2023 Presidency: Focus Should Be On Capacity, Not Attacking Candidates’ Past — Prof. Sagay SAN

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*Says INEC Ought To Be Fortified and Well Defended
*Says BVAS Is One Of The Best Equipment Introduced To Nigeria’s Election Process
*Expresses No Sympathy For Student Detained By First Lady, Says He Ought To Be Sanctioned

A professor of law and the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC, Itse Sagay has expressed his view on the upcoming presidential election, stating that focus has been attacking candidates past rather than examining capacity. He also expressed his opinion about the use of Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for next year’s General Elections as well as opposition to it. He also talked about the detention of a student of the Federal University, Dutse, Aminu Mohammed, for criticising the First Lady in a post on his Twitter account.

In an interview with the New Telegraph, Prof. Sagay reacted to the ongoing electioneering process thus far in Nigeria, stating that the focus of Nigerians has been attacking the past of the candidates rather than examining their capacity. “Instead of talking about programmes, past achievements, people are now going to look for where candidates were born, what school did he attend? And things like that. In my view, those who are running away from discussing capacity and achievements are weak candidates who feel they cannot compete when compared to some others. I think it’s sad that we are going personal by attacking people’s past and talking of where they come from, what is your origin, what school you attended. I think that’s a sad note on the direction that the process is going”, he said.

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Talking further on attacks on INEC, Prof. Sagay expressed his worries, noting that INEC ought to expect this and factor it in their plans. His words read thus: “They (INEC officials) should have anticipated that sort of thing and factored it into their plans. They ought to know that that sort of thing would come up. They should have known that those who don’t want this country to continue as one, those who want to divide it and promote disintegration and civil war will come up with things like this. They (INEC) should have arranged that the facilities are well defended and fortified and I hope they have done that now? They need to do it so that anyone coming near that office in an offensive manner in terms of arms will have a price to pay. He won’t just walk in and burn the office and go.”

Speaking on how negative the impact of the arson is to the preparation of INEC and its ability to deliver a credible outcome in 2023, Prof. Sagay noted that INEC was well financed so they would be able to replace all these materials that have been damaged. According to him the real issue was getting INEC fortified to ensure that it didn’t occur again.

Furthermore, commenting on the innovation of BVAS as an instrument fir Nigeria’s election process, Prof. Sagay opined thus: “I think it’s one of the best equipment that has ever been introduced into our election process, especially in a third world country.” According to Sagay, the BVAS had innovations that made election process easy and ensures that elections results are accurate. He however noted that unless of course, there is a major collaboration by all those involved in a voting station to manipulate the outcome by allowing those who are not registered or recognised by BVAS to go and vote which would then invalidate the BVAS, but if they keep to the strict provisions of only allowing those who have gone through these BVAS provisions or processes to vote then the election will be rigging free and credible.

He pointed out also that the grounds for those opposing BVAS which was unreliable power and internet supply in many parts of the country, was nothing more than mere excuses. He however noted thus: “Maybe it is being said in good faith so that INEC can be more determined and be more aware of the problem. They need to be aware of all possible problems before the elections. It could be done that way or it could be simply people who are looking for an excuse to prevent BVAS from being used. I think INEC should simply do its best to make sure that there is power of transmission. I mean the capacity to transmit results anywhere in the country where there is a voting booth but BVAS must be used. If there is no BVAS, there can be no election according to the new Electoral Act.”

Finally, commenting on the case of a university student who at the instance of the First Lady, Hajia Aisha Buhari, was arrested and detained by the operatives of the Directorate of State Security on the allegation of maligning the first lady on social media, Prof. Sagay noted that the comment made by the student which was that the first lady has become fatter than what she was before she came to the office, was not a pleasant thing to be said to anyone. He questioned whether we ought to be rude now or abuse or misuse social media without sanctions. He pointed out that the student ought to be sanctioned and that he had no mercy or any feeling for the student.

He concluded thus: “Is it fair to tell the First Lady that she has grown fat with the public resources? Can he tell his mother that? Should we promote that kind of rudeness and unpleasantness on social media? Why are Nigerians so bad? Why do we lack training and good behaviour because we are free to do some certain things that we often abuse? I think that Nigerians need a lesson that you can’t do something like this and get away with it.”

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