BVAS Machine Is the Greatest Fear of Politicians Says Dr. Ede

BVAS Machine Is the Greatest Fear of Politicians Says Dr. Ede

Dr. Ene Ede, Chief Facilitator, Equity Advocates read Economics in the University, but she is not economical in her thoughts, philosophy of life and advocacy. For her, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman must be protected by the citizens because of the BVAS machine which she describes as the greatest fear

Dr. Ene Ede, Chief Facilitator, Equity Advocates read Economics in the University, but she is not economical in her thoughts, philosophy of life and advocacy. For her, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman must be protected by the citizens because of the BVAS machine which she describes as the greatest fear of politicians. The Nigeria Democratic Report had an interview with her in Abuja, where she poured out her mind on a wide range of issues on the polity. Excerpts:

We noticed that the participation of women and youths particularly, the number of candidates is declining. What are the causes and what can be done to remedy this?

The causes are numerous and one of it is simple: lack of value for human beings. I know at the root of every crisis when you begin to look at somebody’s else as second-class citizens. If you begin to devalue people by your action or inaction, if you begin to look at the value of people based on certain strange criteria, I say that because there is no reason for us to get to where we are now. If during President Jonathan, we had 13 ministers and we have four now. We had13 ministers in critical Ministries delivering. That time there was voice, multiplicity of interaction or engagement, there was so much because the whole world was so happy that Nigeria is going to lead but suddenly you saw a steady decline to the extent that we have hit the bottom by giving them only four. Again, only one female that is the governorship candidate and she is symbolically coming from the North. Not in the South- West or South- East where we have matured democracy, where people don’t struggle with inclusion of diversity, or the empowerment of women is the problem.

Adamawa state is very historic, she came on Monday, there was celebration in the inauguration of the women council in the villa. The president and other key stakeholders were there; only on Friday for her to be removed from the ticket which is the worse thing you can do to any human being either male or female. We are not saying the judiciary should be compromised. (She has been returned to the ticket on the orders of the Court of Appeal)

This is part of the history. So, the attitude simply shows lack of respect, lack of realisation that these set of human beings have made contributions that we cannot even talk about. If you talk of the number ,we have; if you talk of loyalty, we have; if you talk of capacity, we have; if you talk of character ,we have; if you talk of making ourselves available to be scrutinised , we have; if you talk of dealing with national unity, we are the best; If you talk about prayers in abundance both Christians and Muslims, we have. So, what is the criteria now?

I was Special Adviser (SA) to the first female Speaker of the House of Representative, the whole world applauded Nigeria. Why should there be no consequences of women in critical representation? This is not qualitative and quantitative representation. The parliament is the pillar of democracy.

Look at what happened to Honourable Mulikat, she wanted to be speaker. I was on her 60th birthday when Governor Tambuwal and all his team confessed to her that they scuttled her ambition because they knew that she was too strict and if she come here she will open door of governance particularly the parliamentary will be open to women and in short while she is going to do so many things. Why can’t we punish people who make such confession?

Let’s go back to the first Comptroller of Nigerian Prison service which is now Correctional Service, I was her volunteer mobiliser on Media. They denied her that position, she was the Deputy Comptroller General, she did extremely well; she wanted to be deputy chairman to the South in her party, they still denied her. When she went to Warri to campaign, she had the endorsement of the political class, she had the endorsement of the traditional and faith leaders. Everybody supported her but she was screened out of it deliberately. Look at the quality of men brought now. PDP is paying for their sins. I’ve told them both APC and PDP must go for restitution.

Government have promised us affirmative action because no government in the world including America have done the needful. Nigeria has done even more than them. But a bill to actualise this was turned down.

They want to remove the INEC Chairman. now are they trying to put a woman? The INEC Chairman is getting a little bit jittery now, but a woman can withstand them and tell them the truth without any fear.

Majority of the Senators are not coming back because they deceived women and that is just one portion of the punishment. They deceived some of these women, they sleep with some for empty promises to satisfy their emotions, yet they come and deceive them. How can God take this with them lightly. They have done so many bad things for women. They are using power to get money to tie women down.

