Former representative of Rivers South-East Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Ngei Abe has said that only a properly organized electoral process, can save Nigeria from its plethora of problems.
He stressed that if the country can get it right with her elections, the myriads of challenges facing the nation would be a thing of the past.
Speaking at a symposium organized to mark his 56th Birthday Celebration by the Rivers Voice of Freedom in Port Harcourt, the former lawmaker stated that the foundation of everything wrong in Nigeria, is the electoral process.
He said: “Today, we have a process whereby the preference of only the leader counts. So the leader can handpick a thug, an armed robber, a greedy man, somebody that nobody in the society respects and say ok! This is the person that will go, others can die if they want, and that is the person that will go.
“You turn left, you turn right, whatever the people say at the end of the day would not matter. That election would produce the person that has been predetermined.
“That is not democracy and that will not lead us out of our present economic and social predicament.
“If we have a situation where nobody can determine the outcome of an election, where it is, the votes of the people secretly casts that can determine who emerges, no leader would come up and say this is what I want because, he knows that only the people can have the final say and not the leader.
“Unlike what obtains today, where the people are afraid to come out and say this is what we want. They would want to hear from the leader because; they know that what the leader is saying that is what will happen.
“If we reverse the situation and say the people would decide, the same way the leaders too will wait to see where the people are going before he will come out to decide whether to go to the left, to go centre or forward. Because then what the people want is what would happen: that is a democracy”.
The Senator went further to say that when the people are allowed to decide, things will change.
“What will happen then is that the people will speak first and the leader would speak only after the people have spoken, that will be a reflection of the fact that everyone will know that it is the people that decides. Once the people are the ones deciding, everything would change.
“The mere fact that you cannot compromise the process would be that you will not waste money on the things that could compromise the process. Everyone will be forced to put the people first”.
Abe noted that Nigeria spends so much on elections and frowned at a situation whereby over eighty percent of our resources go into pursuing the electoral process.
“The cost of getting to win an election is totally, totally unrelated to the cost of our economy. We have gotten to the stage now where people are now making budgets for an election to include monies to give to voters. If the voters have to be paid, the electoral officials have to be paid, the security officials have to be paid, the electoral umpires have to be paid even the observers have to be paid. If everybody is collecting money before a winner emerges, how will a winner be accountable to the people that have already been paid?
“Then you begin to shout, no dividends of democracy, the government is personal, who do you think brought out that money that you were sharing on Election Day? You cannot eat your cake and have it back.
“If we want a system that would provide for job opportunities, security, rule of law, impartial treatment, equal treatment of all citizens, you must have a true democracy where the voter and his votes determines the outcome of each and every election.
We must have elections in which money has no place, godfathers have no place, the leader has one vote, the follower has one vote: when we enthrone that kind of democracy, it would be a democracy that will work for all and not only for just a few people”.
Earlier, Comrade Dominic Dum-e-kpigi, President General, Rivers Voice of Freedom (RVF), organizers of the program, commended Senator Magnus Abe for his firm and unrepentant position as a defender of the People’s rights and freedom, as well as being the crusader of internal democracy in the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Rivers State.
He pledged the group’s unflinching loyalty as grassroots mobilisers to the dreams and aspirations of the Senator.
The occasion was chaired by Dr. Anosike Orduwa, a Port Harcourt based businessman, who was represented by Engineer Ekwele Chibuzor.