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Nigeria's Opposition Outlines Suggestions for President Jonathan

Alhaji Lai Mohamed of the Action Congress party says the party is asking the president to fight corruption and embark on electoral reform

Nigeria’s leading opposition party has identified a number of priorities for newly inaugurated President Goodluck Jonathan to focus on during his short 12-month tenure.

In a statement, the Action Congress (AC) party of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar reportedly called on President Jonathan to fight corruption and embark on electoral reform.

Alhaji Lai Mohamed, national publicity secretary of the Action Congress Party, said his party believes President Jonathan has an opportunity to put Nigeria on the path to greatness.

“We asked him not to be distracted by the pundits within his party, but to focus on governance. We also advised him that he should take as a matter of priority three very important issues which are electoral reform, power (electricity) and the fight against corruption,” he said.

Mohamed said the Action Congress party believes that any electoral reform must be based on the recommendations of the Justice Mohammed Uwais-led Electoral Reform Committee.

Former Nigerian vice president Atiku Abubakar of the Action Congress party
Former Nigerian vice president Atiku Abubakar of the Action Congress party

Those recommendations have already been submitted to the Nigeria national assembly for approval.

“With respect to electoral reforms, we advised him (President Jonathan) to ensure that the key recommendations of the Justice Uwais Panel on Electoral Reforms are adopted, and that in particular he should ensure that we have a credible voter register,” he said.

Mohamed said the Action Congress party has also asked President Jonathan to make sure the federal government delivers on its promise to provide Nigerians with 6,000 megawatts of electricity by the end of 2010.

He said the Action Congress party also asked the president to fight corruption by giving a free hand to the country’s anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

“We asked him to face squarely the fight against corruption by ensuring that his administration actually takes action in respect of the various scandals...and we have also asked him to give a free hand to the anti-corruption agencies such as the ICPC (Independent Corruption Practices Commission) and the EFCC,” he said.

Mohamed denied the Action Congress party was being political and insensitive considering that the country was still in mourning following the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua.

“We are mourning, but does that ground the machinery of government? We are not asking him to do it today. What we are asking him are things that he can do within the next 12 months. Mourning does mean that we cannot make suggestions and we cannot advise the president on how to move the country forward. Whoever thinks that is political advantage has nothing to offer this government,” Mohamed said.

President Jonathan has already said he’s committed to electoral reforms before next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

He recently asked Independent National Electoral Commission chairman Maurice Iwu to step aside.

But, Mohamed said the Action Congress believes that asking Professor Iwu to step down alone would not give Nigerians a transparent electoral process.

He said in order to guarantee a free and transparent election the chairman and members of the electoral commission must not be appointees of a president who is himself planning to run for office.