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Soon after The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Saturday announced the postponement of the general elections, Professor Mahmood Yakubu released a statement explaining why it postponed the general elections.

He, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, addressed reporters at the press centre of the commission’s headquarters in Abuja, the nation’s Capital.


Professor Yakubu told reporters that the polls would not go on as planned due to some challenges encountered by the commission.

He further explained that the postponement of the elections would afford them the opportunity to address the issues raised. According to him, the decision to postpone the election few hours before electorates were to gather at their various polling unit, was a tough one to make.


Professor Yakubu revealed that the commission would inform critical stakeholders in the elections about the new development at a meeting which would hold later on Saturday.


Full speech by the INEC chairman below;


Ladies and gentlemen, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) met on Friday 15, February 2019, and reviewed its preparations for the 2019 general elections scheduled for Saturday, 16 February 2019, and Saturday 2 March 2019.


Following a careful review of the implementation of its logistics and operational plan, and the determination to conduct free, fair, and credible elections, the commission came to the conclusion that proceeding with the elections as scheduled is no longer feasible.


Consequently, the commission has decided to reschedule the Presidential and National Assembly elections to Saturday, 23 February 2019.


Furthermore, the Governorship, State House of Assembly, and Federal Capital Territory Area Council elections are rescheduled to Saturday, 9 March 2019.


This will afford the commission the opportunity to address identified challenges in order to maintain the quality of our elections.


This was a difficult decision for the commission to take but necessary for the successful delivery of the elections and the consolidation of our democracy.


The commission will meet with key stakeholders to update them on this development at 2pm on Saturday, 16 February 2019, at the Abuja International Conference Centre.


Thank you very much.

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Prince Uche Secondus, National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has alleged that the ‘shoddy’ arrangements for this election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is a deliberate predetermined agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari to cling on to power.


Prince Uche speculated that the postponement which is part of a grand design by the All Progressives Congress, APC, to thwart the will of Nigerians at all cost, clearly exposes INEC as a failure. He calls on the Chairman of the Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu to resign immediately.


The PDP leader warned that the party will not accept anything short of a well organized electoral process devoid of manipulation, harassment and intimidation of voters and the opposition particularly members of the PDP.


He said:


“Having failed in all their nefarious options to enable them to cling on to power, the APC and the INEC came up with the idea of shifting election an action that is dangerous to our democracy and unacceptable”.


The National Chairman said that the APC in connivance with the INEC have been trying all options including but not limited to burning down INEC offices in some states and destroying of electoral materials to create artificial problems upon which to stand for their dubious act.


According to a statement from the National Chairman’s media office signed by Ike Abonyi, Prince Uche said that the party is privy to all the pressures from the APC and the federal government to “arm-twist the INEC, to dance to their new strategy after their earlier ones failed”.


“With several of their rigging options failing, they have to force INEC to agree to a shift in the election or a staggered election with flimsy excuses pre-manufactured for the purpose.


“For the avoidance of doubt the PDP sees this action as wicked and we are also aware of other dubious designs like the deployment of hooded security operatives who would be ruthless on the people ostensibly to scare them away,” Prince Uche said.


He said that by the action of the President he has further demonstrated his insensitivity costing the huge cost after Nigerians including those who came home from abroad have all mobilized to their various constituencies.


Secondus recalled that the PDP had earlier alerted Nigerians that the APC was coming up with lined up rigging strategies including burning down of INEC offices and engineering crisis in PDP stronghold areas to scare away the people.


The PDP National Chairman also drew the attention of all lovers of democracy to the statement of President Buhari on the international media that nobody can unseat him from office, the party alleged that the President’s statement is as an indication of what he wants to do.

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Few hours to the 2019 presidential election and the Kano Police Command rounds up two suspects found with 16 bags of what the police say were specimen ballot papers in the state.

The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Wakili Mohammed, made this confirmation on Friday.

According to him the suspects were apprehended on Wednesday by some officers attached to the Metro Police Area Command.

According to the police commissioner, the suspects confessed to have come from Jigawa State, and claimed that the materials were meant for the purposes of sensitisation and orientation.

He said that investigation was still on-going on the matter as the case had been transferred to the state Criminal Investigation Development (CID).

He also reassured the public that the command is fully prepared to ensure that the elections were conducted peacefully.

He noted that although there were some incidents recorded recently in parts of the state, there has been no significant case of violence

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Now, this is something we don't see every day. Every other day, you hear of terrorist sects, suicide bombers, massacres, and kidnapping but not often do you come across a headline "booby-trapped body, claims lives". 

A bomb which was hidden on a corpse dressed in a military uniform has killed two soldiers in Burkina Faso, the military reported on Friday.

The booby-trapped male body had been left just outside the northern town of Djibo, near the border with Mali, and a team was sent to investigate, a statement from the armed forces general staff said.

“The body, which turned out to be a trap, exploded when it was handled, killing two soldiers and wounding six, three of them seriously,” the statement reads.

A security source told AFP that the corpse exploded on Thursday when soldiers tried to turn it over, killing an army doctor on the spot, and wounding others.

Burkina Faso, in the heart of Africa’s vast Sahel region, is struggling with a bloody Islamist insurgency as well as bouts of social unrest.

More than 300 people have been killed in Burkina Faso in four years of jihadist attacks, according to an AFP count.

Last week there were three attacks, one of which killed five members of the security forces on the same day President Roch Marc Christian Kabore hosted a regional summit on the fight against terrorism.

The capital Ouagadougou has been hit three times, most recently in March 2018.

On Thursday, the United Nations said 1.2 million people in the country are in need of humanitarian aid.

About 83,000 people have been forced to flee their homes because of the violence, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. More than 1,000 schools have been closed, depriving 150,000 children of an education.

About 120,000 people do not have access to medical care in areas most affected by the violence.

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Former Senate Minority Leader and Senator representing Akwa Ibom North West, Senator Godswill Akpabio, reacts to a letter which was supposedly written by him to the Chief of Staff to the President titled: “Gratitude for your marvelous support to Akwa Ibom APC”.


Anietie Ekong, his Special Assistant on Media, in a statement Thursday night described the letter as a poorly crafted piece of forgery and the figment of the imagination of the authors.

He said: “A cursory look at the letter reveals the fake-ness of the contents. For instance, the complimentary closing line reads, “Yours sincerely" and "yours faithfully" in one letter.

"With an imminent defeat in the coming polls, we have always known that desperate politicians will be up to some tricks to gain some political mileage, but we never imagined they could go to the extent of committing forgery just to malign an opponent

"Fortunately, the perpetrators are not ghosts. We have alerted security agencies to be on the look out for those who have either published or shared the sham document for an invitation to shed more light on its source

"Once again, we wish to assure the teeming supporters of Senator Godswill Akpabio and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State and beyond to remain focused, steadfast and unshaken in their commitment to resoundingly vote for President Muhammadu Buhari and all candidates of the party in the coming elections.

"According to the immortal words of the great Spanish writer, Miguel de Cervantes, “truth will rise above falsehood as oil above water".

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In relation to the forthcoming February presidential election, President Muhammadu Buhari beckons on Nigerians to come out in full and vote freely, bearing in mind that February 16th, the date of the Presidential and National Assembly elections, is more than making a choice between political parties.

In a national broadcast on Thursday, he said;

“February 16th is all about a choice. But it is more than a choice between APC and the opposition. It is a choice about you, it is a choice between going back or keeping the momentum of change,” 

President Buhari, who signed a peace accord along with other Presidential candidates on Wednesday, promised to ensure that Nigerians vote in a peaceful atmosphere.


He said, “On Saturday, February 16, 2019, you will, once again, be called upon to choose the leaders who will pilot the affairs of our great nation for the next four years. This is a constitutional right which should be freely exercised by all eligible voters.

