A Nigerian legislator says the Senate will be working closely with President Goodluck Jonathan to institute his promised electoral reforms ahead of next year’s general elections.
Senator Ewa Bassey Henshaw said Nigerians have been demanding much-needed electoral reforms that would guarantee that next year’s elections are devoid of rigging.
“We have also passed a number of amendments to the Constitution, which are geared for electoral reforms. So, we believe that we are on the same page with the president. We are working very, very closely together,” he said.
Recently, Mr. Jonathan ordered the chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to step down from his post. In a statement, President Jonathan said INEC’s Chairman Maurice Iwu has been placed on immediate leave. A new chairman is yet to be appointed.
The former head of the electoral body came under criticism after organizing the 2007 general elections that was described by both local and international observers as largely flawed.
Senator Henshaw said the departure of the electoral commission’s chairman forms part of the electoral reforms.
“The removal of the chairman of INEC, Professor Iwu, was one of the major issues that many, many Nigerians were clamoring for…many, many Nigerians didn’t feel satisfied with the way elections were conducted…there was a clamoring for his removal and the president respected the views of the millions of Nigerians that wanted that change,” Henshaw said.
President Jonathan vowed to embark on electoral reforms shortly after he was sworn in Thursday following the death of ailing President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua.
Senator Henshaw said President Jonathan underscored the need for a credible vote.
“The president has re-emphasized that he wants to ensure that every person’s vote counts and is counted, to use his words. So, every vote will be important and, whatever the decisions are arrived at, will be a reflection of the wishes of the people who have voted,” Henshaw said.
He also said that Nigeria’s national assembly is committed to ensuring that elections are seen to be transparent, credible and acceptable to all Nigerians.