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TMCNet:  How INEC Can Improve - - Ogbeni Lanre Banjo [interview]

[August 18, 2014]

How INEC Can Improve - - Ogbeni Lanre Banjo [interview]

(AllAfrica Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Ogbeni Lanre Banjo is a three-time governorship candidate in Ogun State. He is a Certified Public Accountant (Chattered) with wealth of experience in both government and governance. He had served as a Treasurer for a member of the United States' House of Representatives, Mayor of the District of Columbia, and a Council member. He headed the Policy division of the entire District of Columbia Government, led the Accounting and Budget Division of the University of the District of Columbia before his appointment by Governor Ibikunle Amosun as the Ogun State Representative in Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (Dawn).


Governor Aregbesola's victory in the State of Osun? It was sweet. First, I would like to salute the citizens of the State of Osun for shunning violence for peace and for trooping out to exercise their birthright amidst terror. Secondly, I commend the INEC officials who oversaw the elections in the State of Osun for not allowing the agents of darkness to use them as pawns. I praise all the officials of INEC for their efforts to patriotically avoid the impairment of their independence.

I rejoice with my fellow Ogbeni and his families. Governor Aregbe led the fierce fight and won the battle. He used the right language at the right time. He let them know that it was different time in Osun. I will be remised if I do not thank the team that worked for the success of his campaign. I watched the last mega rally, and I have no choice but to doff my hat for everyone that put that campaign together.

Confidence in INEC to conduct a credible poll in 2015? Oh Yes, my confidence in INEC has been elevated by the way the Ekiti and Osun Elections were conducted. Like any system, certain improvements are still required. Now that the election in the State of Osun is over, the INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, must assemble his foot soldiers in INEC and objectively engage them in "lessons learnt" for improvement on the subsequent elections.

What about voter turnout and apathy In Ondo, 1.64 million people were registered to vote, but only 645,597 were accredited and 624,659 actually voted which implied that 20,938 voters decided not to go back to the polling booths due to the crude manner we conduct our elections. In Edo, 1.6 million voters registered to vote, 667,993 were accredited and 629,461 voters actually voted. Again 38,532 people did not go back to the polling booths due to the unrefined manner we conduct our elections.

In Anambra, 1.8 million Nigerians registered to vote, 300,000 voted in 2010, only 17% of the registered voters. I have been crying out that this system of accreditation first and vote later needs to be changed. It disenfranchises many including the elites who are not willing to be exposed to the risks associated with voting in Nigeria. This exposure to risks needs to be minimized by encouraging a system where people who want to come in, get accredited, vote, leave and those who want to hang around could be accommodated. The system also wastes peoples time.

Ekiti figures are not available yet, but I am sure it will be the same trend. The State of Osun has approximately 1.4 million registered voters, while figures of accredited voters are not available, it can be reasonably concluded that many did not go back to vote based on the result of the election. I believe an election is coming up in Adamawa State soon, if they can experiment with accreditation with immediate voting, certain experience will be gained with readiness to tackle any crook in the subsequent elections.

APC's lesson from Osun elections? The leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Party must critically engage in self review of certain issues tearing the Party apart. Governor Aregbesola's ecumenical approach yielded fruits. He managed the State of Osun in his first term without rancor from his fellow party members. He even extended collegiate hands to members of the opposition party including the National Conscience Party in a matured manner not witnessed in any other State.

What is your take on militarisation of elections? President Ebele Azikwe Jonathan has every duty to protect Nigerians whether during elections or after elections. Ekiti and Osun proved him right. Soldiers, SSS, Police can never be too many. With soldiers on the streets, no one dared snatch ballot boxes. The problem I have, however, is unnecessary arrest and harassment of innocent citizens, especially when the people arrested are members of the opposition. The President and the DSS have not addressed the unjustifiable harassment and arrest of Alhaji Lai Muhammed, my brother, Sunday Dare who is only adept in using his pen. Sunday does not even have the temerity to commit any illegal electoral act. The arrest of Salisu Shuaib of Ogun State is also denounced. Shuaib, the extinguishing Senator, is always about his Holy Quran. Thank God he was released.

Ogun State would have really shown that we do not allow the right of any of our own to be trampled over. We would have fought with everything the State is named after. All these folks were reported to have been ordered out of their vehicles by people wearing masks and ordered to get into a waiting bus and instead of the DSS to address that, the spokesperson was talking nonsense about bribe. What is the difference between Nigerian men and women now? Why don't they arrest anyone who offered bribe immediately if the money was not taken? What do these people call Nigerians? Would the president allow another Chiboks because of elections? What would we be saying now if these people were driven to PDP Forest in Ife? The fact that he is silent about someone wearing mask to arrest innocent citizens should dent his electoral vote. To those saying that Americans support President Bush during the 911 attack, they must now ask if President Bush dare allowed innocent opposition members to be harassed and arrested by anyone wearing mask? Honorable Rotimi Makinde was also attacked in Ile-Ife by PDP thugs led by armed Police paid by taxpayers. DSS men were not available to arrest those who went to Makinde's house. All the security efforts of the President would be negatively affected if he remains silent on this issue. He must speak out. He must denounce it and make sure it does not repeat itself.

What is your advice to politicians and electorates ahead of 2015 elections.

I don't think the politicians of nowadays are ready to heed any constructive advice until they are disgraced out of office because of arrogance, conceit, and avarice. The most dangerous criminal is the man gifted with destructive reasons without morals. Many Nigerian politicians are not endowed with moral. My focus is the electorates. Electorates are the boss of the politicians. Nigerians must learn from the event in the State of Osun. If Nigerians only care about stomach infrastructure that would go to toilets, then the country is doomed. The resolve of the Osun citizens to exercise their rights without succumbing to threats, and their unyielding determination not to allow delinquents to preside over their affairs is commendable. Track records should not include erecting boreholes, or sending people to Holy lands because of interest in public office.

Copyright Vanguard. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

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