By Luka Binniyat
The Governor of Edo State, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole; former presidential candidate, Chief Olu Falae and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) appeared at the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on the amendment of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Act, 2006, backing most of the recommendations of the Justice Mohammed Uwais-led Electoral Reform Committee (ERT).
But, General Mohammadu Buhari (rtd) former presidential candiadate of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), differed, saying the problem with the Nigerian political system is the elite and dismissed the constitutional reforms as a waste of resources.
As recommended by ERT, Oshiomhole, Falae and others wants INEC to be on first-line-charge on the consolidated federal revenue so that it can be truly financially-independent, adding that he was in support of the Nigerian Judiciary Council (NJC) nominating the Chairman of INEC.They also agreed that States Electoral Commission be retained but, that the appointment of their leadership should come from the States Judicial Commissions.
They, however, differed on independent candidacy.
In his contribution, Oshiomhole said, â€œthe problem of INEC as we have seen over time, is not about scarcity of funds, but about the quality of the character of its leadership. But that is not to say that I am against the financial independence of INEC. I believe that if it is financially self-accounting, it would go a long way in asserting its independence.
Falae on his part, observed that there has never been any democracy in Nigeria since 1999 but civilian rule. â€œThe people that are in power today are only different from the military because they are civilians. They came to power not by democratic means, but through illegality, similar to a coup deâ€™etat.â€
According to Buhari: â€œWe conducted elections in 1999 based on our constitution. We conducted elections in 2003 based on the Electoral Reform Act of 2002. In 2007, we conducted another election based on the Electoral Reform Act of 2006. INEC is a derivative of our laws. There is nothing wrong with these laws. The problem is that we did not implement the law. Now we are reforming the same laws that we did not implement. So, our problem is not the law, but we the political elite, We have failed this country.â€
â€œWhat I have seen, and heard about this country makes me very sickâ€, he started. The level of poverty and illiteracy in India was the worst in the world. I know this because I was there in 1973 as Military Student. That time, every night, trucks would go round Mumbai, Calcuta, New Delhi and Bombay collecting dead bodies. Bodies of Indians who have died of starvation. India not have enough to feed its teeming numbers. But, ten years after, when I became Head of State as a result of our coup, we were importing rice from India in 1984.
â€œIn 2006, India had a successful election with 600 million electorate in three weeks. â€œIn 2009, India again had a successful election of with 714 million voters. India has more people, tribes, religions and differences than we have. Yet rural India today is better than Urban Nigeria.
â€œThe problem with Nigeria is the greed, selfishness and ineptitude of its elites, for which, I also belong. I have complained that there is a gradual Somalianisation of Nigeria. Somalia is a country with about 98 per cent Muslims. But its leadership was corrupt and selfish. The result is that restiveness set in and for 19 years now, Somalia has no government.