Nigeria Ripe For e-Voting – Satumari
Kudla Satumari was the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for Borno South Senatorial District in the 2019 general elections where he squared up against former Senate leader, Senator Ali Ndume. He speaks on the outcome of the polls, the need for electronic voting in the country among other issues.
Why was it so difficult for the PDP to take over Borno?
It is not difficult for the PDP to take over Borno. In 2011, we took two out of the three senatorial seats and this year, if not for how the process was manipulated, our governorship candidate would have also won because our candidate, Mohammed Goni by his popularity was leading. In fact, the exit poll showed that the PDP won. But we understand how the power of incumbency plays when it comes to elections and those who use it properly use it to their advantage.
You are challenging the outcome of elections in your senatorial zone. Are your constituents with you on this?
I will not have had the courage to challenge the outcome of this election if my constituents were not with me. It took time before I went to the tribunal, as a matter of fact, it was two days before the closure of submission of petitions that I submitted mine and it was because of the pressure from my people who felt the impunity cannot continue. I have heard a lot of things from the supporters of my opponents that my case will not go far. But as we speak, about 18 of our witnesses have testified and I believe that justice will be done.
But I know it is not ending at the tribunal, it will go to Appeal Court. I know if it is favourable to me they will appeal and if it is favourable to them, I will appeal. I will take it to a logical conclusion.
My opponent it told people that since he was born, nobody has ever taken him to court, probably, that is why they are doing things with impunity, because no one has challenged them. If we can’t challenge the injustice in the country, we can’t even deepen the democracy we are talking about.
There is nothing that will stop me from pursuing this to a logical conclusion because I represent the yearnings of my people. This is a struggle that I am prepared to lay down my life for. I have the certified true copy of the distribution of ballot papers to nine local government areas, where election was conducted in my senatorial district.
One of the local governments, where my opponent comes from had 55,000 ballot papers issued to them, but 113, 853 votes were declared as the winning votes. I have a certified true copy from no other institution than INEC and in the history of that area, even when everything was peaceful, even when all elections were conducted in the 260 polling units; we never had up to 100,000 votes.
But now they are displaced to the extent that election in that particular local government was held in only two places – Gwoza and Punka. A bomb was detonated that very day, yet 113,000 people came to vote when the ballot papers that were distributed were only 55000.
I am from Southern Borno, how can you tell me that the PDP presidential candidate got only 77,000 votes, while the votes that were allocated to me was over 80,000? We have 27 local governments in Borno State and about 75 percent of the votes came from my senatorial district. What happened to PDP in other local governments? Look, there was no free, fair, credible election as far as my area was concerned.
The PDP is struggling to take over power at the centre but what will it do differently from the APC if it manages to win some day?
We are going to tackle security, corruption and the economy. We are going to show them how to do it differently. Goodluck Jonathan used the Treasury Single Account (TSA) technology to minimise the level of corruption. We are not going to fight corruption by propaganda.
They talked about degrading insurgency but insecurity is worse than it was in 2015. We will teach them how to do it differently in such a way that people will feel the impact of a working government.
The PDP was in power for 16 years but couldn’t put in place an electoral system that could stand the test of time. What was the reason for this?
My party voluntarily handed over power to the APC even when there were manifest problems with the 2015 election. Jonathan was able conduct elections up to Chibok at the height of Chibok crisis; that was a commitment to ensure that we deliver on democracy. The PDP reformed the process and I can assure you if the PDP had been in power, by today, we would have had in place, electronic voting. When the National Assembly tried their best to make sure that electronic voting was adopted for the 2019 election, who frustrated it? The President declined to give his assent.
My party invested so much in electoral reforms; we brought the use of Smart Card Readers. Jonathan never saw Attahiru Jega, yet he appointed him as INEC chairman and gave the commission complete independence. How would the PDP have achieved the level of perfection you are talking about? What we expected the APC to do was to have built on what we have done as a party.
Those who say we do not have the infrastructure to support electronic voting are not telling us the whole truth. All that is required is to be able to connect and have service. I can assure you that there is no village in this country that is that remote enough that cannot be covered.
However, supposing that village is so remote that it cannot be covered, it does not amount to substantial number of people. If 80 per cent can be done, then the remaining 20 per cent can be done using a combination of electronic and manual voting.