Unity Bank Plc, Unilever and Wema Bank Plc, topped the price gainers, as their share prices gain 10 per cent, 10 per cent, 9.62 per cent, 6.82 per cent and 6.74 per cent, respectively.
 
On the other side, Union Bank Nigeria Plc, Oando, Dangote Flour Mills Plc, Union Diagnostic and Clinical Services Plc and Eterna topped the losers table as their share prices declined by 8.03 per cent, 5.17 per cent, 4.57 per cent, 3.23 per cent and 3.09 per cent.
 

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday reinstated that he will conduct a free, fair and peaceful presidential election on Saturday and charged Nigerians to turn out massively to cast their votes.

The president, in a nationwide broadcast, assured Nigerians that the government would do its very best to ensure that the 2019 elections take place in a secure and peaceful atmosphere.

“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.

“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.

“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,” he said.

Buhari assured all Nigerians, the diplomatic community and all foreign election observers of their safety and full protection, saying that any comments or threats of intimidation from any source did not represent the position of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“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,” he said.

The president appealed to the youth not allow themselves to be used to cause violence and destruction., saying that “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.”

He said when Nigerians elected him in 2015, it was essentially in consequence of his promise of CHANGE, stressing that “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.

“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.”

According to Buhari, “our choices have had consequences about employment and cost of living. 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.

“If they are only hoping to do what we are already doing successfully, we are clearly your preferred choice. Think carefully and choose wisely. This time, it is a choice about consolidating on growth for Jobs and Prosperity. 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.

“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.”

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