The national leadership of the United Progressive Party (UPP) has urged the National Assembly to pass the necessary law to permit full usage of the Electronic Voting System (EVS).
The process, UPP said, would further ensure a free and fair 2019 general elections.
This is part of the resolutions reached by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party in Abuja, as it reviewed the recently-concluded Anambra Governorship election held on November 18.
UPP NWC also resolved to alert the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the National Assembly, the Presidency and the general public on the: “unsavoury dimension our democracy has assumed which if not nipped in the bud shall give a completely new definition to democracy as it is practised in Nigeria.”
National Chairman of the party, Chief Chekwas Okorie, at a news conference after the NWC meeting, said the expected legislation on EVS should empower INEC to prosecute offenders of election funding provisions adding that: “there should be strict laws prohibiting any person from carrying a certain amount of money within the vicinity of a Polling Unit.”
He said: “UPP is disappointed that most observers that commented on the Anambra Governorship election have tended to play down on the danger posed to our nascent democracy by the monetisation and commercialisation of the election. What happened in the full glare of the general public with some of the drama already streaming in the social media is that political parties set up shops at virtually all the Polling Units to bid for and buy votes. The difference in votes won by these three parties I have mentioned is only in their individual capacity to out-bid one another at different places. In such bazaar the highest bidder always wins.
“It is difficult to blame a poor voter who has already been rendered vulnerable by a non performing government to resist the lucre of N20,000, N10,000, N5,000 as the case may be for casting his or her vote in a manner required of him or her to earn such windfall. It is important to put in perspective that most of these voters trekked to the Polling Units practically with no money in their pockets because of their unfortunate but avoidable indigence. Presenting such a person with the amounts just mentioned above is rather too tempting to be resisted.
“The unfortunate aspect of the perfidy in the Anambra Governorship election is that this show of shame took place in the full glare of all the security agencies that covered the election. The accredited Observers and Journalists witnessed the malfeasance and made their findings public.
“If this dangerous dimension to winning election is allowed to spread across the country then our democracy is doomed. The much expected 2019 general election will be a mere charade. The implication of this unfortunate development is that politicians will consider it wasteful and unnecessary to promote their parties manifestoes and canvass their blueprints for governance during campaigns in order to sell their party and candidature to the electorate. Politicians will consider that all that they have to do is to amass wealth, set up shops at Polling Booths, out-bid their rivals and wait to be congratulated and celebrated for a landslide victory. If this is allowed to gain root, then criminals, money launderers, treasury looters and their likes will take over the political space, occupy juicy elective and appointive offices in Nigeria from the next democratic encounter in 2019. In that way, democracy in Nigeria will definitely assume a new and ridiculous definition. Nigeria will be ruined.
“We advise as follows: The National Assembly should without further delay and in the interest of our democratic process, pass the necessary laws to usher in full Electronic Voting System (EVS).
“What we have done here as a responsible and credible Opposition Party is to share our thoughts on this election with the public and we hope that INEC, the National Assembly, the Presidency, Public Affairs Commentators, Pro-Democracy Organisations and Donor Agencies should intervene in their various capacities to save our democracy from going to the dogs.”