…INEC Flawed Electoral Act
Andy Esiet, Calabar
Senator Gershom Bassey representing Cross River South Senatorial in the Red Chamber, spoke on the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections, lessons learnt, message on back to south and others. Excerpts;
What is your reaction on the poor performance of PDP in the just concluded presidential and national elections in the state?
It is time for us to all go back to the drawing board and see what we did right or wrong. This has been a verdict from the people of the southern senatorial district. So we in the PDP have to go out and do some soul searching to see how we can get things right for next time.
As an advocate of back to South, with the current situation, would you still encourage it?
The principle of rotation is still there but as you know, my party has taken a different path and I am a party man, so for now, I would just say we as politicians must always listen to the people that we aspire to lead. For now, I real do not have much to say about it.
What’s your comment on the election generally in the state?
If you look at all the winners, they are all former PDP members from three years ago. It just goes to show that sometimes, under the leadership of the current governor, he has not been able to successfully manage the PDP in a way it was bequitted to him and because of that, he was one of those who scattered the PDP as it were. That is, his leaving the party with some members helped to scatter the party. The PDP has a big task to go back to the drawing board and look at things again.
What lessons has the PDP learnt from this?
The lessons we can learn for next time is that the PDP has been greatly divided because if you look at everybody that won, they are all former PDP members, including the Labour party candidate that won. Next time could be anytime, it could be in a re-run election, run off election or governorship election but these are some of the lessons we must learn deliberately for the next elections.
Don’t you think the Wike/Atiku crisis contributed PDP’s poor outing?
That may be a factor but it was never a civil war. We were always talking to each other. If you look at our presidential campaign council, there were nominees from these groups and if you look at the state campaign organisation, there also were nominees from those groups. So the disagreement would have been a forced disagreement from an outsider because within the state, there was never a sharp division as they are talking about.
But the division was very glaring as the opposing sides never worked together ?
Maybe you have done a post mortem but we have not done a postmortem. So you may have more information than we do, but we are going to sit down and do a post mortem to determine the mistakes we made so that we would be stronger for the next climb.
In the cause of campaign you and former governor Liyel Imoke said if Atiku fails in the state other candidates will fail. Do you still stand by that statement?
I never said so publicly but I do believe we would have been better off with an Atiku victory. It is very important for us that in the elections, Atiku wins because if he does not win, it would affect our governorship candidate and that is just a fact.
Already, Atiku has lost Cross River. Do you not think it would affect your candidate here?
Everybody’s moral is low, Labour was just a phenomenon. A situation were somebody who did not even print a poster, won the House of Representatives election against a very experienced legislator. It is a very unusual occurrence and that was a complete tsunami. Labour won the state and that affects all other parties going forward but fortunately for us, Labour does not have a gubernatorial candidate, otherwise we would have been in trouble.
Do you have confidence in INEC?
I do not have confidence in the results declared so far by INEC and the reason is very simple. We are the people that passed that electoral law and it is very clear in the law that there are three stages of the process when you get to the polling unit. The first stage is the verification stage where you use BVAS, the second is when you thumbprint and vote after you have been verified and the third stage is uploading of the results after they have been announced at the polling unit. In a situation were you vote, result is declared at the polling unit but it is not uploaded, which is part of the process, it means that the process is immediately fatally flawed. Uploading the results 24-48 hours later is unacceptable because the essence of uploading immediately which is transparency, is completely gone. So nobody can tell me it is a transparent election because at the very least, it has not complied with the law which is a problem immediately. So INEC has a very big issue, that is why you find a lot of people calling for the cancellation of the election or a complete overview of every result and the only way to do that is by bringing every point unit’s result, put it against what the returning officers had brought from the states and compare. So I do not accept the results of the presidential election in any way, shape or form as it is presently constituted.