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AFRICA: DRC’s President Tshisekedi reshuffles cabinet ahead of election

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi has appointed the country’s former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, who was imprisoned for more than 10 years for war crimes, as defence minister in a sweeping government reshuffle.

His appointment was part of an overhaul of the 57 member-cabinet, which the president’s spokesperson said was “urgent and necessary”, in an announcement on national television late on Thursday. No further details were given.

The reshuffle, which was more extensive than observers had predicted, comes just months before a presidential election on December 20, in which Tshisekedi is likely to seek a second term.

“This a deeply political shuffle,” said Jason Stearns, director of the Congo Research Group and professor at Canada’s Simon Fraser University.

Presidential candidates are expected to be announced next October, with a final list due in November. One likely challenger for the presidency is Martin Fayulu, who claimed victory in the 2018 poll. Another is Moise Katumbi, former governor of the oil-rich Katanga province.

Tshisekedi appointed Vital Kamerhe, his former chief of staff who was released from prison in December 2021 following an embezzlement conviction, as economy minister.

Nicolas Kazadi was maintained as finance minister.

The appointments bring political heavyweights into the government, strengthening Tshisekedi’s coalition before elections, Stearns said.

“Key positions are given to senior politicians who have large constituencies to please but little expertise in their new ministries. Kamerhe is not an economist. Bemba was a rebel but has little formal military training,” he said.

Kamerhe, an influential Congolese power broker, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2020 for embezzling nearly $50m from a presidential economic programme. He denied the charges.

His sentence was reduced to 13 years on appeal the following year but a higher court overturned the judgement in June 2022.

Bemba, a former rebel leader was arrested in 2008 by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by his troops in the Central African Republic between 2002 and 2003.

He was acquitted and released 10 years later after his conviction was reversed on appeal. He was, however, accused and convicted on lesser charges of witness tampering during the trial.

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2023 Polls: Google Debuts Nigeria Elections Trends Hub

In support of the upcoming 2023 Presidential elections, Google has unveiled a new portal, the Nigeria Elections Trends Hub, that will provide a platform for Nigerians to search and discover trending interests related to the presidential and vice presidential candidates, parties, and issues through the lens of Google Trends.

The page, which can be accessed on the Google Trends website https://google/NigeriaElectionTrends, allows users to compare the search popularity of the presidential candidates and trending questions being asked about them. The portal features maps and graphs displaying the candidates’ search interest over 30 days.

This is a part of a broader initiative by Google to support the 2023 elections, which also includes training for new and media publishers on how to effectively use YouTube to tell election stories and training from the Google News Lab to help journalists learn how to use search and other Google tools for better storytelling, including data visualization, verification and fact-checking.

As Nigeria celebrates 24 years of Democracy in the upcoming elections, Google’s mission to organise and make the world’s information universally accessible and useful is more relevant than ever.

Communications and Public Affairs Manager for West Africa, Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, said, “We want Nigerians to be empowered with information during the upcoming elections, so we’re organising information to make it easy for voters to learn more about the candidates through the eyes of Google Trends. More accessible and useful political information improves the political process and leads to greater citizen participation.”

The Nigeria Elections Trends Hub will help voters make more informed decisions at the polls, and have a greater voice in the political process. “We’re empowering voters so that they are not simply watching from afar, but participating, engaging with and shaping the political process in a democratic way,” added Kola-Ogunlade.

Google is committed to making search useful for Nigerians, and the Nigeria Elections Trends Hub is one of many initiatives that we are undertaking to support the 2023 elections, including training for new and media publishers and support for journalists, to help them tell more engaging stories.

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ECOWAS Mission Observes the Legislative Elections in Benin

The Election Observation Mission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS–EOM) to the Legislative Elections in the Republic of Benin, led by H.E. Raimundo Pereira, former President of the Republic of Guinea Bissau, observed the Legislative Elections in Benin, today January 8, 2023.

ECOWAS deployed forty (40) Election Observers to all the capitals of the twelve (12) Administrative Departments in Benin to monitor the electoral process.

