Press Release 8th November 2010.
The Save Nigeria Group Global (UK), the United Kingdom affiliate of Save Nigeria Group, wishes to thank all those who attended our event on Saturday, 6th November 2010: Project 2011: Towards a New Nigeria in South East London. Our special thanks goes to the keynote speakers Kayode Ogundamisi convener of the Nigeria Liberty Forum UK, and Mr. Mike Igini (Cross River State INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner). Weâ€™d also like to thank Peter Cunliffe- Jones AFP news editor and author, representatives of Buhari Campaign Organization, Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organization and Team Ribadu (Representatives of Ribadu Campaign Organization).
The event was well attended by both Nigerians and friends of Nigerians, and featured a passionate and informative presentation by Kayode Ogundamisi, who made many salient points on the fight against corruption, emphasizing that it takes very little effort for the citizen to contribute, for example, little acts such as researching land registry records to establish which Nigerian politicians or officials own property aboard. He also pointed out the benefits of the new media to anti corruption activists, observing that the many publishing houses were owned by the self same politicians that were accused of corruption, thus the use of social networking, web forums and emails to disseminate accounts from citizen journalists were a credible alternative to the traditional media.
Mike Igini made a valuable contribution to the event answering many of the burning questions Nigerians in London had about the electoral process, and how they could take part. In a keen interactive session with the audience he outlined the plans INEC has for ensuring the elections in 2011 were not just free and fair but were seen to be so. He mentioned several new techniques such as using all 10 fingers for the biometric scan as opposed to just the thumbprint and the plan to use video cameras in each polling station. He also emphasized the independence of INEC in terms of funding coming from the National Assembly, as opposed to the Presidency and tenure security being guaranteed by the Constitution. On election monitoring, INECâ€™s plans to include civil society in all phases of the election process from voter registration to party primaries to the elections themselves were extremely well received. He also outlined some of the problems being faced by INEC such as salary structure, a lack of funds for some of the programmes and all so the pernicious influence of contractors and interested parties in the running of INEC.
Several questions from the floor to the INEC representative concerned the personal integrity of some INEC Commissioners with the former Ekiti Commissioner as a point in case, and also a suggestion that political parties be asked to fund some of the costs of election monitoring. There were also fervent pleas for INEC to clarify the criteria by which NGOâ€™s and individuals can participate in monitoring the electoral process.
The final segment involved giving the representatives of several aspiring presidential candidates 5 minutes to speak and then face questions from a panel consisting of Peter Cunliffe-Jones, Abby Ojo, Chinedu Vincent Akuta, Mike Igini and Kayode Ogundamisi. Henry Oriabure of Team Ribadu went first, followed by Charles Sylvester of Goodluck4Nigerians Movement and then Anthony Akabogu for the Buhari campaign. Each was given 5 minutes to represent their candidates and then faced questions from the floor. Such was the heat and level of questioning that the moderator was forced to step in and call a halt to proceedings. The key questions from the floor and panel revolved around the paucity of concrete policies or plans from each of the candidates with each representative merely emphasizing â€˜track recordâ€™ or â€˜personal integrityâ€™. It was highlighted to each representative that Nigerians have to know what exactly each candidate plans to do upon taking office and also that once the primaries are over nothing short of a Presidential candidate debate both in Nigeria and the UK would satisfy prospective voters.
In conclusion the SNG UK again thanked all participants and emphasized that the key to changing Nigeria, was for all Nigerians to continue to affirm that they are Proud to Be Nigerian and stand up against corruption whether in the home at work or in public offices. It was also observed that it is not enough to simply sit down and wait for others to get involved, everyone has a part to play and can play a part. The event ended with a rousing rendition of the Nigerian National Anthem
Chinedu Vincent Akuta (Spokesperson)
Save Nigeria Group (UK)
Notes to editors
- Save Nigeria Group was formed in early 2010 by UK based Nigerian activist groups seeking to ensure that true democratic and accountable government takes hold at all levels in Nigeria
- These groups affiliated SNG UK with Dr Tunde Bakareâ€™s SNG Nigeria in a meeting in London on 20/07/2010
- SNG UK is a coalition of the following groups; Champions For Nigeria, Arise Nigeria, Unity and Positive Change In Nigeria, Support Option A4 Group, GAIN Network Organization, Rally For Nigeria,Citizens For Change Global and Transform Nigeria Movement.
- SNG UK is a non partisan, non tribal, non religious group dedicated to returning Nigeria to a truly democratic and competent system of government
- Kayode Ogundamisi is the convener of Nigeria Liberty Forum, Mike Igini is the Cross Rivers State Commissioner for Nigeriaâ€™s Independent National Election Commission, Peter Cunliffe-Jones is former Nigeria correspondent and is currently news Editor for AFP and author of â€˜My Nigeria: Five Decades of Independenceâ€™
- The current spokesperson is Chinedu Vincent Akuta of Support Option A4. Spokespersons are voted from the Executive committee annually.
- Other organizations who attended the meeting were Nigeria Arise Now, Better Nigeria International, Nigeria Disaster Emergency Fund