By Emmanuel Aziken & Inalegwu Shaibu
Abuja â€” Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Maurice Iwu, yesterday tore the recommendations of the Justice Mohammed Uwais committee on electoral reform to shreds, saying that reforms should not be implemented just for it.
In a presentation to the Senate national retreat on constitution review in Abuja, the INEC chairman said factors militating against free and fair elections were outside the present frame of the commission and were mainly located in the conduct and conspiracies of the political class.
Affirming the 2007 presidential elections as the best in Nigerian history under a civilian regime, he blasted opposition politicians as sour losers, adding that the commission was continually perfecting its acts since the series of re-run elections in 2008.
His claim of transparency in the re-run elections, however, elicited a bout of laughter from the crowd at the International Conference Centre in the Federal Capital.
Before him, the President of the Senate, Chief David Mark, had called for constitutional changes in the most vital areas needed to sustain participatory democracy in the country, notably in the electoral system and the independence of the judiciary and the legislature.
Noting the Uwais recommendation on the unbundling of INEC, Iwu said: “While for instance, the unbundling of INEC may appear to be attractive to some people, such unbundling or stripping INEC of some of its core responsibilities is not necessarily a panacea for the problems and challenges associated with our electoral process. On the contrary, we think it is counter productive as it increases the bureaucracy in the process without much commensurable benefit.
â€œThe fundamental difficulties of the electoral process in our society can be located in the attitude of individuals and groups as well in certain unwholesome practices which have over time become almost a part of our political culture. It is instructive that in discussing electoral reforms today very little or nothing at all is said of these issues,â€ he said.
Noting electoral violence for instance, he said: “The threat and actual unleashing on violence during elections remains one of the primary problem areas in elections in our society. I am at a loss on how the composition of the Commission can contain this monster which has been a major threat to the smooth conduct of every election.