Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
Investment Banker, Economist and Founder of Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Atedo Peterside, has maintained that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must be held accountable for the failings encountered during the 2023 presidential election.
Speaking on Arise Television, THISDAY’s broadcast arm, the Founder, Anap Foundation, stated that he was more concerned about the process that threw up the current leadership in the country, rather than who emerged winner.
“My biggest interest there is not whether Peter Obi or Abubakar Atiku, get what they are looking for, but to ensure that damage is not done to the whole system.
“The whole purpose of the electoral act, the most improved, which was one of the legacies of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, was that it was supposed to deliver an improved environment for us to carry out elections transparently.
“It was to lower the burden of proof for petitioners and make the information available to the world via INEC’s iReV. So, anything that threatens all those gains, should be elevated all the way to the Supreme Court and let the court tell us which elements of the electoral act are still valid and which ones are not,” he maintained.
Peterside stated that on the business side, all the monies spent on ensuring transparency in the last election now seem to have to be wasted, explaining that INEC failed to make good its promises to ensure a transparent system.
“I am talking now as an economist. We spent at least N350 billion to create something like the INEC iReV that was supposed to put things beyond doubt. In the Osun governorship elections, everything was done almost correctly.
“By 6pm, many of us on the iReV website had known the results, but for the presidency there was talk about a glitch. But more than six months later, they have still not uploaded all the polling units.
“You turn to some pages, it says access denied and you see blurred images. If they got it right for Osun, what stopped INEC from getting it right at the presidency,” he questioned.
Peterside wondered why the court rejected a witness because he was a party member, why witnesses subpoenaed refused to appear and were left unsanctioned, why proof of election malpractices required the calling of witnesses ward by ward, among others.
Stressing that there were many issues that needed to be addressed, Peterside said the court should tell Nigerians whether electronic voting should be discarded forthwith.
He argued that if an electoral commission cannot bring out the certified true copy of its own work, then it has no reason to be there in the first place.
Noting that he wouldn’t want to delve into second-guessing the Supreme court, Peterside explained that he was concerned about what the future portends for Nigeria, given the current realities.
He explained that even for businesses, judgements of the courts have implications, since investors will think that the judiciary may not be able to interpret simple statutes.
He contended that when courts depend on technicalities to quash cases before it, rather than looking at the big picture, it then raises questions.
On the question of business confidence, he stated that the economy remains a complex whole, in which investors look at how law and order is enforced before putting their money anywhere.
“President Tinubu should be as concerned as I am. He should ask INEC why they are hiding detailed results till now. If I pass an exam, I will gladly want them to broadcast the results, polling unit by polling unit,” he said.
He noted that it was impossible for investors to come into the country when their are questions over the judiciary.
On Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, he stated that while he has great respect for the playwright, the distinction must be made between the Labour Party (LP) and the ‘Obidient’ movement.
He stated that the Nobel Laureate must differentiate between the two parties, LP and Obi’s supporters, stating that the renowned writer doesn’t seem to recognise the difference.
He said that if at 25 years, Soyinka wanted to vote and he was barred because he was from a certain tribe, the reaction should be better imagined.
“I suspect he’s addressing the very vocal elements. Some ‘Obidients’ and those who are vociferous on social media. We are looking for healing. We are not trying to divide the nation more,” he stated.
He stressed that what keeps him going has been his desire for good governance, saying once there’s good governance, he will likely retire from publicly commenting on issues.