By Chris Ochayi
ABUJAâ€” Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, former Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Mohammed Lawal Uwais and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Bello Massari, yesterday challenged President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua to ensure genuine electoral reform is put in place before the next general elections in 2011.
The eminent Nigerians spoke at the National Conference on Consensus Building for Electoral Reform, held in Abuja, just as the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) agreed there are numerous issues that are wrong in the nationâ€™s electoral process, which must be addressed if further elections are to avoid the April 2007 experiences.
The one-day conference was organised by Centre for Democracy & Development (CDD) with support from the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI). CDD is a body that focused on deepening democracy, promoting human security and people centred development.
Atiku Abubakar in his remarks demanded that genuine electoral reforms for this country would be in line with the recommendations of the Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) headed by Hon. Justice Mohammed Uwais.
Atiku who was represented by his Action Congress (AC) Vice presidential candidate in the 2007 presidential election, Senator Ben Obi, said, given our recent horrifying experiences we must put these reforms in place for the next general elections in 2011â€. He insisted, â€œthe reforms cannot be put off for a future date. They are needed nowâ€.
According to him, â€œthat committee consulted widely across the length and breath of this country and gathered opinions from Nigerians across the political spectrum. It is our responsibility as Nigerians to resist any attempt to manipulate, dilute or postpone the reforms in ways that render them ineffectiveâ€.
He said, â€œwe must have a genuine reform of the electoral system in order to enable us to freely choose those who will govern us. Without that freedom to choose our leaders, we shall continue to lag dangerously behind as a peopleâ€.