Credible elections key to survival of democracy in Nigeria ― Jega

The immediate past Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega has said that the survival of Nigeria’s democracy was depended upon the enthronement of a credible electoral process that we ensure good representation.

Speaking in Abuja on Wednesday at Tell 20 years of Democracy Conference, Jega reiterated that “the survival of democracy is linked to electoral integrity which is linked to good representation and subsequently good governance”.

He charged the Nigerian electoral empire to brave up to the challenges that are hindering the conduct of a free and fair election in order to restore electoral integrity as a way of preserving the country’s democracy, noting that, “elections are a process and not events”.

Jega lamented that Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act has consistently hindered the conduct of a free and fair election in the country, adding that some clauses in the Act render INEC handicap like “section 31 of the Act which empowers political parties to decide who will be their candidate for elections”.

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He said the lacuna in both the constitution and INEC electoral Act has necessitated the need for the electoral body (INEC) to work harmoniously with the political parties and other stakeholders to achieve electoral integrity in Nigeria which according to him is key for the survival of the country’s democracy.

Prof. Jega explained that every process of conducting election was importation but tasked INEC to consider pre-election processes very important as they determined the direction of elections.

“Electoral management processes by INEC which sometime INEC takes an arrogant position without consulting stakeholders had a negative effect on the conduct of elections in the country. That is why it is important for INEC to consistently educate political parties on the need to do voters sensitisation and enlightenment campaign for better electoral conduct.”

He said engaging stakeholders and ensuring voters’ education will also improve the level of turnout for election participation by Nigerians lamenting that, for the 4 past elections, the country witnessed low turnout with 2019 general election recording less than 45 % turnout.

Also at the conference, the Chairman of All Progressive Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomole said it was important for the country to maintain a small size of political parties that their ideologies were geared towards the development of the nation by offering a viable alternative.

He said: Many people now register political parties for the essence of business and gain. But we must understand that the fight to sustain democracy must be purposeful and selfless.”

Oshiomole commended the former INEC chairman for making a substantial improvement in the electoral processes.