Ethic thinking matters in leadership

By Linda Fisher Thornton

To celebrate 7 Lenses going into its second printing, this is the fourth post in a special series focused on Why Ethical Thinking Matters. In case you missed them, here are the previous posts in the series: Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 1),Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 2),and Why Ethical Thinking Matters (Part 3). Use the fresh perspectives shared in this series to guide your talent development plans for 2018.

You may already realize that ethical thinking is important, and if you do, I ask you to spread the word. To help you champion the cause in your organizations and on social media, I have included the business case below.

Ethics is an important part of brand value, so leaders need to be ready to model, implement, interpret and teach it. Teaching something to others and guiding them as they apply it requires a much higher level of skill than applying it only in one’s own work. To carry the company’s ethical brand value (EBV) forward, leaders will need to have mastered ethical thinking so they can guide others in how to use it. They will need to understand how ethics drives the economic engine of the company and the risks of a single ethical mistake that can reduce the company’s brand value in minutes.

Leaders are ethical brand ambassadors. They need to be able to handle ethical challenges themselves, AND teach others throughout the organization

To be ready for the higher level requirements of  being an Ethical Brand Ambassador, leaders need clear ethical thinking. Here are some of the business reasons why that is so important:

Brand Value and Reputation Directly Impact Financial Results

“A business’s most valuable asset is its good name, its brand and reputation. In a recent survey released jointly by the World Economic Forum and the Fleishman-Hillard public relations firm, three-fifths of chief executives said they believed corporate brand and reputation represented more than 40% of their company’s market capitalization… Strong brand reputational value equals greater profits.”

Alexander F. Brigham Stefan Linssen, Your Brand Reputational Value Is Irreplaceable. Protect It! at Forbes.com

Ethical Business is A Powerful Consumer Trends

“…more sustainable, ethical, healthier modes of consumption that we’ve been tracking for years.”  

Florida teen charged with 17 murder counts in school attack

Terry Spencer and Kelli Kennedy, Associated Press
Associated Press
Florida teen charged with 17 murder counts in school shooting

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — An orphaned 19-year-old with a troubled past and an AR-15 rifle was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder Thursday morning after being questioned for hours by state and federal authorities following the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. in five years.

Fourteen wounded survivors were hospitalized as bodies were recovered from inside and around Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Nikolas Cruz, still wearing a hospital gown after being treated for labored breathing, and weighing in at 5-foot-7 and 131 pounds, was ordered held without bond and booked into jail.

His former classmates thought they were having another drill Wednesday afternoon when a fire alarm sounded, requiring them to file out of their classrooms.

That’s when police say Cruz, equipped with a gas mask, smoke grenades and multiple magazines of ammunition, opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon, killing 17 people and sending hundreds of students fleeing into the streets. It was the nation’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, more than five years ago.

“Our district is in a tremendous state of grief and sorrow,” said Robert Runcie, superintendent of the school district in Parkland, about an hour’s drive north of Miami. “It is a horrible day for us.”

Florida teen charged with 17 murder counts in school attack

Terry Spencer and Kelli Kennedy, Associated Press
Associated Press
0:27
1:56
Florida teen charged with 17 murder counts in school shooting

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — An orphaned 19-year-old with a troubled past and an AR-15 rifle was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder Thursday morning after being questioned for hours by state and federal authorities following the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. in five years.

Fourteen wounded survivors were hospitalized as bodies were recovered from inside and around Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Nikolas Cruz, still wearing a hospital gown after being treated for labored breathing, and weighing in at 5-foot-7 and 131 pounds, was ordered held without bond and booked into jail.

His former classmates thought they were having another drill Wednesday afternoon when a fire alarm sounded, requiring them to file out of their classrooms.

That’s when police say Cruz, equipped with a gas mask, smoke grenades and multiple magazines of ammunition, opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon, killing 17 people and sending hundreds of students fleeing into the streets. It was the nation’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, more than five years ago.

“Our district is in a tremendous state of grief and sorrow,” said Robert Runcie, superintendent of the school district in Parkland, about an hour’s drive north of Miami. “It is a horrible day for us.”

Florida teen charged with 17 murder counts in school attack

Terry Spencer and Kelli Kennedy, Associated Press
Associated Press
0:27
1:56
Florida teen charged with 17 murder counts in school shooting

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — An orphaned 19-year-old with a troubled past and an AR-15 rifle was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder Thursday morning after being questioned for hours by state and federal authorities following the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. in five years.

Fourteen wounded survivors were hospitalized as bodies were recovered from inside and around Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Nikolas Cruz, still wearing a hospital gown after being treated for labored breathing, and weighing in at 5-foot-7 and 131 pounds, was ordered held without bond and booked into jail.

His former classmates thought they were having another drill Wednesday afternoon when a fire alarm sounded, requiring them to file out of their classrooms.

That’s when police say Cruz, equipped with a gas mask, smoke grenades and multiple magazines of ammunition, opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon, killing 17 people and sending hundreds of students fleeing into the streets. It was the nation’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, more than five years ago.

“Our district is in a tremendous state of grief and sorrow,” said Robert Runcie, superintendent of the school district in Parkland, about an hour’s drive north of Miami. “It is a horrible day for us.”

Florida teen charged with 17 murder counts in school attack

Terry Spencer and Kelli Kennedy, Associated Press
Associated Press
0:27
1:56
Florida teen charged with 17 murder counts in school shooting

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — An orphaned 19-year-old with a troubled past and an AR-15 rifle was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder Thursday morning after being questioned for hours by state and federal authorities following the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. in five years.

Fourteen wounded survivors were hospitalized as bodies were recovered from inside and around Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Nikolas Cruz, still wearing a hospital gown after being treated for labored breathing, and weighing in at 5-foot-7 and 131 pounds, was ordered held without bond and booked into jail.

His former classmates thought they were having another drill Wednesday afternoon when a fire alarm sounded, requiring them to file out of their classrooms.

That’s when police say Cruz, equipped with a gas mask, smoke grenades and multiple magazines of ammunition, opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon, killing 17 people and sending hundreds of students fleeing into the streets. It was the nation’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, more than five years ago.

“Our district is in a tremendous state of grief and sorrow,” said Robert Runcie, superintendent of the school district in Parkland, about an hour’s drive north of Miami. “It is a horrible day for us.”

Florida teen charged with 17 murder counts in school attack

Terry Spencer and Kelli Kennedy, Associated Press
Associated Press
0:27
1:56
Florida teen charged with 17 murder counts in school shooting

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — An orphaned 19-year-old with a troubled past and an AR-15 rifle was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder Thursday morning after being questioned for hours by state and federal authorities following the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. in five years.

Fourteen wounded survivors were hospitalized as bodies were recovered from inside and around Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Nikolas Cruz, still wearing a hospital gown after being treated for labored breathing, and weighing in at 5-foot-7 and 131 pounds, was ordered held without bond and booked into jail.

His former classmates thought they were having another drill Wednesday afternoon when a fire alarm sounded, requiring them to file out of their classrooms.

That’s when police say Cruz, equipped with a gas mask, smoke grenades and multiple magazines of ammunition, opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon, killing 17 people and sending hundreds of students fleeing into the streets. It was the nation’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, more than five years ago.

“Our district is in a tremendous state of grief and sorrow,” said Robert Runcie, superintendent of the school district in Parkland, about an hour’s drive north of Miami. “It is a horrible day for us.”

Florida teen charged with 17 murder counts in school attack

Terry Spencer and Kelli Kennedy, Associated Press
Associated Press
0:27
1:56
Florida teen charged with 17 murder counts in school shooting

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — An orphaned 19-year-old with a troubled past and an AR-15 rifle was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder Thursday morning after being questioned for hours by state and federal authorities following the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. in five years.

Fourteen wounded survivors were hospitalized as bodies were recovered from inside and around Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Nikolas Cruz, still wearing a hospital gown after being treated for labored breathing, and weighing in at 5-foot-7 and 131 pounds, was ordered held without bond and booked into jail.

His former classmates thought they were having another drill Wednesday afternoon when a fire alarm sounded, requiring them to file out of their classrooms.

That’s when police say Cruz, equipped with a gas mask, smoke grenades and multiple magazines of ammunition, opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon, killing 17 people and sending hundreds of students fleeing into the streets. It was the nation’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, more than five years ago.

“Our district is in a tremendous state of grief and sorrow,” said Robert Runcie, superintendent of the school district in Parkland, about an hour’s drive north of Miami. “It is a horrible day for us.”

Florida teen charged with 17 murder counts in school attack

Terry Spencer and Kelli Kennedy, Associated Press
Associated Press
0:27
1:56
Florida teen charged with 17 murder counts in school shooting

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — An orphaned 19-year-old with a troubled past and an AR-15 rifle was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder Thursday morning after being questioned for hours by state and federal authorities following the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. in five years.

Fourteen wounded survivors were hospitalized as bodies were recovered from inside and around Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Nikolas Cruz, still wearing a hospital gown after being treated for labored breathing, and weighing in at 5-foot-7 and 131 pounds, was ordered held without bond and booked into jail.

His former classmates thought they were having another drill Wednesday afternoon when a fire alarm sounded, requiring them to file out of their classrooms.

That’s when police say Cruz, equipped with a gas mask, smoke grenades and multiple magazines of ammunition, opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon, killing 17 people and sending hundreds of students fleeing into the streets. It was the nation’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, more than five years ago.

“Our district is in a tremendous state of grief and sorrow,” said Robert Runcie, superintendent of the school district in Parkland, about an hour’s drive north of Miami. “It is a horrible day for us.”

Nigerian politics in focus: 2019 election timetable!

APC Senators Split As Senate Adopts Revised Poll Timetable

The adoption of the report by the Senate and the House of Representatives Conference Committee on the Amendment to the Electoral Act caused division in the ranks of the All Progressives Congress caucus in the upper chamber of the National Assembly on Wednesday.

senate

According to the report, the sequence of the elections will commence with National Assembly, to be followed by governorship and State Houses of Assembly, while presidential poll will come last.

Trouble started when the Chairman of the Conference Committee, who is also Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, Senator Suleiman Nazif, presented the report at the plenary on Wednesday.

After the presentation, President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, put the adoption of the report to voice vote, saying there was no need for debate on it as it was from a conference committee which had harmonised the versions of the two chambers.

“Let me remind us all on what the procedures are for conference reports. It is very simple. You either adopt the report or you reject the report. So, I am going to make it simple and put the question,” Saraki said.

After the vote, the Senate President ruled that “the ayes have it,” a development that generated uproar in the chamber.

Raising a point of order, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege called for a division, citing Order 73 of the Senate Standing Rules.

Responding, Saraki said, “As I keep on emphasising, institutions are what are important. As senators, we will finish our terms and go, but we must continue to strengthen institutions. We must always follow the procedures that we have all laid down.

“For conference reports, this has been the procedure and as such, with all due respect, I have to rule you out of order.”

Dissatisfied, Senator Kabiru Gaya raised another point of order, citing Order 87(C), which states that the conference committee can deliberate on issues between the Senate and House of Representatives but cannot make insertions on any matter not committed to it by either of the chambers.

 He said, “This report on the sequence of elections was never discussed here in the Senate. Why are we bringing it up here?”

Also ruling Gaya out of order, Saraki said, “You are a ranking senator and I have all the utmost respect for you. I know that politics is local; and I appreciate that. But as much as it is local, we also have to maintain the integrity of this institution. I have heard you and I am sure that your constituency too have heard you; but I have to rule you out of order.”

Still not satisfied, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, who is the Chairman of the Northern Senators’ Forum, raised another point of order, citing Section 76 of the Constitution and pointing out that only INEC was empowered to determine the date of elections.

Ruling Adamu out of order, Saraki said, “Thank you for the point you raised. As you know, we have ruled on this. And as you also know, there are many bills that we have passed and if there are issues, there are mechanisms within the system through which issues have been raised. With all due respect, I will say it is noted.”

At that point, several members began to scream, “Point of order!”

Saraki, again, insisted that the lawmakers must be guided by the rules, especially Order 53(6). He urged members to allow consideration of the next item on the order paper.

Shortly after, 10 APC members stormed out of the chamber and moved to the Media Centre of the Senate Press Corps.

The senators, who claimed that 59 of them were against the amendment, were Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa-West), Abu Ibrahim (Katsina-North), Abdullahi Gumel (Jigawa-North), Ali Wakili (Bauchi-South), Binta Masi Garba (Adamawa-North), Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta-Central), Umar Kurfi (Katsina-Central), Andrew Uchendu (Rivers-East), Benjamin Uwajumogu (Imo-North), and Abdullahi Yahaya (Kebbi-North).

