By Chinedu Adonu
ENUGU – FORMER Governor of Delta State, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, Tuesday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Bill into law to improve nation’s electoral process and address the anomalies witnessed during the just concluded general elections.
Uduaghan who also spook as the guest lecturer at the inaugural of Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan Annual Public Lecture of the Professor B.I.C .Ijomah Centre for Policy Studies and Research, University of Nigeria Nsukka, on the topic, “Making Nigeria’s Election Cleaner, Transparent and Credible, called for a gradual release of funds to INEC and prompt punishment of electoral offenders to serve as deterrent to others.
“I call on Mr President to sign as early as this year, the electoral act after due amendment has been done by the National Assembly. Secondly there should be a gradual release of funds to INEC should begin with the 2020 appropriation bill. A manual should be developed and used by the security agencies for the election security management. Third all those arrested for violating the electoral laws should be punished expeditiously as lessons to others.
“Obviously, the setting up of the election offences’ court has been overdue and should be set up as quickly as possible. INEC should be more rigorous in its selection of ad hoc staff. This should be done on time and series of training conducted long before the election, to allow for local people to identify partisan officials that might slip through the cracks.
“The role of INEC is central to everything concerning electoral politics. Is INEC truly independent and capable; not just in Abuja but across the various states, local governments and wards? If I am being fair, I would say that INEC standard has not been kept across the states, local governments and wards. I call on INEC to closely reset its team on the ground.
“The continuing sabotage of the card readers should be checked and rechecked again. INEC should come up with a fail- safe system, there is need to further to improve on the efficiency and the efficacy of the card reader. Nigerian should take a second look at the electronic voting and electronic transmission of results.
He further regretted the rising cases of vote buying among the electorates noting that with a more enlightened electorates, the scourge will be effectively addressed.
“With a more informed electorate, the rising culture of solicitation and vote buying would not have been prevalent as we find today during elections. The argument that voters sell their votes because of hunger does not hold water. Eventually how much does each get? Pittance.
“An enlightened electorate will not readily sell their votes because to do so means you are forgoing your right to demand for prudent and accountable government – the real democracy dividend. And when a politician is buying votes he has calculated that in entering this bargain, he is going to devote considerable amount of his time in office recouping what he has spent and be prepared for the next election to repeat the same.
“If we go by the news in the media and various other reports, it appears that very little was achieved to curb this creeping menace of vote buying. And so I am calling for intensification of voter education. Unless there is voter education that makes people aware of the self-harm in bargaining and selling their votes, we won’t be making as much progress as I believe we should.
Speaking earlier, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Prof. Benjamin Ozumba noted that the topic of the lecture was germane since the nation was still emerging from the recently conducted general elections.
He lauded the choice of Dr Uduaghan for the lecture stating that he has gathered enough experience in the field of politics having governed Delta State for eight years and has a lot of experience on what factors practically affect elections.
“I am glad, on behalf of the governing council of the University of Nigeria, to welcome you to the very 1st Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan Public Lecture on youth Leadership being hosted by the Professor B.I.C. Ijeoma Center for Policy Studies and Research of our University.
“It needs not be emphasized that the topic is a timely one. One would have expected it before the just concluded elections. However, that it is coming after the 2019 elections is also very garmane since we shall be reflecting on the issues based on very fresh experiences.
In her address, the Director of the Centre, Prof Egodi Uchendu, said that, “it will engage all categories of scholars to be part of the novel happenings in the centre.”
“The Prof BIC Ijomah Centre for Policy Studies and Research is domiciled in the Faculty of the Social Sciences, but it’s activities stretch to all parts of the University and Beyond. It derived its name from the astute academic, Professor B.I.C Ijomah, a prolific and well-read sociologist who has refused to retire from scholarship; rather, he continues to churn out books on various issues”, he said.