• I’m sorry, it wasn’t deliberate – Senator
The Senate session of Thursday July 15, 2021, throughout which Senators voted on the controversial Electoral Act Modification draft invoice is on the centre of verbal conflict between the rating Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial District, Iyom Uche Ekwunife and her constituents.
In what presents as the primary formal question on a legislator in Nigeria, the leaders of Obosi Improvement Union (ODU) stated the lawmaker’s absence at plenary value them their voice and illustration on an important invoice.
Senator Ekwunife was among the many 28 lawmakers that had been absent from plenary final Thursday when the invoice was subjected to a vote by the federal legislators within the higher chamber of the Nationwide Meeting.
Piqued by her absence, members of the union resident in Abuja, met and composed a question demanding explanations from the lawmaker on why she ought to be out of plenary throughout such an important sitting.
In a replica of the question, which was sighted by The Guardian, ODU, which workplace is located at 54 Lobito Crescent, Wuse 2, Abuja, advised Ekwunife to render applicable rationalization to justify her absence.
“Please, be aware that until passable rationalization is obtainable, our members, your constituents at giant; are inclined to view your motion as typical of politicians, who revenue or hope to revenue from election consequence manipulation that has bedevilled our electoral system, and pissed off the wishes of the individuals to elect representatives of their alternative as assured by the 1999 Structure, as amended.”
The letter was signed by Engineer Goddy Ikebuaku and Barrister Chimezie Obi, chairman and secretary respectively of ODU, Abuja.
They identified that, “as a consultant within the Senate, we count on that when very delicate and necessary choices or voting are happening, you’ll not solely make your self obtainable, but additionally use each means doable to foyer your colleagues to assist initiatives that may advance the reason for your constituents.”
ODU recalled the numerous cases of violence, carnage and destruction of property that attended electoral disputations throughout collation of election outcomes, stressing that they appeared ahead to the Electoral Act modification to resolve the related issues via digital transmission of votes.
A part of the letter addressed to Ekwunife learn: “We’re members of ODU, Abuja Department, your constituents, whom you symbolize on the Pink Chamber of the Nationwide Meeting.
“We noticed with dismay from the compilation of the votes and proceedings of Senators for the invoice on Digital Transmission of Election Outcomes, that you just had been absent on Thursday, July 15, 2021; when the draft invoice was put to vote on the ground of the Senate chamber, a day that offered a possibility for historical past to be made within the electoral strategy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria-a nation bedevilled with varied types of electoral riggings and manipulations.
“We now have little question that you’re conscious that the disaffection with the electoral system in Nigeria is intrinsically related to the dearth of integrity and confidence within the election consequence supply course of.
“The acrimony and violence in our electoral course of has led to fatalities, too quite a few to say. Obosi, as a city, has skilled fairly quite a few fracases that culminated in dying throughout the election consequence collation course of, therefore our feeling of disappointment that our voice didn’t rely owing to your absence on that day of the vote.”
In her written response, Senator Ekwunife apologised for her absence, recalling how she had previously said her assist for digital transmission of election outcomes.
“I want to sincerely apologise to all those that really feel disenchanted that I wasn’t there to forged my vote. I’m not somebody that might keep or shrink back from such an necessary exercise. As a servant of the individuals, I at all times attempt to meet up with each of my constituency engagements to the perfect of my capability,” she declared.
Backing up her contribution with proof of previous advocacy for digital transmission of end result of balloting, the second time period Senator said: “Though some argued that INEC ought to be allowed to decide on or exempt areas the place there are poor community protection, I vehemently argued towards such place, which in my view would favour some areas towards others, realizing full nicely that the Southeast is likely one of the areas in Nigeria which have good community protection.
“I said that if ATM, PoS, Web Banking and different digital transactions are obtainable nationwide, I don’t see why digital switch of election outcomes can’t be equally achieved nationwide.
“I argued with respect to the state of affairs the place card readers had been used within the Southeast within the final basic elections, whereas handbook voting had been allowed in another components of the nation, which considerably affected the voting energy of the area within the earlier elections.”
Ekwunife, whose second coming in 2015 was truncated by inexplicable Courtroom Judgment, remarked that though she considers “the current complaints by some constituents as germane, it is very important state that my absence on the time of voting was by no means deliberate.”
Her phrases: “The deliberation on the electoral act which was supposed to come back up on Wednesday was moved to Thursday, and was anticipated to stretch to Monday, July 19, for voting, nonetheless throughout the plenary on Thursday after a few of us had travelled, Senators current prolonged plenary hours to vote on the digital transmission with a purpose to conclude it identical day as a substitute of constant on Monday, which was why the Senate plenary lasted until 9p.m.
“Nonetheless, on account of my already mounted engagements in my senatorial district, the place I used to be scheduled to fee some tasks, together with a 3-bedroom bungalow we constructed for a less-privileged lady in Isu-Aniocha, in addition to a block of school rooms at Neighborhood Secondary Faculty Ukpo and perimeter fence challenge within the faculty, amongst different engagements, I needed to journey to Anambra to fulfill up, whereas hoping to affix my colleagues on Monday for the voting. Sadly, it was not stretched to Monday as Senate adjourned for annual recess.”