Biafra Nigeria World Weblogs


BNW: Biafra Nigeria World Magazine



BNW: Insight, Features, and Analysis

BNW Writer's Block 

BNW News and Archives

 BNW News Archive

BNW: Biafra Nigeria World


BNW Forums and Message Board


Biafra Net

 Igbo Net: The Igbo Network

BNW Africa and AfricaWorld 

BNW: Icon

BNW: Icon


Flag of Biafra Nigeria

BNW News Archives

BNW News Archive 2002-January 2005

BNW News Archive 2005

BNW News Archive 2005 and Later

« A Celebration of Life's Beauties | Main | How to become any Ethnic Africana »

April 17, 2006

Otunba Nicholas Tofowomo Interview: On INEC, EVM, Third Term Agenda

by Otunba Nicholas Tofowomo (London, UK) --- Otunba Nicholas Tofowomo is the Director of Publicity and Organisation AD Europe, Ondo State Chapter and the current Chairman of Isedale Yoruba in the Diaspora. In this interview on the Internet with Prince Olu Adegboro of Oodua Voice an Akure, Ondo State based weekly newspaper; he speaks on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the controversial Electronic Voting Machine (EMV) and Third Term Agenda (TTA).

Nigerians should say no to Electronic Voting Machine (EVM)

1. What is your general perception about Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and do you see it as an independent body?

Independent National Electoral Commission should be an Independent body operating without any undue interference from outside agencies including political parties and government. But activities of Independent National Electoral Commission do not befit the name it’s called, because I do not see INEC as an independent organisation. This is a body that had earlier recognised Chief Bisi Akande as the chairman of Alliance for Democracy after witnessing a well organised and attended national convention in Lagos, subsequently; this same body withdrew its decision, without any meaningful reason. Any organisation that makes inconsistent decision because of undue influence is not credible. An Independent body should be competent and credible in their decisions and activities. I don’t think INEC has these qualities. I am of the opinion that INEC is an invisible quasi extension of presidency. It is a known fact that 2003 election was massively rigged all over the country where marked ballot papers and boxes were openly substituted for cast votes at polling centres, with the aid of security agents and without any form of protest from INEC.

An organisation that cannot organise and conduct a free and fair election is not competent and credible, and cannot be trusted; therefore there is an urgent need for electoral reforms that would reorganise INEC in order to rebuild its image without delay. The massive rigging of 2003 was a big embarrassment to the nation and we cannot continue like this, because it is getting to an unbearable point. The present registration of new political parties does not accord INEC any credibility or transparency because the principal game plan is the election process of 2007 and not the registration of political parties, which politicians in opposition must be vigilant about, or else we will be fooled again. Past election malpractices is clear evidence that INEC is not independent because they could not challenge election malpractices of the ruling party. The chairman of INEC and all its directors are appointed by presidency, which makes it, subordinate. Other political parties do not have a say in its composition, therefore it is a caricature of electoral processes and its unfair.

2. Why are you concerned about its composition?

The appointment of INEC chairman and its directors is made by presidency, which is unfair. A body that controls the heart beat of all the political parties should not be left to government controlled by PDP to solely appoint its principal officers. It would have been fair if other political parties have a say in the appointment of the chairman and its directors through a proportional representation process. It is obvious that favouritism and foul play could not be ruled out when government controlled by PDP appoints all INEC directors and its chairman, and their main responsibility is to conduct election that involves all political parties including the ruling party, which I think its laughable and a mockery of free and fair election. The composition of INEC directors must be reviewed without delay through electoral reforms because there is no trust in the current process, therefore INEC could not be seen as a transparent body.

3. Are you saying because of its composition INEC could not be seen to conduct a free and fair election?

It will be unfair to completely rubbish INEC because of its composition, but we have to be realistic and practical in our approach. INEC must be restructured before a free and fair election could be guaranteed. Unfortunately, INEC’s past records at conducting free and fair election is not really encouraging, but there is always a learning process to everything. I will assume the past election experience was a learning curve where INEC ballot papers and boxes, which should not be found with any individual or any political party were freely available to politicians, and used to rig elections. In view of the fact that the government controlled by PDP solely appoint top officials to manage the affairs of INEC, makes it difficult for other political parties to receive fair treatment, because it will be easy to manipulate INEC to the disadvantage of other political parties.

A collective responsibility and full involvement of all political parties through a workable electoral reforms would sanitise and assist INEC in conducting a free and fair election, because no political party would find it easy to manipulate election results. It is unfortunate that our politicians don’t normally like vacating office voluntarily except when forced out; therefore they would always want to influence a free and fair election to their own advantage, which translate to influencing INEC decisions. Not until this unfairness is resolved, I cannot see INEC conducting a free and fair election. For instance the introduction of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) to conduct 2007 election, which I refer to as rigging made easy devise want to be imposed on the electorates for obvious reasons. If Nigerians don’t wake up and probe into the use of EVM openly, we would not only have ourselves to blame, but we would be fooled electronically.

