Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike has charged the media to exert pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the amended Electoral Act.
The Governor said the public needed enlightenment on why there should be the electronic transmission of election results to save the nation’s democracy.
Wike, according to a statement by his Special Assistant, Media, Kelvin Ebiri, spoke after he was conferred with the “Gold Prize for Exceptional Leadership,” by the ThisNigeria Media Newspaper in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said considering the importance of the Electoral Act amendment to the survival of the nation’s democracy, the media should make it a priority to exert pressure on the President to sign the amended Act.
He said: “Who are those to benefit more if the direct primaries are conducted? Who are those to benefit more if it is indirect primaries? So it is important that Nigerians should know why there should be electronic transmission of result in order to save our democracy.”
The Governor said free and fair electoral process remained the only way those in position of authority could become accountable to the people.
He maintained that any electoral system that permitted security agencies to rig election and manipulation by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials would not yield accountable governance.
Wike commended the INEC for the successful conduct of the just concluded Anambra State governorship election.
He said: “Now, they have performed well in Anambra State, everybody is praising them. But when they did not perform well in Rivers State, should we praise them? We cannot. When a general in the Army will convert a whole division to INEC office, will you be happy?”
Wike urged Nigerians to always deemphasise their ethnic and religious affiliation for the country to achieve the desired national cohesion.
Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who chaired the occasion, said the country was going through tough times.
According to him, the current travails of the country also offered opportunities for the emergence of a great nation.
The guest speaker, Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah, who delivered the ThisNigeria inaugural lecture with the theme: ‘National Cohesion for Sustainable Growth and Progress: The Nigeria Dilemma,’ blamed the drafters of the Nigerian constitution for the country’s lack of national cohesion.
“Something as fundamental as a constitution, the debate and the issues that ought to form the kernel of our governance have never been subjected to the intellectual rigour that is required. The result is that we have never debated our constitution based on the peculiarities, the cultural expectations, the hopes, the anxieties, the fears of ordinary Nigerians.”
He argued that the country would not be fixed until Muslims understand the grievances of the Christians and until Christians understand the grievances of Muslims.
The publisher of ThisNigeria, Mr. Eric Osagie, said Wike was conferred with the flagship award of the newspaper because of his exceptional leadership in the vanguard of infrastructural revolution.