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Nigerian President Reaffirms Free and Fair 2011 Election Pledge

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

Nigerian-born journalists Chika Onyeani says the time past due for credible elections in Nigeria

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has reportedly reassured Nigerians of his government’s commitment to hold free and fair elections next year.

During his first live interview Sunday with the state-run Nigeria Television Authority, Mr. Jonathan said it was annoying to him that there is an international perception that Nigeria is incapable of holding a credible election.

Nigerian-born journalist Chika Onyeani and publisher of the New York-based African Sun Times newspaper, said the time is past due for credible elections in Nigeria, but now the parliament must move quickly to approve the recommendations necessary for a free and fair election.

“Since Nigeria’s independence, there hasn’t been any free and fair election. So, it will be a good thing that President Goodluck Jonathan now is promising to have a credible election. Some of things that have to be done have already been submitted to the House of Representatives, and they have not been adopted yet,” he said.

President Jonathan recently removed Professor Maurice Iwu who oversaw Nigeria’s last election as chairman of the independent electoral commission.

Onyeani said the removal of Iwu is just one step toward a credible election in Nigeria.

“The removal of Professor Iwu, which had been demanded by most Nigerians, was the right decision he made. But, removing Iwu doesn’t guarantee that there is going to be a credible, free and fair election unless the will is there on the part of the president to ensure that all the forces are used to ensure that people are allowed to cast their vote, that people are not intimidated by one particular party, especially his own People’s Democratic Party,” Onyeani said.

Jonathan reportedly refused to say whether he would run for re-election in next year’s election.

Onyeani said this is not the appropriate time for President Jonathan to say whether he would seek re-election.

He said, even if President Jonathan decided to seek re-election, there is nothing in the constitution that would preclude him from doing so.

“To say that (Mr.) Jonathan is not qualified to run will be a big mistake. As a Nigerian, he should be able to run; it’s not in the Nigerian constitution that he should not run. If he decides to run, there has to be a demonstrable achievement on his part that he has accomplished something for Nigerians,” Onyeani said.