The senators took turns to criticise the adoption of the report without a debate.

They also alleged that the amendment was targeted at the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria currently being occupied by Muhammadu Buhari.

The protesters cited irregularities in the signatories to the report.

Adamu said, “We feel very strongly that the process by which the so-called conference committee report was laid and considered was rushed.

“We are against what happened. Incidentally, if you take note of the report that was laid – the report that was circulated – the chairman and the co-chairman did not sign it. We don’t know why they did not sign the report.

“Normally, if we are going through due process, we need to know why they didn’t sign it, or do we have different reports submitted over the same bill from the same committee?”

Alleging that the report was biased, Adamu stated that the bill needed better attention while its passage must be fair.

He said, “Why do you want to do a law to address just one particular problem. This is a very partisan report; you could see it from the body language, the utterances and the gesturing that it is a pre-determined thing by a political party that is threatened by the APC government.”

Also, Omo-Agege said, “Thirty six people in the House of Representatives cannot determine the faith and the destiny of 360 people in the House, which is now carried over to a Senate of 109. If a conference committee is set up to reconcile the differences, the least we are owed is for this amendment to Section 25 (of the Electoral Act) to be deliberated upon.

“We did not even dissolve into the committee of the whole. We were not even given the opportunity to consider this.

“Today, we have 59 senators who are opposed to the inclusion of this Section 25 in the Electoral Act. If that division (which he called for) was allowed 59 senators would have voted to delete that purported amendment to Section 25 of the Electoral Act.

“You don’t make a law targeted at one person. The perception out there is that this Section 25 was included to target Mr. President,” he stated.

The Senate however insisted on the adoption of the report, stating that it had passed due process.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, who jointly addressed journalists with Nazif, dismissed the allegations by the aggrieved senators.

Nazif said, “Let me make it very clear that I have signed the concurrent committee report. I don’t know where that (allegation) came from, but I signed it. This is it, signed by me (displaying the report). And if you go to the clerk, it is also signed by me.

“I am not aware if the sequence of election is being targeted at anybody. What I know is that as the Chairman of the Committee on INEC at the Senate, I chaired the concurrent committee of both the House and the Senate.

“In the past, we have had elections from the top to down. I don’t know if anybody questioned that. In the past also, we have also had elections from down to top. I don’t know if anybody questioned that.”

 ‘Why underage persons were registered’

The Independent National Electoral Commission says some underage voters are being registered in some parts of the country because the lives of registration officers are being threatened by some members of the community.

The Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Mr. Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, said this on Wednesday during a programme on the African Independent Television titled, ‘Kakaaki.’

Osazze-Uzzi, while answering questions over pictures and videos on the social media showing children registering and voting in northern Nigeria, said when officials refused to register underage persons, their lives  were threatened by members of the community and they eventually caved in.

The INEC director said, “I agree that it is the responsibility of the registration officer to do that (refuse to register underage persons), but there are times that circumstances are such that where there is present and clear danger that he risks being assaulted or being killed, I think it will be unreasonable to expect him not to succumb to the pressure. But we encourage them to report immediately they get out of that dangerous zone.”

Osazze-Uzzi said INEC had received reports from some members of the National Youth Service Corps taking part in the exercise.

He added that parents came along with their children claiming that their children were over 18 and usually forced registration officers to register the underage children.

The INEC director said, “Even to the untrained eye, that child doesn’t look more than 15, but in such circumstances, you cannot argue too much with them. The law says the registration officer is entitled to act on some kind of identification or birth certificate or proof of age.

“But very often, they are resisted, especially when there are lots of people there. They are challenged in a charged atmosphere and they are there without any protection. Many of them are there in strange communities which they don’t know anything about. So, there is undue pressure on them to register at this point.”

Osaze-Uzzi, however, said mechanisms had been put in place such that after an underage person is registered, he could be removed from the register.

He said the registers were usually inspected by senior INEC officials who could identify underage persons through their facial looks or through assistance from members of the community.

“It is not a complex process, you display the voter register and people come there. That is in addition to the fact that the registration officer can refuse anybody registration. But we don’t expect people to risk their lives for what is essentially a simple patriotic service.

“But if they get away with that (getting registered) and the report is not taken, the second opportunity is when the register is displayed. The best opportunity is where higher officials physically look at each register as much as they can and those who are clearly not qualified are removed. So, it is a three-pronged process and there are different stages,” the INEC director added.

He said the process of registration and voting could never be perfect since it was a human endeavour.

He, however, said the media and members of the public should assist the commission by exposing such cases of underage registration and voting.

Osaze-Uzzi said, “I think the law recognises that being a human endeavour, it may not be perfect and that is why it gives some kind of leeway such that when you weigh everything together, it is a reflection of what the people have chosen.

“If one per cent of the register has underage persons; will this affect the outcome? We agree that the register is the very foundation of every election and what we can do and what the media can do is that when we get these reports and we have a fair idea of where this issue is prevalent, we can look at the registers again, look at those who are clearly underage and try to weed them out and prevent them from exercising a franchise that does not belong to them legally.”

The INEC director maintained that the local government election which held in Kano State was not organised by INEC but the state government.

He assured members of the public that the 2019 general elections would be free, fair and credible.

INEC can’t be trusted with 2019 elections –PDP

The Peoples Democratic Party has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission of being responsible for the registration of underage voters in Kano State.

Pictures and videos of the voters recently went viral on social media shortly after the conduct of local government election in the state on Saturday.

The PDP consequently said Nigerians had lost confidence in the commission.

It added that the commission could not be trusted with the conduct of the 2019 general elections.

The former ruling party alleged that the documented “massive underage voting that characterised the exercise” was an indication that the commission was part of the fraud.

The party said it was INEC that registered the minors as voters and as such should not exonerate itself of involvement in the electoral fraud.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, said the press release by INEC, exonerating itself from culpability in the participation of minors in the Kano election showed that INEC under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu was unreliable.

The statement read in part, “Who is fooling who? Is it not INEC that registered the minors and issued Permanent Voter Cards to them to participate in elections as documented in the Kano council election?

“Can INEC truly acquit itself as the culprit who set the stage for the eventual participation of the minors and overall rigging of the elections?

“By resorting to lame excuses and trying to exonerate itself at a time it should be taking decisive steps to protect the sanctity of its sensitive materials such as the PVC, this INEC has shown that it cannot be relied upon as a responsible and trustworthy electoral umpire.

“Indeed, if this INEC was serious about the sanctity of sensitive electoral materials, by now it should have ordered the immediate review of its voter register in Kano and Katsina states, fishing out and prosecuting those who registered the minors and clean up the electoral system in the affected states.

“Viewed alongside a series of numerous other irregularities being allowed by INEC to favour the ruling All Progressives Congress, including alleged conspiracy with APC-controlled security operatives to intimidate opposition members and manipulate elections as witnessed in the Mashi/Dutsi Federal Constituency Supplementary election in Katsina State, any reasonable person will decide that INEC, as presently constituted, has serious questions to answer, especially as we approach the 2019 general elections.”

Ologbondiyan warned that Nigerians would not accept anything less than a credible, free and fair general election in 2019.

“The commission should ensure that it does not allow itself to be used by the APC against the will of the people, particularly in the 2019 elections, as such will be resisted,” he added.

Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, alleged that the Federal Government was not ready for free and fair elections in 2019.

Secondus spoke when he received members of the International Republican Institute in his office in Abuja.

The team was led by the President of IRI, Mr. Dan Twining.

Secondus said, “Our major concern with the party in power is that they are not ready a for free and fair election and the best Nigerians want is  afree and fair election.

“The people of Nigeria are passing through challenges like killings by herdsmen, insecurity, bad economy and inability to protect lives and property of Nigerians by the government.

“Our major concern is for INEC to conduct a free and fair election because if the 2019 election is rigged, it will be a recipe for crisis.”

Twining told Secondus that Nigerian was the most important country for IRI in sub-Saharan Africa.

Senators’ Forum, raised another point of order, citing Section 76 of the Constitution and pointing out that only INEC was empowered to determine the date of elections.

Ruling Adamu out of order, Saraki said, “Thank you for the point you raised. As you know, we have ruled on this. And as you also know, there are many bills that we have passed and if there are issues, there are mechanisms within the system through which issues have been raised. With all due respect, I will say it is noted.”

At that point, several members began to scream, “Point of order!”

Saraki, again, insisted that the lawmakers must be guided by the rules, especially Order 53(6). He urged members to allow consideration of the next item on the order paper.

Shortly after, 10 APC members stormed out of the chamber and moved to the Media Centre of the Senate Press Corps.

The senators, who claimed that 59 of them were against the amendment, were Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa-West), Abu Ibrahim (Katsina-North), Abdullahi Gumel (Jigawa-North), Ali Wakili (Bauchi-South), Binta Masi Garba (Adamawa-North), Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta-Central), Umar Kurfi (Katsina-Central), Andrew Uchendu (Rivers-East), Benjamin Uwajumogu (Imo-North), and Abdullahi Yahaya (Kebbi-North).

The senators took turns to criticise the adoption of the report without a debate.

They also alleged that the amendment was targeted at the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria currently being occupied by Muhammadu Buhari.

The protesters cited irregularities in the signatories to the report.

Adamu said, “We feel very strongly that the process by which the so-called conference committee report was laid and considered was rushed.

“We are against what happened. Incidentally, if you take note of the report that was laid – the report that was circulated – the chairman and the co-chairman did not sign it. We don’t know why they did not sign the report.

“Normally, if we are going through due process, we need to know why they didn’t sign it, or do we have different reports submitted over the same bill from the same committee?”

Alleging that the report was biased, Adamu stated that the bill needed better attention while its passage must be fair.

He said, “Why do you want to do a law to address just one particular problem. This is a very partisan report; you could see it from the body language, the utterances and the gesturing that it is a pre-determined thing by a political party that is threatened by the APC government.”

Also, Omo-Agege said, “Thirty six people in the House of Representatives cannot determine the faith and the destiny of 360 people in the House, which is now carried over to a Senate of 109. If a conference committee is set up to reconcile the differences, the least we are owed is for this amendment to Section 25 (of the Electoral Act) to be deliberated upon.

“We did not even dissolve into the committee of the whole. We were not even given the opportunity to consider this.

“Today, we have 59 senators who are opposed to the inclusion of this Section 25 in the Electoral Act. If that division (which he called for) was allowed 59 senators would have voted to delete that purported amendment to Section 25 of the Electoral Act.

“You don’t make a law targeted at one person. The perception out there is that this Section 25 was included to target Mr. President,” he stated.

The Senate however insisted on the adoption of the report, stating that it had passed due process.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, who jointly addressed journalists with Nazif, dismissed the allegations by the aggrieved senators.

Nazif said, “Let me make it very clear that I have signed the concurrent committee report. I don’t know where that (allegation) came from, but I signed it. This is it, signed by me (displaying the report). And if you go to the clerk, it is also signed by me.

“I am not aware if the sequence of election is being targeted at anybody. What I know is that as the Chairman of the Committee on INEC at the Senate, I chaired the concurrent committee of both the House and the Senate.

“In the past, we have had elections from the top to down. I don’t know if anybody questioned that. In the past also, we have also had elections from down to top. I don’t know if anybody questioned that.”

 ‘Why underage persons were registered’

The Independent National Electoral Commission says some underage voters are being registered in some parts of the country because the lives of registration officers are being threatened by some members of the community.

The Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Mr. Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, said this on Wednesday during a programme on the African Independent Television titled, ‘Kakaaki.’

Osazze-Uzzi, while answering questions over pictures and videos on the social media showing children registering and voting in northern Nigeria, said when officials refused to register underage persons, their lives  were threatened by members of the community and they eventually caved in.

The INEC director said, “I agree that it is the responsibility of the registration officer to do that (refuse to register underage persons), but there are times that circumstances are such that where there is present and clear danger that he risks being assaulted or being killed, I think it will be unreasonable to expect him not to succumb to the pressure. But we encourage them to report immediately they get out of that dangerous zone.”

Osazze-Uzzi said INEC had received reports from some members of the National Youth Service Corps taking part in the exercise.

He added that parents came along with their children claiming that their children were over 18 and usually forced registration officers to register the underage children.

The INEC director said, “Even to the untrained eye, that child doesn’t look more than 15, but in such circumstances, you cannot argue too much with them. The law says the registration officer is entitled to act on some kind of identification or birth certificate or proof of age.

“But very often, they are resisted, especially when there are lots of people there. They are challenged in a charged atmosphere and they are there without any protection. Many of them are there in strange communities which they don’t know anything about. So, there is undue pressure on them to register at this point.”

Osaze-Uzzi, however, said mechanisms had been put in place such that after an underage person is registered, he could be removed from the register.

He said the registers were usually inspected by senior INEC officials who could identify underage persons through their facial looks or through assistance from members of the community.

“It is not a complex process, you display the voter register and people come there. That is in addition to the fact that the registration officer can refuse anybody registration. But we don’t expect people to risk their lives for what is essentially a simple patriotic service.

“But if they get away with that (getting registered) and the report is not taken, the second opportunity is when the register is displayed. The best opportunity is where higher officials physically look at each register as much as they can and those who are clearly not qualified are removed. So, it is a three-pronged process and there are different stages,” the INEC director added.

He said the process of registration and voting could never be perfect since it was a human endeavour.

He, however, said the media and members of the public should assist the commission by exposing such cases of underage registration and voting.

Osaze-Uzzi said, “I think the law recognises that being a human endeavour, it may not be perfect and that is why it gives some kind of leeway such that when you weigh everything together, it is a reflection of what the people have chosen.

“If one per cent of the register has underage persons; will this affect the outcome? We agree that the register is the very foundation of every election and what we can do and what the media can do is that when we get these reports and we have a fair idea of where this issue is prevalent, we can look at the registers again, look at those who are clearly underage and try to weed them out and prevent them from exercising a franchise that does not belong to them legally.”

The INEC director maintained that the local government election which held in Kano State was not organised by INEC but the state government.

He assured members of the public that the 2019 general elections would be free, fair and credible.

INEC can’t be trusted with 2019 elections –PDP

The Peoples Democratic Party has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission of being responsible for the registration of underage voters in Kano State.

Pictures and videos of the voters recently went viral on social media shortly after the conduct of local government election in the state on Saturday.

The PDP consequently said Nigerians had lost confidence in the commission.

It added that the commission could not be trusted with the conduct of the 2019 general elections.

The former ruling party alleged that the documented “massive underage voting that characterised the exercise” was an indication that the commission was part of the fraud.

The party said it was INEC that registered the minors as voters and as such should not exonerate itself of involvement in the electoral fraud.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, said the press release by INEC, exonerating itself from culpability in the participation of minors in the Kano election showed that INEC under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu was unreliable.

The statement read in part, “Who is fooling who? Is it not INEC that registered the minors and issued Permanent Voter Cards to them to participate in elections as documented in the Kano council election?

“Can INEC truly acquit itself as the culprit who set the stage for the eventual participation of the minors and overall rigging of the elections?

“By resorting to lame excuses and trying to exonerate itself at a time it should be taking decisive steps to protect the sanctity of its sensitive materials such as the PVC, this INEC has shown that it cannot be relied upon as a responsible and trustworthy electoral umpire.

“Indeed, if this INEC was serious about the sanctity of sensitive electoral materials, by now it should have ordered the immediate review of its voter register in Kano and Katsina states, fishing out and prosecuting those who registered the minors and clean up the electoral system in the affected states.

“Viewed alongside a series of numerous other irregularities being allowed by INEC to favour the ruling All Progressives Congress, including alleged conspiracy with APC-controlled security operatives to intimidate opposition members and manipulate elections as witnessed in the Mashi/Dutsi Federal Constituency Supplementary election in Katsina State, any reasonable person will decide that INEC, as presently constituted, has serious questions to answer, especially as we approach the 2019 general elections.”

Ologbondiyan warned that Nigerians would not accept anything less than a credible, free and fair general election in 2019.

“The commission should ensure that it does not allow itself to be used by the APC against the will of the people, particularly in the 2019 elections, as such will be resisted,” he added.

Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, alleged that the Federal Government was not ready for free and fair elections in 2019.

Secondus spoke when he received members of the International Republican Institute in his office in Abuja.

The team was led by the President of IRI, Mr. Dan Twining.

Secondus said, “Our major concern with the party in power is that they are not ready a for free and fair election and the best Nigerians want is  afree and fair election.

“The people of Nigeria are passing through challenges like killings by herdsmen, insecurity, bad economy and inability to protect lives and property of Nigerians by the government.

“Our major concern is for INEC to conduct a free and fair election because if the 2019 election is rigged, it will be a recipe for crisis.”

Twining told Secondus that Nigerian was the most important country for IRI in sub-Saharan Africa.

He said the group had been in the country for the past 20years, adding that IRI would want to work with political parties in order to make them responsible to the citizens of Nigeria.

APC Senators Split As Senate Adopts Revised Poll Timetable

The adoption of the report by the Senate and the House of Representatives Conference Committee on the Amendment to the Electoral Act caused division in the ranks of the All Progressives Congress caucus in the upper chamber of the National Assembly on Wednesday.

senate

According to the report, the sequence of the elections will commence with National Assembly, to be followed by governorship and State Houses of Assembly, while presidential poll will come last.

Trouble started when the Chairman of the Conference Committee, who is also Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, Senator Suleiman Nazif, presented the report at the plenary on Wednesday.

After the presentation, President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, put the adoption of the report to voice vote, saying there was no need for debate on it as it was from a conference committee which had harmonised the versions of the two chambers.

“Let me remind us all on what the procedures are for conference reports. It is very simple. You either adopt the report or you reject the report. So, I am going to make it simple and put the question,” Saraki said.

After the vote, the Senate President ruled that “the ayes have it,” a development that generated uproar in the chamber.

Raising a point of order, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege called for a division, citing Order 73 of the Senate Standing Rules.

Responding, Saraki said, “As I keep on emphasising, institutions are what are important. As senators, we will finish our terms and go, but we must continue to strengthen institutions. We must always follow the procedures that we have all laid down.

“For conference reports, this has been the procedure and as such, with all due respect, I have to rule you out of order.”

Dissatisfied, Senator Kabiru Gaya raised another point of order, citing Order 87(C), which states that the conference committee can deliberate on issues between the Senate and House of Representatives but cannot make insertions on any matter not committed to it by either of the chambers.

 He said, “This report on the sequence of elections was never discussed here in the Senate. Why are we bringing it up here?”

Also ruling Gaya out of order, Saraki said, “You are a ranking senator and I have all the utmost respect for you. I know that politics is local; and I appreciate that. But as much as it is local, we also have to maintain the integrity of this institution. I have heard you and I am sure that your constituency too have heard you; but I have to rule you out of order.”

Still not satisfied, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, who is the Chairman of the Northern Senators’ Forum, raised another point of order, citing Section 76 of the Constitution and pointing out that only INEC was empowered to determine the date of elections.

Ruling Adamu out of order, Saraki said, “Thank you for the point you raised. As you know, we have ruled on this. And as you also know, there are many bills that we have passed and if there are issues, there are mechanisms within the system through which issues have been raised. With all due respect, I will say it is noted.”

At that point, several members began to scream, “Point of order!”

Saraki, again, insisted that the lawmakers must be guided by the rules, especially Order 53(6). He urged members to allow consideration of the next item on the order paper.

Shortly after, 10 APC members stormed out of the chamber and moved to the Media Centre of the Senate Press Corps.

The senators, who claimed that 59 of them were against the amendment, were Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa-West), Abu Ibrahim (Katsina-North), Abdullahi Gumel (Jigawa-North), Ali Wakili (Bauchi-South), Binta Masi Garba (Adamawa-North), Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta-Central), Umar Kurfi (Katsina-Central), Andrew Uchendu (Rivers-East), Benjamin Uwajumogu (Imo-North), and Abdullahi Yahaya (Kebbi-North).

The senators took turns to criticise the adoption of the report without a debate.

They also alleged that the amendment was targeted at the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria currently being occupied by Muhammadu Buhari.

The protesters cited irregularities in the signatories to the report.

Adamu said, “We feel very strongly that the process by which the so-called conference committee report was laid and considered was rushed.

“We are against what happened. Incidentally, if you take note of the report that was laid – the report that was circulated – the chairman and the co-chairman did not sign it. We don’t know why they did not sign the report.

“Normally, if we are going through due process, we need to know why they didn’t sign it, or do we have different reports submitted over the same bill from the same committee?”

Alleging that the report was biased, Adamu stated that the bill needed better attention while its passage must be fair.

He said, “Why do you want to do a law to address just one particular problem. This is a very partisan report; you could see it from the body language, the utterances and the gesturing that it is a pre-determined thing by a political party that is threatened by the APC government.”

Also, Omo-Agege said, “Thirty six people in the House of Representatives cannot determine the faith and the destiny of 360 people in the House, which is now carried over to a Senate of 109. If a conference committee is set up to reconcile the differences, the least we are owed is for this amendment to Section 25 (of the Electoral Act) to be deliberated upon.

“We did not even dissolve into the committee of the whole. We were not even given the opportunity to consider this.

“Today, we have 59 senators who are opposed to the inclusion of this Section 25 in the Electoral Act. If that division (which he called for) was allowed 59 senators would have voted to delete that purported amendment to Section 25 of the Electoral Act.

“You don’t make a law targeted at one person. The perception out there is that this Section 25 was included to target Mr. President,” he stated.

The Senate however insisted on the adoption of the report, stating that it had passed due process.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, who jointly addressed journalists with Nazif, dismissed the allegations by the aggrieved senators.

Nazif said, “Let me make it very clear that I have signed the concurrent committee report. I don’t know where that (allegation) came from, but I signed it. This is it, signed by me (displaying the report). And if you go to the clerk, it is also signed by me.

“I am not aware if the sequence of election is being targeted at anybody. What I know is that as the Chairman of the Committee on INEC at the Senate, I chaired the concurrent committee of both the House and the Senate.

“In the past, we have had elections from the top to down. I don’t know if anybody questioned that. In the past also, we have also had elections from down to top. I don’t know if anybody questioned that.”

 ‘Why underage persons were registered’

The Independent National Electoral Commission says some underage voters are being registered in some parts of the country because the lives of registration officers are being threatened by some members of the community.

The Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Mr. Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, said this on Wednesday during a programme on the African Independent Television titled, ‘Kakaaki.’

Osazze-Uzzi, while answering questions over pictures and videos on the social media showing children registering and voting in northern Nigeria, said when officials refused to register underage persons, their lives  were threatened by members of the community and they eventually caved in.

The INEC director said, “I agree that it is the responsibility of the registration officer to do that (refuse to register underage persons), but there are times that circumstances are such that where there is present and clear danger that he risks being assaulted or being killed, I think it will be unreasonable to expect him not to succumb to the pressure. But we encourage them to report immediately they get out of that dangerous zone.”

Osazze-Uzzi said INEC had received reports from some members of the National Youth Service Corps taking part in the exercise.

He added that parents came along with their children claiming that their children were over 18 and usually forced registration officers to register the underage children.

The INEC director said, “Even to the untrained eye, that child doesn’t look more than 15, but in such circumstances, you cannot argue too much with them. The law says the registration officer is entitled to act on some kind of identification or birth certificate or proof of age.

“But very often, they are resisted, especially when there are lots of people there. They are challenged in a charged atmosphere and they are there without any protection. Many of them are there in strange communities which they don’t know anything about. So, there is undue pressure on them to register at this point.”

Osaze-Uzzi, however, said mechanisms had been put in place such that after an underage person is registered, he could be removed from the register.

He said the registers were usually inspected by senior INEC officials who could identify underage persons through their facial looks or through assistance from members of the community.

“It is not a complex process, you display the voter register and people come there. That is in addition to the fact that the registration officer can refuse anybody registration. But we don’t expect people to risk their lives for what is essentially a simple patriotic service.

“But if they get away with that (getting registered) and the report is not taken, the second opportunity is when the register is displayed. The best opportunity is where higher officials physically look at each register as much as they can and those who are clearly not qualified are removed. So, it is a three-pronged process and there are different stages,” the INEC director added.

He said the process of registration and voting could never be perfect since it was a human endeavour.

He, however, said the media and members of the public should assist the commission by exposing such cases of underage registration and voting.

Osaze-Uzzi said, “I think the law recognises that being a human endeavour, it may not be perfect and that is why it gives some kind of leeway such that when you weigh everything together, it is a reflection of what the people have chosen.

“If one per cent of the register has underage persons; will this affect the outcome? We agree that the register is the very foundation of every election and what we can do and what the media can do is that when we get these reports and we have a fair idea of where this issue is prevalent, we can look at the registers again, look at those who are clearly underage and try to weed them out and prevent them from exercising a franchise that does not belong to them legally.”

The INEC director maintained that the local government election which held in Kano State was not organised by INEC but the state government.

He assured members of the public that the 2019 general elections would be free, fair and credible.

INEC can’t be trusted with 2019 elections –PDP

The Peoples Democratic Party has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission of being responsible for the registration of underage voters in Kano State.

Pictures and videos of the voters recently went viral on social media shortly after the conduct of local government election in the state on Saturday.

The PDP consequently said Nigerians had lost confidence in the commission.

It added that the commission could not be trusted with the conduct of the 2019 general elections.

The former ruling party alleged that the documented “massive underage voting that characterised the exercise” was an indication that the commission was part of the fraud.

The party said it was INEC that registered the minors as voters and as such should not exonerate itself of involvement in the electoral fraud.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, said the press release by INEC, exonerating itself from culpability in the participation of minors in the Kano election showed that INEC under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu was unreliable.

The statement read in part, “Who is fooling who? Is it not INEC that registered the minors and issued Permanent Voter Cards to them to participate in elections as documented in the Kano council election?

“Can INEC truly acquit itself as the culprit who set the stage for the eventual participation of the minors and overall rigging of the elections?

“By resorting to lame excuses and trying to exonerate itself at a time it should be taking decisive steps to protect the sanctity of its sensitive materials such as the PVC, this INEC has shown that it cannot be relied upon as a responsible and trustworthy electoral umpire.

“Indeed, if this INEC was serious about the sanctity of sensitive electoral materials, by now it should have ordered the immediate review of its voter register in Kano and Katsina states, fishing out and prosecuting those who registered the minors and clean up the electoral system in the affected states.

“Viewed alongside a series of numerous other irregularities being allowed by INEC to favour the ruling All Progressives Congress, including alleged conspiracy with APC-controlled security operatives to intimidate opposition members and manipulate elections as witnessed in the Mashi/Dutsi Federal Constituency Supplementary election in Katsina State, any reasonable person will decide that INEC, as presently constituted, has serious questions to answer, especially as we approach the 2019 general elections.”

Ologbondiyan warned that Nigerians would not accept anything less than a credible, free and fair general election in 2019.

“The commission should ensure that it does not allow itself to be used by the APC against the will of the people, particularly in the 2019 elections, as such will be resisted,” he added.

Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, alleged that the Federal Government was not ready for free and fair elections in 2019.

Secondus spoke when he received members of the International Republican Institute in his office in Abuja.

The team was led by the President of IRI, Mr. Dan Twining.

Secondus said, “Our major concern with the party in power is that they are not ready a for free and fair election and the best Nigerians want is  afree and fair election.

“The people of Nigeria are passing through challenges like killings by herdsmen, insecurity, bad economy and inability to protect lives and property of Nigerians by the government.

“Our major concern is for INEC to conduct a free and fair election because if the 2019 election is rigged, it will be a recipe for crisis.”

Twining told Secondus that Nigerian was the most important country for IRI in sub-Saharan Africa.

He said the group had been in the country for the past 20years, adding that IRI would want to work with political parties in order to make them responsible to the citizens of Nigeria.

APC Senators Split As Senate Adopts Revised Poll Timetable

The adoption of the report by the Senate and the House of Representatives Conference Committee on the Amendment to the Electoral Act caused division in the ranks of the All Progressives Congress caucus in the upper chamber of the National Assembly on Wednesday.

senate

According to the report, the sequence of the elections will commence with National Assembly, to be followed by governorship and State Houses of Assembly, while presidential poll will come last.

Trouble started when the Chairman of the Conference Committee, who is also Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, Senator Suleiman Nazif, presented the report at the plenary on Wednesday.

After the presentation, President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, put the adoption of the report to voice vote, saying there was no need for debate on it as it was from a conference committee which had harmonised the versions of the two chambers.

“Let me remind us all on what the procedures are for conference reports. It is very simple. You either adopt the report or you reject the report. So, I am going to make it simple and put the question,” Saraki said.

After the vote, the Senate President ruled that “the ayes have it,” a development that generated uproar in the chamber.

Raising a point of order, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege called for a division, citing Order 73 of the Senate Standing Rules.

Responding, Saraki said, “As I keep on emphasising, institutions are what are important. As senators, we will finish our terms and go, but we must continue to strengthen institutions. We must always follow the procedures that we have all laid down.

“For conference reports, this has been the procedure and as such, with all due respect, I have to rule you out of order.”

Dissatisfied, Senator Kabiru Gaya raised another point of order, citing Order 87(C), which states that the conference committee can deliberate on issues between the Senate and House of Representatives but cannot make insertions on any matter not committed to it by either of the chambers.

 He said, “This report on the sequence of elections was never discussed here in the Senate. Why are we bringing it up here?”

Also ruling Gaya out of order, Saraki said, “You are a ranking senator and I have all the utmost respect for you. I know that politics is local; and I appreciate that. But as much as it is local, we also have to maintain the integrity of this institution. I have heard you and I am sure that your constituency too have heard you; but I have to rule you out of order.”

Still not satisfied, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, who is the Chairman of the Northern Senators’ Forum, raised another point of order, citing Section 76 of the Constitution and pointing out that only INEC was empowered to determine the date of elections.

Ruling Adamu out of order, Saraki said, “Thank you for the point you raised. As you know, we have ruled on this. And as you also know, there are many bills that we have passed and if there are issues, there are mechanisms within the system through which issues have been raised. With all due respect, I will say it is noted.”

At that point, several members began to scream, “Point of order!”

Saraki, again, insisted that the lawmakers must be guided by the rules, especially Order 53(6). He urged members to allow consideration of the next item on the order paper.

Shortly after, 10 APC members stormed out of the chamber and moved to the Media Centre of the Senate Press Corps.

The senators, who claimed that 59 of them were against the amendment, were Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa-West), Abu Ibrahim (Katsina-North), Abdullahi Gumel (Jigawa-North), Ali Wakili (Bauchi-South), Binta Masi Garba (Adamawa-North), Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta-Central), Umar Kurfi (Katsina-Central), Andrew Uchendu (Rivers-East), Benjamin Uwajumogu (Imo-North), and Abdullahi Yahaya (Kebbi-North).

The senators took turns to criticise the adoption of the report without a debate.

They also alleged that the amendment was targeted at the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria currently being occupied by Muhammadu Buhari.

The protesters cited irregularities in the signatories to the report.

Adamu said, “We feel very strongly that the process by which the so-called conference committee report was laid and considered was rushed.

“We are against what happened. Incidentally, if you take note of the report that was laid – the report that was circulated – the chairman and the co-chairman did not sign it. We don’t know why they did not sign the report.

“Normally, if we are going through due process, we need to know why they didn’t sign it, or do we have different reports submitted over the same bill from the same committee?”

Alleging that the report was biased, Adamu stated that the bill needed better attention while its passage must be fair.

He said, “Why do you want to do a law to address just one particular problem. This is a very partisan report; you could see it from the body language, the utterances and the gesturing that it is a pre-determined thing by a political party that is threatened by the APC government.”

Also, Omo-Agege said, “Thirty six people in the House of Representatives cannot determine the faith and the destiny of 360 people in the House, which is now carried over to a Senate of 109. If a conference committee is set up to reconcile the differences, the least we are owed is for this amendment to Section 25 (of the Electoral Act) to be deliberated upon.

“We did not even dissolve into the committee of the whole. We were not even given the opportunity to consider this.

“Today, we have 59 senators who are opposed to the inclusion of this Section 25 in the Electoral Act. If that division (which he called for) was allowed 59 senators would have voted to delete that purported amendment to Section 25 of the Electoral Act.

“You don’t make a law targeted at one person. The perception out there is that this Section 25 was included to target Mr. President,” he stated.

The Senate however insisted on the adoption of the report, stating that it had passed due process.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, who jointly addressed journalists with Nazif, dismissed the allegations by the aggrieved senators.

Nazif said, “Let me make it very clear that I have signed the concurrent committee report. I don’t know where that (allegation) came from, but I signed it. This is it, signed by me (displaying the report). And if you go to the clerk, it is also signed by me.

“I am not aware if the sequence of election is being targeted at anybody. What I know is that as the Chairman of the Committee on INEC at the Senate, I chaired the concurrent committee of both the House and the Senate.

“In the past, we have had elections from the top to down. I don’t know if anybody questioned that. In the past also, we have also had elections from down to top. I don’t know if anybody questioned that.”

 ‘Why underage persons were registered’

The Independent National Electoral Commission says some underage voters are being registered in some parts of the country because the lives of registration officers are being threatened by some members of the community.

The Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Mr. Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, said this on Wednesday during a programme on the African Independent Television titled, ‘Kakaaki.’

Osazze-Uzzi, while answering questions over pictures and videos on the social media showing children registering and voting in northern Nigeria, said when officials refused to register underage persons, their lives  were threatened by members of the community and they eventually caved in.

The INEC director said, “I agree that it is the responsibility of the registration officer to do that (refuse to register underage persons), but there are times that circumstances are such that where there is present and clear danger that he risks being assaulted or being killed, I think it will be unreasonable to expect him not to succumb to the pressure. But we encourage them to report immediately they get out of that dangerous zone.”

Osazze-Uzzi said INEC had received reports from some members of the National Youth Service Corps taking part in the exercise.

He added that parents came along with their children claiming that their children were over 18 and usually forced registration officers to register the underage children.

The INEC director said, “Even to the untrained eye, that child doesn’t look more than 15, but in such circumstances, you cannot argue too much with them. The law says the registration officer is entitled to act on some kind of identification or birth certificate or proof of age.

“But very often, they are resisted, especially when there are lots of people there. They are challenged in a charged atmosphere and they are there without any protection. Many of them are there in strange communities which they don’t know anything about. So, there is undue pressure on them to register at this point.”

Osaze-Uzzi, however, said mechanisms had been put in place such that after an underage person is registered, he could be removed from the register.

He said the registers were usually inspected by senior INEC officials who could identify underage persons through their facial looks or through assistance from members of the community.

“It is not a complex process, you display the voter register and people come there. That is in addition to the fact that the registration officer can refuse anybody registration. But we don’t expect people to risk their lives for what is essentially a simple patriotic service.

“But if they get away with that (getting registered) and the report is not taken, the second opportunity is when the register is displayed. The best opportunity is where higher officials physically look at each register as much as they can and those who are clearly not qualified are removed. So, it is a three-pronged process and there are different stages,” the INEC director added.

He said the process of registration and voting could never be perfect since it was a human endeavour.

He, however, said the media and members of the public should assist the commission by exposing such cases of underage registration and voting.

Osaze-Uzzi said, “I think the law recognises that being a human endeavour, it may not be perfect and that is why it gives some kind of leeway such that when you weigh everything together, it is a reflection of what the people have chosen.

“If one per cent of the register has underage persons; will this affect the outcome? We agree that the register is the very foundation of every election and what we can do and what the media can do is that when we get these reports and we have a fair idea of where this issue is prevalent, we can look at the registers again, look at those who are clearly underage and try to weed them out and prevent them from exercising a franchise that does not belong to them legally.”

The INEC director maintained that the local government election which held in Kano State was not organised by INEC but the state government.

He assured members of the public that the 2019 general elections would be free, fair and credible.

INEC can’t be trusted with 2019 elections –PDP

The Peoples Democratic Party has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission of being responsible for the registration of underage voters in Kano State.

Pictures and videos of the voters recently went viral on social media shortly after the conduct of local government election in the state on Saturday.

The PDP consequently said Nigerians had lost confidence in the commission.

It added that the commission could not be trusted with the conduct of the 2019 general elections.

The former ruling party alleged that the documented “massive underage voting that characterised the exercise” was an indication that the commission was part of the fraud.

The party said it was INEC that registered the minors as voters and as such should not exonerate itself of involvement in the electoral fraud.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, said the press release by INEC, exonerating itself from culpability in the participation of minors in the Kano election showed that INEC under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu was unreliable.

The statement read in part, “Who is fooling who? Is it not INEC that registered the minors and issued Permanent Voter Cards to them to participate in elections as documented in the Kano council election?

“Can INEC truly acquit itself as the culprit who set the stage for the eventual participation of the minors and overall rigging of the elections?

“By resorting to lame excuses and trying to exonerate itself at a time it should be taking decisive steps to protect the sanctity of its sensitive materials such as the PVC, this INEC has shown that it cannot be relied upon as a responsible and trustworthy electoral umpire.

“Indeed, if this INEC was serious about the sanctity of sensitive electoral materials, by now it should have ordered the immediate review of its voter register in Kano and Katsina states, fishing out and prosecuting those who registered the minors and clean up the electoral system in the affected states.

“Viewed alongside a series of numerous other irregularities being allowed by INEC to favour the ruling All Progressives Congress, including alleged conspiracy with APC-controlled security operatives to intimidate opposition members and manipulate elections as witnessed in the Mashi/Dutsi Federal Constituency Supplementary election in Katsina State, any reasonable person will decide that INEC, as presently constituted, has serious questions to answer, especially as we approach the 2019 general elections.”

Ologbondiyan warned that Nigerians would not accept anything less than a credible, free and fair general election in 2019.

“The commission should ensure that it does not allow itself to be used by the APC against the will of the people, particularly in the 2019 elections, as such will be resisted,” he added.

Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, alleged that the Federal Government was not ready for free and fair elections in 2019.

Secondus spoke when he received members of the International Republican Institute in his office in Abuja.

The team was led by the President of IRI, Mr. Dan Twining.

Secondus said, “Our major concern with the party in power is that they are not ready a for free and fair election and the best Nigerians want is  afree and fair election.

“The people of Nigeria are passing through challenges like killings by herdsmen, insecurity, bad economy and inability to protect lives and property of Nigerians by the government.

“Our major concern is for INEC to conduct a free and fair election because if the 2019 election is rigged, it will be a recipe for crisis.”

Twining told Secondus that Nigerian was the most important country for IRI in sub-Saharan Africa.

He said the group had been in the country for the past 20years, adding that IRI would want to work with political parties in order to make them responsible to the citizens of Nigeria.

APC Senators Split As Senate Adopts Revised Poll Timetable

The adoption of the report by the Senate and the House of Representatives Conference Committee on the Amendment to the Electoral Act caused division in the ranks of the All Progressives Congress caucus in the upper chamber of the National Assembly on Wednesday.

senate

According to the report, the sequence of the elections will commence with National Assembly, to be followed by governorship and State Houses of Assembly, while presidential poll will come last.

Trouble started when the Chairman of the Conference Committee, who is also Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, Senator Suleiman Nazif, presented the report at the plenary on Wednesday.

After the presentation, President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, put the adoption of the report to voice vote, saying there was no need for debate on it as it was from a conference committee which had harmonised the versions of the two chambers.

“Let me remind us all on what the procedures are for conference reports. It is very simple. You either adopt the report or you reject the report. So, I am going to make it simple and put the question,” Saraki said.

After the vote, the Senate President ruled that “the ayes have it,” a development that generated uproar in the chamber.

Raising a point of order, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege called for a division, citing Order 73 of the Senate Standing Rules.

Responding, Saraki said, “As I keep on emphasising, institutions are what are important. As senators, we will finish our terms and go, but we must continue to strengthen institutions. We must always follow the procedures that we have all laid down.

“For conference reports, this has been the procedure and as such, with all due respect, I have to rule you out of order.”

Dissatisfied, Senator Kabiru Gaya raised another point of order, citing Order 87(C), which states that the conference committee can deliberate on issues between the Senate and House of Representatives but cannot make insertions on any matter not committed to it by either of the chambers.

 He said, “This report on the sequence of elections was never discussed here in the Senate. Why are we bringing it up here?”

Also ruling Gaya out of order, Saraki said, “You are a ranking senator and I have all the utmost respect for you. I know that politics is local; and I appreciate that. But as much as it is local, we also have to maintain the integrity of this institution. I have heard you and I am sure that your constituency too have heard you; but I have to rule you out of order.”

Still not satisfied, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, who is the Chairman of the Northern Senators’ Forum, raised another point of order, citing Section 76 of the Constitution and pointing out that only INEC was empowered to determine the date of elections.

Ruling Adamu out of order, Saraki said, “Thank you for the point you raised. As you know, we have ruled on this. And as you also know, there are many bills that we have passed and if there are issues, there are mechanisms within the system through which issues have been raised. With all due respect, I will say it is noted.”

At that point, several members began to scream, “Point of order!”

Saraki, again, insisted that the lawmakers must be guided by the rules, especially Order 53(6). He urged members to allow consideration of the next item on the order paper.

Shortly after, 10 APC members stormed out of the chamber and moved to the Media Centre of the Senate Press Corps.

The senators, who claimed that 59 of them were against the amendment, were Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa-West), Abu Ibrahim (Katsina-North), Abdullahi Gumel (Jigawa-North), Ali Wakili (Bauchi-South), Binta Masi Garba (Adamawa-North), Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta-Central), Umar Kurfi (Katsina-Central), Andrew Uchendu (Rivers-East), Benjamin Uwajumogu (Imo-North), and Abdullahi Yahaya (Kebbi-North).

The senators took turns to criticise the adoption of the report without a debate.

They also alleged that the amendment was targeted at the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria currently being occupied by Muhammadu Buhari.

The protesters cited irregularities in the signatories to the report.

Adamu said, “We feel very strongly that the process by which the so-called conference committee report was laid and considered was rushed.

“We are against what happened. Incidentally, if you take note of the report that was laid – the report that was circulated – the chairman and the co-chairman did not sign it. We don’t know why they did not sign the report.

“Normally, if we are going through due process, we need to know why they didn’t sign it, or do we have different reports submitted over the same bill from the same committee?”

Alleging that the report was biased, Adamu stated that the bill needed better attention while its passage must be fair.

He said, “Why do you want to do a law to address just one particular problem. This is a very partisan report; you could see it from the body language, the utterances and the gesturing that it is a pre-determined thing by a political party that is threatened by the APC government.”

Also, Omo-Agege said, “Thirty six people in the House of Representatives cannot determine the faith and the destiny of 360 people in the House, which is now carried over to a Senate of 109. If a conference committee is set up to reconcile the differences, the least we are owed is for this amendment to Section 25 (of the Electoral Act) to be deliberated upon.

“We did not even dissolve into the committee of the whole. We were not even given the opportunity to consider this.

“Today, we have 59 senators who are opposed to the inclusion of this Section 25 in the Electoral Act. If that division (which he called for) was allowed 59 senators would have voted to delete that purported amendment to Section 25 of the Electoral Act.

“You don’t make a law targeted at one person. The perception out there is that this Section 25 was included to target Mr. President,” he stated.

The Senate however insisted on the adoption of the report, stating that it had passed due process.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, who jointly addressed journalists with Nazif, dismissed the allegations by the aggrieved senators.

Nazif said, “Let me make it very clear that I have signed the concurrent committee report. I don’t know where that (allegation) came from, but I signed it. This is it, signed by me (displaying the report). And if you go to the clerk, it is also signed by me.

“I am not aware if the sequence of election is being targeted at anybody. What I know is that as the Chairman of the Committee on INEC at the Senate, I chaired the concurrent committee of both the House and the Senate.

“In the past, we have had elections from the top to down. I don’t know if anybody questioned that. In the past also, we have also had elections from down to top. I don’t know if anybody questioned that.”

 ‘Why underage persons were registered’

The Independent National Electoral Commission says some underage voters are being registered in some parts of the country because the lives of registration officers are being threatened by some members of the community.

The Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Mr. Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, said this on Wednesday during a programme on the African Independent Television titled, ‘Kakaaki.’

Osazze-Uzzi, while answering questions over pictures and videos on the social media showing children registering and voting in northern Nigeria, said when officials refused to register underage persons, their lives  were threatened by members of the community and they eventually caved in.

The INEC director said, “I agree that it is the responsibility of the registration officer to do that (refuse to register underage persons), but there are times that circumstances are such that where there is present and clear danger that he risks being assaulted or being killed, I think it will be unreasonable to expect him not to succumb to the pressure. But we encourage them to report immediately they get out of that dangerous zone.”

Osazze-Uzzi said INEC had received reports from some members of the National Youth Service Corps taking part in the exercise.

He added that parents came along with their children claiming that their children were over 18 and usually forced registration officers to register the underage children.

The INEC director said, “Even to the untrained eye, that child doesn’t look more than 15, but in such circumstances, you cannot argue too much with them. The law says the registration officer is entitled to act on some kind of identification or birth certificate or proof of age.

“But very often, they are resisted, especially when there are lots of people there. They are challenged in a charged atmosphere and they are there without any protection. Many of them are there in strange communities which they don’t know anything about. So, there is undue pressure on them to register at this point.”

Osaze-Uzzi, however, said mechanisms had been put in place such that after an underage person is registered, he could be removed from the register.

He said the registers were usually inspected by senior INEC officials who could identify underage persons through their facial looks or through assistance from members of the community.

“It is not a complex process, you display the voter register and people come there. That is in addition to the fact that the registration officer can refuse anybody registration. But we don’t expect people to risk their lives for what is essentially a simple patriotic service.

“But if they get away with that (getting registered) and the report is not taken, the second opportunity is when the register is displayed. The best opportunity is where higher officials physically look at each register as much as they can and those who are clearly not qualified are removed. So, it is a three-pronged process and there are different stages,” the INEC director added.

He said the process of registration and voting could never be perfect since it was a human endeavour.

He, however, said the media and members of the public should assist the commission by exposing such cases of underage registration and voting.

Osaze-Uzzi said, “I think the law recognises that being a human endeavour, it may not be perfect and that is why it gives some kind of leeway such that when you weigh everything together, it is a reflection of what the people have chosen.

“If one per cent of the register has underage persons; will this affect the outcome? We agree that the register is the very foundation of every election and what we can do and what the media can do is that when we get these reports and we have a fair idea of where this issue is prevalent, we can look at the registers again, look at those who are clearly underage and try to weed them out and prevent them from exercising a franchise that does not belong to them legally.”

The INEC director maintained that the local government election which held in Kano State was not organised by INEC but the state government.

He assured members of the public that the 2019 general elections would be free, fair and credible.

INEC can’t be trusted with 2019 elections –PDP

The Peoples Democratic Party has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission of being responsible for the registration of underage voters in Kano State.

Pictures and videos of the voters recently went viral on social media shortly after the conduct of local government election in the state on Saturday.

The PDP consequently said Nigerians had lost confidence in the commission.

It added that the commission could not be trusted with the conduct of the 2019 general elections.

The former ruling party alleged that the documented “massive underage voting that characterised the exercise” was an indication that the commission was part of the fraud.

The party said it was INEC that registered the minors as voters and as such should not exonerate itself of involvement in the electoral fraud.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, said the press release by INEC, exonerating itself from culpability in the participation of minors in the Kano election showed that INEC under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu was unreliable.

The statement read in part, “Who is fooling who? Is it not INEC that registered the minors and issued Permanent Voter Cards to them to participate in elections as documented in the Kano council election?

“Can INEC truly acquit itself as the culprit who set the stage for the eventual participation of the minors and overall rigging of the elections?

“By resorting to lame excuses and trying to exonerate itself at a time it should be taking decisive steps to protect the sanctity of its sensitive materials such as the PVC, this INEC has shown that it cannot be relied upon as a responsible and trustworthy electoral umpire.

“Indeed, if this INEC was serious about the sanctity of sensitive electoral materials, by now it should have ordered the immediate review of its voter register in Kano and Katsina states, fishing out and prosecuting those who registered the minors and clean up the electoral system in the affected states.

“Viewed alongside a series of numerous other irregularities being allowed by INEC to favour the ruling All Progressives Congress, including alleged conspiracy with APC-controlled security operatives to intimidate opposition members and manipulate elections as witnessed in the Mashi/Dutsi Federal Constituency Supplementary election in Katsina State, any reasonable person will decide that INEC, as presently constituted, has serious questions to answer, especially as we approach the 2019 general elections.”

Ologbondiyan warned that Nigerians would not accept anything less than a credible, free and fair general election in 2019.

“The commission should ensure that it does not allow itself to be used by the APC against the will of the people, particularly in the 2019 elections, as such will be resisted,” he added.

Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, alleged that the Federal Government was not ready for free and fair elections in 2019.

Secondus spoke when he received members of the International Republican Institute in his office in Abuja.

The team was led by the President of IRI, Mr. Dan Twining.

Secondus said, “Our major concern with the party in power is that they are not ready a for free and fair election and the best Nigerians want is  afree and fair election.

