By Gbenga Sodeinde, Ado Ekiti
Senator Ayo Arise has volunteered to stand as defense witness in the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential flagbearer, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar challenging the re- election of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Speaking in an interview in Ado-Ekiti at the weekend, Sen. Arise dismissed Atiku’s claim of winning the March 23 presidential election based on the figures obtained from the server of the Independent National Election Commission (INEC).
He described Atiku’s claim as not only bogus, but also unverifiable, stating that “it is a ploy to confuse the judiciary in particular and Nigerians at large.”
The senator who represented Ekiti North Senatorial District between 2007-2011, however, counselled the ruling APC to handle the matter with tact by adopting a scientific approach in puncturing Atiku’s claim, advising that this can only be achieved if the APC sought the services of credible Information and Communications Technology (ICT) experts as defense witnesses.
“Politicians are incurable optimists. And every politician who stands for election believes he or she would win, not minding the realities on the ground. For me, I think the first thing is that the public needs to know how the INEC operates; most importantly, the chains of result collation from the units through the wards, local governments, state and to the INEC headquarters.
“Unless Atiku is telling us that there is another method employed by INEC which violates the norm we are used to. Or maybe, there is somebody somewhere who is concocting another figures for Atiku. The PDP flagbearer should also tell us how he got his information. Whether he officially applied for it through the instrumentality of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI). I think the man must have been ripped off or scammed,” Arise declared.
Furthermore, the senator said that for now, it is illegal for anyone to transmit the result of an election from the units directly to the centre, adding that “again, INEC, APC and the President must look for people with sound knowledge in ICT to tell the world what is possible and what is not. And I am ready to offer myself for free service, as a defense witness against Atiku at the tribunal, if the party consults me.”
Offering suggestions on how the APC leadership can manage the raging leadership tussle in the National Assembly, Arise admonished the party’s leadership to adopt a win -win approach and outlined measures that can help the party out of the quagmire.
According to him, one of the method the APC should adopt is the open voting system where members would mention their names, party and the candidate of their choice in the full glare of cameras.
“Yes, it’s true that every member of the National Assembly is a potential leader, but we also have the house rules and guidelines which confer privileges to some members based on seniority. The APC leadership must, therefore, ensure balancing in sharing key positions.
“And it must engage members within its folds regularly. Above all, the issue of party discipline and supremacy must not be jettisoned or compromised,” he added.
Other measures suggested by the senator include rewarding any contender who steps down for another based on party arrangement and persuasion, be given a committee of his or her choice.