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'Money Politics, Biggest Threat To Nigeria's Democracy' – :::…The Tide News Online:::… – The Tide

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A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), SING Nigeria, has said that Nigeria’s democracy could be destroyed if the activities of moneybag politicians are not checked and tamed by the law.
Executive Director of SING Nigeria, Mr Idris-Etanami Usman said this while monitoring the Anambra State governorship election from the SING Situation Room in Abuja.
Usman said the time had come for Nigerians to begin to sue politicians for overspending money during elections.
“Election has become almost like an investment, so if you are investing, you must reap your investment and by so doing you must do everything to ensure you win.
“As it is no candidate in an election has been disqualified based on overspending; no candidate in the history of our democracy has been disqualified by the court.
“People should start going to court to charge candidates and their party for overspending. INEC should do thorough audit and we have written to them several times to show their books in terms of audit done after election.
“To our disappointment, INEC has not really come out to give us a thorough audit, as audit ought to be done after election but INEC is keeping on that.
“As long as we allow these monies, vote buying and all the funds politicians spend, we will never have a sincere process because these monies are also being used to buy security, buying of guns and sponsorship of thugs.
“These monies also make INEC staff to compromise, so, if we can beat that money politics I think we will solve over 70 per cent of our electoral problem in this country,” Usman said.
He called on Nigerians not to joke with the electoral process as the kind of leaders the people desired could only come when genuine people occupied political offices.
Mr Mohammed Basah, Associate Member, SING Nigeria, who read the text of a press conference organised at its situation room, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the electoral bill become effective before the 2023 general election.
“The election happening in Anambra is significant for a number of reasons, and we call on INEC to use the conduct of the poll as litmus test for the 2023 general election.
“In Anambra, the task before the electoral umpire is indeed daunting, as they will also be testing the newly created 1,112 polling units in the state.
“We cannot overstate our position that the nation is in dire need of issue and idea based political campaign more than an electoral environment choked with money by the political elites.
“We call on relevant stakeholders to discourage attempts by politicians to scuttle the will of the people through illicit use of money in form of vote buying which will further weaken our democratic practice.
“It will also destroy the citizens’ trust in our electoral democracy and further rip us off of competent hands to drive the nation’s development agenda.
“SING Nigeria wants to use this opportunity to call for support against any attempt to increase campaign financing in the proposed electoral bill,” Basah said.
He called on the National Assembly to expunge any clause in the proposed electoral act amendment bill that is capable of undermining the growth of the country’s democracy.
Board member of the organistaion, Dr Itari Turner who also spoke at the event said INEC ought to have gone past the current level of election conduct in the country.
She said achieving a desired electoral process in the country required all hands to be on deck, as voters would not have any reason to complain when politicians take advantage of voter apathy to manipulate the system.
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Acting Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr Mohammed Bello-Koko, has said that the two Lagos seaports located in Lekki and Tin Can Island were operating “far beyond their installed capacities”.
“What it simply means is that if they were built to handle 500,000 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs), for instance, probably they are now handling about 700, 000 TEUs,” he told newsmen yesterday in Lagos.
He said that the situation had led to massive congestion worsened by the fact that the city had caught up with the ports.
“There is no space to expand the ports. What we need to do is to improve on the activities in the ports, in terms of efficiency.
“In 2006, when NPA concessioned the terminals, there was a Development Plan between the NPA and the terminal operators and that development plan included both physical development and the deployment of equipment.
“The terminal operators have met those agreements and everything has evolved, but there is need for bigger and more efficient equipment, better Information Technology IT systems, and so on.
“We have seen an improvement in terms of efficiency; there is increase in efficiency. But there is room for more. We have observed system downtime in one or two of the terminals, especially the APM Terminals, which is one of the terminals.
“Whenever APM Terminal system is down, it causes a lot of backlog in terms of traffic.
“What we have done is to sit down with the terminal operators and tell them that they need to improve on their operations; we have Monitoring and Regulatory Department in the NPA, which has an index that, on a monthly basis, we look at the operations and grade them.
“We also sit with them at the end of the quarter to discuss their performance; we examine where they have done well and where they are lagging behind.
“We have also emphasised the need for better synergy between what the terminal operators are doing and the shipping lines, because some of them also have affiliated shipping lines working with them.
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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) says it frustrated drug traffickers’ desperate attempts to export large kilogrammes of Cocaine, Methamphetamine and Cannabis in three different states of the country.
