Southern Governors demand electronic transmission of election results

The governors reached a number of resolutions during a Lagos meeting.

L-R: Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike; Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi; Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu; and Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu at a meeting of the Southern Governors' Forum [Facebook/Olabode Richard Olatunde]

The Southern Governors' Forum has kicked against the plan to pass electoral reform without the electronic transmission of votes.

There have been numerous demands over the years to reform the nation's electoral process to be more transparent and gain the trust of voters.

One of the most prominent demands has been to put an end to the very manual transmission of results, easily manipulated by state and non-state actors to compromise elections.

The National Assembly is expected to pass the Electoral Act Amendment Bill soon, but media reports last week said a provision to mandate the electronic transmission of votes has been removed.

The governors during a meeting in Lagos on Monday, July 5, 2021 rejected the move ahead of the vote which could take place this week.

"In order to consolidate our democracy and strengthen the Electoral process, the Southern Governors' Forum reject the removal of the Electronic transmission of the election result from the electoral act," a communique of the meeting noted.

The governors also rejected the confirmation of exclusive jurisdiction in pre-election matters on the Federal High Court.

The Forum reached a number of resolutions that were made public through a communique read by Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, after the meeting.

The governors re-affirmed their commitment to the unity of Nigeria, and demanded that the next president be from the southern region to keep to the politics of fairness that informs the rotation of the presidency with the northern region.

While they praised the efforts of security agencies to curb widespread insecurity in the country, they pressed again for the creation of state police.

They also demanded that they be informed by security agencies before any operations are conducted in their states.

This demand is believed to be a reaction to the recent raid by the Department of State Services (DSS) on the home of Yoruba Nation separatist, Sunday Igboho, which led to the death of at least two people.

"The Forum frowns at selective criminal administration of justice and resolved that arrests should be made within the ambit of the law and fundamental human rights," the communique read.

They also resolved that funds deducted from the Federation Account for the Nigeria Police Security Trust Fund should be distributed among the States and Federal Government to combat security challenges.

They further set September 1 as deadline for the implementation of the ban on open grazing of cattle across the entire region.

The ban was first announced in May, and was widely-condemned by the Federal Government as illegal.

The Forum commended the National Assembly on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) but rejected the proposed 3% share of the oil revenue to the host community, instead asking that it be set at 5%.

The governors also rejected the proposed 30% share of profit for the exploration of oil and gas in the basins, as well as rejected the ownership structure of the proposed Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), as contained in the PIB.

"The Forum disagrees that the company be vested in the Federal Ministry of Finance but should be held in trust by Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) since all tiers of Government have stakes in that vehicle," the communique read.

All 15 governors, or their representatives, present at Monday's meeting also unanimously chose Lagos State as the Forum's permanent secretariat.

Only the governors of Cross River and Anambra were absent, and without representatives, at the meeting.

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