Port Harcourt — President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to assent the amended Electoral Act passed by the Eighth National Assembly has been blamed for the irregularities that characterised the 2019 general elections.
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, who said this yesterday while addressing a delegation of the British High Commission at the Government House, Port Harcourt, also advocated that the appointment of the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should not completely be in the hands of the Federal Government as suggested by the Uwais report.
Wike regretted that despite the amended Electoral Act legitimising the card reader and strengthening the process of result collation, the President failed to sign the bill into law.”If the President had assented to the amended Electoral Act, we wouldn’t have had the kind of problem we had. That means that there must be card reader in the electoral process. In that case, it makes it difficult for security agencies to commit electoral fraud.
“With the card reader, results that do not tally with accredited figures in the device will not be accepted. Since the card reader is not in the law, it creates the loopholes for them to manipulate. They created the room where some security agencies tried to force returning officers to sign result sheets.
“But if the card reader was legitimised in the Electoral Act, it would not have been possible because the only acceptable result would be the one that tallies with the card reader. I have always told the President that in the interest of the country, let us do the right thing. Let us not politicise everything,” the governor stressed.
The governor, who reiterated the call for the demilitarisation of the nation’s democracy, insisted that it was rather unfortunate that instead of using the police, the army has been allowed to take over provision of security during elections.Besides, he alleged that oil bunkering is fuelled by connivance and participation of security agencies, saying: “Security agencies are involved in oil bunkering. That is why you see so many security agents struggling to be posted to the Niger Delta. Oil bunkering has negatively affected our security and environment.”
Meanwhile, the Deputy Head of Political Section/First Secretary, British High Commission, Stuart Gardner, congratulated Wike on his victory.He regretted that the last elections were marred by violence and that steps must be taken to stem the tide of violence during the 2023 elections.