Immediate Past Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has congratulated Nigerians, particularly the people of Anambra State for the successful completion of the gubernatorial elections in Anambra State after the uncertainty and fear that the election would either not hold or be marred by violence. He also advised the people not to allow the crucial lessons which the results of the elections signified to go unnoticed or ignored.
Saraki in a statement signed on his behalf by the Head of his Media Office, Yusuph Olaniyonu, commended the stakeholders and other people who initiated and participated in the dialogue that eventually created the peaceful atmosphere that pervaded the period immediately before, during, and after the election.
He further praised the security agencies for the diligence and professionalism displayed by the officers and men on duty who rose to the occasion by ensuring smooth conduct of the polls without any serious breach of peace.
He also lauded the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the successful deployment of technology to improve the election process, particularly the adoption of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and electronic transmission of results.
He stated that the results of the elections have justified the fact that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System and electronic transmission of results are possible in Nigeria and can help to minimise incidents of fraud while enthroning the era of free, fair, and credible polls as they discourage ballot stuffing and alteration of authentic results by fraudulent officials.
He added that though there were some hitches recorded during the weekend polls, he urged INEC not to be deterred but to go back to the drawing board to improve on the areas where there were setbacks.
“One of the areas that need to be improved is the time spent on accreditation of voters. It can be frustrating when voters have to spend many quality hours on the queue before they can be accredited to vote.
“It should be clear to members of the National Assembly that they have done the right thing by turning around to support inclusion of the provision on electronic transmission of results in the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2019. They should quickly conclude work on the Bill and forward it without any further delay to the President. It will also be good if the President can sign the bill into law before the end of the year”, he stated.
The former Governor of Kwara State further appealed to youths who have been discouraged from registering to vote because they are not sure their votes will count or that the transparency of the electoral process can be guaranteed to have a change of mind.
“In my interactions with a lot of youths, I could see that they do not have confidence in the electoral process and that is why they have either not registered to vote or they stayed away from the polling stations on election day. I want to appeal to the youths to see the Anambra State elections as an indication of positive efforts being made to improve the process. So, they should go out and register in other to boost the turnout in subsequent elections across the country.
“The Anambra State electorate has taught the rest of Nigeria a lesson about the need for people to vote according to their conscience, to conduct polls devoid of violence, and stand firm in defence of our votes. All stakeholders also have to work on the issue of vote-buying. It is a problem which we must find a solution to, otherwise, it will continue to undermine our democracy. These are some of the lessons from Anambra State which must not be ignored.
“While I congratulate the winner of the elections, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, I believe that it is Nigeria and her democracy that won from the results and the conduct of the Anambra State polls. Once again, we have shown that our country can pull back from the brink and refrain from descending into the abyss. I enjoin the government and opinion leaders in the South-East to build on the discussions that led to the peace that reigned in the Anambra State during the elections so that we can have full return of peace across the South-east region. Once again, congratulations to Nigeria and Nigerians”, Saraki stated.
Head, Abubakar Bukola Saraki Media Office