LAGOSâ€”The Action Congress, AC, has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to urgently and comprehensively reform the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as part of an expected electoral reform ahead of the 2011 general elections.
In a statement issued in Lagos, yesterday, by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the call has become necessary in view of the ongoing mess at INEC, where the loyalists of its former chair, Professor Maurice Iwu, have continued to put in place booby traps that could ruin next yearâ€™s elections.
â€œCommissioners Solomon Soyebi, who is INECâ€™s interim chair; Victor Chukwuani and the commissionâ€™s secretary, Abdullahi Kaugama, are daily carrying out Iwuâ€™s directives at INEC. There is no decision they have taken since Iwu left that did not have his (Iwuâ€™s) imprimatur.
They consult with him (Iwu) on a daily basis. Iwu remains in charge at INEC, and this is a bad omen for the 2011 polls,â€™â€™ it said.
AC also said the ongoing recruitment of 6,000 workers for INEC is another area in which the commission is being compromised ahead of the polls.
â€œThose being recruited are those sanctioned by Iwu. The idea is to use them to discredit next yearâ€™s elections to such an extent that the former INEC chair will be made to look like a saint, despite organising what has been widely acknowledged as the worst elections in Nigeriaâ€™s history,â€™â€™ the party said.
It therefore urged President Jonathan to take a four-pronged action, urgently, to convince Nigerians and the international community that he is indeed committed to leaving a legacy of free, fair and credible polls next year.
â€œFirstly, the President must clear the rump of Iwu from INEC. Commissioners Soyebi and Chukwuani as well as Kaugama are leprous fingers of INECâ€™s tainted hand under Maurice Iwu, and they must by excised.
â€œSecondly, President Jonathan must immediately stop the ongoing recruitment exercise at INEC until a reformed INEC is in place to avoid the hiring of compromised hands.
â€œThirdly, the President must move speedily to appoint a credible, courageous, capable and neutral person as the chair of INEC. Such a person must be supported by equally credible and decent Commissioners.
â€œFinally, President Jonathan must direct INEC to immediately begin the compilation of a fresh voterâ€™s register to be used for next yearâ€™s poll. This is the most basic pillar upon which a credible polls can be built. There is no existing credible electoral register anywhere in the country presently,â€™â€™ AC said.
The party also called for a probe of Iwuâ€™s tenure at INEC, especially what happened to the huge funds approved by the government for a credible voterâ€™s register.
â€œIt is an open secret that the existing electoral register is a sham. Therefore, it is necessary to find out how INEC managed to make a mess of the register despite collecting huge funds for that purpose,â€™â€™ it said.
AC expressed deep concern that apart from Iwuâ€™s sack, President Jonathan has not taken any concrete action to back up his much-trumpeted claim that his administration will organise successful elections next year.
â€œNothing has been done to kick-start the process of electoral reform, without which Nigerian cannot have a free, fair and credible polls. With elections only a few months away, President Jonathan has not said what he plans to do with the much-acclaimed Uwais panel report that many believe to be the basis of the reform.
â€˜â€™Time is running out, Mr. President, and the time to act is NOW!â€™â€™ the party said.