Former governorship aspirant under the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), in Cross River state Chief Ogban Ngwu Ebok has faulted current voters register being used by INEC in the country saying it is made up of mostly ghost voters.
As the country approaches another general election in 2023, Ebok who is popularly known in the political circle as “Bridge One”, in an interview at weekend, said it would be better for Nigeria if the National Assembly can pass the law on electronic voting and it is assented to by the president and adopted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) “because it will reduce the rigging abilities of everybody.”
He said, “INEC is trying many things such as the card reader and that has helped to reduce the level of rigging because most of the registers you’ll see in Nigeria are not correct and constitute mostly ghost voters.
“The card reader helps you to see only those who are actually real because the cards are there but some are not owned by any human being.
“What they deceive journalists to be writing is when for instance, 60% of the voters come, and they say there was a low turnout but it’s not a turnout matter. For example, in the south-south like Rivers and Akwa Ibom states, the percentage turnout was at 90% percent but in other places, the maximum was 60% so it’s not turnout. It’s just that some of those names are people who have died or do not exist”.
Ebok who is one of those fingered to throw his hat into the ring for the 2023 governorship race in the state, said, “if you now have an opportunity to rig, you rig with even those who are not alive but if it is real, you know those who are alive to be captured and will vote. So if you and I are active and serious, and even card readers are improved upon, it is the easiest way to weed away those imaginary and fake votes and this is critical.
“Like in Cross River State presidential elections, what was our percentage performance? You know we voted about 300,000 but our voting strength is about 1million, so we are saying that the turnout was 30 percent. In federal housing, you will see in the register 500 but people who turn-up are not more than 100.
“During the elections, there was not much violence because it’s only violence that would cause a lot of people not to come out and vote for fear of death or injury. But if there’s no violence and people can come out, people will not stay home and that percentage will be negligible. If INEC does thorough work and improves on the card reader, it will help a lot in accreditation and eliminate ghost workers and ghost voters”.
Ebok, a stalwart of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the state, decried the system of some rich members taking over the business of dues payment in a political party on behalf of members.
“It is a conspiracy of the elite not to allow people to pay dues and then they pay on their behalf. All they are trying to do is since we help you pay your dues; we will also help you make decisions. We can not make noise because we know we have not paid dues and so we shut ourselves down.
“We were supposed to pay dues but they did not emphasize it. In fact they had also said that those of us who are leaders are supposed to pay for our wards because we know some people may not have the money to pay but some are supposed to pay dues because it makes you more committed like it is an investment.
“If you don’t invest somewhere, it wouldn’t bother you if the investment turns out successful or not but if you put your hard-earned resources in any investment, you will be serious and interested in ensuring the investment works well. That is why I said that the thing is very dangerous and I think the leadership or the elites are using it in their own interest.
“My advice is that the party should insist on it. Let committed members pay dues and those who do not should be excused but let people be committed by putting their resources into it because it will strengthen the party and there will be more commitment”.