News / Africa

Big Challenges Await Nominee for Nigerian Electoral Commission

If confirmed, President Jonathan's choice to head commission will have less than one year to organize elections

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan delivers a speech in Port Harcourt on 14 May 2010
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan delivers a speech in Port Harcourt on 14 May 2010

With less than one year to go before voting in Nigeria, the political science professor nominated to head the country's electoral commission faces a host of challenges from regaining public confidence, to the logistics of organizing a nationwide vote in Africa's most populous country.

Nigeria's Senate says it will move quickly to open confirmation hearings for 10 new, national electoral commissioners and President Goodluck Jonathan's nominee to head the commission, Bayero University vice chancellor Attahiru Jega.

Senator Ayogu Eze told reporters that with everyone in Nigeria emphasizing the need for credible and transparent elections next year, that transparency will begin with the screening of the new electoral officials.  Eze says anyone in Nigeria who has anything against any of these nominees should come forward as part of an evaluation that he says will be televised live.

If confirmed, Jega and his commission will have less than one year to organize staggered local government, state, and presidential elections.

President Jonathan chose Jega to replace Maurice Iwu, whom he dismissed as electoral chief in April.  Iwu is widely blamed for 2007 elections that were marred by ballot-stuffing and voter intimidation.  The misconduct in that vote was so widespread that the man who won, President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, immediately promised to enact electoral reforms.

Little has changed.  With President Yar'Adua's death last month, Mr. Jonathan assumed the presidency and again set electoral reform as a top priority.  But there is concern that change could be meaningless without strong leadership atop the Independent National Electoral Commission.

Civil society leader Deaconess Awani Akande questions whether political science professor Jega is up to the challenges of day-to-day politics.

"Politics is not the issue of being a professor," said Akande.  "You can be a professor and [if] you are not politically professional, then you will be a failure.  Even the greatest failure so far."

Akande says the problem with the last vote was not Iwu's leadership, but a general lack of knowledge among voters about how elections are properly conducted.  She says lawmakers should reject Jega's nomination, reappoint Iwu, and better educate the electorate.

"Nigeria today what we need is enlightenment, education, awareness politically," added Akande.  "And so, if they are to allow the former electoral body to remain and then create a forum to educate the electorate, I think it will be the best for this country.  Because we are ignorant of having proper knowledge about elections in this country.  And because of the ignorance that we are facing, it is depriving us of many good things."

Political scientist Isitoah Ozoemene says Iwu had to go.  The challenge now is recalibrating Nigerian politics so close to the next election.

"The man who has been handling the affairs of this body has not been credible," said Ozoemene.  "He has not done a good job, so he has to leave.  That gives room for us to have a new person.  And again, we need a new orientation because in this country, politics is seen as a do-or-die affair.  Everybody wants to win.  All the executives want to come back again.  All members of House of Assembly and Senate, they all want to come back again.  When people have that mindset, they go against the rules.  So we need a new chairman.  We need that reorientation."

Because state governors, parliamentary leaders, and former heads of state in the National Council of State have already unanimously endorsed Jega's choice, Ozoemene says there is no question he will be approved by parliament.

Jega would be the first northern Nigerian to head the electoral commission.  The country's north/south divide is a volatile political dynamic with President Jonathan considering a campaign that would violate an informal regional power-sharing deal.  That deal stipulates that the next ruling-party presidential nominee will be from northern Nigeria to finish out what would have been President Yar'Adua's second term.  Mr. Jonathan is from the south.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid