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Abdullahi’s INEC appeal

NOBODY appears interested in electoral reforms. The  dances that pass for moves to make defining changes in the way Nigeria conducts elections cannot produce any meaningful changes because the holders of power cannot make moves that they are not sure would leave powers in their hands.

Justice Umaru Abdullahi, out-going President of the Court of Appeal, thinks that the matter of improved elections lies within the powers of the legislature, the executive and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

For once in a long while, a respected voice has expressed misgivings about the possibility of the proposed changes in the electoral law. It is obvious that amendment of the Electoral Act is a more complicated process than the National Assembly admits.

As Justice Abdullahi pointed out, some of the issues that Nigerians would want to change in the law cannot be done without amendments to relevant sections of the Constitution. Without meaning to, he is saying that it would be almost impossible to effect the changes that would make elections more credible by 2011, the year everyone looks at as if it would be the end of electoral malpractices in Nigeria.

Justice Abdullahi has dropped all the hints about how difficult it would be to achieve the electoral reforms before the next elections. Any matter that includes the amendment of the Constitution produces its own vibes, usually the wrong vibes.

The constitutional amendment efforts that ended abruptly in 2006 were hugely responsible for the steep challenges that attended the 2007 elections. With the uncertainty of laws under which the elections would be run, any decisions made could be nullified after amendments.

Dangers for the 2011 elections lie more in the fact that the suspended motions on the amendment of the Constitution could rebound on the election as was the case in 2007. Justice Abdullahi in asking for a quick resolution of the electoral reforms could also bear in mind the knocks that the judiciary is taking for cases that have not been concluded, more than two years after the 2007 elections.

Another thing that Justice Abdullahi wants to see is an INEC that earns its credibility. This matter has been a subject of debates. INEC thinks the challenge is for politicians to conduct themselves in manners that would make the electoral processes easier to implement. Other organisations involved in organising elections like the security agencies, also come under INEC’s blames for difficulties with elections.

The time for blames is over. Poor electoral laws have caused problems for everyone. Politicians are the major beneficiaries of elections. They are not excluded from the blur on elections that lack credibility.

Justice Abdullahi can testify too to the flaks that the judiciary has taken. Some judges are embroiled in allegations of corruption from handling election cases.

Unfortunately, politicians are not keen in proposals for credible elections. They are afraid of losing power in free and fair elections — yet they hold the powers to change the law.


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