By Emman Ovuakporie
As the National Assembly embarks on consideration of the Electoral Act amendment, a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Rimamnde Shawulu Kwewum, has cautioned against any attempt to frustrate the passage of the Bill saying it will not augur well for the nation’s democracy.
Kwewum said the present administration is trying to destroy the the electoral reforms implemented by former President Goodluck Jonathan, which brought it to power.
The former Reps Committee Chairman on Army who featured on Monday as a guest on a national Television programme, spoke against the backdrop of a controversial clause said to have been inserted in the bill expected to be presented before plenary of the House on Tuesday.
A clause against the electronic transmission of election results was said to have been inserted in the bill, raising concerns among lawmakers.
Kwewum said many lawmakers were disappointed about the purported insertion of the clause.
He said a copy of the committee’s report had not been made available to lawmakers despite the fact that the report is expected to be laid before the house at plenary on Tuesday.
He said, usually reports of committees are handed to members a few days before time so that they can read them and understand the contents and the recommendations.
“In this case, we have not received the report of the Committee on Electoral Matters. It has not been distributed to the members of the house, so the information we have, is the same information that the public has – namely, that what is published in the social media is what we can refer to and some of the issues raised in the social media are very worrying, especially , with regards to the question of how results would be transmitted to the collation centres”, Kwewum said.
I’m not a member of the committee, but I have seen a lot of revulsion, people are disappointed, some members of the committee have expressed their disappointment on social media platforms. They said the decisions they took, did not include that one. It is likely going to be a rowdy session”, he said further.
The lawmaker also expressed doubt whether the report will be presented to the house on Tuesday.
He said, “I will also doubt it whether tomorrow, the report will be laid before the house, because up till this moment that I am speaking to you, the report has not been distributed. “Members are not aware of the report, so you cannot bring such an important matter on the day that you want the report to be considered – a report that is well over a 100 pages and expect that members of the house will sit down within minutes and consider.
“We are expecting that if the report is laid, it will be distributed to members and they will go through it, consult with their constituents and major stakeholders and then we head for the consideration of the report.
“But I don’t expect that members will take that lightly for these two reasons: first, you will recall that, the 8th Assembly, part of the reasons why the bill was not accented to was the fact that the president kept bringing up issues, spelling mistakes, problems with syntax, disagreements with interpretations and at the end of the day, the leadership of the National Assembly decided that, whatever the president want, we give it to him.
“What he brought was handed back to him an he wrote back to say that the electoral bill could not be accented to, because it was too late, that it breached the ECOWAS protocol on electoral matters and so it was not signed.
“We have been waiting for two years, we are in the third year and nothing has been done.
“Let’s hope that this controversial clause that has been included is not a plan to ensure that controversies are brought up so that the bill will not be signed at all.
“Democracy means inclusiveness, the inclusiveness of democracy ensures, you tap all talents, it leads to explosion of creativity in the land and we were hoping that so far everybody has agreed that the political leadership of this country has been responsible from 1960 to date for the problems we have in the Nigeria”.
He said, “the reforms that were implemented by former President Goodluck Jonathan, that brought this government to power,” were being attacked by the government and “trying to ensure that they do not succeed.”
He said one of the set backs to Nigeria’s democracy is the absence of rule of law and a procedure for doing things.
According to him, “the absence of the rule of law, the absence of procedure and processes in doing things has led us to a situation where, elections today, you will probably know who is going to win but you will not know the process that will lead to the emergence of a winner.
“That is contrary to democratic norms. In democracy, you are supposed to know the process of the electoral system…
“It is very unfortunate that we are going back on these reforms that have brought us this far. I dare say that if this attack on democracy continue, we are going to see increased demands for secession, increased banditry, we are going to see increased disappointment of people in the political leadership and things that are happening. “You will see people try to resort to self help. I don’t think that this is the legacy that President Muhammadu Buhari would want to leave for the people of this country.
“I think he needs to call his men together so that we can have an electoral system that will reflect the wishes of the people at the various levels.”
Kwewum lamented that, what is happening in Nigeria is so disappointing and called on Nigerians to raise up and insist that the reforms which were started by President Jonathan are sustained.
“Why will you tell people to register their SIM cards but will not want to use electronic system for elections? Why are we using double standards?” Kwewum asked