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Nigeria’s big elections day beckons
15 February 2019, 9:32 PM

Last-minute preparations continue in Nigeria ahead of Saturday’s Presidential elections. It is a day ahead of the election and for many Nigerians the priority is that they pass off peacefully and fairly.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured the over 84 million registered voters of a better conduct of elections this time.

Previous elections have been marred by electoral malpractices and violence during and after the exercise.

Movement of sensitive electoral materials has commenced from state headquarters to the 774 local government areas and the over 120 000 polling units in the country.

Last week, three INEC offices in the South East states of Anambra and Abia, as well as North Central Plateau states, containing voting materials caught fire. But the commission says it has replaced the destroyed items to ensure elections go ahead in the affected areas.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who is seeking a second term in office under the ruling All Progressives Congress, is challenged by over 70 other aspirants including his main opponent and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party.

The campaigns are now officially over and the two major candidates will be hoping they have done enough during several months of rallies across the 36 states and federal capital up until Thursday, 14 February.

Nigeria continues to battle high levels of poverty, insecurity and corruption and these issues are expected to influence the choices of Nigerians as they head to the polls to cast their ballots on Saturday.  Author- Phil Ihaza

Buhari, the 76-year-old leader of Africa’s most populous nation, was elected in 2015 on a wave of hope he could defeat Boko Haram, tackle rampant corruption and boost the economy.

But he faces a stiff challenge from former vice-president Abubakar, 72, amid fears about widening insecurity, claims of creeping authoritarianism and economic incompetence.

Analysts were split over who would win Saturday’s ballot, which is the sixth in the 20 years since Nigeria returned to democracy after decades of miliary rule.

“It’s likely to be very, very tight,” said Nnamdi Obasi, senior Nigeria researcher at the International Crisis Group think-tank.

A record number of 73 candidates are on the ballot but Buhari, from the All Progressives Congress (APC), and Abubakar, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are considered the main contenders.

Over 84 million people are registered to vote — up 18 percent on 2015 and another record, which has been taken as a sign of Nigeria’s developing democracy.

Also up for grabs are 360 seats in the lower House of Representatives and 109 in the Senate.

Nearly 120,000 polling units are set to open at 0700 GMT and close at 1600 GMT.

No date has been given for the results, but an announcement is expected from early next week. -Additional reporting by AFP 

 

EFF to address challenges faced by students: Shivambu
15 February 2019, 6:13 PM

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) deputy president Floyd Shivambu says his party will pull all the stops to ensure that challenges faced by students at tertiary institutions are addressed.

Shivambu engaged students from different tertiary institutions at a mass meeting held at the University of Mpumalanga in Mbombela.

The students raised concerns about a lack of proper accommodation, challenges in registration and protests that lead to disruption of academic activities.

The EFF leadership says 2018’s protests were not in the interests of students. It claims there were external forces fueling the unrest.

 

Pandor seeks to resolve impasse of students blocked from registering
15 February 2019, 5:33 PM

Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor has directed the department to identify students who are blocked from registering for their final year due to outstanding debt.

Pandor instructed her department to work with institutions and ensure they can register and complete their studies. She addressed the media on 12 demands made by the South African Student’s Union.

Pandor says they are addressing the matter of historic debt of  National Student Financial Aid Scheme-qualifying students.

“We are not able as government to immediately resolve the full debt of all studying in the university system. We just don’t have the money. We have decided to prioritise students from poor and working class backgrounds. However, we are developing a policy framework for the regulation of university fees from 2020 onward, in order to ensure that fees are kept at affordable levels for all families that need assistance.”

Pandor says she is dismayed that educational establishments are being shut down due to labour action. Several Technical and Vocational Education and Training colleges in Johannesburg were shut down on Friday by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union.

Disgruntled workers are calling for a pay hike, better salaries and they want members to be given permanent teaching posts. Pandor says she hopes the labour disputes can be amicably resolved.

“I think workers have a right to protest on any matter affecting their particular status, but I’m dismayed at the call to close down educational establishments. I don’t think that should happen. I think it’s important for us as a country and all structures to work hard to support young people to succeed.”

Click below for more about issues in institutions of higher learning : 


SA’s national teams need to win continental titles: Jordaan
15 February 2019, 4:21 PM

South African Football Association (Safa) president Danny Jordaan says the country’s national football teams from the Under-17’s to the Under-20’s and Banyana Banyana should step up and start winning continental titles.

The last time a national team won a continental title was almost 23 years ago.

Bafana Bafana was the last and only national football team to lift a continental title to date when they won the African Cup of Nations trophy in 1996.

Banyana Banyana lost to Nigeria in the African Women’s Championship final in Ghana in 2018, while Amajita were beaten in the semi-finals of the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations by Senegal on Wednesday in Niger.

Jordaan says while the federation is proud of those achievements, it is high time they go all the way and not just reach the finals.

Our national football teams have also been qualifying for major international tournaments.

Banyana Banyana and the Under-20 team will both compete at the FIFA World Cup in France and Poland, respectively.

Jordaan says they have to also try and get past the group stages of those tournaments.

 

Ramaphosa to launch Limpopo ANC manifesto
15 February 2019, 4:04 PM

The African National Congress (ANC) president Cyril Ramaphosa is starting his two-day visit in Thohoyandou, Limpopo, to launch the provincial leg of the ANC manifesto. He will start his engagements by addressing the traditional and religious leaders before a gala dinner on Friday night.

On Saturday, he will address a rally at the Thohoyandou stadium.

Many people in and around Thohoyandou are anticipating to meet President Ramaphosa when he launches the provincial leg of the ANC manifesto despite the continuing rainy conditions.

After the rally on Saturday, President Ramaphosa will visit the bereaved families of the late South African Municipal Workers’ Union senior officials, Ronald Mani and Timmy Musetsho who were gunned down few weeks ago.

Mani and Musetsho were shot and killed by unknown killers for being vocal against the municipal authorities who took public funds meant for service delivery to the now liquidated mutual bank, VBS.

 

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