The national Consultative Front in commemoration of Nigeria’s 61st Independence anniversary organised a political summit themed, RESTORING THE LEGITIMACY OF THE NIGERIA STATE: The Imperative for Electronic Transmission of Election Results.
The summit, a convocation of eminent Nigerians ahead of the 2023 general elections with the former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, a Nigerian political economist cum practicing lawyer with USA Supreme Court, Dr. Adewole Adebayo along side a foremost political economist, Prof. Pat Utomi, on Friday birthed a non-partisan front under the aegis of the National Consultative Front, designed to galvanise activism for the legislation of the electronic transmission of election results and direct engagement with voters.
They led their voices to plethora issues challenging the nation’s electoral system, seeks for reform especially, the electronic transmission of election results. The summit also features zoom, allowing an online participation of Nigerians both at home and in the diaspora.
Prof. Attahiru Jega, chairman of the summit in his opening remark appreciated the NCF for organizing the summit and stressed the need for a legal framework, being an irrevocable part of any credible election to take place.
He noted, the integrity or otherwise of any electoral process begins with the laws guiding it, ensuring that the preference of Nigerians is brought to bear on the process. Apart from the issue of electronic transmission, Jega noted that there are other issues, which include candidate selection, improvements in the electoral process, accountability on the part of election managers and accountability on the part of the people to vote and protect their votes.
He said “An election that must have integrity must have a framework that has integrity, that is why we are calling on members of the National Assembly to pass this legislation.
If you have a weak electoral framework then you have weakened INEC. INEC should also be made accountable, he stressed.
He lamented that this and many more are getting Nigerians increasingly disappointed by the manner of mismanagement of the system and the economy. He calls for jettisoning of the conventional manual transmission of election results for the electronic transmission of election results.
Prof. Patrick Utomi in his speech titled “WE MUST LIBERATE OURSELVES NOW TO REDEEM THE FUTURE” decry the level of division that has plagued the Nigeria state today, in his words, he said.
” I am aware, like most of you, that our country has never been divided as it is today. Not even the Civil War which I experienced from both sides, saw our country polarized as it is today”
Prof. Utomi therefore charges Nigerians to commit to bridging these divides. Saying, Nigeria is being torn apart by politics of emotions dividing up people into an us versus them emotion excess, often eschewing reason and rational public conversation which is key to democracy and modernity.
Like the America journey where Patrick Henry is remembered for his cry ” Give me liberty or give me death” Prof. Utomi said,
” We have arrived at a Patrick Henry moment in Nigerian history. It is time to shout out in truth, we are dying anyway. We are being killed by Bandits,Armed robbers, Herdsmen, Terrorists, Disease, and Hunger.
Utomi also urged Nigerians to go beyond holding talk shops and put their money where their mouth is,that every Nigerian can start by contributing as little as N5 to provide funding for the new initiative in order to take back their politics from the clutches of money bags.
He closes by acknowledging our leaders past and inquires God to bless our fatherland.
Also,Dr. Adewole Adebayo Esq, who referred to Sir. Aminu Kano as his political mentor who, according to him, believed in the electorates than any system of establishment in Nigeria, says engaging voters directly will solve our problem than electronic transmission of election results.
Dr. Adebayo held firm to the credence that comes to bare in engaging the people directly than any electoral reforms, charges participants to direct their energies to engaging with voters than concentrating their energies on Electronic Transmission of Results which according to him, is one minor challenge confronting our electoral process.
While he appreciate the place of intellectualism and philosophy in advancing a sane political behavior and electoral integrity, Dr. Adebayo said, no amount of intellectual speech making in the city can translate into votes and electoral victory.
He noted, Transmission of Results is still within the powers of INEC, whom Dr. Adebayo tagged as major reservoir for fraud in Nigerian election process.
“I am in total support of Electronic Transmission of Results but that is just one of the problems confronting the process.” Adebayo stressed.
Senator Shehu Sani, while expressing reservations about the current National Assembly opposition to the electronic transfer of election results, explained that the argument by some legislators that the National Communications Commission lacks the capacity to make the electronic transfer of results was suspicious, Sani said.
He explained, As at last count, there are 112 million active bank accounts in Nigeria. We have more bank accounts in Nigeria than registered voters. If this is not a problem for our banking system, it should not be a problem for our elections.
Dr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN and Co-Chair of the summit calls on INEC to be firm in her independent as enshrined in the Constitution.
On electronic transmission of election results, he said that the Constitution has already given INEC the power to conduct and manage the electoral process including electronic transmission of election results therefore, seeking permission from the National Assembly before carrying out her Constitution duty is an abuse. Agbakoba SAN stressed.
Recalled that the passage of the 2021 electoral amendment bill, especially clause 52(3) by the National Assembly has continued to generate controversy among Nigerians seeking electronic transmission of election results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as one of the ways of ensuring free, fair and credible elections.
Specifically, Clause 52(3) stated that the electoral body may transmit results of elections by electronic means where and when practicable at its discretion. This is the contentious bone.
Others in the summit both on ground and via zoom who led their voices to the conversation are High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Chief Emeka Ezefe,Her Excellency, Mrs. Sarah Jibrim( Mother of Nation), Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Barr. Precious Ehikimi, Amb. Nkoyo Toyo, Hajia Najatu Mohammed. Tanko Yunusa, Arc. Ezekiel Nya Etok, Che Olawale Okunniyi and many others