Nigerians are reportedly frustrated and worried that ongoing
efforts by President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua's administration to reform the
electoral system significantly will not succeed. This comes after the chairman
of the committee appointed by President Yar'Adua to oversee a transformation of
the country's electoral system met with a cross section of Nigerians. Some
citizens expressed deep frustration over the lack of credibility of the
electoral process and their inability to advance leaders of their choice.
also questioning whether the country can hold free and fair elections in an
atmosphere of political violence, vote-rigging and lax federal oversight. Emma
Ezeazu is the general secretary of the Alliance for Credible Elections. From
the capital, Abuja, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that Nigeria's electoral
system is disconcerting.
think he (the chairman of the electoral committee) has gone through the
federation holding public hearings on elections in Nigeria, and he has heard
from the Nigerian people. Everywhere he went people came with very deep-rooted
complaints about the electoral system. So, I think a man in his position who
also presided over a lot of electoral cases and saw first hand the depth of the
problem is in a position to make that statement that Nigerians are doubtful
whether there would be credible election in the country," Ezeazu
He said feeling among many
Nigerians about elections in the country is that of distrust.
that is the reality because many people believe that if elections are anything
to go by in this country, then it would never be credible because it has gone
so bad," he said.
the chairman of the committee reportedly said that his committee would
recommend that future elections be raised to international standards, the
electoral body to be made autonomous, and the performance of political parties
improved. Chairman Muhammadu Uwais, who is a former chief justice, adds that
President Yar'Adua's government must do more to ensure electoral bodies are
independent enough to conduct federal and state elections.
it seems the chairman of the electoral reform committee wants to allay the
fears and distrust of Nigerians about elections in the country.
"It is interesting that he
is saying these things because the opposition political parties have been very
skeptical about him heading the electoral reform committee. And if he is the
one sound-biting on the issues of the credibility of elections now, then I
think that is probably hopeful. But it looks as if he doesn't have much option
because when he met the president recently to submit an interim report, the
president made a very strong statement on the fact that the main or the most
critical problem in Nigeria and indeed Africa now is the electoral system. So
he was urging them to look into the problem. If the chairman of the electoral
reform committee speaks strongly about bringing international standards to bear
on Nigeria's electoral system, then that is something encouraging," Ezeazu
said the responsibility lies with both the government and Nigerians to work
hand in hand to ensure elections are credible.
is a dual responsibility and it is the responsibility on the federal government
to use this opportunity of this ongoing electoral reform to completely remove
the power of the incumbent over the electoral management body because that is
the main source of pollution of the electoral system," he said.
the current electoral commission hasn't been able to live up to the enormous
responsibilities and challenges in Nigeria's elections.
"If you are talking about
the present electoral commission, then that is totally out of the question
because the present electoral commission managed by Professor Maurice Iwu is
totally incapable of organizing any credible election in this country. What the
people are calling for is a disbandment of the present electoral body and the
redrafting of its mandate and its composing powers so that it is free from the
president or the governors as the case may be," Ezeazu noted.