Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has said major challenges witnessed during Nigeria’s 2019 elections were caused by President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to sign the amended Electoral Act.
Wike spoke when he received Deputy Head of Political Section/First Secretary, British High Commission, Stuart Gardner at the Government House Port Harcourt, on Tuesday.
“If the President had assented to the amended Electoral Act, we wouldn’t have had the kind of problem we had”, he was quoted as saying.
“That means that there must be card reader in the Electoral Process. In that case, it makes it difficult for security agencies who want to commit electoral fraud to succeed.
“With the card reader, results that don’t tally with accredited figures in the device will not be accepted. Since the card reader is not in the law, it creates the loopholes for them to manipulate.
“They created the room where some security agencies tried to force Returning Officers to sign result sheets. Remember in Rivers State, the Army took over the INEC Headquarters. The essence of that was to see that the Returning Officers were hijacked for fraudulent purposes.
“But if the card reader was legitimised in the Electoral Act, it would not have been possible, because the only acceptable result would be the one that tallies with the Card Reader.
“I have always said to Mr. President that in the interest of the country; let us do the right thing. Let us not politicise everything,” he said
“We should reduce the militarisation during elections. It is unfortunate that instead of Police, the Army takes over our elections, with flimsy excuses.
“What happened in Rivers State is an eye-opener. Bringing in the Army everytime is not the solution. The police should be allowed to do their job. INEC should be truly independent.”
Wike argued for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to function without bias, the appointment of its leadership should not completely be in the hands of the Federal Government as suggested by the Justice Uwais report.
On security, he lamented Nigerian Army’s clampdown on the State Neighbourhood Safety Corps Agency at its training site at the NYSC Camp, noting the Agency was modelled after that of Lagos State.
He, however, stated that his administration will go ahead with the Neighbourhood Safety Corps Agency and urged the British Government to provide technical support.
On State Police, Wike said before the implementation, “the revenue sharing formula of the country must be reviewed. The Federal Government should have fewer resources because they have lesser responsibilities”.