By Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja
The Social Democratic Party SDP has expressed deep anger at the propensity of political money bags to rig elections in the country, saying ahead of the 2023 general election, it has become imperative to advocate the death penalty for election riggers.
This was as the party kicked against zoning of the Delta state Governorship ticket to the Central Senatorial District, saying in a state like Delta with its political maturity and as home to eggheads, competence must trump zoning.
Chairman of the party in the state, Amb. Oke Idawene who is also the Chairman, Forum of SDP State Chairmen, stated this in an interview with Saturday Vanguard.
He commended the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC for its decision to deploy the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System BVAS in the September 11 state Assembly bye election in Isoko South 1, Delta state, saying the technology helped to reduce incidences of multiple voting.
Idawene said the device was able to guarantee the credibility of voter accreditation by preventing incidents of multiple voting or the use of stolen Permanent Voter Cards PVCs to vote while the use of the incident form was eliminated.
On rigging, he said the problem is not with INEC but other stakeholders. He said; “The problem we have right now is not INEC. It is the people. Somebody tried to snatch a ballot box in Isoko South and he was gunned down. I don’t like bloodshed, but that is the way to go. Ahead of 2023, the punishment for such electoral malfeasance should be death by hanging. Anybody rigging elections is an enemy of the people and must be so treated.
“With the BVAS, the votes were not adulterated. There was no rigging in that election. For the first time in Nigeria, I went for an election where until the morning of the elections, the collation officers were not known and the voting pattern was clear.
“To this end, I think we should give INEC all the support for electronic voting, electronic collation and transmission of results. It is only then we can get genuine leadership and see Nigeria tilting towards progressive tendencies. I want to call on the National Assembly to support this BVAS and other technologies used by INEC”.
On Zoning the 2023 presidency to the South and the Delta Governorship ticket to Delta Central, the SDP Chairman said; “SDP is not for zoning. We are for competence. It is time we stopped regional tendencies. Nigeria is one. No matter how you try, you cannot break us. Let us elect a leader who is a true Nigerian in body, soul and spirit so that at the end of the day we can say we are going forward.
“SDP is anti-zoning. For the Southern leaders, if you want the presidency, I call on you to lobby. Power is not given for free. It is a collective responsibility. Leave your comfort zones and go to the North and explain why you should be given the opportunity to produce the next president. Apart from that, every Nigerian is qualified to run for president.
“In Delta state, the Central is claiming that it is their turn to produce the next governor. No. I am a Delta. I have the right to contest. If Delta Central wants to contest election and win, let them come out and convince us in the South and North why we should give you room to produce the next governor come 2023. Apart from that, do not claim it. It is not your right. You lobby for it. Power is not given for free”, he added.