From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has said that the 9th Senate is fully in support of electronic voting and transmission of results, but because the country has only 43% internet coverage, the country cannot go for electronic transmission until the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) can ascertain otherwise.
He said this while answering questions from newsmen after delivering a keynote address titled, “Nigeria’s Democratic Experience Since 1999: The Imperative of Reforming The Electoral Process” at the 16th convocation ceremony of Benson Idahosa University, Benin City.
“The 9th Senate is fully in support of electronic voting and transmission of results however, to maintain a uniform electoral system, as the country has only 43% internet coverage if we adopt electronic transmission for the 43%, what happens to the rest 57%? The country has to wait for the approval of the Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC) to adopt electronic transmission of result”, he said.
He debunked the rumours making the rounds in the media that some Senators, including himself were against electronic voting and transmission of result .
On his stance about electoral reforms, he said regardless of the source, electoral offenses perpetrated by officials of the Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) and officials of political parties, candidates and voters have to be tackled to safeguard the sanctity of the electoral process of the nation.
Omo-Agege also observed that another obvious challenge is what has been described as the judicialization of Nigeria’s electoral process.
“It is a big source of erosion of citizens’ confidence in the electoral process that the courts rather than members of the political parties or the electorate as the case may be, determine winners of party primaries and elections even when the evidence runs to the contrary.
“Examples of judicial decisions that assault the heart of democratic politics are legion.
“The point here is not to question the role of the courts since electoral justice and the adjudicatory process is recognized as parts and parcel of the electoral process.
“However, the widespread perception that the judiciary lacks independence from the executive and that people pay for judicial outcomes that advance their personal and group Interests raises a question mark about the legitimacy of some elected public officials.
“The country, therefore, needs to urgently address the members of the political class to observe the letters and the spirit of the rules of the game and for the judiciary to be aware that its perception as the temple of justice and the defense of the common man will contribute to the durability of the democratic process”.
Also, Senator Matthew Urhoghide said the need of Nigeria now is a sound electoral process that can guarantee inclusiveness for all Nigerians.