How to guarantee free, fair polls – Ikokwu
By Clifford Ndujihe
AFTER what seemed like eternity, campaigns for the 2019 general polls are gradually assuming full momentum.
Before yesterday, the December 3, 2018 launch of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential campaigns in Sokoto, and the December 28 national campaign flag-off of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, were arguably the only major campaigns.
Paucity of funds, fear of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, going after those funding political activities, and lack of readiness on the part of the political parties were some of the factors that mitigated against the commencement of the campaigns as the numerous candidates made do with in-house consultations and small-scale town hall or market visitations.
However, the scenario has changed and the political atmosphere is set to be astir. The ruling APC, main opposition PDP and some of the other parties have raised and inaugurated their presidential campaign councils. Also, state chapters of the campaign councils have been set up.
On Monday, the PDP held a rally in Kogi, which drew a tumultuous crowd. Yesterday, the APC in Lagos kicked-off its campaigns at the Skypower Grounds, Ikeja although the exercise was marred mid-way by violence that claimed no fewer than three lives with many others sustaining injuries. The PDP in Kwara also flag-off its campaigns yesterday at Pilot Primary School, Bode Sadu, Moro Local Council, Kwara. Today, the PDP will takes its Presidential campaign rally to Minna, the Niger State capital, and head to Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital, tomorrow.
The South-East Directorate of the APC presidential campaign council will hold a stakeholders meeting at Bon Hotel Sunshine, Independence Layout, Enugu tomorrow, to map out plans on how to deliver the zone to President Muhammadu Buhari and other APC candidates in the zone.
As the campaigns gain momentum, it is hoped that politicians will shun campaign of calumny, mudsling, and engage in issue-based campaigns that will deepen democracy in the country.
They are expected to tell Nigerians how they would tackle the myriad of socio-economic, political and developmental challenges bedevilling the country at all levels.
How to guarantee free, fair polls — Ikokwu
To credible and rancour free polls, Second Republic Politician, lawyer and an elder of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Guy Ikokwu, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to use the smart card readers, ensure results are released and pasted at the polling booths, and thereafter transferred electronically to the state and national collation centres to avoid alterations.
He said: ‘’As the grand patron of Ohanaeze in Lagos, the minimum position of our people together with southern leaders in the South-South, South-West and Middle Belt, and elders in the far North, to guarantee free and fair election in Nigeria is that INEC must use card readers as done in previous elections in the states and national.
Electronic transmission of results
‘’The results at the polling units must be signed and given to the parties and candidates’ agents at the polling units and transferred electronically immediately to the state and national collation centres as was done during the June 12, 1993 presidential election.
‘’A free and fair election reduces rancour and friction. Candidates must not be asked to go to court after being marginalised with fictitious results. In a clean, free, and credible election, only in one or few instances do you have candidates going to tribunal to question the result or outcome of the election. That is what we are pleading so that Nigeria moves forward and remain as one entity and country.’’