Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, has called for the strengthening of the electoral legal framework in the country. He said this will help to achieve credible elections and sustainable democratic development.
Professor Attahiru Jega made the call while speaking at the 71st Convocation Lecture of the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, entitled, “Towards Credible Electoral Process and Sustainable Political Systems in Nigeria: What Role for Universities?”. The event was held at the Trenchard Hall of the University, Ibadan.
Jega accused political stakeholders, particularly politicians, of taking undue advantage of the gaps and discrepancies in the Electoral Act to abuse the nation’s electoral process.
Prof. Jega specifically pointed out that sections 31 and 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 are contradictory.
In view of the frictions in the Act and lack of internal democracy, party leaders in the country were found to be in the habit of submitting names of those who did not participate in party primaries to INEC.
He cited the example of Zamfara State where the All Progressives Congress (APC) failed to conduct primary election but went ahead to present candidates to the electoral body for the 2019 elections.
The Professor of Political Science, in addition, asserted that legal and regulatory framework for elections, through periodic reviews and value-addition from one electoral cycle to another, would be needed to improve the integrity of the nation’s electoral process.
Professor Jega noted that “this is haphazard and unstable which leaves much to be desired. In good time before the 2023 elections, the constitutional electoral provisions and the Electoral Act need to be reviewed and remarkably improved upon for greater efficiency in the management of elections.”
He disclosed that INEC had recommended to the National Assembly to remove sections 31 and 87 of the Electoral Act 2010, in order to strengthen the electoral legal framework. He added that the integrity of the electoral process is essential, to achieve sustainable democratic development.
Jega said: “Africa will be satisfied when there is periodic election but there must be integrity in the way elections are conducted to achieve sustainable development. All stakeholders have roles to play but the universities have special roles to play.”
“It is generally known that strengthening democracy is important for sustainable development. What is not, however, widely acknowledged is that improving the integrity of elections is central to democratic development,” he stated.