By Sanusi Muhammad
What’s the fear of our National Lawmakers in the electronic transmission of election results? Are they beneficiaries of rigged elections? Do they deserve a re-election going by their performance rating? Are they the lawmakers Nigeria deserves? Are they not liabilities on the democracy?Whosoever doubts the fact that in Nigeria of today, the albatross to the progress of the democracy, are the National legislators, should visit the next psychiatric home for proper mental examination.
From several assessment ratings across the divide, the 9th national assembly suffers from numerous deficits including sound patriotic political education, exposure and experience. There is no doubt that national lawmakers have grown ‘too big’ for their constituency boots and it is time the people are fed with the liberating enlightenment that they possess the powers to cut them to size.
Yes, the lawmakers need to be served an urgent reminder that they are in that legislative house because their constituents elected them to be there on their behalf and chosen to tolerate their deficient representation and have the power to recall them back to base. The electorates can decide that they have had enough of their abject lack of patriotism, suffocating arrogance, pomposity, village character and insensitivity typical of tyrants.
Their recent decision to brazenly sabotage the yearning of most Nigerians for a more transparent and credible electoral process by voting against electronic transmission of results only served to open the eyes of several Nigerians to the extent these lawmakers have convinced themselves that they have become untouchable emperors who can ride roughshod on the people and abort their most cherished aspirations without the minutest fear of any consequence because they have pauperized the electorates and reduced them to mere sycophants and beggars.Free and fair elections have been denied Nigerians for years.
Most of the present lawmakers are beneficiaries of electoral malpractice. From the polling units to the collation centres, lots of distortions of figures are made to favor the most senior of the rogues in the contest that offered the highest amount for the crime. Nigerians have been yearning for their electoral process be fully computerized, climaxing in the electronic transmission of the results of the votes counted in front of party representatives and independent observers, and then transmitted to the server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Nigerians can’t wait to see the end of multiple and underage voting and diverse electoral malpractices. In fact, the expectation is that any Nigerian with access to the internet can log unto INEC website anywhere in the world to monitor the progress of the general elections.At the very few places where internet reception might be poor or absent, the electoral officers can still post the results and move together to a place where the internet is better and their post will just fly onto the INEC server.
But by their very insensitive and odious rejection of this transparent and reliable process, the lawmakers have now shed every pretence that, they are at the legislative chambers to advance the cause of the Nigerian people. In fact, they have decided to rudely flaunt it on everyone’s face that they are there to simply pursue their selfish interests and there’s just nothing anybody can do about it.
And so, with the fear of any threat to their high-paying offices totally erased, they have recklessly deployed their legislative powers to further corrupt the country’s electoral system in order to callously ensure that no matter the choice of the electorate at the polling centres, the incestuous camp of “winners” will always bristle with crude and criminal characters whose only hope of emerging victorious in every election is their willingness and ability to indulge in electoral fraud and violence.
What this calls the attention of well meaning Nigerians to now, is that the people have allowed political office holders to unduly exaggerate and rudely misuse their powers. There is therefore an urgent need to mount at every corner of the country where patriotic citizens are found, an overwhelming enlightenment about how the masses can easily kick them out of office instead of continuing to endure the long and painful wait for the next elections, whose free and fair conduct cannot even be guaranteed, given their egregious preference for a crude, outdated and easily manipulative process.
The media and civil society organizations should, therefore, urgently collaborate to cause every Nigerian to know very clearly that by just volunteering his or her signature, the seemingly powerful senator or representative could just lose his or her job. When this awareness is made to sink deep both in the masses and the political office holders themselves, they may begin to pause and weigh their options before casting their votes for any obnoxious piece of legislation presented on the floor of the parliament.
And as long as this succeeds in humbling political office holders and causing them to realize that they are not some medieval overlords commissioned to oppress Nigerians and perpetually mortgage their lofty aspirations for their country, any fear about any abuse of this constitutional provision to recall lawmakers is premature or even needless Now, think about this almost every Nigerian out there today is waiting with bated breath for 2023 and hoping that the current regime which has supervised over so much depreciation, suffering and division would quietly exit because in Nigeria, it is almost abominable for anyone to even imagine the impeachment of a president. It is like the heavens will fall at the mere thought of it.
This mindset must change if the country must make the desired progress. The people can demand this from their lawmakers, and if they refuse, the process of their recall should be kick-started. The same thing should be replicated in the states. Lawmakers should seek only welfare of the citizenry and there should be consequences if they fail to do so.
This will also make them readily accessible to their constituents as is the case in more stable democracies. People should be able to go to their representatives and present them with a catalogue of demands they expect them to table at the House on their behalf. And they would readily to this because they know that they are there by the permission of the people.
No lawmaker, therefore, will go to the legislative chamber to advertise abject lack of patriotism and irresponsibility, knowing full well that that is enough to earn him or her instant recall.It is sad and scandalous that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is scared stiff of a transparent electoral process that might automatically demobilize its rigging machines. That is why it used its majority at the National Assembly to murder the possibility of transmitting results electronically.
In the recently passed Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021, the APC lawmakers succeeded in dis-empowering INEC and conferred on the national assembly (where the APC has overwhelming majority) the power to collude with the National Communications Commission (NCC), an agency of the APC controlled federal government to determine whether election results should be transmitted electronically. Yet all these people regularly and easily transfer money to their relatives in very remote villages and equally speak to them on the phone.
It is only when it concerns elections that they suddenly realize that there is no network in very many communities in Nigeria? How far are these fellows willing to go to leave Nigeria stuck in the distant, primitive past just because of the phobia for a transparent electoral process?Well, there is no use sitting at one place and whining over a matter that can easily be solved. The people have so far allowed their constitutionally guaranteed power to recall unpatriotic lawmakers to remain latent. They should now rise and underline their resolve to use it for the good and progress of the country.
Lawmakers should be made to know in very plain language that the people have had enough of their waywardness and retrogressive actions and will no longer tolerate any of them that advocate the perpetuation of crude and outdated systems which lack the capacity to keep the fraudulent activities of political crooks in check.
Muhammad is a commentator on national issues