The major headlines from mainstream newspapers today, Friday, August 17, are focused on President Muhammadu Buhari’s pledge, that he will not interfere with INEC as 2019 approaches; the UN report that the federal government paid a huge ransom to secure the release of the Dapchi schoolgirls; the National Economic Council's plan to decentralize police operations and the deadlock in the National Assembly, over INEC's budget for the 2019 elections.
This Day is reporting that as the 2019 general elections approach, President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that he would not interfere with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); before, during and after the elections.
Buhari’s position was expressed by his special adviser on political matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, while reading the president’s speech at the 2018 edition of the Annual Nigerian Political Parties Summit which took place on Thursday, August 16, in Abuja.
The president also gave an undertaking that he would ensure that the 2019 elections are free, fair and credible.
He said: “Today, I pledge to Nigeria, my country to promote free fair and credible election devoid of any form of interference in the activities of INEC, to ensure security and promote a violence free election devoid of animosity and hate speeches, to abide by the extant laws governing political parties and adhere strictly to the code of conduct of political parties in Nigeria. So help me God.”
Vanguard is however reporting that the United Nations released an analytical report on Thursday, in which it stated that the Nigerian federal government paid a huge sum as ransom to Boko Haram insurgents, to secure the release of the Dapchi school girls who were kidnapped on February 18, 2018.
The report, submitted to the Security Council Committee pursuant to Resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) concerning ISIL (Da’esh), Al-Qaeda and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities, also revealed that cash economy was a major factor fueling the activities of Boko Haram and other terrorist groups in the Lake Chad Basin region.
This was contained in the 22nd Report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, pursuant to Resolution 2368 (2017) concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – ISIL – (Da’esh), Al-Qaeda and associated individuals and entities.
On its part, Punch is focused on the deadlock in the National Assembly, over the budget for the 2019 general elections.
The publication reports that the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, has been re-invited by the Assembly’s joint committee on INEC, to further clarify discrepancies noticed in the budget.
This is as a result of the inability of members of the joint committee from the Senate and the House of Representatives to reconcile disparities between the N189bn budget submitted by the electoral body and the N143bn contained in the President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter to the National Assembly on the same subject.
The development was made public by the chairman of the committee, Senator Suleiman Nazif, following a closed-door session of the joint committee, which started at about 3pm and ended at 4:30pm in the Senate, on Thursday.
Moving on to a different subject, The Guardian is reporting that the National Economic Council (NEC) on Thursday, resolved to decentralise police operations across the country, in order to curb insecurity.
The development was reportedly made public by the national security adviser, Babagana Monguno, following a meeting presided over by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said: “The council decided that a committee would be set up with representation from each of the geo¬political zones, chaired by the inspector-general of police, so that we find ways of decentralising police operations, so that there will be greater access to information.
“Handling this situation will be easier rather than a centralised and cumbersome approach.”
The Nation is also mirroring the position of the previous publication, with its focus on the plans by NEC, to decentralise police operations.
The publication adds that the NSA, Babagana Monguno, also stated that Nigeria is facing abnormal security challenges, which he said cannot be tackled within a short a time.
He said: “I briefed on behalf of the security agencies both operational and intelligence. I gave a general overview of the security situation in the country, the current situation and the trends and also the challenges that we are confronted with.
“These threats are increasingly asymmetric in nature and I stressed the need to deal with these problems in a more collective manner.
“It is true that it is the responsibility of the security agencies to deal with these threats, but the complexities of insecurity in the 21st century are such that you need a whole of government and a whole of society approach in dealing with these issues.”
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