The deputy governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi State, Samuel Bamidele Aro, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to activate its central server for the poll. He spoke with GBADE OGUNWALE on the need for the umpire to safeguard the sanctity of the ballot box.
There is no legal backing for the use of the central server installed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for recording and storing results transmitted from the various polling centres during elections. That was why the use or non use of the server became a source of controversy in the electoral petition filed by the presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2019 elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
While Atiku had insisted that INEC used the server to record results in the presidential election, the electoral body denied using the device. After days of arguments by the two parties, the court had to make its ruling and the rest is history.
Legality of server:
However, the deputy governorship candidate of the PDP in the upcoming Kogi election, Sam Aro, has called on the umpire to deploy the server for use in the November 16 governorship election. According to him, “INEC has every right to use the central server for electronic transmission of results in the Kogi election. The argument that President Muhammadu Buhari declined assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill should not deter INEC from using the server.”
Aro argued that as an independent body charged with the conduct of elections in the country, no authority can question any decision taken by INEC to deliver free, fair and credible elections in the country. Canvassing the use of the server further, Aro is of the strong view that it will reduce incidents of ballot snatching and falsification of results at coalition centres. Citing the high political volatility of the state during elections, the PDP chieftain stressed that electronic transmission of results would lend credibility to the outcome of the poll. “There would be nothing left for ballot snatching thugs and their sponsors if they know that the results of the elections have been transmitted and received at the INEC headquarters. I believe that any political party that does not set out to rig elections should embrace electronic transmission of results. I don’t believe that any political party ready to respect the integrity of the ballot would kick against electronic transmission of election results because the device is meant to sanitise the electoral process,” Aro added.
Utility of server:
The PDP chieftain argued that the high number of election petition cases recorded in the various categories of elections across the county would have been averted if the electoral body had made use of its central server in the 2019 general elections. “Above all, it would have gone a long way to establish the integrity of the umpire and the credibility of the electoral process. This would have been to the credit of INEC and a pass mark for the country’s electoral system,” Aro emphasised.
Raising concerns over security of lives and property before, during and after the election, the PDP candidate called on the electoral body and the security agencies to live up to expectations of the voting population in Kogi State. Stating that violence and intimidation cannot win elections, the former member of the House of Representatives said even though the PDP has no agenda for violence and intimidation of voters during the election, he would not say the same for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. He deplored the spate of sustained violent attacks on opposition elements in the state in recent times, saying that most of the victims happened to be chieftains and known supporters of the opposition. Aro expressed regrets that weeks after the gun attacks during the September 3 primary election of the PDP at the Lokoja Township Stadium, the security agencies have yet to arrest anyone in connection with the incident. He said that although the opposition is worried over possible violence during the election, the PDP will defend its votes by every legitimate means available.
Power of incumbency:
Aro said there is no fear of an incumbent governor with poor performance, stressing that the PDP defeated a number of non performing incumbent APC governors in the 2019 general elections. According to him, if the PDP could defeat incumbent APC governors in Oyo, Bauchi, Adamawa and Imo states, then, Kogi will not be an exception. He added that the Kogi state governor has performed far worse than the APC governors in the four states that were taken over by the PDP. “So you can see that Kogi is going to be a walk over for the PDP,” he added.
On the N30.6 billion bailout recently released to the Kogi State government for payment of workers salary arrears and pensions
The PDP candidate said much as he would not question the wisdom in the release of the funds close to election, the timing is another thing entirely. “The questions to ask is, is the money being used for the purpose for which it was released. What percentage of the money has been used in paying salaries and pensions. Has the authority that released the money bothered to find out if the money is being used to serve the purpose for which it was released? The truth is that the workers and pensioners who are being owed years of arrears in salaries and pensions are no fools. They are going to answer these questions with their votes on election day.”
Choice before Okunland:
The candidate said his integrity and credibility will speak for the PDP, stressing that the Kogi West District has always remained a stronghold of the PDP. “Besides, the people in my Kogi West District are the major casualties of the four years of maladministration under the present APC. More so, my track records during my tenure as member of the House of Representatives speak for me. Above all, the PDP is presenting a formidable candidate in person of Engineer Musa Wada who is coming into politics with no baggage of any kind. Wada has an enviable record of public service and he is coming with policies and ideas that will break the chains of poverty, unemployment, insecurity and an atmosphere of despair that the present administration has entrenched in the state. I can tell you without any equivocation that the PDP holds the winning ticket in the November 16 election.”