IDEAS Radio 14 December 2018

 

Aghogho Oboh: Alright, it’s five minutes past four, and welcome to 99.3 Nigeria Info, Countdown 2019.  63 days to the general elections. And we’re discussing all the big and significant issues on the road to the 2019 elections.  You can follow the programme on Twitter and tweet @Countdown2019NG and @RotimiSankore as well as @NigeriaInfoFM, @ideasradiong.

 

Today, we’ll be speaking with at least two candidates …

 

Rotimi Sankore: Well, it was to be three.  And we should explain why. Because we have said they are coming.  And so far, one is late! So we have to explain.

 

AgO:  Ok. Alright.  One for the position of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which is the one – for President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which is the one that may not make it.  Other two for the governorship seat of Lagos State. We’re live on visual radio, so you can watch this programme on Nigeria Info FM on Facebook. You can also send your questions or comments to our WhatsApp line which is 08095975805.  So, welcome Ayo Obe and Rotimi Sankore.

 

Ayo Obe:  Well, thank you Aghogho, and I am feeling particularly bereft in our IDEAS segment, because I was looking forward to asking the presidential candidate of KOWA Party about: Where is the IDEAS segment in, where is the IDEAS component in his presidential campaign?  Particularly …

 

RS: IDEAS, for those joining, means?

 

AO: Means Integrity, Democracy, Ethics and Accountability, which are so important if we want to move beyond personalities to issues and issue-based campaigning.  But unfortunately, it looks as if I’m going to be bereft.

 

I may just let you know Rotimi, that this week I was actually at the Electoral Institute of the Independent National Electoral Commission.   And I mention it because the topic that we discussed was one that has come up in relation to some of our previous programmes, and that was Vote Buying.  And, you know; what it is, why it’s happening, what is being done to prevent it. And it was an interesting exchange that I had at the Electoral Institute with some of the participants, and those who are particularly concerned with Electoral Reform.  But I think that what, the purpose of it is for us to see about, to be able to test the integrity of the election that’s coming.

 

And as a result of what I, some of the things, some of the discussions that I had, it does seem to me that INEC is still very much in the sphere where, it’s almost as if they’ve got their heads down, focussing, you know, with blinkers on, focussing on their … and not understanding how some of the things that are coming out in the public space are playing to the Nigerian public and their suspicions about the lack of integrity, or the possible lack of integrity, particularly when it comes …

 

RS: In the process?

 

AO: … in the process, particularly when it comes to the failure or the refusal of the President to assent to the Electoral Bill …

 

RS: The Amended Electoral Act.

 

AO:  Yes, the amendment to, well, I mean it’s a Bill, which is to amend the existing …

 

RS: … the Act

 

AO: … Electoral Act, and all the suspicions about whether or not, what this does to the issue of the Card Readers.  Now the INEC people were very clear that they are definitely using Card Readers, and that nobody should be worried that Card Readers are not going to be used.  And that quite frankly, if they had been waiting for this Bill to become law before they started planning to use Card Readers, then they wouldn’t be getting very far.

 

But the argument on the other side, is that it’s not whether or not INEC is prepared to use Card Readers.  It’s a question of whether or not those Card Readers, or the evidence that they provide, will be admissible in a court of law should it come to a situation where the election result is being challenged.  And you may remember, that when we had Clement Nwankwo of the Situation Room, one of the things that he said that could help build confidence in the process, was if the, if civil society, and even political party agents, could have access to the e-platform of INEC, so that they could see as the returns …

 

RS: As the results are coming in?

 

AO:  … the returns, and even the … I think the rate of usage at which the Card Readers are accrediting voters and so on.  So there are so many issues, because at the moment, the integrity of the elections is not just about people wanting to be sure that their votes count and are counted, but also about the acceptability of the result.  Because while nobody is of the … is going to say that Nigerians should lie down calmly and take it, if they feel that they are being cheated; sometimes the perception of cheating can overtake the actuality of cheating and that’s why I felt, I mean in my view, INEC is a little bit behind the curve on some of these issues.

 

RS: Well, the … I think the really most important thing for INEC is to be out in front with the communications, because any time misinformation starts and it concerns INEC, or refers to INEC, or suggests that INEC may be colluding, and INEC doesn’t respond immediately and explain why, or how – for instance, they’ve done a good job with respect to whether …

 

AO: … IDPs …

 

RS: … IDPs that are outside Nigeria …

 

AO: Which makes them not IDPs!

 

RS: Yes, which makes them not IDPs, would be allowed to vote.  And, although it is something that you and I will understand very quickly, if that kind of rumour starts getting around that: “Ah, IDPs in Niger and Chad are going to vote and it’s going to be counted”, then a whole, a lot of tension will start.  INEC has done very well to be out in front …

 

AO: This is one of the few cases I would say, where INEC has responded …

 

RS: That’s why I’m giving it as an example.  To say that if they respond like this to everything, and explain everything properly, then there will be more confidence in the system.  Because, we have even seen a situation in one of the state elections where, in fact, it is not something INEC can control. You know, it’s the legislation that says that if anything happens …

 

AO: … more than a certain distance from the polling station …

 

RS:  Yes, from the polling booth, that INEC has nothing to do with it.  And then INEC explained it. Our reporter explained what INEC said, and a whole lot of people that had no confidence in INEC were like: “No, your reporter can’t be speaking for INEC!”  And we said “No, he’s just reporting the law as explained by INEC.” So it shows that there are a lot of people that are so suspicious of INEC, that even just explaining what INEC said is their responsibility or is not their responsibility, attracts hostility, talk less of if it is actually INEC’s responsibility.

