A former chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), and chairman of NCFront, Prof Patrick Utomi, have called on the National Assembly to allow the use of electronic means of transmitting results of future elections in the country.
The trio disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at the National Political Summit in commemoration of Nigeria’s 61st independence anniversary with the theme: “Restoring the Legitimacy of the Nigerian State: The Imperative for Electronic Transmission of Results”.
They noted that if INEC was truly an independent body it should not wait for the National Assembly to transmit results electronically.
Jega particularly stressed the need for strengthening the nation’s electoral framework, so that the citizens can enjoy the dividend of democracy.
“If you have a weak electoral framework you are already weakening the nation and INEC’s capacity to discharge its duty. Electronic voting will consolidate and deepen our democracy and we must pursue it with the diligence that is required,” he said.
Speaking further, he said the legitimacy of the Nigerian state had no doubt, taken a significant bashing in the last few years.
On why the nation is lagging behind amongst the comity of nations, he said the failure of those in power to enable the Nigerian state to discharge its obligations to the citizens, had today made Nigeria to be one of the poorest, insecure, poorly managed and fragile states in the world.
He said: “Citizens increasingly question the credibility of the ways and means by which elected public officers to get elected and assume leadership positions, they are increasingly disappointed by what elected officials do with power and they are also profoundly frustrated and angry, with the failure of those who preside over the state and its governance processes to satisfy their basic needs and aspirations, be it in socio-economic provisioning, security of life and property, or in the management of the economy to drive employment, productivity, economic opportunities for the citizens, or in the management of diversity in a plural society.”
On his part, Utomi said the NCF would wage a pitched battle on electronic transmission of results and other electoral process reforms until it can reinvest legitimacy into the ballot box and bridge the trust deficit which currently severely hampers policy implementation.
He said the fading legitimacy of the Nigerian state derives from the fact that most Nigerians perceive, rightly or wrongly, that those in elected positions are usurpers who foisted themselves on the people through the abuse of the electoral process and outright rigging.
Speaking further on electoral process reforms, he said this has diminished the legitimating attributes of elections, the critical pillar of constitutional democracy.
On leadership selection, he said there must set standards for people to attain before they are entrusted with managing the prospects of the lives of others.
He said, “We draw some inspiration here from speeches made in 1978 by Deng Xiao Ping which set the tone for China’s ascendancy making knowledge key to the prospects of the party. As Dr Myles Munroe often said everything begins, rises, and falls with leadership.
“We cannot afford to tow with leadership recruitment and development systems. The party (parties) that will crystallize from our efforts will have strict criteria for public life prospects, and rigorous training programmes for their growth and development.”
Also, the founder of DAAR Communications, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, said the nation is 61 years but largely confronted with the challenge of the division of the country.
He said brothers and sisters who once lived in peace were pulling apart, seeking a new republic.
Dokpesi said the reason for all this is a lack of fairness and injustice.
“All of this has root in our selection process. We have not selected a person who can keep the country together.
“I will want to be identified as a Nigerian. Please don’t break this country,” he added.