Inauguration Of APC Legal Compliance Committee For Federal & States Elective Positions
ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA AT THE INAUGURATION OF THE LEGAL COMPLIANCE COMMITTEE OF THE APC NATIONAL CAMPAIGN COUNCIL AT THE BANQUET HALL ON THE 13TH OF FEBRUARY, 2023.
It is my special pleasure to be with you this afternoon for the inauguration of the Legal Compliance Committee of our great party. I am happy that the National Legal Adviser has covered the role of the Campaign Committee. I will only buttress the points he has made. I am also happy, of course, that there is breakout session and working session, where a lot more will be done right after this formal opening ceremony. The formation of this Legal Compliance Committee is very crucial to the achievement of our party’s electoral ambitions for all the elections, the National Elections and State Elections.
Those of you who have worked with us in the build-up to the 2015 and the 2019 general elections know that the proactive approach that we adopted through the ear-on-the-ground work of the Presidential Legal Team has provided us with a crucial head-start in tackling some of the challenges that we were confronted with.
And I want to just emphasise some of what Mr Festus Keyamo has said about the losses of our party, and we have made many huge losses. A lot of reasons why there are losses were because people hardly listen to lawyers before they take their steps. This is why we lose. Take for instance, the case of Zamfara State for example, I intervened several times to try and resolve the issues to make sure things were done, but politicians are always optimistic no matter what the circumstances, they believe that nothing would ever go wrong.
But we have seen how things can go so disastrously wrong in places like Zamfara State, where we won every single election and lost every single one in court. So, the best we can do is to be as proactive as possible in the process and again the process we are involved in today is the one that is almost ready if you see what I mean. Any mistakes that have been made prior to this, we just have to start thinking of how to deal with them. Between now, the elections and after the election, we have a proactive role to play and half the time we have to go out seeking for information; information is not going to come to us. You can be sure by the way this thing works, you have to really go out and say look I need to know what you are doing, and know what is happening here and there and then do the best we can to resolve.
I am therefore glad that we have here an assembly of very committed members of the party, who by their calling as lawyers, will be able to offer tremendous support for the party through protection of its interests at every step of this electoral process.
In the choice of those here it is evident a lot of thinking would have been done. You are not selected just because you might be party members, but we are concerned that we have a team that has worked with us very well.
For this election, every polling unit, in fact, every single ballot box is important for each and every one of our candidates in over 1,400 elective positions at both Federal and State levels across the country. While that aspect of the process is being safeguarded by our agents, ensuring that the process through which our candidates get elected is above-board and the success of our candidates is our responsibility, especially from the legal angle.
FUNCTIONS OF THE LEGAL COMPLIANCE COMMITTEE
First, it is the expectation of our party that at all levels will among other things:
a. Insulate the campaign of the party at all levels against breaches of rules and regulations, guidelines, and laws by ensuring strict compliance thereof;
b. Ensure that all internal structures of the party and external engagements of the party are conducted in accordance with established operating procedures and the law. Electoral laws and INEC guidelines we need to look at the extant laws.
c. Act as liaison for all regulatory bodies and maintain relationships with relevant legal bodies and associations;
d. Monitor and keep the party abreast of regulatory developments, initiatives, and requirements; and
e. Develop compliance checklists and protocols, conduct training for campaign personnel, and prepare compliance reports for the party.
I just want to emphasise on BVAS briefly. BVAS is a new device also which we need to understand very well because I am absolutely certain it will be the source of legal contention during the course of this election.
The card reader presented serious legal problems in practically every one of the major cases as how to use the card readers, whether it was used properly, whether the results are relevant, and all sorts of legal problems. But the BVAS is even more complex because this is supposed to accredit and report results.
This is a very important thing and it is electronic. We need to look at all the issues concerning it. We saw what happened in Osun State and we need to get a report from INEC so we have a better understanding of what happened in Osun State. For us, it favoured our party in the final result of the tribunal. Initially, there was an INEC report, and the same INEC produced the BVAS in court, BVAS apparently shows a different set of facts.
It is a complex thing, what happens if BVAS shows something completely different and if the BVAS had been the one that was tendered and shows we lost the election? Whereas the first report they gave shows we won the election and we need to study this very closely to see the Osun election and the result as a test case for us to be sure of what to be looking out for in the whole BVAS thing.
