ADELEKE TO AC: PROPAGANDA DOESN'T WIN ELECTIONS
Chairman of Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Isiaka Adeleke has advised the Action Congress to always do its home work well before elections rather than believing that media war will win election for it.
Speaking on the recent re run election in Ekiti the PDP stalwart told Saturday Sun that the election was well organized by the electoral agency, but identified lapses on the part of the police, which has the statutory role to maintain peace. The senator representing Osun West Senatorial District offers an insight into his experience in Ekiti.
'I had barely gone to two centres, you know elections were held sometimes in two wards in a local government, then in another local government, may be in two wards there. So ,I was in Igede Ekiti and I noticed that in a ward there was no security at all, except thugs. I called the headquarters inAdo Ekiti, the INEC officials to alert them, to get in touch with the police so that they could send security there .
There was a place I visited and discovered that the policemen, about five of them were just standing aloof and you could see people ,not quite away from the policemen engaging themselves in a brawl! I tried to reach the headquarter to tell them to call the DIG because I could not get the IG.
The policemen were just watching these people fighting and they did nothing about it, they were just watching. That was when I drove back to Ado Ekiti, to go to the headquarters, to formally lodge complaint.
On my getting there, I met with Resident Electoral Commissioner and all that and I lodged complaint ; I said I had been trying them on phone. Not quite ten minutes, the SSS and the police came upstairs and said that the place had been surrounded by thugs; that they wanted to attack me and I demanded, for what?
I said, we should go downstairs to meet them. I went downstairs. That was when I met the woman, the REC, Ayoka Adebayo ,she just came from where she granted an interview with Phillip Umeadi. She was introduced to me by Umeadi. These thugs had midgets, you would take them for journalists, but they were able to conceal their guns and machetes and they threatened to burn my car for coming to INEC office.
I had to calm them down and I explained to them that I was in Ekiti in my capacity as Senate Chairman on INEC and among my oversight functions is to monitor and observe elections and ensure that they comply with the Electoral Act and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that is what you elected me to go and do and I had monitored elections all through the re run elections—the Ekiti re run was the fifth one.
So, that is why I am here. Some of them said we learnt that you are here to come and rig election'.
Adeleke denies that PDP stalwarts across the south west were drafted to Ekiti to assist the party to rig. 'I was in Ekiti as part of my over sight functions on INEC', he told Saturday Sun
'No, no that is not true. They said I should go to hell and I said, if you do anything stupid, we would see, who would get to hell first. I went inside my car and we drove off. Before that INEC office was a police station.'
On my way back , they had mounted road blocks. So, I just left. I got to government house, I tried to reach the acting governor, to complain bitterly about the security, not knowing that that was what was all over. I went back , it was there and then at about 12 noon.. I said to myself, by the time I get to the next town after Ado-Ekiti it might take me an hour with all these thugs forming barricades, so I decided to leave.
I just called the national commissioner and said, look I have left Ekiti for you guys to continue' and that was how I left.
While Nigerians are of the opinion that Ekiti was taken as test case for INEC to redeem its image and has become a lost opportunity, Adeleke says the criticisms of INEC has been too sweeping, thus unfair.
'What did INEC do wrong? They should be specific, probably there was insufficient ballot papers, or did they allow people to manipulate results or what? They should be specific. Honestly, I was in Ekiti for two days; the Oye area they are claiming, if you look at the previous result, the PDP won in that local government, in spite of the fact that the candidate too is from there, the AC candidate .
Now the two wards, in Oye are the wards where the senator representing that senatorial district is from . Ordinarily, people will want to vote for their senator. Now, Ido Osi is Oni's local government, the governor. I believe any right thinking person will want his governor to go back.
So, it is PDP local government. Again, let me tell you what happened : the first polling results announced in Ido Osi local government was won by AC. When they found out that the election was taking place in the whole wards of the local government, when they found out that about two or three more results were coming in, and it has swallowed what they thought they had kept, that was when they now mobilized., to come and snatch the results from the presiding officer!
Look, when they were leading, they did not, but when they found out that the way the result was going, they were going to lose, they mobilized and by the time they got to the INEC office, in Ido Osi, the presiding officer and the INEC returning officer had already left with the police! They met them on the way, they didn't know they were the one, because they were not in marked INEC car, so the thugs went to the place and burnt down the INEC office.
