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President-elect’s party wins majority of Nigeria states in regional vote

Nigeria's President-elect Muhammadu Buhari completes accreditation for the Governorship and House of Assembly election next to his wife Aisha Buhari in Daura, Katsina State, on April 11, 2015 (AFP Photo/Sunday Aghaeze)

Lagos (AFP) – The party of Nigeria's president-elect Muhammadu Buhari has won governorship elections in a majority of Nigeria's 36 states, building its strength nationwide after a historic presidential win, official results on Monday showed.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) claimed at least 21 governor's seats following Saturday's closely-fought regional polls but could add to that tally with results from a handful of states still pending.

President Goodluck Jonathan's People's Democratic Party had controlled the federal and most state governments since the end of military rule in 1999 but suffered major losses during Nigeria's gripping 2015 election cycle.

Jonathan's loss to Buhari in the presidential vote two weeks ago was the first ever democratic change of power at the federal level since Nigeria gained independence from Britain in 1960.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) described the regional vote as "relatively peaceful" while lamenting the 66 separate incidents of violence surrounding the polls.

Governors are influential figures in Nigeria, with near-total control of their states and collective power at a national level to bolster or check the presidency.

The 72-year-old Buhari will be sworn in on May 29 and his administration will likely be helped by having a majority of loyalist governors, including in the economic capital Lagos, where the APC was re-elected after a tough PDP challenge.

Huge defeat in north

The PDP was almost wiped out in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north, Buhari's home region.

The governor of northeast Gombe state, Ibrahim Dankwambo, was the only PDP candidate elected in the region which has been hit hard by Boko Haram's Islamist uprising.

Jonathan, a southern Christian, faced significant pressure to stand aside before the presidential vote and throw his support behind a PDP northern governor, but he insisted on running again, a decision that many experts believe helped fuel the APC's rise.

The PDP lost governorship elections in at least seven northern states it had previously controlled.

In a somewhat unexpected development, Jonathan's party also suffered a string of losses in the religiously divided Middle Belt region, including in states like conflict-scarred Plateau where Jonathan had bested Buhari in the general election.

The APC victories at the weekend further highlighted widespread frustration after 16 years of PDP-dominated government, plagued by unrest and waves of corruption scandals, with much of the nation's vast oil wealth lost through graft.

The regional vote also underscored the stunning rise of the APC, which was founded just two years ago in a coalition that grouped Buhari's northern base with opposition parties that had support in the south.

Taraba state has not yet returned results but remains in the spotlight because it could return a female governor for the first time in Nigeria's history in the shape of Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan.

Flashpoint oil hub

So far, the only state the PDP wrestled away from APC control was the southern, oil-producing hub of Rivers, where tension has been high throughout the election season.

Outgoing Rivers governor Rotimi Amaechi was elected on the PDP ticket in 2011 but defected to the APC in 2013.

The move in a state which borders Jonathan's home of Bayelsa proved costly.

Jonathan won the presidential vote in Rivers with more than 95 percent support, while Amaechi's hand-picked successor for the governor's office, Dakuku Peterside, was trounced by the PDP's Nyesom Wike, who won with 87 percent support.

There were widespread claims from the APC of PDP irregularities in voting in the state at the presidential election, leading to demonstrations and calls for a re-run.

INEC said that Rivers saw the worst unrest during the regional polls, with 16 separate incidents of violence recorded.

The state's information commissioner Ibim Semenitari said of the gubernatorial result: "What happened on Saturday was a rape of democracy. There was no election in Rivers.

"The PDP in connivance with INEC (the electoral commission) and the security agencies merely wrote figures which they have churned out to the public," she told AFP.

She added: "We are going to challenge the results."

Local PDP spokesman Emmanuel Okha, however, said: "The people have spoken. We urge the APC to accept the results in good faith."

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UDC founder warns against merger

19th October 2020
Ex UDC Convener: Mpotokwane

Lebang Mpotokwane, one of the conveners who presided over the opposition cooperation talks that resulted in the formation of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), has advised against changing the current umbrella model in favour of a merger as proposed by others.

The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leader, Dumelang Saleshando recently went public to propose that UDC should consider merging of all opposition parties, including Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Botswana Patriotic Front (BNF).

Saleshando has been vehemently opposed by Botswana National Front (BNF), which is in favour of maintaining the current model.  BNF’s position has been favoured by the founding father of UDC, who warned that it will be too early to ditch the current model.

“UDC should be well developed to promote the spirit of togetherness on members and the members should be taught so that the merger is developed gradually. They should approach it cautiously. If they feel they are ready, they can, but it would not be a good idea,” Mpotokwane told WeekendPost this week.

Mpotokwane and Emang Maphanyane are the two men who have since 2003 began a long journey of uniting opposition parties in a bid to dethrone the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BCP) as they felt it needed a strong opposition to avoid complacency.

Tonota born Mpotokwane is however disappointed on how they have been ejected from participating in the last edition of talks ahead of the 2019 general elections in which BCP was brought on board.  However, despite the ejection, Mpotokwane is not resentful to the opposition collective.

He said the vision of opposition unity was to ultimately merge the opposition parties but he believes time has not arrived yet to pursue that path. “The bigger picture was a total merger and we agreed that with three independent parties, members might be against merger eventuality so the current model should be used until a point where they are now together for as long as possible,” he said.

“UDC should gradually perform better in elections and gain confidence. They should not rush the merger. We have been meeting since 2003, but if they rush it might cause endless problems. If they are ready they can anyway,” he advised. For now the constituent parties of the umbrella have been exchanging salvos with others (BCP and BNF).

