The recently inaugurated Senator Ken Nnamani led Committee on Electoral Reforms is about to kick start a round of public hearings in the six geo-political zones of the country where members hope to receive inputs from the general public towards reinforcing the bedrocks that define Nigeria’s Constitution and Electoral Laws in particular. These, of course, would ordinarily have been very laudable strides, but for the fact that the exercise is a journey that Nigeria had undergone several times in the past.
President Muhammadu Buhari in October 2016 empanelled the Nnamani Committee on Electoral Reforms to tinker with the nation’s extant electoral laws with a view to making them address current challenges. The Committee follows in the steps of the Clement Ebri Presidential Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution (2001); the Justice Muhammed Uwais Committee on Electoral Reforms (2008) and most recently, the 2014 National Conference convened by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan; all of which produced reports that were well commended.
The various presidential initiatives were besides the continuing efforts of the National Assembly which currently is at work on altering the 1999 Constitution( As Amended).It is in the light of this that various commentators raised concerns over the inauguration of the Nnamani Committee. The concerns were mainly in two respects; to wit, that the various profound recommendations of previous committees on Electoral Reforms have not been implemented. Even more is the concern that the Buhari Presidency has left its principal objective of executing laws to making laws when in fact it has failed to implement an avalanche of laws already in existence.
Government is a continuum and successive administrations should continue the job from where their predecessors stopped. If an administration is not willing to continue with the efforts of a previous regime, it should make its stance known to the public and give justifiable reasons for such a decision.
President Buhari’s comment on the 2014 National Conference; to wit, that the report of the conference is for the archives is not convincing enough, given some landmark resolutions and strong national consensus that was forged at the conference. The inclination of different governments in throwing away the baby with the bath water is not good for the polity and it has not helped the country’s efforts towards building a virile constitutional democracy.
We are of the opinion that what the Nnamani Committee should do is to distil the main ingredients of past reports and work out a programme for the implementation of those recommendations that are beneficial to the polity.We call on President Buhari to do this and demonstrate to Nigerians that his administration that promised change is not embarking on another wild goose chase in the name of Electoral Reforms.