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Time to revisit electoral reforms

electoral
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

Towards the 2015 general elections, the ascendant All Progressives Congress, APC, had campaigned on the mantra of “Change”. With retired General Muhammadu Buhari who was seen as a no-nonsense reformer and fighter against corruption as its presidential candidate, there were high hopes that entrusting him with leadership would lead to a new beginning for the country.

However, from the moment he assumed power and started reconstituting the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, it became obvious that President Buhari was determined, just like other presidents before him, to capitalise on the institutions of state to exhaust his maximum terms of office.

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His refusal to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill 1918 on December 6, 2018 (the fourth time in two years), which would have dramatically improved the integrity of electoral outcomes, was seen as part of an overall strategy to secure his second term.

The 25-member Senator Ken Nnamani Constitution and Electoral Reform Committee, CERC, which Buhari had set up on October 2, 2016, had submitted its report May 3, 2017, raising hopes that his administration would leave the electoral system better than it met it.

However, with the serial rejection by the President of strenuous efforts by the National Assembly to clean up our elections before the 2019 general polls, hopes were dashed.

Having obtained his second term, and with the final determination of the Presidential Election Petition instituted against him by his rival, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in his favour, the coast is clear for President Buhari to personally spearhead efforts to reform our electoral process if he really wants.

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A school of thought believes he should simply dust up the 2018 Bill and sign it into law to guide all elections henceforth. Another view is that a new process should be started by the National Assembly taking into account the need to address the observed new anomalies of the 2019 elections.

These include armed persons holding electoral officers at gunpoint to declare results and military involvement in our elections, especially at the collation centres.

We believe once the electronic transmission of results from the polling stations straight to the central server of the INEC is authorised by law it will minimise, if not eliminate, ballot box snatching, cooking of results and post-electoral violence.

With the 2019 elections decisively over, the time has come for party politics to be set aside, while the common good of the country to enrich the lives of our people are collectively and vigorously pursued by all patriots irrespective of political parties.

We must focus our energies on returning powerfully to the people through the ballot box. This is the quickest route to the enthronement of good governance and a better life for all.

Vanguard

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