Jega, Ayoola task Nigerians on credible elections

Emmanuel Olayinka Ayoola

Emmanuel Olayinka Ayoola

Nigeria needs to review electoral law after every major poll

Former Chairman of the Independent Nigeria Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega has emphasised the need to review the electoral law if Nigeria hopes to achieve perfect election.

He said such step is necessary, particularly after every general election in the country.

The former INEC chairman, who was the guest lecturer at the 50th birthday anniversary of National Legal Adviser of All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Muiz Banire, at the weekend spoke on the theme: ‘Challenges and Prospects of Sustainable Credible Elections in Nigeria.’

He said the country needed to institutionalise credible elections to allow a reversal from the gains made in 2015 general elections.

Also speaking on electoral laws in the country, a former chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Justice Emmanuel Ayoola, who chaired the event, wondered if there could be credible, free and fair elections in Nigeria.

He hinged his question on the fact that one irregularity or another has always marred elections in the country.

But to Jega, the challenges of carrying out electoral reforms, which seemed profound and daunting, is surmountable if there is the political will to do so.

The immediate past chairman of INEC, who conducted the 2011 and 2015 elections, agreed that both exercise were far from perfect but noted that they represented a remarkable departure from the ignominious history of fraudulent elections to the path of sustainable elections with credibility and integrity.

He stressed that poorly conducted elections had in the past damped the enthusiasm for transition to democracy and undermined the capacity to enjoy good democratic governance, with dire negative consequences on the livelihood and aspirations of majority of Nigerians.

While urging Nigerians, especially politicians to ensure free and fair elections, Jega said, “It has been the argument of sceptics that the relative successes of the 2011 and 2015 elections are a flash in the pan; that Nigeria would soon revert to its old habits of incredible, rather than credible elections. In these circumstances, it is important that all democrats and every Nigerian unite to prove such perception wrong.”

Outlining what should be done to achieve credible and free elections, he said, “The country needed to understand the nature of the challenges it has in conducting election and devise how best to come to terms with them.

“We need to underscore the prospects and not succumb to despondency and scepticism. One of the major lessons the 2011 and 2015 elections have taught us is that, although there are formidable challenges, good prospects exist for sustainable credible elections, essentially because, formidable challenges are not insurmountable. Indeed, they can become easily surmountable, if there is political will, a good and competent institutional framework; professional integrity in the work of the Election Management Body (EMB); and broad engagement and active positive participation by the citizenry, driven by focused, passionate and patriotic civil society organizations, professional groups and key stakeholders.”

He also suggested the need for the country to review her electoral laws after every election, which means the four years interval would be used to review the laws and identify areas of improvement before the next general election.

The former ICPC boss on his part wondered whether Nigeria would witness credible elections from the way things are today.

Said he: “Would there be free, credible and fair elections where political parties will believe in the electoral process and will imbibe the culture of practicing and dedicating themselves to such ideology. It will be probably if not easy to have sustainable elections in the country.

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