Press spotlights attainment of 100 per cent broadband penetration across Nigeria, others

The report that Nigeria has attained 100 per cent broadband penetration across the country and the plan by the Independent…

The report that Nigeria has attained 100 per cent broadband penetration across the country and the plan by the Independent National Electoral Commission to deploy 707,384 presiding officers for the general elections scheduled to commence on February 25 are some of the leading stories in Nigerian newspapers on Wednesday.The Punch reports that President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, said there was currently 100 per cent broadband penetration across the country.

Buhari disclosed this at the maiden Digital Economy Conference of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, held at the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry complex.

Speaking through the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isah Patami, the President said reports that claimed the country had achieved only 43 per cent broadband penetration were obsolete.

“One of the most richest persons in the world announced that Nigeria, out of the 54 African countries, has outstanding broadband penetration. As I speak to you today, the broadband penetration in Nigeria is 100 per cent,” Buhari stated.

 He explained that from 23 per cent coverage in 2019, the Federal Government had increased the broadband penetration by 77 per cent to 100 per cent in 2023.

“As of today, broadband can be accessed everywhere in the country, whether in the urban area, rural area or desert. We are the first African country to attain this and the only one so far,” the Nigerian President stated.

This came as the President revealed that the communication ministry’s quarterly revenue had grown considerably, adding that “we we moved from generating N51bn in three months to N408bn in three months.”

The newspaper says that the Independent National Electoral Commission will deploy 707,384 presiding officers for the general elections scheduled to commence on February 25.

The commission also said that since electoral education was important, there was a need to infuse it into the National Values Curriculum of primary schools in Nigeria.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, stated these during the public presentation of the Electoral Education Curriculum and Teachers’ Guide for primary schools.

The curriculum which was developed by the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening  – Sustaining Electoral Engagement for Democracy project funded by USAID and FCDO and implemented by National Democratic Institute and IFES, was in partnership with the Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council, INEC (through the Voter Education Department), National Orientation Agency, Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All and academia from across the country.

Okoye said, “We believe that electoral education is important in the goals of our nation. Electoral education is a specialized area and that is why we have this curriculum being infused into the National Values Curriculum in our primary schools.

“For instance, for the 2023 general elections in Nigeria, the commission will deploy a total of 707, 384 presiding officers and assistant presiding officers.

“These presiding officers will be drawn from the crop of young men and women doing their National Youth Service Corps, while the assistant presiding officers will be drawn from students from federal tertiary institutions.

“It is therefore important for us to understand the importance of electoral education in the development of our democracy.

“A national civic education curriculum and teachers’ guide with a specific focus on electoral education will prepare our children for the challenges ahead and also prepare them on how to respect other people’s races and also prepare them to assume leadership in future.”

The Guardian reports that the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has expressed concern over lingering fuel scarcity, warning that it could affect transportation of materials during the general elections.

Consequently, the Commission said it would meet with officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), with a view to mitigating effects.

Yakubu raised the concern, yesterday, when he met with the leadership of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to finalise a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the union in December.

INEC partners NURTW and Marine Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN) to ease movement of materials and officials.

Yakubu said: “The Commission shares your concern about the fuel situation in the country and its impact on transportation on election day. The truth is that our arrangements may be negatively affected by non-availability of products.

“For this reason, the Commission will, this afternoon, meet with NNPCL to look into ways to ameliorate the situation.”

He added: “I wish to assure Nigerians that we will continue to engage every national institution for the success of the 2023 general election.”

This came as Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) declared that INEC has a huge burden to guarantee that Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machines will work in all 176,846 polling units across the country and ensure efficient electronic transmission of results from the polling units.

“This will engender transparency and ensure trust in the electoral process,” CSN said.

The newspaper says that the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have raised concern over Nigeria’s rising debt profile, describing it as a “trap” worsening the country’s crisis-ridden economy and costing the nation foreign assets.

The CSOs, consisting Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Christian Aid, in partnership with Transparency International (TI), noted that Nigeria is currently in a debt crisis, with a fiscal deficit well above the statutory threshold of three per cent, an increasingly unsustainable debt profile, and a rising debt servicing that has been worsened by growing interest rates, among others.

Speaking at a media briefing in Abuja, yesterday, the Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, lamented that the National Assembly has failed in its constitutional duty of checkmating the excesses of the executive arm of government and is, therefore, largely to blame for the current debt crisis.

He said due to the “rubber stamp” attitude of legislators who sign or approve loans that the executive has been taking in the last few years without fully grasping its implication to the economy and generations yet to come, Nigeria is now in a debt trap, as government keeps taking loans from private creditors, hence, deepening the debt crisis and increasing human cost.

Rafsanjani said: “Barely two decades after the buyback deal by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo from the Paris Club debt relief agreement, Nigeria is already in another debt crisis with an inevitable human cost.

“With limited access to further financing on concessional terms and with a growing presence and influence of private creditors in its debt profile, Nigeria’s national debt is growing and increasingly putting the country in a precarious position.”

He said: “Part of the crisis we have is that when the new or incoming legislators come, they hardly get any orientation and that is what CISLAC and Christian Aid will be working on. We will organise orientation on our debt situation, our economic situation, to all the relevant committees.”

Senior Programme Coordinator, Christian Aid, Uzor Uzoma, explained further that most of government’s borrowings are done without recourse to the law. And sadly, the lawmakers do not read through properly to ensure that Constitutional provisions, with regards to borrowings, are adhered to.

She advised Nigerians to get their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and elect worthy leaders in the coming general elections.

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