4. INEC is proposing an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) for 2007 general election. Are you saying that e-voting system would not aid free and fair election?

The last election was fraudulent and disastrous, some of the electoral petitions are still pending in the court of law, three years after 2003 general elections, which does not give INEC a good image. Hardly do you hear of election petition in England, because election is very straightforward without any form of manipulation. The use of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) will make the opposition and electorates look like a fool and its process would be difficult to challenge in the court of law, because court will only rely on documentary evidence, and probing into its manipulation would be very difficult to substantiate. INEC that could not conduct a free and fair manually, now they want to graduate to conducting elections electronically. Do INEC think we are fools?

Electronic Voting Machine is rigging made easy devise, it can be re-configured easily with sophisticated software to produce unrealistic results. Electronic experts would confirm that machines of this nature could be re-configured from any part of the world if they are chipped, these chips would be so tiny to detect. If we allow Electronic Voting Machine in Nigeria, we don’t need a prophet to predict the results, it will be more than land slide victory for the ruling party and it will be devastating and embarrassing. Electronic Voting Machine would actualise the game plan of turning Nigeria into a one party state if this devise is approved. It is obvious; the ruling party in conjunction with INEC are working together to determine the political formula of 2007, and how other political parties would be caged electronically. That is why INEC is not bothered registering every tom, dick and harry as a political party, because they know it’s meaningless to the game plan on ground. The National Assembly should not approve the Electronic Voting Machine because of its implication on our political future. This machine is part of the agenda to see President Obasanjo actualise his ambition without any opposition, because there will be no need for a serious campaign, considering the fact that Electronic Voting Machine will follow detailed and programmed instructions. Nigerians should reject the machine and let us adopt a more transparent form of conducting elections that would be acceptable and uncontroversial. EVM is expensive, unfriendly considering the country’s literacy level and very easy to manipulate.

5. What voting method would you propose to INEC for 2007 elections?

In Nigeria we get easily carried away with imported technology without considering its implications and applications. INEC want to use electronic voting machine when they have not conducted a hitch free election manually. In England where democracy is institutionalised, election is held manually and counted manually without any complications. All election results are declared within 24 hours because of its straightforwardness. INEC does not have any transparent electoral legacy to build upon; therefore trying to introduce electronic voting system when majority of Nigerians are not electronically inclined is suspicious and questionable. There is definitely a game plan to impose electronic voting on the electorates, which I suggest we must resist.

The only credible election held in this country was held in June 12 1993 during General Babangida’s regime when option A 4 was used, where statistics indicated Late M.K.O Abiola won. It was peacefully conducted because of its advantages. Option A4 is election friendly and not complicated because of its swiftness and transparency. The only way forward for Nigeria polity is to organise a free and fair election. I will advise INEC to use option A4 to conduct the next election because millions of naira will be saved from importing EVM, and they will spend less on logistics. Also option A4 will reduce election litigation significantly. INEC would also not waste time and resources training officers how to operate EVM. Option A4 does not require electricity, solar power or battery compared to EVM.

6. What is your opinion about the third term agenda, which may give opportunity to Mr President and governors contest in 2007?

President Obasanjo has really made his mark, considering the fact that the country was in a mess when he became the president in 1999. I congratulate him for sustaining democracy for 7 years, which is a record in the history of Nigeria polity. Mr President has tackled corruption to a remarkable level, our foreign relations have improved significantly, and foreign reserves have increased too. The banking industry has been completely sanitised. Nigeria is now moving in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go in the areas of electricity power supply, water supply, policing and internal security, health care, education and employment.

The third term agenda is unnecessary because anybody who is opportune to serve this country as a President for 8 years without any major embarrassment should thank God, and allow other capable Nigerian to continue his good work in order to inject better ideas into the system. President Obasanjo could not pretend that he’s not part of the agenda. It’s laughable when everybody is shifting blame on Mr President’s sycophants. If Mr President were not interested he would have stopped the crusade at its inception. Mr President doesn’t waste time in stamping his authority immediately when he doesn’t agree with a course. For example he hates corrupt officers and he’s using EFCC and ICPC to wage war against them day and night, not minding criticisms from various quarters about the witch hunting approach used. I am convinced if Mr President is not interested in a third term he will not play along the way he’s dancing round the third term agenda by keeping quiet.

I believe those who are clamouring for a third term on behalf of Mr President and the Governors have the blessing of the president. I am convinced President Obasanjo is using every available strategy to make it look as if he’s not the engineer of the agenda, but its obvious that he’s the driving force behind constitutional amendments for a third term and the galvanising of people’s support for his continuation in office, which would be enough consideration for him to put his name forward on the platform of his party to contest the next election. I believe if this arrangement should go according to plan, the likes of Gen. Babangida, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, Gen. Buba Marwa, Gov Orji Kalu and other aspirants in his party will be pressurised to drop their aspiration for Mr President.