“The people of Nigeria are passing through challenges like killings by herdsmen, insecurity, bad economy and inability to protect lives and property of Nigerians by the government.

“Our major concern is for INEC to conduct a free and fair election because if the 2019 election is rigged, it will be a recipe for crisis.”

Twining told Secondus that Nigerian was the most important country for IRI in sub-Saharan Africa.

He said the group had been in the country for the past 20years, adding that IRI would want to work with political parties in order to make them responsible to the citizens of Nigeria.

APC Senators Split As Senate Adopts Revised Poll Timetable

The adoption of the report by the Senate and the House of Representatives Conference Committee on the Amendment to the Electoral Act caused division in the ranks of the All Progressives Congress caucus in the upper chamber of the National Assembly on Wednesday.

senate

According to the report, the sequence of the elections will commence with National Assembly, to be followed by governorship and State Houses of Assembly, while presidential poll will come last.

Trouble started when the Chairman of the Conference Committee, who is also Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, Senator Suleiman Nazif, presented the report at the plenary on Wednesday.

After the presentation, President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, put the adoption of the report to voice vote, saying there was no need for debate on it as it was from a conference committee which had harmonised the versions of the two chambers.

“Let me remind us all on what the procedures are for conference reports. It is very simple. You either adopt the report or you reject the report. So, I am going to make it simple and put the question,” Saraki said.

After the vote, the Senate President ruled that “the ayes have it,” a development that generated uproar in the chamber.

Raising a point of order, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege called for a division, citing Order 73 of the Senate Standing Rules.

Responding, Saraki said, “As I keep on emphasising, institutions are what are important. As senators, we will finish our terms and go, but we must continue to strengthen institutions. We must always follow the procedures that we have all laid down.

“For conference reports, this has been the procedure and as such, with all due respect, I have to rule you out of order.”

Dissatisfied, Senator Kabiru Gaya raised another point of order, citing Order 87(C), which states that the conference committee can deliberate on issues between the Senate and House of Representatives but cannot make insertions on any matter not committed to it by either of the chambers.

 He said, “This report on the sequence of elections was never discussed here in the Senate. Why are we bringing it up here?”

Also ruling Gaya out of order, Saraki said, “You are a ranking senator and I have all the utmost respect for you. I know that politics is local; and I appreciate that. But as much as it is local, we also have to maintain the integrity of this institution. I have heard you and I am sure that your constituency too have heard you; but I have to rule you out of order.”

Still not satisfied, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, who is the Chairman of the Northern Senators’ Forum, raised another point of order, citing Section 76 of the Constitution and pointing out that only INEC was empowered to determine the date of elections.

Ruling Adamu out of order, Saraki said, “Thank you for the point you raised. As you know, we have ruled on this. And as you also know, there are many bills that we have passed and if there are issues, there are mechanisms within the system through which issues have been raised. With all due respect, I will say it is noted.”

At that point, several members began to scream, “Point of order!”

Saraki, again, insisted that the lawmakers must be guided by the rules, especially Order 53(6). He urged members to allow consideration of the next item on the order paper.

Shortly after, 10 APC members stormed out of the chamber and moved to the Media Centre of the Senate Press Corps.

The senators, who claimed that 59 of them were against the amendment, were Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa-West), Abu Ibrahim (Katsina-North), Abdullahi Gumel (Jigawa-North), Ali Wakili (Bauchi-South), Binta Masi Garba (Adamawa-North), Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta-Central), Umar Kurfi (Katsina-Central), Andrew Uchendu (Rivers-East), Benjamin Uwajumogu (Imo-North), and Abdullahi Yahaya (Kebbi-North).

The senators took turns to criticise the adoption of the report without a debate.

They also alleged that the amendment was targeted at the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria currently being occupied by Muhammadu Buhari.

The protesters cited irregularities in the signatories to the report.

Adamu said, “We feel very strongly that the process by which the so-called conference committee report was laid and considered was rushed.

“We are against what happened. Incidentally, if you take note of the report that was laid – the report that was circulated – the chairman and the co-chairman did not sign it. We don’t know why they did not sign the report.

“Normally, if we are going through due process, we need to know why they didn’t sign it, or do we have different reports submitted over the same bill from the same committee?”

Alleging that the report was biased, Adamu stated that the bill needed better attention while its passage must be fair.

He said, “Why do you want to do a law to address just one particular problem. This is a very partisan report; you could see it from the body language, the utterances and the gesturing that it is a pre-determined thing by a political party that is threatened by the APC government.”

Also, Omo-Agege said, “Thirty six people in the House of Representatives cannot determine the faith and the destiny of 360 people in the House, which is now carried over to a Senate of 109. If a conference committee is set up to reconcile the differences, the least we are owed is for this amendment to Section 25 (of the Electoral Act) to be deliberated upon.

“We did not even dissolve into the committee of the whole. We were not even given the opportunity to consider this.

“Today, we have 59 senators who are opposed to the inclusion of this Section 25 in the Electoral Act. If that division (which he called for) was allowed 59 senators would have voted to delete that purported amendment to Section 25 of the Electoral Act.

“You don’t make a law targeted at one person. The perception out there is that this Section 25 was included to target Mr. President,” he stated.

The Senate however insisted on the adoption of the report, stating that it had passed due process.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, who jointly addressed journalists with Nazif, dismissed the allegations by the aggrieved senators.

Nazif said, “Let me make it very clear that I have signed the concurrent committee report. I don’t know where that (allegation) came from, but I signed it. This is it, signed by me (displaying the report). And if you go to the clerk, it is also signed by me.

“I am not aware if the sequence of election is being targeted at anybody. What I know is that as the Chairman of the Committee on INEC at the Senate, I chaired the concurrent committee of both the House and the Senate.

“In the past, we have had elections from the top to down. I don’t know if anybody questioned that. In the past also, we have also had elections from down to top. I don’t know if anybody questioned that.”

 ‘Why underage persons were registered’

The Independent National Electoral Commission says some underage voters are being registered in some parts of the country because the lives of registration officers are being threatened by some members of the community.

The Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Mr. Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, said this on Wednesday during a programme on the African Independent Television titled, ‘Kakaaki.’

Osazze-Uzzi, while answering questions over pictures and videos on the social media showing children registering and voting in northern Nigeria, said when officials refused to register underage persons, their lives  were threatened by members of the community and they eventually caved in.

The INEC director said, “I agree that it is the responsibility of the registration officer to do that (refuse to register underage persons), but there are times that circumstances are such that where there is present and clear danger that he risks being assaulted or being killed, I think it will be unreasonable to expect him not to succumb to the pressure. But we encourage them to report immediately they get out of that dangerous zone.”

Osazze-Uzzi said INEC had received reports from some members of the National Youth Service Corps taking part in the exercise.

He added that parents came along with their children claiming that their children were over 18 and usually forced registration officers to register the underage children.

The INEC director said, “Even to the untrained eye, that child doesn’t look more than 15, but in such circumstances, you cannot argue too much with them. The law says the registration officer is entitled to act on some kind of identification or birth certificate or proof of age.

“But very often, they are resisted, especially when there are lots of people there. They are challenged in a charged atmosphere and they are there without any protection. Many of them are there in strange communities which they don’t know anything about. So, there is undue pressure on them to register at this point.”

Osaze-Uzzi, however, said mechanisms had been put in place such that after an underage person is registered, he could be removed from the register.

He said the registers were usually inspected by senior INEC officials who could identify underage persons through their facial looks or through assistance from members of the community.

“It is not a complex process, you display the voter register and people come there. That is in addition to the fact that the registration officer can refuse anybody registration. But we don’t expect people to risk their lives for what is essentially a simple patriotic service.

“But if they get away with that (getting registered) and the report is not taken, the second opportunity is when the register is displayed. The best opportunity is where higher officials physically look at each register as much as they can and those who are clearly not qualified are removed. So, it is a three-pronged process and there are different stages,” the INEC director added.

He said the process of registration and voting could never be perfect since it was a human endeavour.

He, however, said the media and members of the public should assist the commission by exposing such cases of underage registration and voting.

Osaze-Uzzi said, “I think the law recognises that being a human endeavour, it may not be perfect and that is why it gives some kind of leeway such that when you weigh everything together, it is a reflection of what the people have chosen.

“If one per cent of the register has underage persons; will this affect the outcome? We agree that the register is the very foundation of every election and what we can do and what the media can do is that when we get these reports and we have a fair idea of where this issue is prevalent, we can look at the registers again, look at those who are clearly underage and try to weed them out and prevent them from exercising a franchise that does not belong to them legally.”

The INEC director maintained that the local government election which held in Kano State was not organised by INEC but the state government.

He assured members of the public that the 2019 general elections would be free, fair and credible.

INEC can’t be trusted with 2019 elections –PDP

The Peoples Democratic Party has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission of being responsible for the registration of underage voters in Kano State.

Pictures and videos of the voters recently went viral on social media shortly after the conduct of local government election in the state on Saturday.

The PDP consequently said Nigerians had lost confidence in the commission.

It added that the commission could not be trusted with the conduct of the 2019 general elections.

The former ruling party alleged that the documented “massive underage voting that characterised the exercise” was an indication that the commission was part of the fraud.

The party said it was INEC that registered the minors as voters and as such should not exonerate itself of involvement in the electoral fraud.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, said the press release by INEC, exonerating itself from culpability in the participation of minors in the Kano election showed that INEC under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu was unreliable.

The statement read in part, “Who is fooling who? Is it not INEC that registered the minors and issued Permanent Voter Cards to them to participate in elections as documented in the Kano council election?

“Can INEC truly acquit itself as the culprit who set the stage for the eventual participation of the minors and overall rigging of the elections?

“By resorting to lame excuses and trying to exonerate itself at a time it should be taking decisive steps to protect the sanctity of its sensitive materials such as the PVC, this INEC has shown that it cannot be relied upon as a responsible and trustworthy electoral umpire.

“Indeed, if this INEC was serious about the sanctity of sensitive electoral materials, by now it should have ordered the immediate review of its voter register in Kano and Katsina states, fishing out and prosecuting those who registered the minors and clean up the electoral system in the affected states.

“Viewed alongside a series of numerous other irregularities being allowed by INEC to favour the ruling All Progressives Congress, including alleged conspiracy with APC-controlled security operatives to intimidate opposition members and manipulate elections as witnessed in the Mashi/Dutsi Federal Constituency Supplementary election in Katsina State, any reasonable person will decide that INEC, as presently constituted, has serious questions to answer, especially as we approach the 2019 general elections.”

Ologbondiyan warned that Nigerians would not accept anything less than a credible, free and fair general election in 2019.

“The commission should ensure that it does not allow itself to be used by the APC against the will of the people, particularly in the 2019 elections, as such will be resisted,” he added.

Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, alleged that the Federal Government was not ready for free and fair elections in 2019.

Secondus spoke when he received members of the International Republican Institute in his office in Abuja.

The team was led by the President of IRI, Mr. Dan Twining.

Secondus said, “Our major concern with the party in power is that they are not ready a for free and fair election and the best Nigerians want is  afree and fair election.

“The people of Nigeria are passing through challenges like killings by herdsmen, insecurity, bad economy and inability to protect lives and property of Nigerians by the government.

“Our major concern is for INEC to conduct a free and fair election because if the 2019 election is rigged, it will be a recipe for crisis.”

Twining told Secondus that Nigerian was the most important country for IRI in sub-Saharan Africa.

He said the group had been in the country for the past 20years, adding that IRI would want to work with political parties in order to make them responsible to the citizens of Nigeria.

APC Senators Split As Senate Adopts Revised Poll Timetable

The adoption of the report by the Senate and the House of Representatives Conference Committee on the Amendment to the Electoral Act caused division in the ranks of the All Progressives Congress caucus in the upper chamber of the National Assembly on Wednesday.

senate

According to the report, the sequence of the elections will commence with National Assembly, to be followed by governorship and State Houses of Assembly, while presidential poll will come last.

Trouble started when the Chairman of the Conference Committee, who is also Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, Senator Suleiman Nazif, presented the report at the plenary on Wednesday.

After the presentation, President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, put the adoption of the report to voice vote, saying there was no need for debate on it as it was from a conference committee which had harmonised the versions of the two chambers.

“Let me remind us all on what the procedures are for conference reports. It is very simple. You either adopt the report or you reject the report. So, I am going to make it simple and put the question,” Saraki said.

After the vote, the Senate President ruled that “the ayes have it,” a development that generated uproar in the chamber.

Raising a point of order, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege called for a division, citing Order 73 of the Senate Standing Rules.

