By Tony Edike
ENUGUâ€”CHAIRMAN of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Maurice Iwu, yesterday, listed the threat and actual unleashing of violence as strategy to gain upper hands during elections, the inequality in gender participation in politics in Nigeria and the mindset of Nigerians about elections as the broad issues that have continued to bog down elections in the country.
In a lecture entitled â€œWhose Democracy is it?â€ delivered at the Pre-conference seminar organised by Nigeria Civil Society Union in Enugu, Iwu said that the problems confronting the electoral process in the country range from the provisions of the law to human elements, adding that the identified problems are gradually being addressed to ensure credible elections in the next dispensation.
He said that following the 2007 elections, which were conducted in â€˜very trying circumstancesâ€™ both for the election management body and especially with the initiative taken by President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua on electoral reform, the need for a review of the laws guiding the electoral process had become imperative.
He argued that even though the laws were important, â€œthe attitude and conduct of the stakeholders and operators of the system count for much of the success that can ever be expected out of the system, reform or not.â€
He warned that any reform of the electoral system, which does not find a way to strengthen the political parties and also ensure strict compliance by their executives and members to the rules guiding them would have missed a very critical aspect of the problem of the nationâ€™s political process.
According to the INEC boss, the 2007 elections were confronted with â€œsundry loopholes and rather confusing legal interpretations of the laws guiding the conduct of the electionâ€, adding that one of the outstanding cases over which critics of the commission had been uncharitable â€œconcerned the initial exclusion of some aspirants, including the then Vice President Atiku Abubakar from contesting in the election.â€
He said, â€œthe Commission does not, of course, operate outside the laws of the country.
The extant law as of the time of preparing for the 2007 election was that any person indicted by an administrative inquiry by the government automatically did not qualify to contest for election.
The Federal Government had come out with a White Paper containing those that its administrative panels indicted for sundry offences which disqualified them from contesting in the elections.