“I wish therefore to start by assuring all Nigerians that this Government will do its very best to ensure that the 2019 elections take place in a secure and peaceful atmosphere.

“It was indeed such free, fair and peaceful elections that made it possible for our Government to emerge, despite the fact that we were contesting against a long-standing incumbent party.

“And as your president and a fellow Nigerian, I ask that you come out and queue to fulfill this important obligation you have to yourselves and your fellow citizens – and to our common future.

“Let me at this point, reaffirm the commitment of the Federal Government to the conduct of free and fair elections in a safe and peaceful atmosphere. Just yesterday, I signed the Peace Accord alongside 72 other presidential candidates.

“I want to assure all Nigerians, the diplomatic community and all foreign election observers of their safety and full protection. Any comments or threats of intimidation from any source do not represent the position of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”


President Buhari, who used the broadcast to defend the performance of his administration, also sought the support of Nigerians for his re-election bid.

He said, “In making your choice this time, please ask yourself whether, and in what ways, others will do anything different to address the issues of agriculture, infrastructure, security, good governance and fighting corruption.

“If they are only hoping to do what we are already doing successfully, we are clearly your preferred choice.

“Think carefully and choose wisely. This time, it is a choice about consolidating on growth for jobs and prosperity.”

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 Washington Post- On Sunday, Bill Gates, the creator of the ubiquitous Microsoft Windows and now a global philanthropist, addressed the nations of the African Union at their annual summit and urged them to invest more in their health systems.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the largest private philanthropic organizations in the world and spends $2 billion a year on Africa alone, largely to improve health and agriculture with access to vaccines and more productive seeds. At the summit, African leaders committed to increased spending on health for the 55 countries of the continent.

Ahead of his address to the summit, Gates spoke with The Washington Post, about why Africa is so important to the world. Here are excerpts from the interview.

The Washington Post: We are in an era of donor a fatigue, a time when people want to cut back on aid abroad. Africa has come a long way, but as you pointed out, with 16 percent of the world’s population, it has 24 percent of the disease burden and 50 percent child mortality. Why would you want to invest your time and energy in this place? “It never gets better” is what some people think back home.

Gates: That’s a problem if we don’t clear up that perception — if you feel that Africa was poor, Africa is poor, we sent a lot of money there, and they are still poor, and it didn’t make any difference.

Africa has had a good 20 years by relative measures. Childhood death has been cut in half, deaths from HIV are half of what they were at their peak, deaths from malaria are half of what they were at their peak. Other continents don’t have quite the disease challenge that Africa has.

I won’t say we have donor fatigue. The people who actually go to the [donor] hearings are as excited today and as committed as ever. When the executive branch of the U.S. said cut the foreign aid budget, which would have meant cutting [the U.S. HIV prevention program] PEPFAR, which would have meant 5 million additional HIV deaths, the Congress didn’t even think about it.

I engage in African health because with the right partnership, we can get a lot done, and it’s the last place on Earth where [in some places] 20 percent of the kids die before the age of 5. It is not unrealistic to get that number [to] 4 percent. Rich countries are about 1 percent. We won’t get to 1 percent in a 20-, 30-year time frame, but we can get down to 4 percent. Going from 20 percent to 4 percent, the total number of lives is amazing.

The Post: A lot of African leaders will say, “The Europeans and the Americans will do this or that with aid, but when the Chinese come, they give us loans and we build a port. We build a superhighway. We build railroads. This is the kind of aid we need.” You are following the approach of Western countries, which is capacity building and health. Why is that? Why not help build a bridge?

Gates: Our two things we concentrate on are health, by far the biggest, and agriculture, and then a few other things like financial services.

It’s important to distinguish between basic social services like a vaccine that keeps a kid alive and bridges and roads. They are both very important. We like roads where you can get the vaccines in, and you can get the fertilizer in, and kids can go out to school. Roads are very important. But the Chinese — that’s not aid. They aren’t giving those roads away. There is largely sovereign debt being created to pay for those things.

