Electronic transmission of results: NASS has murdered democracy – Ozekhome
A constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, Dr Mike Ozekhome (SAN), on Saturday, slammed the National Assembly for rejecting the electronic transmission of election results, describing it as a national tragedy.
While accusing NASS of murdering democracy in Nigeria, Ozekhome regretted that the concept of democracy was no longer in practice in the country.
The lawyer faulted the NASS’ action while delivering a special lecture at the 2021 graduation ceremony/prize-giving ceremony of the Pacesetters School in Abuja.
He said, “The national tragedy in the last two days at the National Assembly is for the sole interest of politicians in order to rig elections.
“Why did we choose to kill electronic voting when across the world, even in the Democratic Republic of Congo, they are using it? You are even now making INEC to be no longer independent.”
A former National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Lai Olurode, has also described the passage of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 as half-hearted and would not do the public much good.
Olurode, who is also a former Head, Department of Sociology, University of Lagos, said this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Ibadan, Oyo State capital.
He said the condition attached to the approval for electronic transmission of election results which mandated the INEC to get approval from the NCC was a way of eroding the autonomy of the electoral commission.
Olurode said, “The first thing I can deduce is that the National Assembly is still not comfortable with overhauling the whole Electoral Act in a way that will make further transparency of our electoral process visible and possible.
“In summary, it is like Nigeria will still continue to go through electoral ordeals, the waiting time for harvesting result is so much and sometimes, people sleep at collation centres for days because they are waiting for results from one remote part of the country.
“Therefore, for me, what they have done is a half-hearted amendment that will not serve the public good as much. Let me say this to the credit of the National Assembly, a wholesale electronic transmission of results for the whole country is dangerous. If the transmission becomes impossible for reasons of difficulty because the machines are not cooperating, the whole country will be held to ransom. There will be apprehension and trepidation.
“A party will believe because we are winning and that is why they are failing in transmitting the results electronically and that can set the country ablaze. But you cannot give with one hand and take with the other hand.”
Olurode said he preferred the first amendment which stated that INEC might transmit results of elections by electronic means where and when practicable.
He said the second amendment which would now mandate the electoral commission to first go to the NCC and come back to the lawmakers for ratification to transmit results was like placing obstacles in the way of credible polls.
Also, a Professor of Political Science at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Ondo State, Lanre Olu-Adeyemi, faulted the passage of the Electoral Amendment Act Bill by the Senate which asked INEC to seek clearance from the NCC and the National Assembly before deploying electronic transmission of results.
The don said the action of the senate was unconstitutional and not good for the democracy of the country.
He said, “The INEC is properly constituted by law to have the power to conduct elections in Nigeria. The law gives all powers concerning the election to INEC, which also includes the power to transmit and announce the final results of the election.
Also, a Political Science Professor at the Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti, Femi Omotoso, said for another government agency to determine INEC’s duty would pose problems for the smooth conduct of elections.
He said, “I am afraid politics is blindfolding us for us not to see the benefits derivable in some of these things which can take us to the desired end. As it is now, the electoral system will still remain the same whereas there is a need for us to improve every now and then so that we can have free, fair, credible and transparent elections.
In his submission, the Head of Political Science Department at the University of Jos, Dr Major Adeyi, maintained that the rejection of electronic transmission of election results was an “unholy way” of discrediting government investment in Information and Computer Technology.
According to him, the action by the Senate was “a setback to the electoral process in Nigeria.”
He said, “This action again will expose our electoral process to the democratic world that the giant of Africa is still crawling in the field of technology. If the globalised world is moving towards embracing ICT and promoting election management to my mind, the rejection of electronic transmission is an arrogant display of ignorance, and it is a process that will build confidence among the citizens and election managers.
However, Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Bowen University, Iwo, Osun State, Bunmi Ayoade, stated that although the electronic transmission of election results was good, he warned that the idea should be jettisoned if the country would not be able to meet the technology demands of transmitting the results.
He said, “I honestly believe that transmitting election results electronically is good and worthwhile. It saves time, but you need to have the gadgets and the preventive measures to be able to cope with it.