NDLEA’s spokesperson, Femi Babafemi said this in a statement yesterday in Abuja.
Bababfemi said that operatives of the agency seized the consignments which were enroute London, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirate and New Zealand, through two major courier firms in Lagos.
He said that some of the consignments were concealed in containers of body cream, tea bags, vehicle oil and air filters.
Babafemi further said the anti-drug agency operatives on November 5, similarly arrested two suspects, Ibrahim Sulaiman and Muhammad Alhassan, in Kano State, while trying to export illicit consignment .
According to him, the suspects were arrested with 23kgs of Diazepam tablets; 2kgs of Codeine syrup and 32kgs of Exol 5 tablets, bringing the total weight to 57kgs.
“Earlier on Wednesday, November 3, operatives of the Kano Command of the agency had arrested one Mizambilu Tijjani, with 64 kilograms of cannabis sativa.
“The operatives also arrested one Victor Nsodikwa with 34 cartons of Pentazocine injection and one carton of Diazepam injection in Sabongari area of the city, “ he said.
Babafemi said that the operatives also seized a consignment containing 28.251kgs of Exol-5; 6.6kgs of Barcadin Codeine Syrup; over 38.532kgs of Tramadol, bringing the total drugs seized to 73.808kgs in Kogi.
He added that NDLEA’s operatives in Osun State Command seized 130.518kgs of cannabis and 18grams of Cocaine in Modakeke area of Ile-Ife.
Babafemi quoted the Chairman, NDLEA, retired, Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa, as commending the officers and men of the agency and their counterparts in Kano, Kogi and Osun states for their good deeds.
“Marwa commended them for sustaining the heat on the cartels across the country.
“He urged them and their compatriots in other commands to intensify the offensive action against all merchants of death in Nigeria,” he said.
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Media professionals in Nigeria have been called upon to be guided by the ethics of the profession by presenting balanced, unbiased and factual news reports and analysis, devoid of sensationalism and stereotyping. 
 The call was made in Umuahia, Abia State over the weekend in a communique issued at the end of a two-day seminar organised by the Nigerian Press Council (NPC), in collaboration with Forte and Heinz Limited, on the Role of the Media in Combating Violent Extremism and Terrorism in Nigeria. 
“Media professionals, as a matter of responsibility, should strive to use official, credible and trusted sources of information while reporting terrorism”, adding that media professionals should be in the forefront of promoting peace and journalism in the country by publishing news reports and analysis that discourage violent extremism and terrorism but emphasise on peace and unity of the country.
The workshop which was attended by journalists from the five States in the South- East Zone of the country, was aimed at training the participants on how the Media, through their reportage, can combat terrorism in Nigeria.
Abia State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Barr. Eze Chikamnayo, declared the workshop open.
Speaking while welcoming the participants, the Executive Secretary of NPC, Mr. Francis N. Nwosu, said the concern of the Council was not on why the media cover or report terrorism but how they report or cover it.
Nwosu further explained that the workshop was aimed at enhancing the instrumentality and capacity of media professionals on how to report, especially in a multi-ethnic country like Nigeria and to seek how the media could report on how the activities of terrorists could be mitigated.
Maintaining that the Media has a crucial role to play in combating violent extremism and terrorism in the country through their reportage, the communique noted that 
since media reports embolden terrorists, the media should reduce the attention given to terrorists and terrorist activities in their reportage. 
“The media should stop giving undue publicity to terrorism and terrorist activities; as well as types of coverage that may portray media as accomplices of terrorists. 
“ The media should employ their professional skills in maintaining the delicate balance between the Public’s right to know and National interest to avoid setting the country on fire
“ The media must stop making itself an asset for the terrorists by shifting from the current drive for Breaking News to prioritizing public safety and National interest and responsible journalism”. 
Continuing, the communique further advised the media to be very careful in publishing reports in order not to wittingly or unwittingly help extremists or terrorists to achieve their primary goal of spreading fear and sowing the seed of discord among the people or communities in the country. 
“There is the need for improved networking among media houses/professionals on the one hand and the media with other stakeholders, particularly, the security agencies to tame escalating terrorism in the country
“ Journalists covering terrorism should be manda torily equipped with adequate resources to enhance networking among journalists working in their line of duty”.
By: Canice Amadi, Enugu
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