A former Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, on Thursday decried incidents of pre-election violence in Kogi and Bayelsa States ahead of Saturday governorship polls in both states.
Mr Jonathan described the signals from both states as “disturbing”, adding that only electronic voting process can address issues of electoral violence in Nigeria.
The former president spoke in Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State, at the presentation of a book authored by a former deputy governor of the state, Gabriel Toby.
The book, entitled ‘In the Cause of Service: Memoir of Gabriel Tamunobiebere George Toby,’ was unveiled Thursday.
Lamenting the killing of people in both states ahead of the elections, Mr Jonathan insisted the only way of putting an end to the ugly trend was electronic voting. Electronic voting would work in Nigeria, the former president said.
There have been concerns over security of lives and property in both states ahead of Saturday’s election.
On Wednesday, a staff of a radio station was shot dead in Bayelsa State when suspected thugs attacked a political rally. Witnesses said scores of people, mostly supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party, were injured in the attack.
They said the thugs were loyal to the All Progressives Congress. The attack occurred at around 2 p.m in Nembe which is said to be a stronghold of the APC.
On Thursday, the Centre for Democracy and Development said in a statement that charging political rhetoric has intensified amongst politicians in Kogi State ahead of the election.
“Look at what is happening now; we have governorship elections in two states in Kogi and Bayelsa,” Mr Jonathan said on Thursday.
“The signals coming from both are quite disturbing. The use of thugs, shooting guns and our people already being killed when the voting process has not even started, is disturbing. This would not happen if we have got to a point in this country where voter card matters.
“That is why I have always advocated electronic voting. We must go into electronic voting. If people these days can transfer billions of dollars from one bank to the other, using electronic means, then I believe that we can do electronic voting perfectly and that will ensure that the use of thugs during elections would not come up again.”
The former president argued that if the process is transparent and peoples’ vote count, electoral violence would reduce.
He said: “My opinion is that people don’t change when they get into political office; we vote people that we don’t know into offices and it is difficult to know the true character of a person; it is hard to understand, but the fact is we don’t really vote people we know. People tend to use different means to get into office.
“When we develop as a nation to the point where our voter cards matter, where the people can vote, who they believe in, the behaviour of the politicians would change; politicians would stop recruiting group of boys and feeding them like dogs, calling them thugs to be used for elections while their children attend the best universities abroad.”
On Thursday, the police disclosed that 66,241 personnel would be deployed for security operations in both Kogi and Bayelsa states.
Out of the number announced, 35,200 would be deployed in Kogi State while 31,041 would be in Bayelsa State. Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of Operations in Kogi and Bayelsa States, Abdulmajid Ali, disclosed that the policemen would be complemented by the Police Mobile Force, Special Protection Unit and Counter-terrorism Unit and other security outfits.