Generally, the election was conducted in a calm and peaceful atmosphere

Speaking after observing the election process in Cotonou, H.E. Raimundo Pereira, Head of the ECOWAS-EOM, thanked the people and government of the Republic of Benin for a peaceful election. “Generally, the election was conducted in a calm and peaceful atmosphere”, he added.

The Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government is determined to accompany the people and the government of the Republic of Benin through the Legislative Elections in line with the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance of 2001.

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We Must be Efficient in Service Delivery- Ruto

President William Ruto has asked Cabinet Secretaries to act fast to deliver on the administration’s development programmes.

The President said the government must deliver on its mandate with speed and efficiency.

“We made important promises to the people of Kenya, especially those at the bottom of the economic pyramid. And we must deliver,” he said.

There are no excuses; we must work as a team and drive the interests of the people

“There are no excuses; we must work as a team and drive the interests of the people.”

He was speaking at a Cabinet Retreat on the implementation of the Government’s development priorities for 2023 in Nyeri County.

The President said the Government welcomes oversight and will protect the interests and resources of the people.

He called on the CSs and PSs to be progressive and revolutionary in their approach to serving the country.

“We must not become hostages of processes and bureaucracy. Let us be defined by decisions and results.”

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Politics: Wike, Ortom, Ikpeazu, Ugwuanyi storm Ibadan for Makinde 2nd term flag-off campaign (Photos)

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike on Thursday led the G5 Governors to storm Ibadan, Oyo State for the flag-off of the re-election campaign of Governor Seyi Makinde.

Large crowd at the rally in Ibadan
Large crowd at the rally in Ibadan

Other G5 governors at the event held at the Mapo Hall, Ibadan, were: Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu; Benue State, Samuel Ortom and Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.

Ortom and Wike on their way to the rally
Ortom and Wike on their way to the rally

The G5 governors came to the venue around 1.00 am to show solidarity for Makinde’s re-election.

Large crowd at the rally in Ibadan, Oyo State
Large crowd at the rally in Ibadan, Oyo State

Also present were party faithful from 33 local governments of the state.

Also at the event were the former Governor of Ekiti, Ayodele Fayose, and former Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko.

The major roads leading to Mapo hall were jam-packed with party loyalists from all the 33 Local Government Areas of state, while the security operatives made serious efforts to control the crowd.

Note: Photo Credit: Port Harcourt Political Affairs

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AFRICA: Tanzania president lifts six-year ban on political rallies

Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan lifted a ban on political rallies on Tuesday, six-and-a-half years after her predecessor John Magufuli imposed the measure which caused frequent run-ins between opposition leaders and police.

Under the policy, which came into force in 2016, elected politicians were allowed to conduct rallies in their constituencies but other political rallies or protests were banned.

“I am here to declare that the ban on political rallies has been lifted. It is the right of political parties to hold rallies but we all have responsibilities,” Hassan told leaders of Tanzania’s 19 registered political parties during a meeting at her office in the capital Dar es Salaam.

“Just inform us as the laws require. Security organs will evaluate your requests. If there is any threat, they won’t allow you, but for the step we are in right now, they will definitely allow you to conduct your rallies.”

Hassan, who came to office after Magufuli died in March 2021, said her decision to lift the ban was part of her strategy of Reconciliation, Resilience, Reforms, and Rebuilding the nation, dubbed 4Rs.

She has lifted a ban on four newspapers and during a visit to Brussels last year she met Tundu Lissu, an exiled opposition leader.

Opposition parties and civil rights groups criticized Magufuli’s ban, which resulted in frequent arrests of political figures and clashes between their supporters and police.

Freeman Mbowe, the head of Tanzania’s leading opposition party CHADEMA, was arrested in July 2021. He was charged with terrorism but prosecutors dropped the case in March 2022 and he met Hassan hours after his release.

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POLITICS: Funke Akindele, other celebrities contesting in 2023 elections

Slowly but surely, more showbiz personalities in Nigeria keep joining the world of politics. In the past, we’ve seen the likes of Nollywood stars like Desmond Elliot, Kate Henshaw, Richard Mofe-Damijo (RMD) and Mercy Johnson get into government office.

