I recall how PDP as the ruling party at the centre prior to 2015, boasted to high heavens through its then national chairman – Mr. Vincent Ogbulafor that it will rule Nigeria for 60 unbroken years and in that misplaced euphoria PDP unleashed its majority in the National Assembly (NASS) to stifle and frustrate every single fundamental move to reform the electoral process before every general election.
As a matter of fact, many PDP stalwarts and supporters have not forgiven former President Jonathan till date for allowing Prof Jega to deploy card readers in conducting the 2015 general election that saw to the shallacking of PDP at the poll.
They blamed the former President for not using extra legal means to derail Prof Jega in that respect.
Incidentally, APC (now the ruling party) as the leading opposition party then shouted itself hoarse, sweated blood and bleed white in clamouring for electoral reforms that will make our electoral process more credible.
Unfortunately, the APC seems to have learnt very fast from the PDP as it has also deployed its influence as the ruling party to stifle radical reforms of our electoral process in recent time.
Today, the PDP of yesteryears that was bent on maintaining the highly flawed status quo ante bellum is at the receiving end as can be gleaned from the recent proceedings of the National Assembly when the APC controlled Senate topedoed a radical provision in the Electoral Bill, 2021 to the chargrin of PDP minority law makers and most Nigerians.
The events of the past few days and the spirited efforts by the opposition lawmakers towards ensuring that the progressive section 52(3) of the Electoral Bill, 2021 is not watered down or rendered impotent , should serve as a reminder to the APC and everyone that no party rules forever and that it is more enduring to use your majority strength as the ruling party to build strong and reliable institutions that will outlive the reign of your party as tomorrow is constantly pregnant with possibilities- change of baton.
To do otherwise is akin to sowing in the wind as you will surely reap the whirlwind.
The APC controlled House of Representatives obviously felt the national mood and as such didn’t toe the same line with the Senate.
With the public outcry that has greeted the Senate’s version of the section in issue, it is hoped that the NASS vide its Harmonization / Conference Committee will adopt the version of the House of Representatives which gives INEC the discretion to determine when, where and how voting and transmission of results will be executed.
Adopting the version of House of Representatives or retaining the original form is very imperative.
Let it not be also recorded in our history book that when APC as the ruling party had the golden opportunity this time around to engender radical and far reaching reforms in our electoral process, the party buckled and allowed crass opportunism to carry the day.
Thankfully, the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) has unequivocally declared that it is more than capable and ready to transmit election results electronically.
Accordingly, what the APC controlled NASS ought to simply do is to retain the electronic trasmission of results in the Electoral Bill, 2021 either in the original form or in the form passed by the House of Representatives.
Yes, there is no perfect election anywhere in the world but we must not continue to frustrate every noble attempt to make the process better than yesterday going forward.
Yes, politics is a “dangerously” selfish game but reforms that will birth a more credible electoral process (irrespective of the political party that may be the immediate beneficiary) ought not to be sacrificed on the alter of self and undiluted partisanship.
A party that prides itself as a progressive platform ought not to be seen acting retrogressively.
A progressive party ought to be breaking new grounds and not resisting radical changes.
Nigeria first before self or partisanship.
May Nigeria succeed.
Stanley Imhanruor Esq.