By Lawan Adamu Usman
The glimmers of hopes that the country will have a free and fair election in the 2023 general election have been dashed by our senators. Section 52(3) of amendment bill 2021 which will provide room for the electronic transmission of election results from the polling unit, received a kiss of death by the APC senators after a rowdy session in the senate. In 2015, when president Jonathan introduced the card reader machine, which was part of the technology drive to checkmate multiple voting and detect elections fraud and ensure a free and fair election, the APC, which was desperate to clinch to power, commended the bold initiative. There is no gainsaying the fact, APC was the beneficiary of the card reader machine in the 2015 general election. The election victories recorded by the party across the country could be credited to such technological innovation.
Little wonder, many Nigerians expected President Muhammadu Buhari to maintain the momentum in 2019 by passing section52(3) of the electorate act into laws, which will pave the way for electronic transmission of results. However, President Buhari failed to convince Nigerians why he could not approve the bill, cited short of time as the reason ahead of the 2019 general election. Also, our lawmakers’ lack of political will to unanimously agree and take a common position for the quick passing of the bill is unfortunate. While other African countries have since embraced technology and reformed their electorate process in tandem with the best global practice, some unpatriotic senators are dragging us to the medieval period.
By its name, the Independent National Electorate Commission (INEC) should act independently according to the laws that established it. For the Senate to insist that INEC should collaborate with the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) on the possibility of adequate network coverage in the country and seek its approval before it adopts electronic transmission of results raises serious suspicion on its part.
The million naira questions begging for answers are: why the majority of APC senators voted against the electronic transmission of results? Are they acting on the script of their party to frustrate any genuine efforts to have a credible and acceptable poll in 2023? It is either the ruling party plans to rig the 2023 elections as suspected, or it is jittery that the electronic transmission of results will expose it to serious defeat.
Civil societies organisations and Nigerians should wake up and reject this glaring rape of our democracy. Democracy the world over thrives and flourishes based on free and fair elections. This can only be achieved if INEC is allowed to conduct credible elections and transmitted the results electronically as obtained in other democratic climes.
Lawan Adamu Usman (aka Mr LA) writes from Kaduna State. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.