Go to all the geopolitical zones, you will require critical mass of women to get any position including presidency. Why can’t you say okay we are tired of where we are let us just give 50 percent to these women.

I contested as a deputy governor, I know what I suffered even at my level. So, I understand how power is like. Political power is full of so many privileges, it is not just perks of office, the kind of things you will get to be in office is too much that people must fight. The abuse of power is so much, the impunity is too much, and women can’t cope.

When the only female presidential candidate of the APC was cajoled to say she was stepping down for Asiwaju, many people were abusing her that how would she do that. She wasn’t foolish because for her to sing and was confused at that time, it means a lot. We are never serious everything except how to get money and steal. So generally, the reasons are numerous, but the major thing is lack of respect.

So, what can be done?

The only way we can rise is to be strategic. Like the women that occupied the National Assembly, all of us will continue to play major role because we have paid the highest price. If we have good democracy: education will not be a problem, food will not be a problem, basic health care will not be a problem. Except we are able to achieve equality on persons with disabilities, women, and youths. Different demographics, people with different ideology will gather to be in governance from local government or ward level to national and we’ll populate that national assembly. The pollution in the National Assembly is too much. But there are good people; I believe strongly that if we keep at it, people will get frightened.

For us to generate critical mass of people, just like what we saw during the EndSARS, but this one won’t be bloody, it will be targeting good governance and I believe it will happen. We will learn from other climes that when you do something like this, there is temptation for hoodlums to take charge. So, we need to grow more knowledge of democracy. That Is part of the reason I moved my office to the village so that that my people can enjoy the good things they see on television.

Talking about the INEC Chairman, the rumour has been raised by a lot of people are there issues unknown to the public?

Yes. Iginni came for a live programme on television and said NBA should go and investigate any where they have filed any motion, anything that is filed concerning that machine (BVAS)

Is it because of the machine they want to remove the INEC Chairman and what are the implications if the man is removed?

If he is removed, they will bring somebody who they may control, anything they ask him he will do he will obey and do. You know someone can sign something blankly because the person wants to make his own money without showing concern by believing that Nigerians are like a stone. Look at how Nigerians are screaming. The INEC Chairman must be protected by the citizens otherwise they will mess him up. They will lie against him so that they will put us and him in one condition. They are the common enemies, we would make sure we preach that the INEC Chairman is not our enemy, the people that want to remove him are our enemies. They have already seen the result of the 2023 elections.

Nigerians have not been determined like this before. It is not even what they did during Basorun MKO Abiola. What they did during Abiola was a child’s play. The record is clear, the handwriting is clear. Nigerians have decided to take back the country. If you look at the report of most civil societies and and Non-Governmental Organisations NGOs, you will know that the BVAS machine is the greatest fear of politicians.

I noticed that in the past, it has not been issue – based campaigns, now we have been clamouring for issue – based campaigns, how can we have this in Nigeria?

The politicians should tell Nigerians what they want to do about health, because many doctors are running out of the country. Some are just going out to do menial jobs. How do you make the health sector affordable and accommodating to everybody? Let them tell us what they can do on education. If you said you want to involve women in your government, go and tell us how many women do you have in your campaign?

What are the chances of women and youths in the current political engagement?

They are not having the voice. They are not having the space. They are not having the mention. If you said youth and women are important or if you said youth are the leaders of tomorrow, why they won’t allow the leaders of tomorrow to practice or be mentored. The few people they put in APC and PDP are just there to survive. Some are seeking genuinely because they believe that those old people will go and give them their space. I like what Peter Obi of LP and Adewale Adebayo of SDP are saying. I wish there is a way Rabiu Kwankwaso, and those people can come together but it won’t work. If it is women, they can easily come together for the sake of the future, but it will be easier for Atiku and Tinubu to gang up against these people. So, the chances for us is very slim. Look at the woman in APC, can she talk much? Look at the woman in PDP. The only party that is giving women leverage is the SDP.

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