This dream could not be achieved without the help of sycophants who are ready to use all available means to actualise Mr President’s ambition. It is very unfortunate that ideology has no place in our political system anymore, because our political managers have compromised what they used to stand for by joining the third term agenda crusade. These days ideologist turn to sycophants overnight because of money and contracts. Most of the people and agencies clamouring for a third term are enemies of Nigeria and they should be stopped with every reasonable means before they derail Nigeria democratic structure. Also I see these sycophants as the worst enemy of Mr President because they are not being sincere with him. I think he should have a second thought about this unnecessary agenda before its too late.

Mr President is tactically pursing a dangerous political path that will destroy his credibility; legacies and good image if he thinks Nigerians can be taken for granted, anyway, let us wait and see. The third term agenda is a selfish idea and those who are orchestrating this greedy concept to fuel Mr President’s ambition are threading on a container load of gunpowder, and when it explodes, the consequence will be devastating. I hope Mr President would not be giving flimsy excuses that its God’s intervention or that 4 year, 2 terms is not enough to execute his programme, but if he should give any of these excuses, I would conclude that he has not mapped out his programme effectively and put a workable structure in place, therefore, extending his term for another 4 years would only create more burden.

7. Don’t you think some people want Mr President to continue because there is no immediate replacement?

Those people who are claiming that President Obasanjo has no immediate replacement are members of his political party, who are making fortune from his administration and they know that Mr President’s continuation in office would also prolong their selfish interest. These people are insulting Nigerians and they should be stopped immediately. Anybody who is claiming that there is no immediate replacement for Mr President, apart from the fact that they are myopic in their thinking about the qualities of leaders we have, I think they need help, because Nigerians are recognised all over the world for their talents and qualities they possess. I don’t pray for any bad thing to happen to Mr President, but if anything should go wrong, are we going to turn to the western world to provide a replacement because we don’t have capable people? These sycophants who are claiming there is no immediate replacement owe Nigerians apology because they are insulting our integrity whenever they express this unfortunate view.

Most of the people who are championing the third term agenda are in PDP, therefore they are telling the nation that President Obasanjo is the best their party could produce, which is laughable and embarrassing. There are endemic problems in this country, which needs urgent attention. The level of poverty is skyrocketing daily, which this administration could not tackle effective, unemployment is increasing daily, Nigeria has the highest number of graduate unemployment in the world. Our educational system is in shambles, universities are under funded, our health care is a disgrace, and regular interrupted electricity power supply is still a major problem, which is paralysing many businesses daily. It is not an overstatement that our economic resources have not been utilised properly to alleviate these endemic problems, therefore if we fail to address all these problems and allow presidential sycophants to glorify President Obasanjo as the messiah and allow him another 4 years in office, I think we may end up causing political mayhem, which may derail our democracy completely.

8. What is your advise to Mr President?

I know Mr President has made up his mind to either complete his two terms with dignity and retire or ignore what people like me says, because Mr President has a choice, but my prayer is that God should minister to him so that he could weigh the implications of extending his tenure through kangaroo constitutional amendment that will give him an opportunity to contest 2007 election, and winning with the help of Electronic Voting Machine, or allow a credible successor to build on his achievements and legacy. I don’t think Mr President see himself as the luckiest Nigerian, because nobody has had it good like him either as a military officer or as a politician.

Mr President should not allow paraphernalia of office derail his unique principle and distaste for people clinging onto power more than necessary. He should focus on the remaining one-year of his administration and disband his sycophants at all levels with immediate effect. Mr President should make a public statement without delay to quell the tension third term agenda is causing in the country, because I would like to believe that President Obasanjo would like his legacies to continue, than clinging onto power unnecessarily. Our president should make history by handing over to an elected president in 2007 and let his name be written on a platter of Gold. He should weigh the consequences of bulldozing his way for a third term, which may end up as a political catastrophe. President Obasanjo should not emulate some African presidents who change their constitution indiscriminately to suit their selfish end, because Nigerians could not be taken for granted. Mr President should emulate Nelson Mandela and his good friend President Tabo Mbeki of South Africa and consolidate his international statesmanship.

Posted by Administrator at April 17, 2006 01:04 AM


BNW Writers A-M

BNW Writers N-Z



BiafraNigeria Banner

BiafraNigeria Spacer


BiafraNigeria Spacer


BiafraNigeria Spacer


BiafraNigeria Spacer


BiafraNigeria Spacer


BiafraNigeria Spacer


BiafraNigeria Spacer


BiafraNigeria Spacer


BiafraNigeria Spacer


BiafraNigeria Spacer


BiafraNigeria Spacer


BiafraNigeria Spacer

BiafraNigeria Spacer


BNW Forums


The Voice of a New Generation