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Justice Uwais report not enough for credible election in Nigeria – Olokooba

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

Mr. Razak Olokooba is   the Secretary-General of the Coalition of Odua  Self -Determination Group (COSEG). As an activist, Olokooba has been in the forefront of fighting societal ills and he has been in the struggle for greater Nigeria. Olokooba in this interview spoke on Electoral reforms vis-a-viz, Justice Uwais recommendation among other issues:


A lot of Nigerians have been clamouring for immediate implementation of Justice Muhammed Uwais recommendation on electoral reforms by the President Goodluck Jonathan-led Federal Government. What is your stance on this?
The first thing is that the committee suffered a lot of criticism. Yes, good intention from the leaders, but it does not resolve the problem of the nation. We have to follow the recommendations with practical solution. Any constitution in the world that suffers acceptability is as good as not having a constitution. The improvement of a constitution is not as important as the acceptability. If the constitution is not accepted because I am not part of it you have made a nonsense of it. What is missing today in Nigeria’s constitution is not the content but because it has not emanated from the people. Constitution all over the world enjoys acceptability because the citizens partook in the process.

Predominantly, participation from the people will dignify the constitution, but if the people did not participate, it will make nonsense of it. That is what is really missing in Uwais committee report that they did not include. They are supposed to include the aspect that talks about acceptability. The people talk about the US constitution, as well as their patriotism because they took part in it.

After the civil war in US, George Washington called all the stakeholders which include the white, blacks and others. He asked them of their views on how to pilot the affairs of the country. They all gave their opinions on how they want the country to be run. Does this happen in Nigeria?
On our country Nigeria, people began to say that we must address the issue of ethnicity and others. This arise because as a nation we have refused to address our differences. Organised society knew the genesis of our problem and advised the people in power that they should address the issue of identity. All over the world, the issue of identity is very important. The only continent in the world where the issue of identity is not taken serious is Africa. There is no country that can prosper with a borrowed culture. This is the reason why Africans are the most disrespected in the world because they did not take the issue of identity serious.

Stakeholders are very crucial in writing the constitution and who were those stakeholders that were involved in the Uwais report. The report suffered similar case of not involving the stakeholders and this will continue for thousands of years. As far as we are concerned on Uwais report our journey is still far from what was recommended in that report. They should put up a proper system that will lead to a political restructure of this country. This is our genuine advice to President Goodluck Jonathan.

We have to restructure the country before we can move forward. The opposition got it wrong because we had earlier warned them that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led Federal Government would restructure INEC for them in a way that will suit them. We equally warned them that the restructuring of INEC is not a guarantee that we are going to have a credible election in Nigeria. INEC is not going to resolve the election crisis in Nigeria.

How to run election successfully is to address all the election problems simultaneously.

Restructuring Nigeria is the right thing to do for now. There is no guarantee of prosperity for Nigeria if we do not restructure. It is not about religion, it is about taking your fate in your hand.

Do you see anything positive coming out of the present restructuring in INEC?
The problem of INEC is not manpower, it is about restructuring. To operate a good structure, you need a good people to do it. A nation lies on a tripod: the system, followership and leadership. These three things are missing in the country. The followers are indolent, our leaders are incompetent while the structure is not proper. This cannot guarantee us prosperity. My answer is that the current restructuring going on in INEC is very proper but it will not solve the problem if other sectors are not properly structured simultaneously.

It is not only INEC that we have to look into, there are other things that must assist INEC. For instance, orientation of voters, security of voters and their votes, all these go together. One cannot address one segment of the country and leave the others. That is not the way it is done in developed world. In developed world, they make a particular sector a front burner and give sufficient attention to other segments. All these, should call for concern from the people and the leaders.

The issue of postponing judgement on election matters are the issue that one would have expected the opposition to tackle before now like what we had in Ekiti State recently and even in Osun States where the incumbent controls the security apparatus and INEC officials. The opposition should be blamed for the fraud in those elections.

The people in power came sufficiently into power through the rickety structure in place and you do not expect them to change it easily. Thus, the opposition should strive hard in their demands.

On the issue of one man one vote, I think it might be the light at the end of the tunnel.


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