Fred Itua, Abuja
Former national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), John Odigie-Oyegun has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill into law in order to strengthen the country’s democracy.
He spoke on Wednesday night in Abuja, during the premiere of a documentary titled ‘Sweat of Freedom’
“We need to build an electoral system that will make it difficult for human interference. It should become possible that at any unit result is declared, it will immediately be on boards all over the country, so that anybody who can do simple arithmetic can begin to know who is where as far as the electoral process is concerned
“Whatever defects we may have had with the electoral laws, we now have a bit of time. It should be looked at. There is no question at all that the electoral system to the greatest extent possible can be strengthened.
“I know there is no electronic system that you cannot undermine, but things should happen in such a quick succession. A unit should know its result within an hour. So, there is no time for somebody somewhere to start seeing whether that local government or that ward is favourable or not favourable too.”
He also raised the alarm that the nation is making avoidable and grave mistakes.
The first elected governor of Edo State warned political leaders that the people were now too enlightened and sophisticated to be taken for granted.
“We are already making serious mistake and I think a lot of the speakers in the documentary alluded to that. We are making mistakes. We are bound to make mistakes. Unfortunately, I think we are making extremely serious and avoidable mistakes. But we will learn from them.
“The people of the country have started to appreciate the power that they have and that is the power of the vote. I want to assure you that even in the last election, it displayed.
“The voting public is a lot more sensible and sensitive today and they have started to realise that finally they are the employers of all politicians, whether you are a president, governor or local government chairman. Therein lies the hope of democracy in this country of democracy in this country.”
The documentary chronicles the 1996 coup and its assessment as impatience on the part of the military, while also making wrong observation that the justification for the military interventions, which include corruption, nepotism, intolerance and management of the economy in a manner that creates poverty, all seem to be replaying itself in Nigeria’s present democracy, he said.
Former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, in the documentary, said whatever variant or the weakness of democracy we may have, it still remains the best option for governing a society.
He added that nothing could justify the change of government through the barrel of the gun.
Producer of the documentary and ace broadcaster, Vin Martins Ilo, said the historical documents was meant to serve as a reference material for academics, political parties and all stakeholders in the Nigerian project.