From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has charged the media to exert pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the amended Electoral Act.
The governor said it was important that the media should enlighten Nigerians to know why there should be electronic transmission of election result in order to save the nation’s democracy.
Governor Wike stated this in his remark after he was conferred with the “Gold Prize for Exceptional Leadership,” by the ThisNigeria Media Newspaper in Abuja, yesterday.
He said considering the importance of the Electoral Act amendment to the survival of the nation’s democracy, the media ought to deem it a priority to exert pressure on the President to sign the amended Act.
Wike said, as watchdog of the society, the Nigerian media should enlighten Nigerians on the benefits of both direct and indirect primaries.
“Who are those to benefit more if the direct primaries is conducted? Who are those to benefit more if it is indirect primaries? So, it is important that Nigerians should know why there should be electronic transmission of result in order to save our democracy.”
The governor said the only way those in position of authority can become accountable to the people, is when electoral process is free and fair.
He maintained any electoral system that permits security agencies to be used to rig election, and for Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials to be manipulated, will not yield accountable governance.
Governor Wike commended the INEC for the successful conduct of the just concluded Anambra State governorship election.
“Now, they have performed well in Anambra State, everybody is praising them. But when they did not perform well in Rivers State, should we praise them? We cannot. When a general in the Army will convert a whole division to INEC office, will you be happy?”
Governor Wike urged Nigerians to always deemphasize their ethnic and religious affiliation in order for the country to achieve the desired national cohesion.
He said: “There is the need for all of us to still believe that this country must be united. But, if we want to move forward, we must drop the issue of where you come from. We must drop the issue of where you worship. Overemphasis of these things cause a lot of disintegration and which is not the best for us.”
Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who chaired the occasion, said the country is going through tough times.
According to him, the current travails of the country also offers opportunities for the emergence of a great nation.
The guest speaker, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, who delivered the ThisNigeria inaugural lecture with the theme, ‘National Cohesion for Sustainable Growth and Progress: The Nigeria Dilemma,’ blamed the drafters of the Nigerian constitution for the country’s lack of national cohesion.
“Something as fundamental as a constitution , the debate and the issues that ought to form the kernel of our governance have never been subjected to the intellectual rigour that is required. The result is that we have never debated our constitution based on the peculiarities, the cultural expectations, the hopes, the anxieties, the fears of ordinary Nigerians.”
He argued that the country would not be fixed until Muslims understand the grievances of the Christians; and until Christians understand the grievances of Muslims.
The publisher of ThisNigeria, Mr. Eric Osagie, said Governor Wike was conferred with the flagship award of the newspaper because of his exceptional leadership in the vanguard of infrastructural revolution.
The “Gold Prize for Exceptional Leadership’, according to him, is usually bestowed on that man or woman who has impacted exceedingly on the lives of Nigerians and in whose legacy has potential of transcending time and space.
“Wike has injected over 70 percent of the state income in capital project in the funding of roads and other critical infrastructure. A feat, that is unprecedented in the history of state administration in Nigeria.
ThisNigeria Newspapers also conferred Gold Prize in Public Service award on Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum ,Governor of Borno State; Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Ishaq Oloyede; and Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu respectively.