*Says 2023 polls may be chaotic
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The National Chairman of Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), Mr. Breakforth Onwubuya, has advised the Independent National Electoral Commission to jettison the idea of appointing serving university lecturers to help in conducting elections in the country.
He said that based on the experiences of what transpired during the last general election and the recently concluded governorship polls in Bayelsa and Kogi states, the next edition of the general election in 2023 may be very chaotic unless genuine steps were taken to address the serious lapses and to grant early approval for the use of electronic voting.
Speaking in an interview with THISDAY in Abuja, Onwubuya described as highly reprehensible the manner in which most of these lecturers allowed themselves to be used by polticians to undermine the credibility of elections.
According to him, most of these lecturers have not lived up to the trust and confidence the people had in them in standing their ground against manipulation of elections.
“We urge that INEC should stop the use of University lecturers to conduct our elections, most of them now see it as an opportunity to make money. Rather INEC should use their trained permanent staff who have sworn an oath of allegiance as returning officers,” he said.
Onwubuya who also contested the 2019 presidential election on the platform of FJP lamented that massive electoral fraud, thuggery, violence and voter apathy was fast becoming the order of the day in the last four years.
He pointed to the incident in which a woman leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was brutally murdered and burnt during the just ended governorship election in Kogi state, adding that if nothing drastic was done to reorder things the forthcoming election in Edo state may even be bloodier.
“Both PDP and APC are presently involved in rigging the election, you see PDP started this evil plan of rigging elections in the country, but APC coming on board and having suffered for many years as an opposition party, has now tried to outsmart the PDP in rigging. Most of the top members of the APC today were former members of the PDP, so they know how they are doing this game.
Both party hire thugs and pay them to disrupt the election.
He also accused the two big parties of being behind the recent wave of vote-buying as other parties do not have the money to engage in such practice.
“As a party we are saying that the way and manner elections are being conducted in Nigeria will not give room for credible leadership in our country. It is usually the highest bidder, the one who has more capacity for violence, thuggery using the military and police to perpetrate electoral fraud that wins elections,” he said.
“Our electoral process has degenerated to a point that there is no credibility in the process, politicians have bastardized the process they use thugs, and money to suppress the will of the voters.
“We are calling for a total overhauling of the electoral system. If we have electronic voting, it will minimize ballot box snatching, under the electronic voting system, as people are voting, it is automatically being counted and displayed on the INEC’s website and everyone will be viewing it.
Onwubuya dismissed the arguement that the country is not yet ripe for electronic voting, saying that presently most Nigerians whether literate or illiterate use mobile phones and the Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) and makes transactions with them without much difficulty.