By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN—FORMER Director General of the Center for Democratic Studies, CDS, Prof. Omo Omoruyi, yesterday, admonished the Federal Government and the National Assembly to shift the handing over date further to allow the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct a free and fair elections next year.
Prof. Omoruyi, who lamented that the nation had achieved nothing despite the 50 years of its independence, warned that it would be more disastrous for the country to rush the elections because of the May 29 hand over date, adding “if we must get it right, that date must not be sacrosanct.”
According to the Professor of Political Science, “Jega is not a miracle maker, I wish he was one. We must not be a victim to that date if we want to get a credible election.
The May 29 date may not be realistic because you have to go through the litigation process and there is this thing the lawyers call fair hearing. If you recall, I was the first person that used the term credible elections in 1993. I said the presidential election was free, fair and credible.
“Then, I gave another lecture in Vienna in 2001 and I said elections could be free and fair but may not be credible. A credible election is an election that the common man in the street will see clearly. Pre-election day activities are many and if you get pre-election day activities wrong, you will not have a credible election. This election has nothing to do with Jega, we are supposed to come up with a law that will say this is the election date.
“Yesterday, the President just wrote the National Assembly, telling them to put the date of the election in the law, just few months to the elections. It is laughable and we have not even seen the law.
And we do not even know if it is a law or constitutional amendment because if it is a constitutional amendment, you know the processes. It is not in this country that you just rush a constitutional amendment over night, it is never done anywhere in a normal democracy. It takes some time. So I will say that May 29 is not sacrosanct,” he said.
Omoruyi added “you are not going to rush it over night because people need to file their papers in court and you think you can rush it over night because of May 29. You are violating another section of the constitution, which talks about fair hearing. So these are the problems.”