That was the account of people on the ground, I was not there. So, when they now saw what was happening, they now beat a retreat; I mean the officials and went to the police station. That was the only safest place they believe they can be protected and the ballot safe guarded
From my own findings, because I called the Electoral Commissioner , Chukwu Ani, he was at the headquarter, I called him to find out if he was aware of development at Ido Osi and he confirmed. He said they had been told; that the returning officer had already told him, that they were at the police station and they were given the go ahead to collate the remaining results at the police station''.
While many Nigerians have squealed over the collation of results at a police station in Ekiti , Senate Committee Chairman on INEC says no law forbids the electoral agency from such. He equally dismissed the claim that the REC was in the dark on the choice of police station as collation center, which led to her initial purported resignation.
'You can do it anywhere! If you feel threatened; if you find that your life is in danger, or that the material is in danger, you can shift . The total collation centre for the election supposed to be the INEC headquarter in Ado Ekiti, but they changed because of security.
. She was the one that suggested it. The REC suggested that it should be done at the Christ High School, Ado Ekiti. So, everybody knew that they had changed the venue of the collation centre, from the INEC headquarter to Christ High School .what can be safer than the police station? No other place can be safer than the police station, if you feel that your life is being threatened , or in danger. All they did there was to collate the result from the wards. They were not announcing the results, that had been done at the polling units. Everybody knows the results, what they were doing was collating results announced by the presiding officers at the local level . That they were collating at all didn't mean anything, everybody had the results, form EC 8A, where results are written at the center .So, even if you collate it in hiding, everybody knows it has been announced.
You see, the AC propaganda, if you look at it. We left Ado Ekiti, I was going through Akure and didn't get any newspaper, because all the streets were deserted and I got to Akure, spent two days there.
When I bought the papers, the first thing I saw was that 'Ekiti boils!' I said, this place I just left .
You see the propaganda and lies of these people. So, their propaganda and it is what they make the press to believe and most of you were there. You know your ethics says, when in doubt, leave out, but some of you do not,. They just go ahead and publish. So, what I am saying in effect, is that let's be careful''.
As the fingers of scorn in the direction of INEC persists, Senator Adeleke says politicians have a lot to share in the blame, rather than the recourse to INEC bashing.
'We must change our attitude , we Nigerians must first of all change our attitude . No matter what reform, it will be meaningless .It's a general belief that you have to hire thugs, buy machetes in every election. Why? That's attitudinal problem. Well, let's go back to the belief of many Nigerians because anybody that loses election places his loss at the door steps of INEC. Is it INEC that hires these thugs ? Is it INEC that buys machetes for these thugs? Is it INEC that asked people to stuff ballot boxes? Is it INEC that snatches ballot boxes? These are questions that we have to ask ourselves. What is the problem of INEC? I am not saying those in INEC are saints''
Adeleke offers panacea to a credible election in Nigeria: the removal of ad-hoc staff , electronically conducted poll and electoral crime commission to serve as deterrence
'To start with, if you want to get a credible election, we must do away with ad hoc staff. A lot of fraud that are being perpetrated on election day is being done with the connivance of ad-hoc staff. We all know, what ad- hoc staff do. All the ad-hoc staff are party members and they are ready to support that party.
. So, we provided money in the personnel cost of INEC to hire more hands. We have equipped the electoral institute, train these people on how to handle elections. That's one step.
The second step. What that will do, is that, if they have a more permanent staff, they will know that their job is on the line, if they connive with anybody, or political party to manipulate elections. As somebody who has a career to build may be he has been looking for a job for five years, that person will not want to lose it. So, that's one area I believe.
Again, if we can do away with ballot papers and use electronic voting machines. I have been saying this, because there won't be any ballot papers to snatch and there won't be any ballot boxes to stuff
What that would do is that there won't be any thug, no machetes, no gun and all that. What causes violence is probably they are using thugs and they want to just snatch the ballot boxes and stuff or destroy. But when this thing is done electronically, if you are voting, it records at a national data center, where all parties will have their agents. Even at the venue, all parties have their representatives. Immediately you vote, you punch, it gives you a receipt, it tells you the number and the person or party you have voted for. So, if at the end of the day they are collating and they said, only ten voted for candidate 'A' and whereas the receipt says you are number twenty, you ring it out . Anybody that come there and carries the machine, the election there is automatically cancelled.
Well, the unbundling of INEC, there is nothing wrong with it; they believe they have so many things in their heads as it is now, but I will not support the issue of creating another commission to register parties. That has been sufficiently taken care of by section 221- 229 of the constitution and again , if you look at section 78 up to section 105 of the electoral act. So , you don't need any other commission. That body only need a body that regulates the political parties to ensure that they comply with the Electoral Act and the sections of the constitution . That's all.