I think is so crucial and it would be the subject of contention in all practically all the elections. We need to understand and as much as possible, we need to be briefed about it, whatever we need to do in this meeting or subsequent meeting to do, I am sure our National Legal Adviser will be on top of this and we need to be briefed if we can bring in technical people who can show us how this works. As lawyers, we need to be able to prepare our minds for and if there are disputes, we need to understand them very well.
In all the electoral tribunal cases I have personally handled, I found out the understanding of lawyers about the electoral process is critical and decides how the whole process goes, the understanding of lawyers of what transpires. So, the questions you ask during cross-examination and in this case, there is a new electoral device in the election that will define the fate of the election.
We need to show a great deal of interest in understanding the process. People keep asking, why the APC? APC is not different from PDP, APC is not different from other parties. What is the issue with this APC? This is not a progressive party as we expected it should be.
I want to make the point that ours is the only party founded on social democracy, and social protection i.e social mobility for the poor, and justice for the wronged. Our manifesto in 2014, 2019 and now 2023, contains the most comprehensive Social Investment Policy.
In 2015, we became the first government to make a budgetary provision of N500billion for a comprehensive Social Investment Programme. We went out to do what we said would do. Feeding of 9.5 million children in our Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, being fed every day, providing jobs for 500,000 unemployed graduates through our N-Power programme, with many deployed to primary schools in the hinterland as teachers, others trained under the N-TECH and N-BUILD.
We tried to do what was required to ensure that we had a serious social investment policy and programme. Our GEEP programme provided informal traders with small loans, TraderMoni, MarketMoni, and FarmerMoni programmes.
We also built up the Conditional Cash Transfer programme where we are giving in a home, about N20,000 along with the World Bank and local communities. We compiled a register of the poorest Nigerians and began a programme of giving them monthly stipends and also livelihood training for every household that will give the money. Now, we have a comprehensive social register working with the World Bank, working with UNICEF and other organizations, of over 30million of the poorest Nigerians properly done, and properly documented.
Our opponents criticized us for providing money for the poor to do their business, that is what they did. In fact, the PDP wanted to scrap the programme as soon as they won the election but they did not win and we said to them, we are the only party committed to lifting the poor out of poverty. And that we are also accountable for what we do.
The TraderMoni and other GEEP programmes were managed by the Bank of Industry from day one. They created a platform for it and that platform is now called the Growth Platform. It has won several awards, including two African Bankers Awards, also won recognition from the World Trade Organisation, and awards from the World Bank.
People say with TradeMoni, we just went out giving money, but no nobody distributed money. It was the Bank of Industry that disbursed the money and the people got money on their phones through an alert. All loans are trackable and the entire process is completely auditable if you want to audit. We went to the command centre; we are able to call people would have taken loans. They were able to reply, and we have their photographs and everything. It is auditable and that is why the World Bank has accepted it and more or less endorsed it. Even for their other programmes, it is our Growth Platform that they use. Even for their other Micro-credit programme.
This is the largest microcredit programme in Sub-Sahara Africa. And we must be able to say to anyone that we are dodged in our progressive left-of-centre ideology. We are the true representatives of the poor.
Unfortunately, many times we ourselves do not express our ideological position. The only thing we ever hear is that one politician has crossed over, another one is dodging EFCC and he is now in our camp. And all those kinds of things, that is what makes the news.
I think as a party and the reason why I am making this point because as lawyers, we must be able to demonstrate why our party is superior to any other party and it is up to us to be able to say this of course you know it is an issue which should concern our party and we should talk about it a lot more.
I have had a cause, over the years, to articulate just how much we, the APC administration, have been able to achieve in the pursuit of this vision and contribution despite enormous economic challenges that the world has faced over the course of our tenure, the COVID-19 and two recessions. These are achievements known to even our detractors, though they admit so only behind closed doors.
Knowing where we were in 2014, the challenges we were able to overcome, and knowing the very likely danger of reversal of all that has been achieved by the Buhari administration, our Governors in the States, and our Legislators at the National and State levels, cannot afford to be nonchalant, rather we have to be proactive.
I congratulate you all for this recognition and urge you to remain committed to the critical assignment that is placed before us. Watch out for surprises, last-minute court proceedings and orders. Document in a systematic way all the acts observed that could serve as evidence for candidates. Please familiarise yourself with the functions and functioning of this BVAS. We are going to do the best we can to supply whatever information we have so that you are technically competent as the operators of the equipment itself.
It is now my very special pleasure to inaugurate the legal compliance committee of the Presidential Campaign Council of the APC.