Nigeria's electoral reform panel, which is to recommend what should be
done to improve elections, has concluded nationwide public hearings.
Vote-rigging and violence have undermined free and credible elections
in Africa's most populous country as Gilbert da Costa in Abuja reports
The ruling Peoples' Democratic Party was declared
winner of 28 of 36 state governorship elections in the discredited 2007
ballot, while President Umaru YarAdua was named winner of the
presidential poll with more than 70 percent of the vote.
elections were so chaotic, with widespread vote-rigging, ballot
stuffing and intimidation that independent election observers said the
results were not credible.
In response, President YarAdua
inaugurated a 22-man electoral panel in August, 2007, with a call to
bring Nigeria's elections to international standards.
Jalo, a ranking member of the Peoples' Democratic Party, says the
president's commitment to free and fair elections in Nigeria is
"Let us be realistic," he said. "We have to start from
somewhere and move forward. Had it been YarAdua came in and continued
the former system we will say nothing has changed. There
were some mistakes here and there, and he [YarAdua] says he wants to
correct those mistakes, he should be given a chance."
Despite his massive win in 2007, critics say YarAdua is a tainted man, the beneficiary of an illegitimate election.
Nigeria courts have annulled the election of several officials since national polls more than a year ago.
challengers in the presidential race have appealed to the Supreme Court
after a tribunal dismissed their complaints and turned down their
demand for a rerun.
Public hearings of the committee gave Nigerians the opportunity to suggest ways to make future elections more credible.
huge gains awaiting those in office, the lack of an independent
election regulator and harsh punishments for violators of electoral
laws emerged as some of the factors undermining the election process.
Jalo says any recommendations made by the panel will require considerable reform of the constitution.
must be a serious approach to amend some sections in our constitution,"
he said. "Some of the provisions of the constitution must be expunged
to allow the electoral reform to work; otherwise you can't say you are
going to make anything."
Public hearings commenced in May and the committee is expected to publish a report in August.