Posted by News Express | 22 July 2021 | 509 times
Obosi Development Union (ODU), Abuja branch, has queried Senator (Iyom) Uche Ekwunife, representing Anambra Central Senatorial District, demanding an explanation for her absence at plenary in the Senate last week Thursday, July 15, 2021.
A letter requesting Ekwunife’s explanation was issued on July 19, 2021 and jointly signed by the union’s president and secretary, Engr Goddy Ikebuaku and Chimezie Obi Esq, respectively.
In the letter obtained by News Express, the people of Obosi in Anambra State said they were dismayed at the absence of the Senator when voting for e-transmission of elections results by senators in the red Chambers in the National Assembly took place.
The people, in the query titled, “REQUEST FOR EXPLANATION OF YOUR ABSENCE AT PLENARY ON THURSDAY 15TH JULY, 2021”, on the letter head of Obosi Development Union (ODU), reminded Ekwunife they are her constituents she represents at the red chambers of the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, the Senator has apologised, saying: “I am not someone that would stay or shy away from such an important activity”. She added: “I am absolutely in support of electronic transmission of election results nationwide and committed to giving my constituents the best of representation.”
Obosi people had said that, having viewed the compilation of the votes by senators for the Bill on Electronic Transmission of Election Results, they were disappointed that Ekwunife was absent when the Draft Bill was put to vote on the floor of the Senate Chambers.
According to them, it was a day that presented an opportunity for history to be made in the electoral process of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, “a country bedeviled with various forms of electoral riggings and manipulations.”
Furthermore, the Obosi people said: “We have no doubt that you are aware that the disaffection with the electoral system in Nigeria is intrinsically connected to the lack of integrity and confidence in the electoral result delivery process. The acrimony and violence in our electoral process has led to fatalities too numerous to mention, Obosi as a town has experienced quite a number of fracases that culminated in deaths during the election result collation process, hence, our feeling of disappointment that our voice did not count owing to your absence on the day of the vote.
“As our representative in the Senate, we expect that when very sensitive and important decisions or voting is taking place in the Senate, you will not only make yourself available but also use every means possible to lobby your colleagues (especially those from the North because of their numerical strength) to support initiatives that will advance the cause of your constituents.
“Iyom, bear in mind that if this issue is not well handled it has the capacity to overshadow your performance and define your legacy as our representative, as it portrays a clear and unambiguous disconnect with the desire of your constituents.”
However, in her swift reaction titled, “ELECTORAL ACT AMENDMENT: MY STAND AND REASONS FOR ABSENCE DURING OFFICIAL VOTING”, Ekwunife said: “My stand has always been that electronic transmission of results should be mandatory in ALL polling units and collation centers across Nigeria without exceptions.”
She further said: “In the last 48 hours, I have read and listened to statements by some constituents who feel disappointed that I was not present to cast my vote during the consideration of the electoral Act amendment Bill to allow for electronic transmission of results during elections in Nigeria.
“I have on many occasions, stated my support and stand for electronic transmission of results. I feel strongly that instant electronic transmission of election results will address many of the challenges in our electoral process and end the alteration of results and electoral fraud during collation which is usually occasioned by human error or deliberate attempt to upturn the wishes of the people. My stand has always been that electronic transmission of results should be mandatory in ALL polling units and collation centers across Nigeria without exceptions.
“Even though some argued that INEC should be allowed to choose or exempt areas where there are poor network coverage, I vehemently argued against such position, which in my opinion would favour some regions against others, knowing fully well that the South East is one of the regions in Nigeria that have good network coverage.
“I stated that if ATM, POS, INTERNET BANKING and other electronic transactions are obtainable nationwide I do not see why electronic transfer of election results cannot be equally achieved nationwide. I argued with respect to the situation where card readers were used in the South East in the last general elections, while manual voting were allowed in some other parts of the country, which significantly affected the voting strength of the region in the previous elections.
“While I consider the recent complaints by some constituents as germane, it is important to state that my absence at the time of voting was never deliberate. The deliberation on the electoral act which was supposed to come up on Wednesday was moved to Thursday, and was expected to stretch to Monday, July 19, for voting, however during the plenary on Thursday after some of us had travelled, Senators present extended plenary hours to vote on the electronic transmission in order to conclude it same day instead of continuing on Monday, which was why the Senate plenary lasted till 9pm.
“However, due to my already fixed engagements in my senatorial district, where I was scheduled to commission some projects, including a 3-bedroom bungalow we built for a less-privileged woman in Isuaniocha as well as a block classrooms at Community Secondary School Ukpo and perimeter fence project in the school amongst other engagements, I had to travel to Anambra to meet up while hoping to join my colleagues on Monday for the voting. Unfortunately it was not stretched to Monday as Senate adjourned for annual recess.
“On this note, I wish to sincerely apologise to all those who feel disappointed that I wasn't there to cast my vote. I am not someone that would stay or shy away from such an important activity. As a servant of the people, I always try to meet up with every of my constituency engagements to the best of my ability.
“However, let me restate my position that I am absolutely in support of electronic transmission of election results nationwide and committed to giving my constituents the best of representation.”
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