Nyesom Wike, the governor of Rivers State, says amendment of the Electoral Act by the National Assembly will be a mere charade if the card reader is not to be used to determine the validity of every vote cast.
The governor observed that several attempts to achieve a credible electoral reform had been mired by overriding personal ambition of persons with vested political interest within and outside the National Assembly.
Wike, who made this assertion during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics in Port Harcourt, said because most National Assembly members are often preoccupied about the next election, they tend to skew the electoral amendment Act to benefit their interest and that of their political party.
“Why didn’t the President sign the last amendment Electoral Act, why? Because APC as a party had informed the president that if you sign this electoral amendment, you are likely to lose the election. Therefore, don’t sign it. And of course, the President did not sign the electoral amendment Act.
“I am not carried away by the antics of the National Assembly. They all know what will make the country to move forward. One, make the election to be transparent by ensuring that all votes are counted. You can achieve that by allowing the card reader to function. So that the figures recorded on the card reader should tally with the transmitted figures.”
On the appointment of new Service Chiefs, the governor advised them to shun politics and concentrate on a strategy that will enable them to expeditiously end insurgency in the country.
Wike noted that lots of Nigerians had lost confidence in the former Service Chiefs, thus, the clamour for President Muhammadu Buhari to sack them.
Wike who applauded President Buhari for eventually listening to the cry of the citizens, advised the new Service Chiefs to preoccupy themselves by mapping out a strategy that improves the security architecture of the country.
“They must understand that challenges are enormous and so they have a lot of work to do. They should not concern themselves with politics. Part of the problem we had with former Service Chiefs, was that they were involved in politics. Instead of concentrating on the security of the nation, they were very much involved in politics. Nobody can deny that fact. The moment you politicise security, then you are bound to have problems.”
Governor Wike accused former Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Yusuf Buratai of political bias. To buttress this, he cited the arrest and detention of recruits of the Rivers State Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps who were undergoing training at the National Youth Service Corps orientation camp at Norwan in Rivers State by the Nigerian Army on the directive of the then Chief of Army Staff.
“So many States were setting up their own security outfit, the Chief of Army Staff, (General Buratai) allowed it. He never for one day said look we cannot allow this. But, he allowed it. When Rivers State by law set Neighbourhood Watch to give intelligence to security agencies, the former Chief of Staff, General Buratai came into politics. Even when we wrote to the Army, we wrote to the Police. The police and Department of States Services were the one training the people.”
He urged the new Service Chiefs to bear in mind that though they were appointed by the President, their oath of office and oath of allegiance is to obey the Constitution of Nigeria.
The governor described as erroneous President Buhari’s claim that the security situation in the country has improved far beyond what the situation was when he assumed office in 2015.
“Things have gone very bad. Everybody knows that insecurity has reached the level where everybody was saying change the service chiefs. If it was good, nobody will call for their sack. Even in his party, the APC said the insecurity has gotten to a level we cannot bear again.”
Wike pointed out that despite the withdrawal of $1 Billion, estimated to be above N450 Billion from the Excess Crude Account to procure armament to fight the insurgents, security has continued to deteriorate.
Speaking on the issue of community policing, the governor noted that both the federal government and the police high command are playing politics with the scheme.
“If you want this country to move forward, it is important that the States must take control of security apparatus of their state. I know the local governments, I know the communities, I know the families. So I should be able to say this is what we should do in policing these areas. Therefore, the need for community policing is necessary, but what is the problem is that the federal government comes up to say, they will support community policing, but where have they supported it.”
“The police itself will say, oh we are interested in community policing. Let me tell you what happened in my State. They said they want to do community policing and they called traditional rulers to seek their cooperation.
“Do you know every name submitted by traditional rulers, local government, the police changed everything It became political.”
Governor Wike disclosed that a committee has been set up to work out a possible framework for the establishment of a South-South security outfit. According to him, when the committee is done, the chairman of the South-South Governors Forum will announce the outcome.
On the rumour that he intends to run for the office of the president in 2023, the governor said his political detractors were behind the recent circulation of his posters in Abuja.
“Since December last year to this period, we are commissioning projects. So people are now believing that with the commissioning of projects, he may have intention to run for president.
“They have money to print posters for me. I thank them for telling Nigerians that they want me to run for president. No Nigerian can say I have ever met him, discussed with him that I want to run for President. That does not mean I am not a qualified person, but I have never come out to say I want to run.”
The governor said though it is his constitutional right to aspire for the office of the president, but his present interest is delivery of dividends of democracy to Rivers people.