The President, Ijaw National Congress (INC) Worldwide, Prof. Benjamin Okaba, has knocked the National Assembly for the rejection of the e-transmission of poll results, describing the development as anti-democratic, retrogressive and pathetic.
Okaba, a Professor of Sociology at the Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa State, made the scathing criticism in Yenagoa on Monday during the formal opening of the office of the National Spokesman for Ijaw Youth Council, Ebilade Ekerefe, as well as the commemoration of his one year in office.
Okaba said the rejection of the bill indicated that those who did not want the interest of Nigeria are yet at work.
He noted that fraudulent electoral processes had been the greatest challenge affecting the country from moving forward to the path of sustainable development.
Okaba said: “Nigerians know that the day the votes of the people count and the choices of the people matter, a lot of things will change in this country and the key to having that is to have a transparent electoral process.
“But if people who got voted and had the mandate to change things for better in this country still feel that we should go analog, retrogressive, it is very pathetic.
“For me, it is another way of saying that many of the leaders are not good leaders in the first place because they are not prepared to lead this country to greatness. They are only there to serve their selfish purposes, their personal aggrandisement, personal interests and not national interest.”
He said the sad development was another crack in the wall of unity of the country, stressing that people’s trust and confidence in the country are daily being eroded and those who thought there might be electoral reforms have had their hopes dashed and are back to square one.
Okaba, who declared that Nigeria was on the edge of the precipice with the enemies of the country showing more impunity on a daily basis, called for the unity of the Ijaw people.
He added: ” So, what we (Ijaw) need to do is to be united. Let us address disunity among us. There should be unity of purpose. We have all it takes to do the needful, but the most important weapon is our unity.
“It is time to forgive ourselves, it is time to address those issues that unite us together as a people, for they are greater and bigger than the things that divide us. The truth is that we must close ranks, we must be focused, sober, vigilant and be conscious of the times we are in.
“And we must above all be prayerful for God to guide us, protect us and defend us because we are being oppressed, we are being neglected and marginalised. We are being told to go to hell but we know that God will see us through.”
In his remarks, spokesman for IYC, Ebilade Ekerefe, said the Ijaw youths would work collaboratively with the INC to realise the Ijaw cause.
Ekerefe said: “We of the IYC will continue to complement the good work of the INC. Since we started, despite the challenges that accompany leadership, we have been conscious and cautious of our actions to make the Ijaw youths proud including our parents.
“If not for Prof Okaba, during the crisis that rocked the council, Ijaw youths would have been in disarray. God brought him as a president at a time when the Ijaw nation was directionless and he was able to solve the problem and today, the entire leadership of IYC is in unison.
“We are grateful for the role he played. We assure him that we will play our roles better to make him and the Ijaw nation proud.”