A former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Bode George has said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as it is presently structured cannot deliver a credible election.
He has therefore called for the commission to be scrapped and replaced with a technology driven institution in order to make the procedure of electing public office holders credible and transparent.
George, who described the present electoral system as flawed, observed that the governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States scheduled to hold on November 16 might not really reflect the will of the people.
He expressed grave concerns about the country’s electoral procedures at a session with journalists in Ikoyi on Friday, noting that election results manually counted and collated could be easily manipulated and would never reflect the will of the electorate.
At the session, George called for new electoral reforms, which according to him, should be tailored at removing human intervention from the procedure of electing president, governors, federal lawmakers, senators and members of the states’ houses of assembly.
He said the democratic procedure of electing public office holders “is unimaginable. In every aspect of it, the procedure is flawed. That is why some political leaders have capitalized on the weak system to perpetually oil the palms of those who are in charge of election management.”
Citing different technical flaws that plague the country’s electoral system, George said he was “not too comfortable with the procedures of conducting election in Nigeria. The will of the people is not respected. The procedure is nonsensical. We are not living in isolation.”
On this ground, he explained the need “to scrap INEC and start all over again with the single aim that the whole process will be technology-driven with very minimal human input. In this era, we do not need to take election results to Abuja before we can announce them.
“We do not need to go from polling units to collation centres to announce election results. Once you insert your PVC, the system recognises it and transmits your vote automatically to the central server. Why can’t we add value to the PVCs in order to allow electronic voting in Nigeria?
“After presidential petition appeal is decided at the Supreme Court, irrespective of who eventually wins, we must ensure we scrap the present system. We must redesign it or borrow the technology from the developed countries. How do they do it in France?
“I just told you about India. Canada just had its election. Did you hear anything about it? What is our problem? They said there was no stable power. Solar panels are there. The procedure of electioneering in Nigeria is archaic. It is flawed. It is absolutely a sham.
“In India, recently, 800 million people voted. This is not the Indian population. India is the biggest democracy in the world. The number of ethnic groups in India can form Nigeria. They conducted the election and no candidate went to court. It took them two weeks to do the final collation. There was no crisis. There was no tribunal.
“Why is our own process different? This is where the young generation comes in. When we were in school, computers were as big as this room. With all these new technologies, what are the problems? Why can we not use new technologies and remove human intervention in the system of our election?” George asked rhetorically.
He expressed concerns about the forthcoming governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi, noting that he received reports that some aspirants left the PDP while other came back when they discovered that it was better to remain in the party.
He said: “I am very concerned. I was told that some left the PDP. Some have come back when they found out they were moving from frying pan to fire. I heard some things about what is going on there. I have tried to send people there. That is what I can do.
“I believe the managers of the PDP are working to calm the nerve of the aggrieved members. We cannot have an association where everything is going on well. That is why the managers of the PDP are there.
“I have spoken with Oyo State Governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde. He is the one leading the governorship campaign in Kogi State. I have prayed for him and advised him. The APC is divided heavily in Kogi State.”