“There are good reasons for and against merging the parties. Personally, I am in favour of merging the parties (including AP and BPF) into a single formation but I know it’s a complex mission that will have its own challenges,” Saleshando said when he made his position known a week ago.

“Good luck to those advocating for a merger, it will be interesting to observe the tactics they will use to lure the BPF into a merger,” former BNF councillor for Borakalalo Ward and former BNF Youth League Secretary General, Arafat Khan, opined in relation to BCP’s proposed position.

Mpotokwane, who is currently out in the cold from the UDC since he was ejected from the party’s NEC in 2017, said the current bickering and the expected negotiations with other parties need the presence of conveners.

“We did not belong to any party as conveners so we were objective in our submissions. If party propose any progressive idea we will support, if it is not we will not, so I would agree that even now conveners might be key for neutrality to avoid biasness,” he observed. Despite being abandoned, Mpotokwane said he will always be around to assist if at all he is needed.

“If they want help I will be there, I have always been clear about it, but surely I will ask few questions before accepting that role,” he said. UDC is expected to begin cooperation talks with both AP and BPF either this week or next weekend for both upcoming bye-elections (halted by Covid-19) and 2024 general elections and it is revealed that there will be no conveners this time around.

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BDP attaches Boko’s property

19th October 2020
DUMA BOKO

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) moved through its lawyers to attach the property of Umbrella for Democratic (UDC) President Duma Boko and other former parliamentary contestants who failed in their court bid to overturn the 2019 general elections in 14 constituencies.

WeekendPost has established that this week, Deputy Sheriffs were commissioned by Bogopa Manewe Tobedza and Company who represented the BDP, to attach the properties of UDC elections contents in a bid to recover costs.  High Court has issued a writ of execution against all petitioners, a process that has set in motion the cost recovery measures.

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COVID-19 exposes decay in the education system

19th October 2020
Education Systm

Botswana Sectors of Teachers Union (BOSETU) says COVID-19 as a pandemic has negatively affected the education sector by deeply disrupting the education system. The intermittent lockdowns have resulted in the halting of teaching and learning in schools.

The union indicated that the education system was caught napping and badly exposed when it came to the use of Information System (IT), technological platforms and issues of digitalisation.

“COVID-19 exposed glaring inefficiencies and deficiencies when it came to the use of ITC in schools. In view of the foregoing, we challenge government as BOSETU to invest in school ITC, technology and digitalization,” says BOSETU President Kinston Radikolo during a press conference on Tuesday.

As a consequence, the union is calling on government to prioritise education in her budgeting to provide technological infrastructure and equipment including provision of tablets to students and teachers.

“Government should invest vigorously in internet connectivity in schools and teacher’s residences if the concept of flexi-hours and virtual learning were to be achieved and have desired results,” Radikolo said.

Radikolo told journalists that COVID-19 is likely to negatively affect final year results saying that the students would sit for the final examinations having not covered enough ground in terms of curriculum coverage.

“This is so because there wasn’t any catch up plan that was put in place to recover the lost time by students. We warn that this year’s final examination results would dwindle,” he said.

The Union, which is an affiliate of Botswana Federation of Public, Private and Parastatal Union (BOFEPUSU), also indicated that COVID-19’s presence as a pandemic has complicated the role of a teacher in a school environment, saying a teacher’s role has not only transcended beyond just facilitating teaching and learning, but rather, a teacher in this COVID-19 era, is also called upon to enforce the COVID-19 preventative protocols in the school environment.

“This is an additional role in the duty of a teacher that needs to be recognized by the employers. Teachers by virtue of working in a congested school environment have become highly exposed and vulnerable to COVID-19, hence the reason why BOSETU would like teachers to be regarded as the frontline workers with respect to COVID-19,” says Radikolo.

BOSETU noted that the pandemic has in large scales found its way into most of the school environments, as in thus far more than 50 schools have been affected by COVID-19. The Union says this is quite a worrying phenomenon.

“As we indicated before when we queried that schools were not ready for re-opening, it has now come to pass that our fears were not far-fetched. This goes out to tell that there is deficiency in our schools when it comes to putting in place preventative protocols. In our schools, hygiene is compromised by mere absence of sanitizers, few hand-washing stations, absence of social distancing in classes,” the Union leader said.

Furthermore, Radikolo stressed that the shifting system drastically increased the workload for teachers especially in secondary schools. He says teachers in these schools experience very high loads to an extent that some of them end up teaching up to sixty four periods per week, adding that this has not only fatigued teachers, but has also negatively affected their performance and the quality of teaching.

In what the Union sees as failure to uphold and honour collective agreements by government, owing to the shift system introduced at primary schools, government is still in some instances refusing to honour an agreement with the Unions to hire more teachers to take up the extra classes.

“BOSETU notes with disgruntlement the use of pre-school teachers to teach in the mainstream schools with due regard for their specific areas of training and their job descriptions. This in our view is a variation of the terms of employment of the said teachers,” says Radikolo.

The Union has called on government to forthwith remedy this situation and hire more teachers to alleviate this otherwise unhealthy situation. BOSETU also expressed concerns of some school administrators who continuously run institutions with iron fists and in a totalitarian way.

“We have a few such hot spot schools which the Union has brought to attention the Ministry officials such as Maoka JSS, Artesia JSS, and Dukwi JSS. We are worried that the Ministry becomes sluggish in taking action against such errant school administration. In instances where action is taken, such school administrators are transferred and rotated around schools.”

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