By Chris Ochayi & Laide Akinboade
ABUJAâ€”THE Save Nigeria Group, SNG, yesterday, expressed concern that the country might not attain its dreamed free and fair election in 2011 because President Goodluck Jonathan did not show any sign of commitment to give Nigerians genuine electoral reforms.
SNG, leaders who spoke at its campaign for free, fair and credible polls in 2011, in Abuja, regretted that since President Jonathan assumed office, he had not put up any meaningful commitment towards giving the country electoral reforms in line with the Justice Uwais Panel Report.
Convener of the SNG, Pastor Tunde Bakare, said the nation occupied a primordial place on the global map of electoral irresponsibility, given the impunity with which the will of the people had been treated over the years.
Bakare said: â€œNigeria is at a cross road concerning its electoral reforms. There seems to be not too much difference from what we used to have in our electoral laws. If Nigerians are going to insist on irreducible minimum, then we must be able to choose who can lead us.â€
Regretting that the government had not made concrete efforts to improve on the conduct of the election since the 2007 sham elections, Bakare said: â€œOne would have expected that by now, the urgent and comprehensive reform recommended by Max Berg would have been in place, not to talk of the implementation of the Justice Uwais Panel Report, but the reverse is the case.
â€œHow many of these recommendations have we implemented? Did we expedite election tribunals? Did we strengthen the independence and capacity of INEC? The answers to these questions are obvious: no, no and no.
â€œI believe very strongly that if, as a country, we are able to get our electoral system right, our challenges are half solved. A credible election will lead to a credible government.â€
Spontaneous street protests
The SNG convener who endorsed the recent sacking of former INEC Chairman, Professor Maurice Iwu, however, reiterated that the group would embark on spontaneous street protests if his replacement, after scrutiny was found not capable for the electoral umpire position.
Recommending imperative for making our votes count, Bakare, who was flanked by Pastor Sarah Omaku of Family Worship, Mr. Solomon Asemota, SAN, Afenifere chieftain, Olawale Osun, Comrade Salulu Lukman, Dr. Joe-Okei Odumakin, and representatives of three political parties, PAC, NCS, PRP, among others said: â€œConcrete steps should be taken to establish a truly independent and capable election administration.
This should include the introduction of a transparent, inclusive and accountable system for the nomination and appointment of INEC Chairman, Commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissions, RECs, which would ensure the confidence of election stakeholders.â€
Dr. Joe-Okei Odumakin in her remarks cited the just concluded Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Area Council election in Abuja, noting that while about 1.8 million people registered for the election, only 300 people came out to vote.
She said the greatest gift that President Jonathan gave to Nigerians was the sack of former Chairman of INEC, Prof. Iwu, adding that the government should probe Iwu.