Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, on Monday decried National Assembly’s rejection of electronic-transmission of elections results through the votes of most members of both chambers of the parliament against that clause in the Electoral Act.
Speaking when he received the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Pastor Monday Udoh-Tom and his management team on an advocacy visit on Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), Okowa said that the lawmakers’ action could be interpreted that there was a plan to rig elections.
He, however, commended Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for its efforts at ensuring the credibility of the electoral process and for declaring that it had capacity to transmit results electronically.
The governor warned that rejection of electronic transmission of election results could deter the country’s effort at attracting Foreign Direct Investments.
According to him, we must truly appreciate INEC for the fact that on a daily basis they are thinking of the best ways to move our electoral system forward such that we are able to minimise all possibilities of fraud.
“Once Nigerians trust our electoral process, many Nigerians will come out to register and vote during elections. We need to change the narrative of many Nigerians that whether they vote or not, results will still come out the way they want it.
“I want to specially congratulate the INEC Chairman for coming out to insist that INEC has the capacity to truly transmit election results and I do not see any reason why any Nigerian would want to vote for non-transmission of election results.
“It’s actually very wrong. It gives the people the impression that people are out to rig elections from day one. It’s not the best for us as a nation and it sends wrong communication.
“It’s not just good for our economy and our image as a nation, because until people learn to trust our electoral processes, it will be difficult for people to come in and do business with us.
“Foreign direct investments cannot come to a nation where they cannot trust our electoral processes. It is doable and possible. We saw it with Edo State election and I believe that the processes and technology being put in place will help to make it work.
“We pray and plan for a free process and better improvement with every election that will come even before the general elections in 2023.
“The elections that will come before 2023 will be a test to what we can be looking forward to in 2023 and I believe INEC will do their best,” he said.
Okowa assured that he would make a broadcast to sensitise the people and various groups in the state, religious leaders and traditional rulers on the ongoing CVR.
He said that the state would continue to carry out voter education and urged all government functionaries to mobilise their people for the exercise.
“We will do a state broadcast and we will engage various stakeholders in the state to ensure that they mobilise themselves, particularly the young ones who were not up to the age of registration as at the last time it was done.
“I urge you all to mobilise your people both for the online and in-person registration.
“I can see that INEC is poised to do what is right and I am with the level of transparency will make Nigerians to trust the process and come out more to vote on the day of election.
“We need to disabuse the minds of Nigerians and the process starts from now to ensure that we now have a credible electoral process,” he said.
The governor expressed worry that the exercise was starting at the local government level and advocated that INEC should move from ward to ward to ensure effective registration of the citizens.
“The cost of traveling particularly in the riverside areas is quite high so if INEC has the intention to be duly registered, there is a need to consider ward to ward movement.’’
He appreciated INEC for the way the recent by-election in Isoko North was conducted
“We have our challenges as a country but in spite of these challenges we have a duty to encourage the people to trust on our electoral process.
“It is good for the country and for the people because when you are able to vote for your choice of leaders there is the tendency that they will be responsive to the people when they know that votes must count.
“God will continue to give you the strength and enablement to do your job and hope that we continue to achieve progress,” the governor stated.
Earlier, the REC expressed appreciation to the governor for ensuring security of INEC’s staff and assets during the attacks on government institutions by unknown gunmen.
He said that from July 26, INEC would deploy physical registration for those who could not register through the online facility.
“The Commission is leveraging on high political office holders in the Executive and Legislature to significantly increase the mileage and value addition in the task of mobilising the masses to come out and register which will ultimately improve the voter strength for the entire state,” the REC stated.