Consult 2014 confab report, Governor Ayade urges committee
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River state, has advised the Presidential Committee on Constitutional and Electoral Reforms to consult the reports of the 2014 National Conference so as to tap from the salient submissions that are germane to the enhancement of democracy in the country.
The governor, who gave the charge in Calabar during a one-day public hearing for South South states by the presidential committee, explained that this was necessary due to the rich content of the report.
Speaking through his deputy, Professor Ivara Esu, Ayade said he was privileged to be part of the 2014 confab and can attest to its relevance even in tackling present challenges facing Nigeria and Nigerians.
“Having been privileged to be part of the 2014 National Conference, I can attest that document of the report has rich and contains salient suggestions in many areas of concern to Nigeria and Nigerians,” the governor stated.
He said that the electoral reforms should be holistic and advocated punishment for every political decampees which should form part of the electoral reforms.
According to him, persons who leave their political parties after being elected on a particular platform should be punished to avoid indiscriminate movement and disorganization in the parties.
Besides, the governor proposed a return to a two party system asserting that it is better for a multi-cultural country like Nigeria.
In his remarks on the conduct of elections into the third tier of government (the local councils), where states are currently responsible through the state electoral commissions, Ayade acknowledged the present challenges.
In addition, he noted the outcry of many who criticized how state governors have controlled the state electoral body, stressing that the time has come for reforms to be effected.
Specifically, he expressed support for the abolition of state electoral commissions, saying: “We are all guilty over it. PDP or APC, all of us do the same thing but we are ready and will support the right time to be done.”
The Committee’s chairman, Senator Ken Nnamani, called on stakeholders especially critics of government to come forward with credible ideas on the review of the constitution and electoral reforms to ensure a successful outing.
He said rather than stay back or hide, people should speak out now adding: “It is time to bring ideas on how best government can improve on our constitution as regards electoral reforms in the country,” he stated.
The former president of the Senate said that the Committee is ready to listen and digest all ideas and recommendations put forward in order to prepare its final report noting that democracy is not worth it if the people do not have the right to cast their votes.
Nnamani who observed that there has been a progressive improvement in the nation’s electoral processes from 2007, 2011 and 2015 general elections in the country, argued that the development of any nation starts from the ballot boxes and that the electoral system must be put right once and for all.
“If we can get our electoral process right, Nigeria would have be heading towards rapid and massive development,” he stated.
On his part, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) represented by the Special Adviser to the President on Prosecution, Chief Okoi Obono Obla recalled that the Committee was set up to take a holistic look look at the constitution and the electoral reform.
He said the executive arm was doing everything possible to improve the nation’s electoral system and called on stakeholders not to shy away but make good use of the public hearing.
The Guardian observed that attendance at the public hearing was poor by delegates from other states of the South South, which did not send official delegation to the event.
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