Great if you bid your contracts out well, and somebody comes in with the lowest price with the appropriate conditions in terms of trying to train local workers and trying to take care of the environment, and hope that no one was bribed so it really is the lowest-price contract and not the contract that had the best bribe associated with it.

The Post: China and India did this amazing job of moving people up out of poverty. Now in Africa, you will have by 2050, 86 percent of the world’s extreme poor living here. Is that breakout going to be possible here, or will they be left behind?

Gates: It hangs in the balance. They’ve certainly been left behind in that they are the poorest continent, even though they’ve had a good 20 years by many measures. It hangs in the balance of how much catch-up will do it — they could also fall further behind. Africa is unique in that it still has significant population growth. There is this huge shift where the non-African part of the world births are going down a lot, and in Africa the births are going up.

We have passed peak [births] about 12 years ago, but Africa has not. These babies are [being] born in the toughest places in the world.

The average age in Africa is 18, and it’s going to stay 18 for a long time. The average age in the other continents is in the late 30s, and it’s going up.

With sub-Saharan Africa, it really is where the world’s creativity is about helping with education, health and governance and agricultural productivity. Just take climate change. If all you wanted to do was help with climate change, you would end up working with smallholder farmers in Africa. That’s where over 80 percent of all the suffering caused by climate change in this century is — smallholder farmers in Africa

The Post: I am struck by the way when you talk about Africa, and the population, you see it as an advantage. What I’m used to hearing is Africa is a menace for the rest of the world, through migration. You see it differently. How do you explain it to the rest of the world that Africa is not this population menace that’s going to overrun us?

Gates: Having half the world’s young people on this continent, you’ve really got to hope those people in terms of innovation, stability and education are contributing to the world instead of just being something you worry about in terms of migration, instability and epidemics that come out of Africa.

From a pure humanitarian basis, those are people, and what we take for granted, all of them should have. If you care about equality, getting rid of extreme poverty should absolutely rise to the top of the list, if you think of other humans in other countries having any importance.

So there is the moral issue. That is an equality driven one. And then there is, “Hey, let’s have this world that’s really stable.” We do know that once you get economies to a certain level, the quality of governance goes up a lot.

Putting it in the positive framework is the right thing to do, and it is how I think of it. It requires pretty broad thinking, and where you get that thinking you don’t get it in the daily news, no matter how enlightened the reporter is. You could have run the headline that 137,000 people exited extreme poverty today. You could have run that headline [for] 25 years every day, and it would have been true news. But what day was that news? It’s kind of this gradual thing. A lot of the ways the world has improved don’t fit this, “Hey, tell me about the latest disaster". Mostly negative things fit that framework.

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Valentine this year just got a lot spider. While most of the fenale lovey dovies are expecting and waiting on a valentine package, the women in Japanese are rebelling against a decades-old Valentine's Day tradition that obliges them to give chocolates to men.

Who would have thought? These chocolates are not given out based on personal or emotional willingness but a must-do act.

On February 14, the nation's female workers are expected to give "giri choco," or obligation chocolates, to their male colleagues. Women are also expected to buy heartfelt chocolates, "honmei choco," for their crushes or loved ones.

"Valentine's Day (in Japan) got turned upside down to become a symbol of the Japanese patriarchy," said Jeff Kingston, a Japan expert at Temple University in Tokyo.

But this year, women are calling time on the financially draining practice.

A recent survey by a Tokyo department store found about 60% of women will instead buy chocolates for themselves on Valentine's Day.

Only 35% planned to offer chocolates to their male colleagues.


Banning giri choco

Last Saturday, the Revolutionary Alliance of Unpopular People (RAUP) staged its 12th annual protest against "romantic capitalism" in Tokyo.

