Governors elected on the platform of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, insisted that the National Assembly must approve electronic transmission of election results, which had earlier been rejected by the lawmakers during a plenary on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill.
Rising from a six-hour meeting, which deliberated on the state of the nation in Bauchi State, the opposition governors not only threw their weight behind the electronic transmission of election results in the Electoral Amendment Act but also urged the National Assembly, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), National Communication Commission (NCC) and other relevant agencies to facilitate the process before the 2023 general elections.
The governors during their deliberation “reviewed the deteriorating state of our democracy, the economic and security situation in the country and the state of the PDP as the main opposition platform in Nigeria.”
In a 10-point communiqué at the end of the 11th meeting of the Forum, Chairman of the PDP Governors’ forum and Sokoto State Governor, Waziri Tambuwa, said: “On the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, the governors identified the need for free, fair and credible elections in the country and called on the National Assembly to entrench electronic transmission of results of elections in the nation’s electoral jurisprudence.
“We requested INEC, the only body empowered by the Constitution to conduct elections, to deploy appropriate technologies necessary to ensure that the votes of every Nigerian are counted and made to count.
The meeting further called on NCC, especially the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd (NIGCOMSAT), Telephone Companies (Telcos), and all relevant stakeholders to ensure that universal access and service of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are provided especially in rural, un-served and under-served areas of the country before the 2023 general elections.”
The meeting condemned the attempt to foist on all political parties one method of conducting primaries, that is, by direct method only, through the Electoral Act Amendment Bill. The governors noted that the method is prone to massive rigging, as evidenced by a situation where Buhari scored about 15 million votes in 2018 All Progressives Congress (APC) direct primaries only to score 15 million votes from the entire country in the 2019 general election.
The governors advised that political parties be allowed to decide whether to use direct or indirect methods of conducting primaries as part of internal democracy in political parties.
The Forum reiterated the need for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other revenue-generating agencies of government to strictly abide by the Constitution, by remitting all their revenue less cost of production into the Federation Account as provided for by S.162 of the Constitution.
“The meeting condemned the use of underhand tactics to arm-twist some PDP governors and other stakeholders to join the APC, a political party that has wrecked Nigeria’s economy, turned Nigeria into a killing field, and has nothing to offer Nigerians but misery and bad governance.
“Also, the governors condemned Mr. President and APC for turning the Presidential Villa, that belongs to all Nigerians, into the new APC headquarters, where coerced PDP members are being paraded at intervals.
“On the economy, the meeting admonished the APC Federal Government to collaborate more with state governments to stem the unemployment scourge affecting the youths of Nigeria, through technology and increased production in all fields of endeavour, reiterating that government should stop paying lip service on the ease of doing business, as foreign direct investments have continued to fall partly due to obstacles placed on foreign companies wishing to invest in Nigeria. A glaring example is that of Facebook who insisted on investing in Nigeria rather than Ghana and is being frustrated by regulatory authorities.”
On the security of life and property, in addition to their earlier recommendations, the Forum said it was time to bring the activities of bandits, kidnappers, and terrorists to an end, through increased use of military equipment, traditional means of conflict resolution, and technology for surveillance and the development of the political will to flush them out.
“Kidnapping, banditry, and terrorism are not business ventures as claimed by APC but heinous state crimes that are destroying the Nigerian economy, the educational and social future of our children and causing significant social upheavals in society,” the PDP Governors admonished.
The PDP Governors enjoined all Nigerians of goodwill to take advantage of the ongoing registration of voters by INEC to register to vote, thereby arming themselves with the necessary tools in the struggle to rescue Nigeria from the APC maladministration.
The 13 PDP governors who were in Bauchi yesterday were: Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto); Nyesom Wike (Rivers); Godwin Obaseki (Edo); Seyi Makinde (Oyo); Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa); Darius Ishaku (Taraba); Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) and Okieze Ikpeazu (Abia).
Others are Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Samuel Ortom (Benue); Douye Diri (Bayelsa); and the host governor, Bala Mohammed (Bauchi). The Deputy Governor of Zamfara State was also in attendance.
At its last meeting in May, this year at Ibadan, Oyo State, the Forum said ranching must be adopted as a permanent solution to herders/farmers clashes in the country, while also reiterating the call for restructuring and for President Muhammadu Buhari to summon a meeting of the Nigerian Police Council and devolve more powers to states to douse the tension in the country and curb insecurity.