Responding, Saraki said, “As I keep on emphasising, institutions are what are important. As senators, we will finish our terms and go, but we must continue to strengthen institutions. We must always follow the procedures that we have all laid down.

“For conference reports, this has been the procedure and as such, with all due respect, I have to rule you out of order.”

Dissatisfied, Senator Kabiru Gaya raised another point of order, citing Order 87(C), which states that the conference committee can deliberate on issues between the Senate and House of Representatives but cannot make insertions on any matter not committed to it by either of the chambers.

 He said, “This report on the sequence of elections was never discussed here in the Senate. Why are we bringing it up here?”

Also ruling Gaya out of order, Saraki said, “You are a ranking senator and I have all the utmost respect for you. I know that politics is local; and I appreciate that. But as much as it is local, we also have to maintain the integrity of this institution. I have heard you and I am sure that your constituency too have heard you; but I have to rule you out of order.”

Still not satisfied, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, who is the Chairman of the Northern Senators’ Forum, raised another point of order, citing Section 76 of the Constitution and pointing out that only INEC was empowered to determine the date of elections.

Ruling Adamu out of order, Saraki said, “Thank you for the point you raised. As you know, we have ruled on this. And as you also know, there are many bills that we have passed and if there are issues, there are mechanisms within the system through which issues have been raised. With all due respect, I will say it is noted.”

At that point, several members began to scream, “Point of order!”

Saraki, again, insisted that the lawmakers must be guided by the rules, especially Order 53(6). He urged members to allow consideration of the next item on the order paper.

Shortly after, 10 APC members stormed out of the chamber and moved to the Media Centre of the Senate Press Corps.

The senators, who claimed that 59 of them were against the amendment, were Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa-West), Abu Ibrahim (Katsina-North), Abdullahi Gumel (Jigawa-North), Ali Wakili (Bauchi-South), Binta Masi Garba (Adamawa-North), Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta-Central), Umar Kurfi (Katsina-Central), Andrew Uchendu (Rivers-East), Benjamin Uwajumogu (Imo-North), and Abdullahi Yahaya (Kebbi-North).

The senators took turns to criticise the adoption of the report without a debate.

They also alleged that the amendment was targeted at the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria currently being occupied by Muhammadu Buhari.

The protesters cited irregularities in the signatories to the report.

Adamu said, “We feel very strongly that the process by which the so-called conference committee report was laid and considered was rushed.

“We are against what happened. Incidentally, if you take note of the report that was laid – the report that was circulated – the chairman and the co-chairman did not sign it. We don’t know why they did not sign the report.

“Normally, if we are going through due process, we need to know why they didn’t sign it, or do we have different reports submitted over the same bill from the same committee?”

Alleging that the report was biased, Adamu stated that the bill needed better attention while its passage must be fair.

He said, “Why do you want to do a law to address just one particular problem. This is a very partisan report; you could see it from the body language, the utterances and the gesturing that it is a pre-determined thing by a political party that is threatened by the APC government.”

Also, Omo-Agege said, “Thirty six people in the House of Representatives cannot determine the faith and the destiny of 360 people in the House, which is now carried over to a Senate of 109. If a conference committee is set up to reconcile the differences, the least we are owed is for this amendment to Section 25 (of the Electoral Act) to be deliberated upon.

“We did not even dissolve into the committee of the whole. We were not even given the opportunity to consider this.

“Today, we have 59 senators who are opposed to the inclusion of this Section 25 in the Electoral Act. If that division (which he called for) was allowed 59 senators would have voted to delete that purported amendment to Section 25 of the Electoral Act.

“You don’t make a law targeted at one person. The perception out there is that this Section 25 was included to target Mr. President,” he stated.

The Senate however insisted on the adoption of the report, stating that it had passed due process.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, who jointly addressed journalists with Nazif, dismissed the allegations by the aggrieved senators.

Nazif said, “Let me make it very clear that I have signed the concurrent committee report. I don’t know where that (allegation) came from, but I signed it. This is it, signed by me (displaying the report). And if you go to the clerk, it is also signed by me.

“I am not aware if the sequence of election is being targeted at anybody. What I know is that as the Chairman of the Committee on INEC at the Senate, I chaired the concurrent committee of both the House and the Senate.

“In the past, we have had elections from the top to down. I don’t know if anybody questioned that. In the past also, we have also had elections from down to top. I don’t know if anybody questioned that.”

 ‘Why underage persons were registered’

The Independent National Electoral Commission says some underage voters are being registered in some parts of the country because the lives of registration officers are being threatened by some members of the community.

The Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Mr. Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, said this on Wednesday during a programme on the African Independent Television titled, ‘Kakaaki.’

Osazze-Uzzi, while answering questions over pictures and videos on the social media showing children registering and voting in northern Nigeria, said when officials refused to register underage persons, their lives  were threatened by members of the community and they eventually caved in.

The INEC director said, “I agree that it is the responsibility of the registration officer to do that (refuse to register underage persons), but there are times that circumstances are such that where there is present and clear danger that he risks being assaulted or being killed, I think it will be unreasonable to expect him not to succumb to the pressure. But we encourage them to report immediately they get out of that dangerous zone.”

Osazze-Uzzi said INEC had received reports from some members of the National Youth Service Corps taking part in the exercise.

He added that parents came along with their children claiming that their children were over 18 and usually forced registration officers to register the underage children.

The INEC director said, “Even to the untrained eye, that child doesn’t look more than 15, but in such circumstances, you cannot argue too much with them. The law says the registration officer is entitled to act on some kind of identification or birth certificate or proof of age.

“But very often, they are resisted, especially when there are lots of people there. They are challenged in a charged atmosphere and they are there without any protection. Many of them are there in strange communities which they don’t know anything about. So, there is undue pressure on them to register at this point.”

Osaze-Uzzi, however, said mechanisms had been put in place such that after an underage person is registered, he could be removed from the register.

He said the registers were usually inspected by senior INEC officials who could identify underage persons through their facial looks or through assistance from members of the community.

“It is not a complex process, you display the voter register and people come there. That is in addition to the fact that the registration officer can refuse anybody registration. But we don’t expect people to risk their lives for what is essentially a simple patriotic service.

“But if they get away with that (getting registered) and the report is not taken, the second opportunity is when the register is displayed. The best opportunity is where higher officials physically look at each register as much as they can and those who are clearly not qualified are removed. So, it is a three-pronged process and there are different stages,” the INEC director added.

He said the process of registration and voting could never be perfect since it was a human endeavour.

He, however, said the media and members of the public should assist the commission by exposing such cases of underage registration and voting.

Osaze-Uzzi said, “I think the law recognises that being a human endeavour, it may not be perfect and that is why it gives some kind of leeway such that when you weigh everything together, it is a reflection of what the people have chosen.

“If one per cent of the register has underage persons; will this affect the outcome? We agree that the register is the very foundation of every election and what we can do and what the media can do is that when we get these reports and we have a fair idea of where this issue is prevalent, we can look at the registers again, look at those who are clearly underage and try to weed them out and prevent them from exercising a franchise that does not belong to them legally.”

The INEC director maintained that the local government election which held in Kano State was not organised by INEC but the state government.

He assured members of the public that the 2019 general elections would be free, fair and credible.

INEC can’t be trusted with 2019 elections –PDP

The Peoples Democratic Party has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission of being responsible for the registration of underage voters in Kano State.

Pictures and videos of the voters recently went viral on social media shortly after the conduct of local government election in the state on Saturday.

The PDP consequently said Nigerians had lost confidence in the commission.

It added that the commission could not be trusted with the conduct of the 2019 general elections.

The former ruling party alleged that the documented “massive underage voting that characterised the exercise” was an indication that the commission was part of the fraud.

The party said it was INEC that registered the minors as voters and as such should not exonerate itself of involvement in the electoral fraud.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, said the press release by INEC, exonerating itself from culpability in the participation of minors in the Kano election showed that INEC under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu was unreliable.

The statement read in part, “Who is fooling who? Is it not INEC that registered the minors and issued Permanent Voter Cards to them to participate in elections as documented in the Kano council election?

“Can INEC truly acquit itself as the culprit who set the stage for the eventual participation of the minors and overall rigging of the elections?

“By resorting to lame excuses and trying to exonerate itself at a time it should be taking decisive steps to protect the sanctity of its sensitive materials such as the PVC, this INEC has shown that it cannot be relied upon as a responsible and trustworthy electoral umpire.

“Indeed, if this INEC was serious about the sanctity of sensitive electoral materials, by now it should have ordered the immediate review of its voter register in Kano and Katsina states, fishing out and prosecuting those who registered the minors and clean up the electoral system in the affected states.

“Viewed alongside a series of numerous other irregularities being allowed by INEC to favour the ruling All Progressives Congress, including alleged conspiracy with APC-controlled security operatives to intimidate opposition members and manipulate elections as witnessed in the Mashi/Dutsi Federal Constituency Supplementary election in Katsina State, any reasonable person will decide that INEC, as presently constituted, has serious questions to answer, especially as we approach the 2019 general elections.”

Ologbondiyan warned that Nigerians would not accept anything less than a credible, free and fair general election in 2019.

“The commission should ensure that it does not allow itself to be used by the APC against the will of the people, particularly in the 2019 elections, as such will be resisted,” he added.

Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, alleged that the Federal Government was not ready for free and fair elections in 2019.

Secondus spoke when he received members of the International Republican Institute in his office in Abuja.

The team was led by the President of IRI, Mr. Dan Twining.

Secondus said, “Our major concern with the party in power is that they are not ready a for free and fair election and the best Nigerians want is  afree and fair election.

“The people of Nigeria are passing through challenges like killings by herdsmen, insecurity, bad economy and inability to protect lives and property of Nigerians by the government.

“Our major concern is for INEC to conduct a free and fair election because if the 2019 election is rigged, it will be a recipe for crisis.”

Twining told Secondus that Nigerian was the most important country for IRI in sub-Saharan Africa.

He said the group had been in the country for the past 20years, adding that IRI would want to work with political parties in order to make them responsible to the citizens of Nigeria.

If the Florida School Shooting Suspect Nikolas Cruz Was ‘Creepy and Weird,’ was no security tab on him?

The ex-student reportedly had a history of threatening other students before he allegedly opened fire in his old classrooms.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, was identified by law-enforcement sources as the suspected gunman who attacked Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday.

Cruz was taken into police custody following the shooting that killed at least 17 people—leaving traumatized students to recover with their families and grieve for their fallen friends.

The teens who knew Cruz at the school were stunned. They described Cruz as an awkward “outcast”—someone who had trouble fitting in at Douglas High. But they never saw a mass murderer in the making.

 “I knew him to be passive aggressive but not violent. He was rude to people. He had an act up like he was tough. He never got into, like, physical fights with anyone, but he did get into verbal arguments,” 17-year-old Ocean Parodie told The Daily Beast. “I just thought he dropped out of school, I didn’t think he would do anything. He always kept a low profile.”

“He was definitely not accepted at our school socially. People saw him as someone who was different than the normal people at our school,” Parodie added.

Douglas High has a place students call “the Emo Gazebo,” he said. “That’s where all the kids that are considered weird or not accepted sat. Kids at the Emo Gazebo didn’t even accept him there. He was just an outcast…He didn’t have any friends.”

Cruz always had his hair short and had a penchant for wearing patriotic shirts that “seemed really extreme, like hating on” Islam, Parodie said. The suspected gunman would also deride Muslims as “terrorists and bombers.”

“I’ve seen him wear a Trump hat,” the student said.

“Most kids ignored him at school. They pushed him off to the side as if he was garbage. He screamed in class one time. He was upset and just started yelling at the teacher. The teacher was trying to help him and he just took it the wrong way,” Parodie continued.

COURTESY OF JOSH COHEN

Parodie’s 15-year-old sister, Milan, had a similar impression of Cruz.

“I could tell he tried to be social at times but there was something off about him,” she said. “I never really saw him with many people. Girls thought he was creepy and weird. He was pretty pale with red hair. I didn’t talk to him that much, but from what I could tell he wasn’t a nice kid. He wore a lot of black and was always alone.

Still, Milan Parodie described Cruz as “always enthusiastic… He never seemed depressed or sad. He was always a little crazy is the best way to put it… He was peppy but not in a good way, in a crazy way. He tried to look creepy or weird, I think. He tried to talk to one of my girlfriends and he said she was cute, but she was weirded out and he was bothering her.”

