The Chairman of the Cross River National Assembly Caucus, Senator Gershom Bassey has declared that if the current proposed amendment of the constitution sails through, it will guarantee a free and fair election in Nigeria.
The proposed amendment will certainly capture the electoral laws which may include electronic voting but Bassey said for now, “nothing has been amended yet . but the electoral law amendment if signed will tighten up the electoral process and deliver near free and fair elections” in Nigeria .
Bassey in a telephone interview at weekend, did not disclose issues the amendment bill will carry as he said, “we have not seen the bill so we cannot speculate, so we have to wait and see it. But I know that if you go by what happened in the 8th Assembly and the document that was passed by the 8th Assembly and sent to the executive, I think those issues were captured and it is my expectation that if we want free and fair elections in this country, that is a very crucial aspect of the electoral reforms.
“It is important that when people vote as we saw in Edo state, your results at the polling unit are sent to the cloud as soon as you vote, without any interference of coalition centres and all sort of funny things that happen, you can actually aggregate the results from that polling unit and come up with a result for the constituency. So, I expect that what you are saying should be a crucial part of the electoral reforms. We are waiting for the committee to come out with the draft” .
He said, “meanwhile we have a constitution and document that allows itself to evolve and allows itself to be perfected. So this gives us a window to achieving the type of constitution we desire and want and I think that argument is very debatable”.
Bassey who represents Cross River South Senatorial in the Senate also joined the Chairman of the Constitution Amendment Committee, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege in jettisoning the idea of a brand new constitution for the country saying “I think that most constitutions in most countries of the world are incremental and living documents which means that they continue to be amended as you use them. Yes I understand the idea of ownership and that originally, a constitution should be a document that emanates from the people but we have had several constitutions and I think that the idea of sitting down to write new constitutions is not workable and practicable”.
Nigerians are very interested in how they are governed and so that makes me very happy that a lot of Nigerians have opted to participate from all levels; women groups, lawyers, Nigerian labour congress etc. people have wanted to participate in this process and we are seeing that here today. So for me, I think so far, we have had the type of participation we were anticipating and personally I am very happy about that”.
On Ayade’s defection two weeks ago, he said, “the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is waxing stronger and stronger in Cross River State. I am a PDP man true and true and I see no reason to move to APC. We have been able to do our work as legislatures in the PDP and our work as politicians in the PDP. Our governor said he was moving because after six years as governor in Cross River state, he wants to align with the centre…I am already aligned with the centre. I am working in the National Assembly in the senate where we have just one senate and that senate works for Nigeria and so align with the centre and we don’t have to move to any other party to align with the centre and do our work. Let the governor go and align with the centre but I will stay here and continue to align with the centre.
“In Cross River state even though we hear rumours that some members of the House of Assembly may move, we have not seen them moving, so let’s wait and see how many are going to move but in the National Assembly, the three senators are intact. Nobody has moved. In the House of Representatives, out of the eight we have, two that say they are moving but nobody has crossed any carpet. We have a saying in the PDP Cross River under this current environment that ‘move but don’t join’, so some are moving but are not joining. Stephen Odey has said that he is not moving”