Senator Gershom Bassey representing Cross River south in the Red Chamber Sunday said the proposed constitution amendment would guarantee free and fair elections in Nigeria if it sailed through.
In a telephone chat with Blueprint in Calabar, Senator Bassey who is also the chairman of Cross River National Assembly Caucus, said “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.
“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 could happen, you can actually aggregate the results from that polling unit and come up with a result for the constituency. So, I expect that the issue of electronic voting should be a crucial part of the electoral reforms. We are waiting for the committee to come out with the draft.
“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”.
He agreed with the chairman of the Constitution Amendment Committee, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, that there was no need spending resources, time and energy on getting a brand new constitution for the country as canvassed by some Nigerians.
He said: “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 a new constitution 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 had 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.”