Former chairperson of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega has alleged that the 2023 general election was compromised because some officials within the electoral commission carried out some illegal deals after being nominated for the positions based on political bargains.
Jega who made the claim as a guest lecturer at the two-day retreat organised for senators in Akwa Ibom, recommended that the president should not be involved in the appointment process of chairman of the electoral commission and resident electoral commissioners.
He stated that it should be under the purview of the national assembly who should carry out a strict screening process and not just say “bow and go”.
“We have seen, in 2023 elections, the damaging effect of how people in the corridors of power get their client/partisan nominees appointed, without being thoroughly screened, and then they are influenced to compromise the integrity of elections.
“On second thought, and for obvious reasons, I will recommend a joint committee of the National Assembly be given this responsibility, with criteria, for transparency, non-partisanship and stakeholder engagement for the process. The applicants/nominees for these appointments should be subjected to public scrutiny with regard to knowledge, skills, good character and non-partisanship.
“Guidelines should be provided for submitting petitions against any nominee during this process. In any case, the Senate screening process should be more serious and rigorous. Also, there should no longer be the patronizing “Take a bow and go”.
“Professionalise lower level administrative appointments, including headship of state offices of INEC. In this regard, the appointment of Resident Electoral Commissioners should be divested from the president and given to the Commission at INEC, with powers to hire and fire.
“Once the appointment of Chairman and National Commissioners is sanitised, infused with public scrutiny for integrity and non-partisanship, then the Commission should be entrusted to hire and fire competent and skilled staff for administrative roles at both the headquarters and state offices of INEC. Thus, there will be clear lines of authority and directives, which would prevent the kind of unwholesome situations we have seen, in which RECs pander more to their partisan political bosses who nominated them into office, and ignore the lawful directives of the Commission.”
“Electoral boundary and constituency delimitation should be reassigned and entrusted to the National Boundary Commission, or such other agency as may be created. Registration and monitoring of the activities of political parties should also be taken away from INEC and entrusted to another federal body/agency.”
Jega also called for the registration and monitoring of activities of political parties to be taken away from INEC and entrusted to another federal agency.
The former INEC Chairman said;
“Electoral boundary and constituency delimitation should be reassigned and entrusted to the National Boundary Commission, or such other agency as may be created. Registration and monitoring of the activities of political parties should also be taken away from INEC and entrusted to another federal body/agent.
“There is a need to review the manner by which every “Dick and Harry” party/candidate vies for the presidency, and even governorship, making the cost of elections relatively high.
“A legal threshold needs to be provided, which political parties and candidates have to cross, beyond mere registration as a political party, before they can vie for the presidency or even governorship elections. There are models of this in many electoral jurisdictions, that Nigeria can learn from, and adapt to our context.”