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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid