January 31, 2023

2023: Ex-INEC Chairman, Jega worries over poor voter education

By Chris Onuoha

Former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega has charged politicians participating in the forthcoming 2023 general election in Nigeria to uphold credibility and honesty as a mantra to ensure a free and fair election, adding that politicians should adhere to set rules, to avoid discrepancies that would mar the election.

Jega was a special guest at a weekly Townhall forum by the Africa Leadership Group (ALG) held virtually last week, in a bid to forestall election credibility and good governance in the country.

The immediate past INEC boss also expressed worry that the activities of internet fraudsters in the country may affect the strength of the Commission’s website if unchecked.

Jega, during the interactive session, narrated how the INEC server was hacked by fraudsters which inadvertently affected the Commission’s digital operations.

While speaking at the forum moderated by Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, he said, “It would be in the interest of everyone if politicians should play by the rules. Now, Nigerians should deserve nothing but a credible, free and fair elections.”

Speaking further, Jega warned INEC officials not to allow the hackers to have access to their website. “Some hackers are being hired and paid to cause disruption,” remarked Jega, adding that some of the fraudsters are very smart and experienced in the nefarious act.

“We experienced it on the day of election when I was in charge but we resolved it within a very short time,” he said.

He mentioned that one of the most vital things that Nigerian electorates are lacking is voter education.

“The law allows you to stay, watch and monitor the votes and processes and ensure that the presiding officer does the needful, else desperate politicians would hijack and pollute the whole process. We must not be lackadaisical in this election,”

He then charged political parties to educate the masses more on voter education and sensitization exercises. “Voter education and sensitization is part of the responsibilities of political parties,” Jega said.

This also comes as he implores Nigerians to vote for only credible candidates that will serve their purposes, saying that good people either sit on the fence or keep away from politics.

Jegs reiterated that credible and competent candidates are in Nigeria, that the masses should shine their eyes and choose wisely.

In his opinion as to why foreign interests are very much in Nigeria’s political state, Jega stated that the country’s political status is rated low, adding that it is characterized by impunity and other malpractices. “For this reason, I am a strong advocate for the establishment of Electoral Offences Commission which shall help to curb so many anomalies politically,” remarked Jega.

The former INEC boss was not pleased with some political candidates who would rather shun domestic invites for public debates, in preference to foreign invites like the Chatham House in UK and others.

However, the chairman and founder, ALG, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, reiterated the group’s effort to intensify and push more discussions on rebuilding Nigeria.

While concluding the virtual session, Ighodalo noted, “The Africa Leadership Group would sincerely keep the faith to promote good governance, accountability, equitable and judicious use of both human and natural resources and designed to address the leadership dilemma in Nigeria and the African continent at large.”

He also enjoyed Nigerians to hook up to the foundation’s website and social platforms to get more enlightenment about the Group’s activities and efforts to forestall good governance in the country through the weekly forum.