Path to future credible polls, by Jega, Labour, TMG

Attahiru Jega


THE addition of more legal framework and conversion of national identity card into voter card are steps that will improve the credibility of future election in Nigeria, out-going Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have said.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Ibrahim Zikirullahi has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to revisit the Justice Muhammed Lawal Uwais report on the reform of the electoral process.

Speaking at the weekend at a dinner held in his honour by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), Jega said the task of improving the credibility of future election rests in improving the legal framework as well as implementing some critical aspects of the Uwais report.

His words : “I think that the task of electoral reforms has not ended. For instance, the Justice Uwais panel has very good recommendations that have not been implemented. I think that there is sufficient time between now and 2019 to ensure that additional reforms are included in the process. I will also like to appeal to the National Assembly to be more decisive in terms of electoral matters. I have made some recommendations two years ago for amendment to Electoral Act in terms of improving the legal framework before the 2015 general elections.

Regrettably, those recommendations did not materialize until we had the elections. The existing legal framework is fairly good because that is what we used in 2011 and in 2015. But the processes would have been better if the additional framework had been included.”
While lauding the contributions of the labour movement to the improved 2015 general elections, Jega attributed the success recorded to productive partnerships the Commission had with critical stakeholders such as the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).

“What we have done in the INEC is a product of partnerships. We recognized that INEC cannot do it alone, which is why very early, we had to explore ways and means to get into partnerships in order to get more hands to deliver on our mandate,” he added.

The out-going INEC Chairman insisted that finding a replacement for him is not an arduous task saying Nigeria possesses credible citizens that can improve on what has been done. He also maintained that the task of engendering credible electoral processes requires the involvement of all Nigerians.

While acknowledging the supportive roles his lieutenants played in engendering a fairly transparent elections in 2015, Jega thanked them for allowing him to take all the glory, adding, “let me thank my colleagues in INEC for allowing me take all the glory because everywhere I go people say ‘Jega did this, Jega did that’. It was not only me that made that possible. Every little achievements we made were made possible by and with cooperation of my colleagues.”

In his remarks at the occasion, the President of NLC, Ayba Wabba, submitted that Jega rose above legislative inertia to implement some reforms that led to the success of the 2015 general elections.

He added: “the reforms, which the Jega-led INEC brought to bear on the organization clearly accounted for the breakthrough, our nation witnessed in the 2015 elections. This clearly showed us that in spite of obvious legislative impediments in our electoral laws which had been the excuse for our electoral failures in the past, with a committed, patriotic and honest disposition, Jega was able to through administrative wizardry accomplish the historic success of 2015 General Elections. That was how, as we all now know, Jega was able to outwit our chronic election riggers out of relevance in the innovations of the permanent voter card and the card readers. Tried as they did by their vehement and organized resistance against the introduction of permanent voter card and card reader, Jega remained adamant and today, Nigeria is the winner!”

While acknowledging the daunting challenges ahead, NLC said it looks forward to an efficient INEC that will arrange seamless continuous registration of voters once they turn 18 and of voting age and increased use of technology.

Wabba further declared that INEC must now prioritize working on the harmonization of data bases in such a way that the National Identity Card can be acceptable for one which voters can sue to cast their ballot.

On the need for the implementation of Uwais panel’s report, Wabba said: “The full scale implementation of the Justice Muhammad Uwais Report is the best way to get this country to be on the path of full credibility in the conduct of our elections. The non-implementation of the recommendation on the establishment of court to try electoral offenders, for instance, as recommended by the committee, will continue to encourage impunity by politicians and their agents in flouting electoral

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