"We're against companies exploiting events like Valentine's Day to push excessive consumer culture and guilt-trip people who aren't in relationships," said Takeshi Akimoto, a member of the tiny fringe group, comprised of nine students and workers.

One of the group's complaints is that Valentine's Day chocolates in the workplace can make some employees feel that their value is determined by how much confectionery they receive.

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- President Muhammadu Buhari, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and other candidates have signed a second peace accord ahead of the Saturday’s presidential election.

- The presidential candidates signed the agreement on Wednesday at the International Conference Centre in Abuja, the nation’s capital.


Those who witnessed the signing includes the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland; former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd); Bishop Mathew Kukah, as well as other members of the National Peace Committee (NPC).


Addressing the gathering shortly after the arrival of the guests, General Abubakar who is also the Chairman of the NPC urged political parties to function as effective actors for peace before, during, and after the elections.


He also called on them to adopt a code of conduct that would promote a peaceful process devoid of rigging.


The former Head of State asked the candidates to use the remaining days left to speak directly to voters and supporters, pleading with them to avoid violence.


According to him, the importance of this is to ensure that there will be no need for Nigeria to invite foreign observers in the future.


The Commonwealth Secretary-General, as well as former Presidents of Liberia, Tanzania, and Botswana among others at the event give goodwill messages.


On the part of the candidates, President Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) called for prayers as the nation goes into the elections in a few days.


The President who is seeking a second term in office also made an appeal to the youths to eschew all forms of violence.


He stressed that the important thing was for candidates to accept the final outcome of the elections, noting that the Independent National Electoral Commission has assured the people of a free and fair exercise.


In his address, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Atiku, quoted former President Goodluck Jonathan, saying that his ambition was not worth the blood of any Nigerian.

He, however, urged the electoral umpire to be fair arbiters for neutrality to prevail.


Atiku equally asked security agencies not to embark on indiscriminate arrests of key officials, days or hours before the elections, saying that was the case in some bye-elections.

He also urged the President to do everything within his power to ensure that the vote of every eligible person counts.

All the presidential candidates had earlier signed the first part of the peace accord in December last year.

President Buhari was accompanied to the signing ceremony by the APC National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, and some top government officials.

Similarly, the PDP National Chairman, Mr. Uche Secondus and the Director-General of PDP Presidential Campaign Council, Senator Bukola Saraki, among other party leaders accompanied Atiku to the event.


See pictures below:










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Thousands of South African workers staged a nationwide demonstration on Wednesday to protest high unemployment and government policies that they say have failed to create jobs and are deepening poverty.


Workers dressed in red t-shirts, showing their loyalty to the trade union movement, gathered in the southeastern port city of Durban, Johannesburg and other locations for open-air rallies three months ahead of the country’s general election.


Companies in South Africa, notably in the mining sector, have shed tens of thousands of jobs in recent years in what unions have termed a “jobs bloodbath” as the economy of Africa’s most industrialized nation struggles for growth.


South Africa has a near-record 27 percent unemployment rate, with trade unions saying 9.3 million employable people need jobs.


Zingiswa Losi, president of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), led the main march in Durban, which was attended by about 6,000 people.


“Today’s march is a national strike and we are marching to (say to the) government and the private sector, we cannot afford to lose jobs in this country,” Losi told reporters at the start of the demonstration.


About 2,000 people attended the Johannesburg rally.


Official statistics released on Tuesday showed that the unemployment rate dropped marginally to 27.1 percent in the last quarter of 2018 from 27.5 percent in the previous quarter.


The drop was largely due to casual workers hired over the Christmas holiday period.


South Africa’s economy grew less than one percent last year and is currently in the grip of its worst electricity cuts in years.


The continent’s largest energy utility Eskom, which has been plagued by debt and mismanagement, plunged the country into darkness this week with rotating black-outs imposed as demand outstripped supply.


COSATU has been a key ally of the ruling ANC party, which is seeking to revive its flagging popularity ahead of elections on May 8, when President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to retain power.


AFP

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