President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua: Promise fulfilled

True to the promise he made to Nigerians at the inauguration of his presidency on May 29, 2007, to ensure that Nigeria’s electoral process undergo fundamental improvement, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s newly formed 22-member electoral reform panel is a testimony that the president is indeed a man of his words.

The body of eminent persons from various areas of human endeavors, and headed by former Chief Judge of the Federation, Justice Muhammadu Lawal Uwais is expected among other things to make recommendation that would ensure resolution of future electoral disputes before inauguration of elected officials. This is a movement in the right direction given the opposition protests that trailed the conclusion of presidential election that brought the present administration to power.

Not a few observers believe that the electoral process that produced this administration has many flaws, and that only genuine reformation of the system can prevent a future occurrence. In democratic societies, electoral laws are made supposedly to ensure that the playing fields are leveled for all participants without undue advantage over one another. To support this, the government’s move ought to be commended by all if the dividends of democracy we crave for are to be realized.

Nigeria’s present electoral processes as embedded in the constitution is undoubtedly in favor of the incumbent office holders, with the potential for politicians to take undue advantage over opponents in elections. By putting the appointment of the head of electoral commission at the disposal of the president, there is tendency for the head of government to manipulate the electoral umpire in his favor, either for himself or for his party. The present situation where the Independent Electoral Commission is attached to the apron of the presidency gives room for the type of scenario that played itself out in the last presidential election where the commission was allegedly incapacitated, and made to do the bidding of the incumbent president.

Aside from the electoral process reformation, there is urgent need for a review of Nigeria’s constitution, especially the area pertaining to election matters as this will authenticate the reform processes being put in place by the body of reformers. In order to achieve credibility in future elections to public offices in Nigeria, both the state and federal governments owe it a duty to give the electoral body genuine autonomy backed by the constitutional provisions. A situation where the electoral commission’s independent is in doubt speaks volume of an avenue for intimidation from the executive arm of government.

Independence of the election umpire is desirable if Nigeria is to permanently put to rest the issue of bias on the part of the body responsible for conducting elections in the country. The INEC’s finances ought to be provided for through the appropriate provision in the country’s law, without undue interference from the presidency. The appointment of key figures into the commission should be by a body constituted through a process that allow for credibility of individuals to be appointed go through vigorous screening by eminent apolitical personalities in the country.

Either at the national, state, regional or zonal level, the appointment of election personnel requires more than mere educational qualification, as moral standing of appointees should be accorded prominence in the process. Nigeria is blessed with people of high integrity from all walks of life, but the apparent fear of pulling their names in the political mud put them off, and this pave the way for all kinds of dubious people from taking such positions, and Nigeria’s past elections had not fared better for this.

To bring these people together for the good of the nation calls for a strong political will on the part of the head of the executive branch of government. Despite her past and present political problems, Nigeria occupies a prominent position in the comity of nation, and this can be reinforced and maintained by conducting credible and near perfect elections that are so adjudged by local and international observers alike.

The present proliferation of political parties is a disturbing development. It is not out of place to ask for the harmonization of political associations to a moderate number whereby the cost of conducting elections will considerable reduce as opposed to when there are too many parties, with the expectation of funding from the federal government. In this regard, Nigeria can re-introduce the era of two political parties as we had during the transition of former military President Ibrahim Babangida.

Nigerians are eagerly waiting for President Yar’Adua to begin work in earnest, and at a faster pace other areas his government considers to be relevant toward harnessing Nigeria’s potential as a serious country, and the one that look forward to greatness in the twenty- first century and beyond.

One thought on “President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua: Promise fulfilled

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*