A former president of the Ijaw National Congress, Prof Kimse Okoko has pilloried the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for conducting what he calls a messy 2019 elections across the country.
Okoko who is also a former pro-chancellor of the University of Uyo told TNN in a telephone interview that INEC was a total disappointment and underscored the need for the review of the 1999 constitution to correct some of the noticed anomalies during the elections.
He also commented on the recent construction and inauguration of the Bayelsa State airport, saying although a commendable effort by the governor, Seriake Dickson, it was unfortunate that after more than seven years in government, the state still had no industries.
But he was hopeful that with the completion and inauguration of the airport, investors would take advantage of the airport and visit the state to take advantage of the various natural endowments to invest.
Okoko said the time had come for the stakeholders to review the electoral laws to allow for the total independence of the electoral umpire. “They allowed the unprecedented militarisation of the electoral process. It has never happened in this country before.
“Why would the military take charge of the electoral process? Where is the police? So, I am sorry, INEC has been a disappointment, a big disappointment.
“If the president had signed the amended electoral bill into law, it would have improved tremendously, the conduct of the election because it supported the electronic voting, for example, and it would have been a big improvement on the process.
“But he didn't sign. Now, we know why it wasn't signed because it would have disallowed the massive rigging we have seen now. So, we need that bill to be passed into law; let him sign it.”
The Ijaw leader who was part of the constitutional reforms conference organised during the government of Dr Goodluck Jonathan also spoke of the need for the country to return to the recommendations of the Uwais report, which he said would take the country out of the current electoral quagmire.
“They should look at the Uwais report and implement the Uwais report. They never did. Amendments to the electoral bill contained part of the Uwais report. If he had signed that amendment, INEC would have done a much better job. That is the way forward-use technology to improve the electoral system and it is available.”
On the Bayelsa airport, Okoko said “building an airport is not a bad idea because obviously, if we were a serious people, it would have fastened the industrialisation process. Right now, there is not one industry in Bayelsa.
“Bayelsa is a civil service state. So, who is going to fly in there? The civil servants and the commissioners and the few elites there? That is the only disadvantage we have for that airport. But building the airport is not a bad idea, although I have read in the papers, people questioned the cost of the airport and it has always been murky. But the concept cannot be described as a bad project.”