We have lawlessness in the country because leaders decide to continuously disregard the laws — Engineer Martin Onovo

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Chief Engineer Martin Onovo, is an oil and gas Engineering Consultant and an Energy Expert. An alumnus of the University of Houston, Texas, USA. He has worked in the global oil industry for over 25 years, traversing many continents and the Niger Delta region, from where he holds many traditional titles.Engr. Martin Onovo is the President of The Strategic Union of Professionals for the Advancement of Nigeria (SUPA), a group of professionals from all disciplines, who, with in-depth research and highly informed opinions have developed solutions to many national challenges. Engr. Martin Onovo is also a chieftain of the ‘Movement for Fundamental Change’ (MFC) which is committed to the restoration of the ‘Rule of law’ and our constitutional values.

In the 2015 elections, he was the Presidential Candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP) which was founded by Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, SAM, LLD. The party recorded the best outing in its history at the 2015 elections by making more inroads into a wider geographical spread of Nigeria.

Webbteam@ipledge2nigeria Lagos correspondent, caught up with him at a media engagement in Ikeja Lagos, he spoke on the just concluded Presidential elections, the lapses in the electoral process and other issues.

What does the law say about not transmitting the results from the polling units through the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System BVAS?The law said that if you don’t follow the procedure it is a crime. And in the last election we didn’t follow it, the INEC chairman has admitted he didn’t follow the procedure.The Constitution is clear, and the electoral act is clear, this is why we have the general level of lawlessness in the country because the leaders have decided to continuously disregard the laws of the country.

The Constitution is clear, and the electoral act is clear, this is why we have the general level of lawlessness in the country because the leaders have decided to continuously disregard the laws of the country.

The Constitution of Nigeria says that the government should abolish corruption. That is the Constitution, that is not my opinion. But you know that we are very corrupt, every assessment and indices show that we are very corrupt. The law says one thing and we do another.

So there are criminal dimensions which also amplify the lawlessness where we commit a crime, forge documents and get away with it. And then we are complaining about why our society is like this.

This is very clear and should be in the interest of every Nigerian. what we don’t want is this brigandage and unfortunately for us tomorrow you land at an international airport, they put you on a different line you start complaining about racism.

Is it racism or that you have made a mess of yourself and nobody can trust you? The National Times has written an editorial against this election, we know that the EU has condemned the election and these are the people you want to travel to their country. So let us be careful with what we are doing. We can not do the wrong things and expect the right answers.

If we want the right answers let us do the right things. And this situation can earlier be resolved. take the results at the polling unit level and re-collate. And declare the result no one will challenge you because the evidence is in place.

How do you feel about the fact the Independent National Electoral Commission spent over three hundred billion to conduct the elections?So if we wasted our money going to get the technology of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System BVAS. It would have been better for us if we gave the money to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). 

We have about 80 federal universities in the country, if you give them four billion each that will be 320 billion naira and we will have a better Educational system. So we shouldn’t be doing this to ourselves and then turning around and complaining.

Alternatively, if the money used for Bimodal Voter Accreditation System BVAS was invested in infrastructure, to build specialist hospitals, you can imagine how Nigeria’s health care would be.Some of our Federal Medical Centres don’t have functional dialysis units. How much does it cost?  So we can’t be throwing taxpayers’ money into the waste bin and claim that we don’t have enough money to do things. So we need to look at this and understand the full implication of what has happened particularly concerning lawlessness and waste. Hence the need for us all to push and ensure that this is corrected so that it doesn’t happen again.

So how can the situation be resolved even as INEC has announced a winner in the just concluded Presidential election?

It is simple to resolve this situation, there are results sheets from polling units. When you look at those result sheets, they are in the custody of INEC, not the ones collated at the state level, which former president Obasanjo clearly stated that they are doctored when the result was presented.So if we take the polling unit result which are the results of the vote cast, which is in the custody of INEC; we simply add it up to get the correct result. And all these contentions will go away. All these strive, disagreement goes away, and everything disappears. Don’t forget that the political party through their agent still has the same copy so it is verifiable.

There will be no dispute, it will be clear. If the ruling party wins we will clap for them. But with this situation and with the confirmation we have, with so many authentic result sheets and what had been uploaded, the mutilations, the changes we have seen and the direct evidence from individuals some of the results were fraudulent. Because that is a criminal forgery. 

What is your opinion of the elections in Sokoto state and the removal of Dr Nura Ali as the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Sokoto State a week before the next elections?  

As criminally minded as they were, they made sure there were no National Assembly results but they still had Presidential results from Sokoto state.

So you wonder about how senseless these characters in INEC are. And how they think we are fools. You don’t declare results in Senatorial and House Of Representatives and then you declare results for Presidency, the election took place the same day, in the same polling unit, the same wards, and with the same voters. The problem is that we don’t ask questions in this country. We are not sufficiently aggrieved in this country. That is why these elements who preside over us get away with blue murder. Nobody is asking any questions. And INEC as an organisation hasn’t revealed the offence the Sokoto Rec committed. What did he do?

You sacked a Resident Electoral Commissioner, is it that he refused to collect the bribe you are giving others or that he wanted to do the right thing and he doesn’t want to append his signature to the dubious INEC that was flourishing?

And that is what I am tempted to believe considering the General criminality of the INEC process, that perhaps this was the man who decided to stand firm against brigandage.Your organisation as well as other civil society groups are demanding the removal of the INEC chairman don’t you think it will affect the upcoming gubernatorial elections

If the INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubudrops dead today, millions of other Nigerian can step into his shoes and do better. Because he has done a terrible job. I don’t think any other INEC chair has done the worst job this one. After his mistakes in 2019, we did not ask proper questions and we allowed him to continue and he told us to our face.

The irony of the Mahmood Yakubu character is that like any character, he does it with so much finesse and arrogance. At the coalition centre, he told the people that he will review it before he proceeds another lie before the International community. Nothing was reviewed and he announced a winner.He is not the only person that can be the INEC Chairman. Even if that job is given to you, you will do better.

In addition, INEC is a very large organisation with about 12 National Commissioners, so one man out of INEC is insignificant after all they removed the head of ICT who is even more critical than the national chairman. one person doesn’t change anything, especially one person in a leadership position. What you need are leadership skills.

If Mahmood Yakubu steps asides it won’t stop the court case. Because INEC is sued as an institution not the person of Yakubu. I don’t see how the call for the INEC chairman will adversely affect the ongoing adjudications. 

The standard practice in reputable organisations is that if you are indicted you proceed on suspension so that investigations do that you can’t interfere with the process. This is not different. Mahmood Yakubu needs to step aside, any of the National Commissioners can act. INEC has a board. They can decide that one of their board members act. 

He might not be directly involved in the issues that happened at the polling unit, and state but the buck stops at his table, he is the returning officer for the Presidential elections and at any state before he made the pronouncement. he could have said yes, we are going to review but he went ahead to announce the assurances to review.

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