Prof. Attahiru Jega, the former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, advocates for the restructuring of the commission, as he stressed the need for a thorough review of processes and procedures in appointing the Chairman and Resident Electoral Commissioners.
Prof. Attahiru Jega made this declaration during a town hall meeting in Abuja, held by the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Electoral Matters, On Tuesday.
The event proceeded without the participation of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the 19 registered political parties.
Africa Today News, New York, gathered that the electoral commission was not invited to the inaugural meeting, part of a series, and there is ambiguity regarding invitations extended to political parties.
Prof. Attahiru Jega, a Professor of Political Science, also pressed for legislation preventing inter-party defections, highlighting that the habit of shifting allegiance damages discipline and democratic principles.
He said, ‘I will recommend the unbundling of INEC because the Commission has a lot on its plate to deal with, a situation which has made it struggle to meet its core mandate. Some functions that INEC is currently performing should be given to another body entirely to handle if we want to make progress on our electoral journey.’
‘If we (Nigerians) truly want to improve our electoral process, there is a need to proscribe cross-carpeting by political actors. The frequency with which Nigerian politicians cross-carpet has become a big source of worry.’
‘A candidate will be elected on Party A platform and he gets to the office and joins Party B without first resigning and relinquishing the position he or she holds in trust for the electorate. This has destroyed the essence of our democratic ethos.’
‘It is my humble recommendation that there should be a review of how political parties field presidential candidates. Look at the number of registered political parties in Nigeria and each fielding presidential candidates but at the end of the day, only two or three score significant votes while the majority do not receive any vote.’
‘If we are serious about our electoral reforms, there must be a threshold for political parties to meet before fielding candidates in presidential elections. The rule must be set that parties that failed to secure a certain amount of votes would not be allowed to present presidential candidates. There must be sanity in the polity and we must get it right.’
‘It is not only a huge waste of human and material resources, it’s absurd to have parties that cannot win a seat in the local council to field presidential candidates in a general election. The Electoral Act and INEC guidelines should be reviewed,’ Jega added.
Jack Ekpele, Founder of The Albino Foundation, stressed the importance of amending electoral laws to ensure the comprehensive involvement of individuals with disabilities in the electoral process.
Moreover, Ekpele called for a concentrated focus on grassroots initiatives to ensure governance resonates in rural communities. Concurrently, he advocated for electoral security measures to protect vulnerable groups in society.