Naija will continue to stagnate and retrogress unless and until our leaders are enamoured of Nigeria and every citizen strives to be patriotic.
No one is born a patriot- patriotism is taught. No one is patriotic without being selfless. Love of country is in very short supply in Nigeria. This is pathetic.
The recent developments and conflicting signals about the position of Nigeria’s federal lawmakers on their decisions concerning electronic transmission of election results is to say the least a bad omen for democracy.
It is common knowledge that the “indivisibility and indissolubility” of Nigeria as a sovereign State is under heavy threat by many factors like insecurity, insurgency, banditry, herdsmen killings and violence, kidnappings, hunger, poverty, diseases, unemployment, youth restiveness, infrastructural decay and agitations for secession aside the electoral system which is in a topsy-turvy state.
A reformed electoral process will not heal these national anomalies in one day but it will give hope to Naija pipo that someday, perhaps in the future, things might begin to take shape via visionary and selfless leadership elected by the majority courtesy of the ballot box in exercise of people’s power.
Nigerians have long desired a free, fair and credible electoral order. Nigerians deserve it too given the dividends that go with it.
A corrupt, expensive, impunity ridden and compromised electoral system cannot throw up people oriented and pro-poor government.
When the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 was tabled in both bowels of the National Assembly, Naija pipo thought that a new normal was in the offing.
The legitimate expectation was that, at least, the proposed amendment will be an opportunity to inject pragmatic and unambiguous clauses in the electoral laws that will authorise both seamless electronic transmission of results and creation of an Electoral Offences Commission.
Electronic transmission of results by INEC will help restore sanity and put an end to the charade we call elections while the Electoral Offences Commission will make a good job of prosecuting electoral offenders and election criminals and getting them to pay dearly for it as appropriate.
Alas, those dreams may remain what they are- pipe dreams!
How can Nigeria miss the opportunity of a complete turnaround in our elections via e-transmission of results in 2023 and going forward in this digital age?
What is wrong with electronic transmission of results? Absolutely nothing except where some hidden and odious agenda is at play!
Who is afraid of a free, fair and credible election which real time electronic transmission of results will guarantee?
Are banking transactions/money transfers and public examinations and results conducted by WAEC, NECO, JAMB, Universities and other higher institutions not by electronic means?
Ditto for job recruitment applications and processes for entry into the Armed Forces and other para- Miltary organisations.
Are the Drivers Licences issued by FRSC and International Passport issued by Nigeria Immigration, the NIN not electronic?
So why should transmission of election results conducted by INEC be by analogue and cumbersome means? Something is not adding up.
Beyond partisan differences and mundane selfish considerations, what germane reasons will make any patriotic Nigerian to desire that in 2023, the general election will still be characterised by violence, thuggery, militarization, ballot box snatching, voodoo votes manufacturing/falsification of results, over voting or excessive thumb printing?
The arguments against electronic transmission of election results are retrogressive as those factors can be aggressively tackled and overcome overtime.
Speaking strongly but respectfully, those arguments look attractive but they are beautiful nonsenses that should be perished!
More worrisome is the constitutional import of the text of section 52(3) of the version of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 passed by the Senate which requires that- “Before INEC can transmit electronically, NCC must adjudge national coverage is adequate and secure, and National Assembly must approve”.
This clause promotes two layers of approval before INEC will electronically transmit election results, one by NCC and the second by the National Assembly.
Is INEC no longer independent as clearly provided in the national constitution?
Why subject INEC decision to extraneous approvals by two bodies that are not constitutionally empowered to have anything to do with conduct of elections and who should not have supervisory control over INEC on election matters?
The proviso injected by the Senate into the proposed section 52(3) of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 is clearly in conflict with section 78 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.
The clear provision of section 78 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended is that:
“The registration of voters and conduct of elections shall be subject to the direction and supervision of INEC”.
From the foregoing, it beyond argument that the powers granted to NCC and NASS under the proposed section 52(3) of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 are in direct conflict with the provisions of section 78 of the Constitution which gives INEC absolute powers of direction and supervision over conduct of elections.
It is respectfully submitted that requiring INEC to get the approvals of both the NCC and NASS before electronic transmission of results are abberatious pre-conditions as they antagonise the provisions of section 78 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.
The said section 52(3) of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 is dead on arrival as it is null, void and of no effect reliance being placed on section 1(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.
It is now time to speak truth to power via strong appeals to specific leaders.
The first is to PMB.
PMB was a victim of electoral fraud or manipulations, not once, not twice but thrice. He knows how painful it is to lose an election to a flawed electoral process.
Needless to say therefore that free, fair and credible electoral process remains one of the greatest legacies PMB will leave as he exits as two term democratically elected President in 2023.
The next is to the leadership and members of the NASS.
This is to request our federal lawmakers as representatives of the people to listen to the yearnings of Nigerian people and revisit their now very unpopular decision to put tactical wedge on the part of a desirable paradigm shift in our electoral process.
A comprehensive overhaul of the electoral process and voting system is long overdue given too that INEC has said in clear terms that it is able, capable and willing to transmit election results electronically if allowed to do so.
Perhaps, the federal lawmakers need to be reminded that posterity will record it that they failed themselves, their constituents, Nigeria and Nigerians should they miss this opportunity to write their names in gold as those who midwifed a durable and reliable electoral process in Nigeria.
We cannot afford not to clean up our electoral laws and play hygienic politics in Nigeria with the grim lessons of
ENDSARS, #COVID-19, #UNKNOWNGUNMEN #BANDITRY
KILLERHERDSMEN and #BOKOHARAM starring everyone in the face.
I can only say that no one should take the Nigerian people for a ride. The present impasse is not a PDP versus APC thing as some are lazily trying to do. The blame for the current impasse is not to be heaped on party affiliations but on lack of heuristic techniques on the side of those opportuned to be on the door step of history.
The time to be on the right side of history by positively identifying with Nigerian people with respect to enthroning a free, fair and credible electoral process beckons on our leaders.
Patriots rise to the demands of the occasion and make history. Our leaders can do it for themselves, Nigeria and Nigerians.
Are you optimistic?
A new normal is possible!
Prof Obiaraeri is my name, the ☆☆☆☆☆ 5-Star Civilian General etc.