Now, The Electoral Act of 2022 has set the stage for free, fair, and democratic elections in Nigeria in 2023, and it appears more Nollywood stars are set to run for the elections.

Below is a list of some celebrities who have taken up the challenge to be in active politics Africa’s most populous nation prepares to hold its seventh consecutive general election since the country returned to democracy in 1999.

The 44-year-old actress, popularly known as “Jenifa” for her performance in Jenifa’s Diary, could be hanging up her acting boots.

The actor and producer were recently unveiled as the PDP Deputy-Governor candidate in Lagos State.

As expected, this came as a shock to many as the actress seemed focused on her acting career and has little or no political background.

At the premiering of her latest project titled “Battle of Buka Streets’ in Lagos this month, Funke said she believes people should be about tired of seeing her face and should be bracing for new faces.

“This is the reason I sponsored and championed this project “Battle on Buka Street”. It would be my parting gift to my fans and the movie industry in general. I’m taking to politics full time as I strongly believe I’m the incoming Deputy governor of Lagos State,” she said.

Tonto Dikeh

She was recently unveiled as the running mate of Rivers State Governorship Candidate, Tonte Ibraye under the umbrella of the African Democratic Party (ADP).

The actress said the ADC would invest “massively in social protection” in Rivers State if they are elected.

Dikeh might just be the next Rivers State Deputy-Governor if ADP wins the elections.

Banky W

Mr. Wellington who is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) House of Representatives candidate for Eti-Osa Federal Constituency, joined the PDP in April 2022.

This was after losing to APC in the 2019 House of Representative elections for the Eti-Osa constituency.

He won the PDP primary ticket for the same constituency in the Federal House of Representatives ahead of the 2023 general election.

In 2019, he contested under the Modern Democratic Party (MDP).

The Nigerian musician known in real life as Olubankole Wellington has given reason for his switch from entertainment to politics.

According to him, his decision to join politics was driven by his desire for good governance in the country.

“As long as I have been relevant in the art world, music, film and as a small entrepreneur, I have always been very vocal about the need for good governance and the need for young people to participate in politics,” he said in an interview on local tv morning show.

Desmond Elliott

Nollywood actor, Desmond Elliot won the Surulere Constituency 1 seat in April 2015 and was nominated for the second term. He won the ticket for a third term in 2023 unopposed on the ticket of the All Progressive Congress (APC) political party.

Odi Okojie

Real Estate entrepreneur cum-politician, Odi Okojie is the husband of popular Nigerian Actress, Mercy Johnson.

He recently won the All Progressives Congress ticket for a House of Representatives seat for Edo State.

Okojie is set to represent Esan North East/ South East federal constituency if he wins at the 2023 general elections.

Ned Nwoko

Businessman and politician, Ned Nwoko will contest at the 2023 general elections as a PDP senatorial candidate for Delta North district.

Ned Nwoko is not just known as a businessman, but also as husband to popular Nollywood actress, Regina Daniels.

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My Mission in Politics is to Serve -Dayo Ogunwobi

Ogunwobi Dayo is a Politician, Businessman, Philanthropist, Manager, and Visionary Leader, who has worked in spheres of knowledge both in Nigeria and the United Kingdom such as Oil and Gas, Housing. He also worked as a Housing practitioner with several charities and Local Authorities in the UK.

He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing and also an alumnus of Birkbeck University of London

He recently launched his political ambition aspiring for the House of Representatives on the platform of ACCORD PARTY to represent the people of Ogbomosho North/South/Orire federal constituency.

From all indications, his political aspiration is gathering momentum, considering the fact that he has been shown massive love by his constituents when he embarked on a familiarization tour in the constituency. They reportedly promised to show their appreciation for his kind gestures by supporting him in representing them in the lower chamber.
While speaking with journalists in Ibadan recently, Dayo pointed out that democracy is a government of the people, by the people who must govern with the interests of the masses at heart.

Therefore, the dividends of democracy are simply the benefits enjoyed by the masses who voted for the government in power and it is this that facilitates his aspiration.

I am ready to serve the people of Ogbomosho North/South/Orire federal constituency for cogent reasons.

