Former president Goodluck Jonathan has called for a review of the process of appointing the chairman and other members of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Jonathan made the call on Thursday in Lagos, at the launch of Senator Femi Okurounmu’s memoir, titled ‘The Dream’. The former president said the review is necessary to make the electoral body truly independent of the president in order to achieve credible elections in the country.
He said, “Democracy is a process of daily conversation with people, irrespective of their faith, colour or status.
“In this journey, we should endeavour to make adequate arrangements to ensure that the support and confidence of the people must not wane and, to achieve that, the electoral process is critical.
“How you consitute the electoral body, in this case, INEC, is critical. Different countries have different ways of setting up their electoral bodies. In Nigeria, we adopted the military style because when the military head of state wants to hand over to civilians, because they don’t see themselves as politicians, they are the ones that appoint all members of the electoral body. But now that politicians are heads of state, is it still proper for a powerful politician to be the person that will appoint all members of INEC?
“No matter how you compose INEC, people will always raise issues. So, the best thing to do in order for citizens to have confidence in the electoral body is to move that responsibility or shift it a little.
“In Nigeria, the president single handedly appoints the INEC chairman and its members. I also did so.
“I am not talking about the current president, I am speaking in the interest of the country so that when our electoral laws are being amended, the procedure for constituting INEC should be reviewed. Some countries have constituional courts and some set up election tribunals which are controlled by judicial officers who are expected to do the right thing. But, from my experience, no one can confidently say that the judges are politcally innate. So, in constituting these bodies that will look into our election, it will be better to have a separate institution to do that, than for it to lie in the hands of one powerful individual.”
Okurounmu who expressed concerns over incessant herders attacks on farmers, said the federal government’s policy of Ruga settlement or similar policy will threaten the country’s development. He said restructuring the country is the only way forward.
“When one ethnic group has unquenchable territorial ambitions over the lands of others and seeks to appropriate those lands for the benefit of local and diaspora members of its ethnic stock, carrying out genocidal attacks on indigenous populations in the process, it is clear indication of an inherently unstable polity that will put the country’s growth in reverse gear.
“Our country is now declining rapidly and our people are moving deeper into the cesspit of humanity. The only way forward is to restructure the polity and revert very quickly to the federal constitution under which Nigeria became independent,” he said.