 

AO: I can actually attest to that, because it’s almost as though, and I certainly met a lot of people at the roundtable that I went to.  A lot of people were, who have been working on electoral reform. When they try to explain that these reforms are actually taking place; in fact, that’s really why you have to start doing vote buying, because you now have to have actual people to, with valid voters cards, to vote.  And they were explaining, they said that whenever they say anything to suggest that the election is going to be a credible election, then they get attacked because they are perceived as being on the side of the ruling party.  But, so I do think that perception management is important, because I mean, you saw a lot of people in, saying that: “Well if IDPs outside the country can vote, then why can’t the diaspora?”  I mean, and we know that diaspora voting is something that our National Assembly has not yet undertaken, they haven’t yet come up with the necessary Constitutional amendment to allow that. But you can tell certainly from the activity on social media how very interested a lot of people outside the country are.

 

RS: Yes, because some African countries do it, so why can’t Nigeria?  It’s a question of identification and registration.

 

AO: Well I should say that when we were having our, we’d just had, we’d had our June 12, 1993 election; the following year, in April 1994, I was designated the Assistant Polling Officer for the South African elections.  And because they knew that they had a lot of people who were in exile, they made arrangements for them to vote at the UNDP offices here in Lagos, and people were coming from – they made arrangements to actually bring them from different parts of the country to vote.

 

RS: Yes, yes, yes.  In fact I remember, when apartheid just ended, and they were wondering: Would South Africans outside South Africa be able, and they were like: “But we are on exile, we didn’t decide to go.! We were chased out, so we have to be able to vote.”  And that was one of the best examples of how countries can quickly …

 

AO: Well, I think that in a case like ours, it shouldn’t depend on only those who are forced out …

 

RS: No, I’m just saying that in the case of South Africa, they had to make …

 

AO: … they had to make that arrangement.

 

RS: … they had to make that arrangement, because a lot of people that had stake in the process had been forced out by the apartheid regime.  And when apartheid ended, the transition was not complete. A lot of the apparatus was still in the hands of the apartheid forces.

 

AO: Yes!

 

RS: But even then, South Africans outside, and almost all Black, so almost all were going to vote for the ANC.

 

AO: And incidentally, one of the features of that election that we conducted for the South African diaspora here in Nigeria, was that when you came for, you know, for accreditation and voting, you were asked: What is your province?  So, I mean, of course some of them were so eager, they said “ANC!” But, nonetheless, the point was that, because I notice that in INEC’s guidelines, they say that if you’re an IDP outside your particular constituency, you may only be able to vote in the Presidential election, whereas the South Africans made, you could say: My state is X state, and they would then allow you to vote in the gubernatorial, senate – well, it was provincial elections – but they allowed you to vote in the elections for that particular province.  So …

 

RS: Okay.  We have to make an announcement.  

 

AO: Okay.

 

RS: Just so that everyone knows what is happening.  So, we have two candidates that are running late.

 

AO: Yes, one of them is Sina Fagbenro-Byron, the presidential candidate of the KOWA Party.

 

RS: Yes, the presidential candidate of the KOWA Party.  Yes, the other is Babatunde Gbadamosi of the ADP.

 

AO: Action Democratic Party.

 

RS: Okay.  So, the next scheduled candidate is the APC Governorship candidate, Babajide Sanwoolu.  So if the others turn up when he’s supposed to go on, they have to wait.

 

AO: Well, as I said …

 

RS: And, because it’s their fault for not turning up on time.

 

AO: Absolutely.

 

RS: So it’s important to explain this, because in a situation where you have two governorship candidates from Lagos going, supposed to go on at the same time, supposed to go on on the same day,

 

AO: And since you’re not organising gubernatorial debates …

 

RS: … debates, yes.  So, if one is late, so if Gbadamosi – in fact he’s already late, so it’s almost certain that we can’t take him before Sanwoolu.

 

AO: But we were hoping to take Mr. Fagbenro-Byron …

 

RS: Well, Mr. Fagbenro’s plane just landed.

 

AO: Oh, well he’s not going to make it.

 

RS: So I don’t know when he’s going to turn up.  I hear that Mr. Gbadamosi is stuck in traffic somewhere nearby …  So if people turn up, they have to wait. Okay, so if you are listening …

 

AO: All I can say is that for the IDEAS segment, I’m afraid that we are not, we are not … we just encroach on your space for these fifteen minutes, so I feel particularly deprived that I wasn’t able to put some of these, and particularly even for Mr. Gbadamosi, because I looked at his manifesto, and it was very interesting to see that he had plans for what he was going to do in various different …

 

RS: Well, we certainly hope that all candidates have plans!  Yeah, a candidate without a plan …

 

AO: Well, I mean when you want to talk about issues, and issue-based  campaigning, although as I said, IDEAS, Integrity Ethics, Accountability, are part of it, there’s also the actual policies and programmes that you want to pursue which may also be part of the issues.

 

So, well I have to bow out as regards IDEAS radio, or IDEAS radio has to bow out.  I may stay and poke nose a little bit … but I will leave you to it.

 

RS: Okay, alright.  Thank you so much. Very grateful.

 

AO: Please, don’t forget to check us out on IDEAS radio, or @ideasradiong.  You can also check our website out, which is www.ideasradio.ng  and me, you can find me pontificating here and there @naijama.

 

RS: Okay, thank you so much Ayo Obe.