...INEC playing a funny, cruel, crude script
By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA: The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has presented Certificates of Return to newly elected federal lawmakers, urging them to expedite action on the electoral framework for the 2023 general elections.
However, Imo state Governor, Rochas Okorocha was not available following the decision of the commission to not present him with a certificate for alleged coercing an electoral official to return him forcefully as senator-elect.
Okorocha immediately fired back, accusing INEC of allowing itself to be used by partisans who are afraid of his future political ambition in the country.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja shortly after the event, Okorocha accused some unnamed forces in the polity of trying to stop him from making an input into those who will become principal members of the National Assembly as well as the politics of 2023 presidency.
He said; “I am sure I was conspicuously absent from the certificates issuance ceremony. I was not there because INEC had removed my name from the list of senators having been declared the winner by the zonal returning officer. So, I am actually waiting to hear why INEC struck my name out. I think probably, INEC must be trying to do something special because I understand once results have been declared and returns made then you are bound to be issued a certificate of return but to have exempted me, I am in darkness as to what was the reason why I was not invited to collect my certificate of return. Maybe, INEC would want to organize a special programme for me to hand over this certificate of return to me because clearly, I won and it was a peaceful election, the best you can ever think of.
“I am told from the grapevine that it was because of duress. In other words, somebody must have coerced the returning officer to do what he was not supposed to do but here again, I do not understand what that means because there was nothing of such. How can you put somebody under duress to declare you the winner of an election that you have already won? And look, they are not saying that we did not win. They are not saying that the other man won. So, I do not understand why we should be the people forcing someone to do something wrong to claim victory. It is not true but I must let the world understand that this is a game that is being played. The Resident Electoral Commissioner REC in Imo state is playing a script and the script is so funny, it is so cruel and crude actually and they are executing it in a funny way.
“I understand that people are beginning to fight a war of the future now when we are not even yet there and I am surprised that INEC is being used as an instrument for those who find it politically difficult to achieve what they want to do. The idea is that, do not give Rochas a certificate; you must slow him down until after they have elected the presiding officers, then you can let him come in, so that he does not become anything and make sure that his candidate for governor does not win and then make sure that he is crippled politically before 2023. That is what is happening and it is very childish. I do not see why somebody can be thinking that way and these are people that earned my respect and they are behaving in that manner. So, I will advise INEC to do the right thing, to release my certificate so that I can celebrate as others are celebrating”, he stated.
Earlier, while performing the ceremony Thursday in Abuja, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said, “as a matter of urgency, the commission will begin work on post 2019 elections review and road mark to 2023”, adding that while there is a lot of work to be done, there is very little time available.
“As a process governed by law, the success of elections in Nigeria depend to a large extent on the electoral legal framework and most importantly in ensuring adherence to the law.
“I want to assure you that we will continue to work with the National Assembly to review and strengthen our electoral law. But, I want to appeal to the senators-elect to please start work early and conclude work on the electoral framework in good time well ahead of the 2023 general elections.
“The tendency to delay electoral reforms particularly the review of electoral framework until it is too close to the elections, leaves the commission with little time to develop processes including regulations and guidelines, make required consultations with stakeholders, embark on effective voter education including sensitization, train staff and organize deployment for the elections.
“I am glad that among the senators-elect are senators that we have worked very closely with and some of them have taken initiatives or even sponsored private member bills to advance the cause of electoral reforms.
We look forward to working very closely with you in the next senate.
However all these are matters to be considered, I hope we will do so in earnest”, he charged.
Out of the 109 senators in the National Assembly, only 100 senators were presented with certificates as there are outstanding issues in some constituencies. Of the 100, the ruling All Progressives Congress APC has 62, the Peoples Democratic Party PDP has 37 while the Young Progressives Party YPP has one.
Members-elect of the House of Representatives were also later in the day presented with their certificates if return.
Senator-elect for Benue Northwest, Orker Jev Senator said he already has his agenda as he is not new to legislative business.
“I already have agenda, just to expand and represent my people very well. There is hope, we have a new crop of lawmakers coming onboard and we expect to inject new blood but me I am not a new member. I am just moving from the House to the Senate, so it is a continuation of the struggle.
“The fact that they (my constituents) have changed the person that was there means they expect things to be done different. I am very much aware of the problems of the people and what I need to do is to put them across. That is what I have been doing in respect of my Federal Constituency and I intend to expand it because my Federal Constituency was generally a rural settlement but if you come to the Senatorial District I am going to be representing has the two biggest towns in Benue; Makurdi which is the state capital and Gboko which is the capital of the Tiv nation. So I am very much aware of the problems. I have being collating the problems and all I need to do is to push them across when I move to the Senate”.
I’ll run for Deputy Senate President -Gaya
Kabiru Gaya, Senator representing Kano South stated that: ” I think I am one of the most ranking members in the Senate, I am going to work harder as I have being doing for people who voted me four times so I will do my best on constituency projects.
“As they mentioned earlier that I am a Senator who has done more on constituency projects more than any other Senator in the country and I will continue to serve my people well”.
On Senate leadership Gaya said, “I am waiting for leadership of my party, the Presidency but people are calling that I should run for the Deputy Senate President and by God’s grace and permission of the leadership and the Presidency, I will run for the Deputy Senate President.
On his part, Henry Nwanwuba, a House of Representatives Member elect from Imo said,
“My people should expect more. My first tenure was very tough but I believe that as a ranking member I am more better positioned to attract development. I will make sure that members of my constituency get jobs”.
Also, Senator-elect for Kogi Central, Alhaji Yakubu Oseni promised to complement the efforts of the state government especially in the area of security and human capital development, saying no community can move forward without those two.
Oseni said the 9th Assembly would be pro-people as the lawmakers would work harmoniously with the executive to deliver on democratic dividends timeously.