Iriase: We’re ripe for electronic voting
Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Mr. Pally Iriase, spoke to ADAMU ABUH on proposed reform of the electoral system, calling for the introduction of electronic voting.
What is your view on renewed moves to reform the electoral system?
Senator Nnamani said what the committee is called upon to do is not put away the Uwais report. The Uwais report came several years ago. Since then, elections have been held and certain things that were not stated even in the Uwais report have been going on. Take Kogi, for instance. No law envisaged what happened. This panel needs to handle the kind of matter that happened in Kogi State. So, there is always room for improvement on every system.
I am happy Nnamani never said they will jettison the Uwais report but rather reinforce the good points made and add any point that may not have been attended to. Don’t forget that whatever recommendations flow from this effort will result ultimately in constitutional amendment. And by the 1999 constitution, as amended, the place where this can be made is the National Assembly. Justice will be done to all those issues.
For Instance, we need to know that the introduction of the card reader by the former INEC chairman, Professor Jega, was a laudable thing. But you could see what the law courts made of it. And so, there is a grey area on acceptability or otherwise of the card reader. Don’t we think it should be made part of the law? What if this panel comes up with a clear recommendation that it is not only the card reader that should be relied upon but that Nigerians should move on to electronic voting. Wouldn’t it be better for us because the earlier we go electronic, the better? The card reader put many thugs out of business. But the law does not yet back the card reader.
For me, electronic voting is the ultimate. And it could be the best because by the time you put a logo there, everybody can see it and know where to point at. The moment we adopt it, it gets rid of voided votes, which people are also using to cause confusion. And it would make election results faster. It is my own personal advocacy that Nigeria should just go the whole hog and allow electronic voting.
How about the recent Edo governorship poll?
The election in Edo State was perhaps the most peaceful since 1999. It was the best conducted. It was free, fair and very credible. It is not because my party won. Observers were highly disappointed. Disappointed in the sense that they came to witness bloodletting, to witness ballot box snatching and stuffing. But they were disappointed because none of this happened. Not one opposition leader or member was arrested because of this election. Not a single drop of blood was shed in the course of this election, unlike what you had in some other states where governors emerged over the blood of citizens.
What is more, INEC was at its best. The card reader worked perfectly. I must say what happened is that it is quite easy to use the media to tell a lie. In the course of the electioneering, our opponents actually deployed the best of propaganda. They told several lies, and in fact, gained a lot of traction in the campaign environment. But it’s quite easy to tell lies to people who are uninitiated on a matter.
Did the APC use money to influence voters?
The truth of the matter is that when you say somebody won because he induced the voters, you should go to court and prove what you have alleged. You should go to the tribunal and prove it. If there was a giver there must be a taker. And you must capture both. And the lawyers will want to find out whether there was an exchange. I think, it’s just to let those they have hoodwinked believ that they were well on ground.