The Senate in session

By Oluwole Josiah

The Catholic Archdiocese of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, has lashed out at the national Assembly for voting against electronic transmission of election results, a clause in the reform bill aimed at improving the credibility of elections in the country.

The organisation also flayed the attitude of the legislators towards other issues of national interest based on partisan interest.

It described as “absurd and grotesque” the practice by elected representatives at Senate and House of Representatives who put party interests above national interests.

It held that the recent legislative posturing worked against electoral reform, press freedom and other issues that would have lifted Nigeria.

The Archdiocese, comprised Ilorin, Ondo, Oyo, Ekiti and Osogbo Dioceses.

In a communique issued after its meeting at Domus Pacis Pastoral Institute, Igoba, Akure, Ondo State, and made to newsmen on Wednesday, noted that the federal lawmakers had failed to impress those who had voted them in to office.

 The communique signed by its Chairman and Secretary, Bishops Gabriel Abegunrin and John  Oyejola respectively, also used the medium to felicitate with Muslims on the celebration of this year’s Eid-el-Kabir.

“The ongoing controversy surrounding the proceedings of the national assembly gives ample evidence of the theatre of the absurd which democratic representation has become in Nigeria,” the communiqué partly read.

“Be it on the electoral reform, electronic transmission of electoral results, press freedom or the Petroleum Industrial Bill (PIB), the work of those who represent the people on the federal level in Nigeria does not seem to bring much satisfaction to the people for whose interest they were allegedly elected.

“With the National Assembly at various occasions prioritizing party and  privileges over people’s rights and interest, relief and progress continue to elude Nigerians. 

“Simply put, those who claim to represent the people seem to have perfected the art of sabotaging the progress of the same people. Indeed, the time may have come for Nigerians to no longer simply roll over and accept non-representative decisions of the assembly but to challenge them by all legitimate means.”

The body of Bishops appealed to Nigerians to resist attempt being allegedly contrived to silence the press and penalise journalists for merely doing their job in the country.

They insisted that the freedom of expression was a fundamental human right guaranteed by the constitution  and cannot be alienated by any government least of all in a democracy. 

The Clerics also backed the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Hassan  Kukah in his effort to unveil the truth about the Nigerian situation in order to ameliorate things, calling on the government  not to perceive criticism as a crime.

“Our sympathies with those who continue to pay a high price. We express our deepest sympathies for the Nigerians who bear the brunt of Nigeria’s debilitating situation because of economic depression and hunger, armed robbery, banditry, kidnapping for ransom, unemployment and injustice,” the communiqué further read.

“Many have died as has happened in Igangan in Oyo State and elsewhere while so many are still dying. May the departed souls rest in perfect peace and may those who are suffering at various levels find help and comfort.”

Congratulating Muslims on Sallah celebration, the men of Bishops urged  Muslims to in the spirit of the festival work together for peace and make all necessary sacrifices to build a nation on the strong pillars of fairness, justice, equity and the rule of law. 

The Senate last Thursday voted controversially to reject the clause provided in the amendment bill for the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) to transmit results electronically “where and when practicable.”

Instead, the Senate voted in favour of an amendment to clause which vitiated the powers of the INEC to conduct and transmit election results by conceding the powers of INEC to the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC that will now transmit results of the election rather than the latter.

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