2023: Proposed constitution amendment’ll guarantee free, fair elections – Sen Bassey
By Joseph Kingston, Calabar
If the current proposed amendment of the 1999 constitution sails through, it will guarantee a free and fair election in Nigeria, Chairman of the Cross River National Assembly Caucus, Senator Gershom Bassey has said.
In a telephone chat at the weekend, the Senator representing Cross River South in the Red Chambersaid “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 voted 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”.
Bassey also corroborated the Chairman of the Constitution Amendment Committee, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege in jettisoning the idea of a brand new constitution for the country as demanded 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 new constitutions 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”.