“Most kids ignored him at school. They pushed him off to the side as if he was garbage.”
— Ocean Parodie
“Honestly, a lot of people were saying that it was gonna be him,” one student told WJXT of Cruz. “Actually, a lot of kids joked… saying that he was gonna be the one to shoot up the school, but it turns out, you know, everyone predicted it, that’s crazy.”

The student added: “He was in the third floor. He knows the school layout, he knows where everyone would be… he’s been in the fire drills. He’s prepared for this stuff.”

Another student told WFOR-TV that Cruz “always had guns on him.”

“He was off,” Giovanni Watford, 17, told BuzzFeed News. “He was super stressed-out all the time and talked about guns a lot and tried to hide his face.”

Watford told the site he had been in the same Junior ROTC program as Cruz and that Cruz would complain about bullying at Douglas High.

Broward County Sheriff Steve Israel told reporters the suspect was a former student of the school who was expelled for “disciplinary reasons.” Math teacher Jim Gard told the Miami Herald that Cruz was identified as a threat to the school in previous years.

“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” Gard said. “There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”

Helen Pasciolla, a former neighbor of Cruz, told The New York Times that he had told her his family had been forced to sell their house in the upscale neighborhood because of money problems. She also told the paper both Cruz and his brother were adopted and their adoptive father had died.

Their mother, Lynda Cruz, would call the police to try to help deal with the boys’ behavioral problems, Pasciolla told the Times.

“I think she wanted to scare them a little bit,” she said. “Nikolas has behavioral problems, I think, but I never thought he would be violent.”

Broward County Public Schools superintendent Robert Runcie told reporters outside the school he was unaware of previous concerns about the student. “We received no warnings,” he said. “Potentially there could have been signs out there. But we didn’t have any warning or phone calls or threats that were made.”

Ocean Parodie, for his part, felt bad for Cruz—and visited him after he was thrown out of Douglas High.

“After he got expelled he worked at a Dollar Store next to the movie theater,” Parodie said. “I went there and asked him what happened once. He said he was expelled and was happy that he was thrown out. I felt bad for him. I think just to treat someone differently [for] how they look is wrong, so I tried to treat him like I treat everyone else.”

Parodie was in anatomy class on Monday afternoon when he saw his fellow students running away. Then he heard the fire alarm go off—minutes before school was supposed to end.

“One stairway was crowded, so I went down a different stairway, and I heard shots. That’s when I knew something was up and it wasn’t a drill. I made it outside. I was one of the first people to make it outside. Teachers were asking what was going on, the administrators didn’t know what was going on. Once they had an idea of what’s going on they sent us to the middle school next to our school. We walked near a canal to stay away from the school in case it showed up.”

A few hours later, Parodie realized the outcast he had pitied was the person who had just executed his schoolmates.

“I found out it was him when the news said who it was. I was like, ‘Oh man, I can’t believe it’s him.’”

Update on the sad chapter of life in Florida

Florida Shooter Made Sick Use of School’s Active-Shooter Drill

The timing likely made it more difficult for the school to order and maintain a complete lockdown—and Nikolas Cruz knew just what would happen.

JOHN MCCALL/GETTY

Right after Christmas break, the Broward County Public Schools held their system-wide intruder and active shooter training.

As it does each each year, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office met with the teachers and staff at each facility—including Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School—and went over the procedures in the event an active shooter invaded the building.

The officers reminded them nobody should imagine that the horrors of Columbine and Sandy Hook and so many other schools could not happen there in Broward. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was not exempt simply because the surrounding town of Parkland had been declared the safest city in Florida in 2017.

The officers also emphasized that in the event of a lockdown, everybody should remain in place.

“They said, ‘Tell your kids if they hear a fire alarm or if somebody knocks on the door and says ‘Let us in,’ don’t open the door for anybody,’” a Broward teacher who attended the training told The Daily Beast.

The deputies told the teachers at each school in January essentially what Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel would say in the aftermath of what was to come the very next month.

JOE RAEDLE/GETTY

People are brought out of the school after the shooting.

“If you see something, say something.”

The teachers then passed on their training to the students. The schools held lockdown drills, as they had regularly for years.

One student who had been in at least a half dozen such drills but missed this year’s at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was Nikolas Cruz. He was expelled last year, by some accounts for threatening classmates.

By several accounts, he was known to be fascinated with firearms and had shown fellow students cellphone pictures of guns. The school reportedly forbade him from venturing onto campus with a backpack, almost certainly as a precaution against him using it to carry a weapon.

But while he was subjected to a backpack ban, Cruz had turned 18 and there was nothing in Florida law to keep him from buying an AR-15. He also obtained a considerable number of magazines.

Cruz posted on Instagram a photo of the AR-15 set out on his bed along with a small arsenal of other weapons. Somebody certainly saw something. But nobody seems to have said anything.

As Cruz was a guy who seems to have had considerable problems and little success with girls, his decision to revisit the school on Valentine’s Day was not likely a coincidence.

Cruz quite literally knew the drill when it came to active shooters and understood that the lockdown procedure would go into effect the moment gunshots were heard. He certainly did not want to find himself wandering suddenly deserted hallways, trying to force his way through locked doors.

So Cruz seems to have hatched a two-part scheme to thwart the well-rehearsed lockdown plan.

He began by waiting until just five minutes before the 2:35 p.m. dismissal time.

He then pulled a fire alarm.

The timing likely made it more difficult for the school to order and maintain a complete lockdown. He was able to kill 12 inside the school, along with another two just outside and one on the street. Two more died in the hospital.

The toll could have been higher had the students in at least two classrooms not stayed put despite the fire alarm and despite a banging on the door that was almost certainly the gunman.

HANDOUT

One stalwart soul was a 17-year-old junior named Matt Walker. He managed to make a cellphone video as the gunman fired through a glass panel in the locked classroom door, the shots coming jarringly loud and as fast as his finger could pull the trigger of his AR-15. Walker recorded screams and shouts of “Oh my God!… Oh my God!” as well as more and more gunshots as his classmates crouched in total terror.

To watch that video is to know that something must be done, that we have to do all we can to stop it from happening again.

JOHN MCCALL/GETTY

Students are released from the lockdown.

In the aftermath of this latest school shooting, the worst since 20 youngsters and six adults were murdered with an AR-15 at Sandy Hook in 2012, a shaken Sheriff Israel stood before the press. His own triplets had graduated from what was now a mass murder scene.

Israel told reporters that along with the assault rifle, Cruz had “endless magazines, multiple magazines.” Israel’s tone suggested that this translated in his mind to murdered kids.

Israel also spoke of Cruz’s online postings.

“Very, very disturbing,” Israel told the press.

Israel repeated what his deputies had urged at every school in January, words that might have saved 17 lives if somebody had seen those disturbing postings and called the police.

“If you see something, say something,” he said, adding, “If anybody has any indicator that someone’s going through a behavioral change or on their social media that there are disturbing photos, perhaps bombs or firearms, or just videos or pictures that are just not right, please make sure law enforcement knows about it.”

AMY BETH BENNETT/GETTY

Waiting for word from students at Coral Springs Drive and the Sawgrass Expressway just south of the campus.

Outside the school where the latest active shooter drill had been held just last month, parents stood waiting to learn if their children were among the dozen dead whose bodies would remain inside until the investigators and photographers and forensic people were done.

The foreheads of a number of parents bore crosses made with the soot of palm fronds, for this year Valentine’s Day was also Ash Wednesday, when the faithful are supposed to ponder their mortality.

JOEL AUERBACH/AP

Parents wait for news after the shooting.

For all the moms and dads, this was no longer a day of flowers and chocolates. And for even the most devout of those who had received the symbolic ashes earlier in the day, no ritual could have prepared them for this present moment. They stood facing the prospect of their child’s mortality as the result of high-velocity bullets.

Just as the classroom video told you something must be done, these faces of the moms and dads told you that whatever our leaders do, it must be more than simply offer prayers and then continue on until the next time and the next and the next.

6 secrets of master presenters

Put these expert presentation tips to work, to avoid blunders and persuade with power

January 23, 2018

Did your last presentation to a conference audience or your company’s board go as well as you hoped? Did your listeners all seem to understand and agree with your points? Did you walk away feeling confident they were persuaded by your pitch and would support your proposal?

Even if you’ve made pitches or presentations hundreds of times, strategy tweaks can make your presentations much more effective, says Hugh Braithwaite, CEO of marketing and communications agency Braithwaite Communications. Braithwaite has coached hundreds of enterprise executives in giving stronger presentations, and his best tips can benefit you, too.

1. Begin with the right goals

Here’s where most executive presenters make their first mistake, Braithwaite says. “When we ask people what are their goals, for even a high-level presentation to the board, they talk about getting through all their information, answering questions, showing listeners that they really know what they’re talking about,” he says.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Braithwaite believes every presentation should have three fundamental goals: connecting with the audience, making the presentation personally relevant to audience members, and having an impact on their thinking or behavior. “Think about who they are, what you want them to think, how you want them to feel, and what you want them to do as a result of your presentation,” he says. “That is key. If that sometimes causes you to scrap your whole presentation, so be it.”

2. Start your pitch before the presentation, and continue it afterward

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that whatever allotment of time you have to talk to your audience is your only opportunity to persuade them to your point of view. “Understand that the presentation is only one piece of your campaign,” Braithwaite says. “If you think about what you want the board to feel and do, you can start with information beforehand and follow it up afterward.” It’s a great idea to use your follow-up communications to reinforce the points your listeners agreed with, and address the points they were skeptical about.

3. Get the lay of the land

“If you come in with your grand technology vision after lunch, but the whole morning was devoted to budget cutting, you’re doomed,” Braithwaite says. “But if you say, ‘I have a vision to save money with technology in these three ways,’ you’re connected to part of their discussion, even if only partly.”

Makes sense, but how can you find out what will be discussed at a board meeting you’re not invited to? “There usually is a gatekeeper who will tell you what time you’re going on,” Braithwaite says. “You can ask, ‘By the way, what’s the topic of the meeting?’” You may not get an answer, but it’s worth making the attempt, he says.

You can also make some educated guesses, based on your own expertise as an executive, as to what the board is likely to be discussing. “What’s the state of the industry?” Braithwaite says. “How has the year gone?”

4. Use just a few data points

“People need proof points, but they can get overwhelmed by data,” Braithwaite says. He likens it to throwing tennis balls at someone: They’re able to catch one or two at a time, but throw more than that and they’ll fumble and drop some. So rather than present a lot of charts or graphs, he suggests focusing on three high-level messages that you can repeat and reinforce.

What if you have a lot of great data that you think your audience needs to see? Braithwaite suggests putting it together into a handout that you will provide before the presentation. Then, say something like this: “In the binder in front of you, there are charts showing all our competitors’ approach to security. I invite you to look at it all, but the point that stands out is that we are woefully behind.”

Do that, Braithwaite says, and you get the benefit of 50 slides that you didn’t have to take time for during the presentation itself.

5. Be front and center

“If the slides are 10 feet away from you, now you’ve walked offstage,” Braithwaite says. “You’re looking at your computer, and everyone else is looking at a wall.” Instead, he coaches executives to stand with their slides, becoming part of the presentation themselves rather than someone manipulating slides from elsewhere. And, he says, “Do not stand at a podium that covers most of your body.”

6. Monitor the audience and be ready to make changes

“We’ve all been at presentations where someone goes through the whole thing and then says, ‘Are there any questions?’ and the answer is, ‘No, that was wonderful, thank you.’ The door never even opened,” Braithwaite says.

Don’t let that happen to you: Be ready to make changes on the fly if needed. “All the best executive presenters say they gave some of their most successful presentations when they scrapped their original plans because someone in the audience said something that gave them a big clue as to what was wanted,” Braithwaite says.

To seize those opportunities, you need to really tune in to your audience. “If board members are looking through their packets, checking their email, and not making eye contact with you, then what you’re presenting or how you’re presenting isn’t working,” Braithwaite says. “If you don’t change it, it’s just going to get worse, but most people don’t even look at the audience.”

He also suggests asking the audience for questions at the beginning of the presentation rather than waiting until the end. It’s a great idea to start the presentation by saying something like, “I’m about to tell you about a new security system we should implement. What are your thoughts or questions about this right now?”

“They may say, ‘I don’t think we need it,’ or ‘We’re only doing it because of regulations,’ or ‘I’m not interested, but if it gives us more revenue, I might be for it,’” Braithwaite says. “That took 15 seconds and now you have a lot more information to work with.”