Monday, 19 July 2021

Why I Was Absent At Senate Electronic Voting ..Uche Ekwunife


 ELECTORAL ACT AMENDMENT: MY STAND AND REASONS FOR ABSENCE DURING OFFICIAL VOTING

In the last 48 hours, I have read and listened to statements by some constituents who feel disappointed that I was not present to cast my vote during the consideration of the electoral Act amendment Bill to allow for electronic transmission of results during elections in Nigeria.

I have on many occasions, stated my support and stand for electronic transmission of results. I feel strongly that instant electronic transmission of election results will address many of the challenges in our electoral process and end the alteration of results and electoral fraud during collation which is usually occasioned by human error or deliberate attempt to upturn the wishes of the people. My stand has always been that electronic transmission of results should be mandatory in ALL polling units and collation centers across Nigeria without exceptions. 

Even though some argued that INEC should be allowed to choose or exempt areas where there are poor network coverage, I vehemently argued against such position, which in my opinion would favour some regions against others, knowing fully well that the South East is one of the regions in Nigeria that have good network coverage. 

I stated that if ATM, POS, INTERNET BANKING and other electronic transactions are obtainable nationwide I do not see why electronic transfer of election results cannot be equallyv achieved nationwide. I argued with respect to the situation where card readers were used in the South East in the last general elections, while manual voting were allowed in some other parts of the country, which significantly affected the voting strength of the region in the previous elections. 

While I consider the recent complaints by some constituents as germane, it is important to state that my absence at the time of voting was never deliberate. The deliberation on the electoral act which was supposed to come up on Wednesday was moved to Thursday, and was expected to stretch to Monday, July 19, for voting, however during the plenary on Thursday after some of us had travelled, Senators present extended plenary hours to vote on the electronic transmission in order to conclude it same day instead of continuing on Monday, which was why the Senate plenary lasted till 9pm. 

However, due to my already fixed engagements in my senatorial district, where I was scheduled to commission some projects, including a 3-bedroom bungalow we built for a less-privileged woman in Isuaniocha as well as a block classrooms at Community Secondary School Ukpo and perimeter fence project in the school amongst other engagements, I had to travel to Anambra to meet up while hoping to join my colleagues on Monday for the voting. Unfortunately it was not stretched to Monday as Senate adjourned for annual recess. 

On this note, I wish to sincerely apologise to all those who feel disappointed that I wasn't there to cast my vote. I am not someone that would stay or shy away from such an important activity. As a servant of the people, I always try to meet up with every of my constituency engagements to the best of my ability.

However, let me restate my position that I am absolutely in support of electronic transmission of election results nationwide and committed to giving my constituents the best of representation. 


Thank you, and God bless.


Senator Uche Ekwunife, Ph.D


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