First of all, I was born in Ogbomosho, Ogbomosho North precisely, nurtured and educated in the same place; i.e. my primary and secondary education, and so I know the feelings of my people…

They need a proactive and positive change that will enhance their aspirations. I did not just wake up one day, saying I want to be a Rep; it was due to several years of observations, consultations, and understanding of our needs. He stated.

Dayo assures good representation, transparency, openness, and provision of basic infrastructures that are lagging in our communities and makes the constituent happy beyond human comprehension.

I will ensure that the artisans are empowered with the needed tools to work with and a designed loan scheme in my constituency. I also hope to support the education sector by giving textbooks, and exercise books and paying examination fees to relieve their parents. He assured

If voted into power, I hope to work with my leaders to ensure that the welfare of our people is taken care of. He extends his appreciation to all the leaders in his constituency for their support.

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European Union to deploy an Election Observation Mission to Nigeria

In response to the invitation by the Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria, the European Union has decided to deploy an EU Election Observation Mission (EOM) to observe the general elections scheduled for 25 February and 11 March 2023.

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, has appointed Barry Andrews, Member of the European Parliament, as Chief Observer for the EOM to Nigeria. The EU previously deployed Election Observation Missions to Nigeria for the 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019 elections.

It is our hope that Nigerians will be able to cast their vote in a peaceful environment

High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell said: “These elections will be crucial for the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria, and for the stability of the region. This is the sixth time that the EU deploys an election observation mission to Nigeria, reflecting our commitment to work together to consolidate democracy in the country. The elections are set to be competitive and will take place in a challenging security context. It is our hope that Nigerians will be able to cast their vote in a peaceful environment and that any challenges or disputes will be solved through dialogue or through available legal remedies.”

The Chief Observer Barry Andrews said: “I am very pleased to have been entrusted with the responsibility for leading this EU Election Observation Mission. The mission is taking place during a period of time when democracy around the globe is in decline. The forthcoming General Elections are therefore not only a key moment in Nigeria’s democratic development but also important to the future of democracy in West Africa and the continent at large. I am looking forward to meeting with electoral stakeholders that are playing important roles in the ongoing electoral process.”


The EU EOM will provide a comprehensive, independent and impartial assessment of the electoral process based on international and regional standards for democratic elections. The Core Team of the EU EOM consists of 11 election experts who will arrive in Abuja during the first half of January. Towards the end of January, 40 long-term observers will join the mission to be deployed across the country and follow the electoral campaign. Thereafter, short-term observers from the EU diplomatic community as well as Canada, Norway and Switzerland will reinforce the mission during election day. The EU EOM will remain in the country until the completion of the electoral process.

In line with the EU election observation methodology, the mission will issue a preliminary statement and hold a press conference in Abuja after the election day. The final report, which will include a set of recommendations for future electoral processes, will be presented after the finalisation of the entire electoral process.

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RESAO Holds Symposium on Credible Elections in West Africa

Restoring the Sanctity and Integrity of the Vote” is the theme of a symposium held on 12 December 2022 in Grand Bassam, Cote d’Ivoire, for electoral actors in West Africa. It was held as a prelude to a General Assembly of the Network of Election Management Bodies in West Africa (RESAO).

The fight to establish integrity of the vote is an existential one, not only for electoral administrations but also for all who long to live in a free society

In addition to addresses delivered by IDEA and GIZ representatives, the Chair of RESAO steering committee and Chairman of Cote d’Ivoire’s Independent Electoral Commission, Mr Ibrahime Kuibert-Coulibaly stated that “…RESAO wished to examine enablers that help ensure the protection of the voter’s vote during elections and shield the voter’s vote from fraud.’’

Speaking in turn, H.E Mrs. Fanta Cisse, ECOWAS Resident Representative in Cote d‘Ivoire noted that “the fight to establish the integrity of the vote is an existential one, not only for electoral administrations but also for all who long to live in a free society with freedom of expression.’’

It is worth noting that the symposium was attended by Chairmen of National Electoral Com-missions of ECOWAS Member States, members of Election Management Bodies in West Africa, and electoral experts

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