Elections: Electronic transfer of result, a must for free, fair polls – PDP Chieftain

 The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South South has called on the National Assembly to retain electronic transmission of results in the Electoral Act
Chief Dan Orbih, National Vice Chairman, South South of the party, made the call on Wednesday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Benin.
He was reacting to the purported removal of the electronic transfer of result provision from the proposed amendment Act currently being debated by the National Assembly.

“Nigerians should resist the removal of electronics transmission of election results during elections from the electoral Act because it is an invitation to unending electoral fraud.’’
Orbih noted that the introduction of electronic transmission of election results from the polling units to collation centres during elections was introduced by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to halt result manipulation during elections.

He noted that the initiative was well applauded by all concerned, as over the years Nigerians had been concerned about elections being free and fair in the country.
“It seems that at the moment some people have started saying oh, it will be difficult to manipulate the electoral process if the electronic transmission of results is allowed to remain in the electoral Act.

“Some of our leaders who know they have not done well to win back the confidence of Nigerians through the ballot box are now against electronic transmission of results.
“If you ask them, why they are opposed to it, they will not give you any reasonable answer other than this fear of eradicating possible manipulation of results during the elections.
“So for me, I think everything should be done to ensure that the clause is not removed from the electoral Act.

“Everything should be done to improve our electoral system so that people will have the confidence that their votes will count on election day.
“This to a large extent will help us eliminate the manipulation of results in elections in Nigeria.
“Doing that, we will be strengthening our democratic process and improving the electoral process itself,” he said.

The South South leader also said that leaving the jurisdiction of electoral matters solely on the Federal High Court would not be the best for the country.
He noted that most of the election cases were time bound, and must be disposed off within a very short period of time.
“So when you restrict this challenge to Federal High Courts alone, I’m afraid we may have lots of cases just waiting for the Federal High Courts to decide within the short period that they must be taken care of.

“With this scenario, it means even pre-election matters should go to the federal high courts. Honestly I don’t know how that will help our system,” Orbih said.
On the gale of defections from the party by some members, Orbih said that selfish interest on the part of those leaving the party was responsible.
According to him, there is no basis for them leaving the party except for selfish and personal gains.
“Those who are leaving us are those who have something to hide and are looking for where to hide.

“They are those who have personal interest not for the good of all, but personal interest to promote and protect.
“I want to borrow the now famous saying of Gov. Nyesom Wike, “that there is no justification for any person to leave hope for hopelessness”.
The South South leader further faulted the proposed 30 per cent for exploration in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
According to him, I have never seen anything in practical terms to capture the wise saying that you cannot rob Peter to pay Paul than this PIB.
“It shows the long term marginalisation of the oil producing communities of the Niger Delta.

“It shows the obvious wickedness of our leaders to continue to deny them adequate compensation over challenges arising from the drilling of oil in these communities”.
He stressed that the agitation of the people of the region had always been over the damage from oil prospecting and processes done to their lands.
“Some of their lands are no longer fertile for agriculture; most of their fish farms can no longer survive the fallout of these processes.

“To know that they don’t have any special compensation for having the land where the wealth of the Nation’s comes from shows clearly that our leaders are insensitive to what these people are going through.

“And now you are saying, you want to take 30 per cent of our oil revenue for exploration in the desert land where nobody has come to tell us whether that oil had been struck, and even if there is whether they are economically viable.
“The ones that were discovered in the Niger Delta, did they take a percentage of our National income to develop them.

“Companies that discovered the viability of these wells paid their fees to be allowed to carry out their businesses.
“So, why are you now taking a percentage to go and develop fields in areas not yet confirmed to even have oil, and you are allocating just three per cent to the producing communities?
“It does not make any sense,” Orbih added. (NAN)