The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, on Thursday, May 15, 2015 stressed the importance of continuing and improving upon the standard of Nigerian elections.
This is coming up few weeks before he would step down after conducting the just concluded 2015 general election.
According to This Day, Jega said the commitment and calibre of the yet-to-be constituted new leadership of the commission had to be closely monitored by civil society organisations (CSOs) in order to consolidate on the gains of the 2015 elections.
Jega made this known in Abuja at the presentation of the 2015 general election observation report carried out by Election Monitor, a civil society group, supported by the McArthur Foundation.
The INEC boss, who was represented by the commission’s Elections and Party Monitoring Director, Mr. Sheu Wahab, said INEC had done well in restructuring the electoral process in Nigeria, but noted that it would be very easy for what had been achieved to be reversed by the incoming members if the country got it wrong on the new leadership.
He said, “A lot depends on civil society organisations as of what we do now. Yes, elections have been conducted in Nigeria, yes, elections have been acknowledged to be (more) credible than past elections, and Nigeria has also been able to assess the role of technology.
“As CSOs, we need to continue to beam the searchlight on post election events, and the first thing that will come to your mind is the reconstitution of new INEC, Jega’s commission will be winding up by the end of June, a new commission is going to be put in place. If we are going to consolidate on the gains of 2015 elections, I think CSOs have every reason to watch out for the new commission that is going to come in place.
“For me, I’m interested in a post Jega, a new commission that will do a lot better than what he has done; and consolidate on what he has done. I therefore expect the CSOs to watch the new commission, check the record of the members of the new commission and let the people know who they are.”
The INEC chairman stressed further that the CSOs should beam their searchlight on the incoming members of the commission, adding that they should not wait till things get out of hand before they start criticizing.
“The role is that of CSOs for me than any other organ because you can never expect the party in power to see anything wrong in what they are doing. Lai Mohammed, the spokesman of All Progressives congress (APC) will continue to defend APC even though they may not be doing well…, you can’t use the barometer of these parties to measure how the government is performing,” he explained.
He also pointed out that the media should have been another focal point, but stated that the ownership structure was affecting the reportage of the media.
The National Coordinator of the Election Monitor group, Mr. Abiodun Anjola, said the research was conducted in order to give quality information that helps the public to understand election process better without fear or favour.
He added: “INEC must bring someone like Jega or better than him. If they bring corrupt person, it will take us back again. So we need a man of integrity like Jega to be active in the next four years.
“We need to use more technology even in voting, let it be with technology. For instance, the card reader helped to reduce electoral rigging during the last election. It is as if less people voted this time but it was not so in 2011.”