Some observers of the 2015 general elections have called on the Federal Government to ensure a total reform of the nation’s electoral body, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and absolved its former chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega from any wrongdoing.
At a one-day roundtable on the appraisal of the 2015 general elections in Nigeria organised by Coalition For Democracy And Credible Elections (CODECE) in Abuja, they called on the government to look into the operations of INEC from 1998 to 2015.
Delivering a keynote address at the occasion, Dr Adetokunbo Pearse of University of Lagos said the shortcomings of INEC cannot be attributed to the failings of its chairman.
“Blame must go partly to the structure which the chairman inherited. Nigeria’s premier electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission, has a chequered history,” he said.
The first is that the structure of INEC must change. We can borrow from the American system whereby the Board of Elections is a bi-partisan body, in which the major parties are equally represented,” he said.
The observers said the head of the electoral body must not be invested with the kind of power the former chairmen of INEC had exercised claiming its absolute power corrupts absolutely.
They said the chairman should not be an executive chairman, but merely first among equals while urging President Buhari to recommend people of unquestionable character to INEC board known to be non-partisan.
They also suggested that party primaries be conducted by INEC to avoid imposition of candidates by influential members of political parties in the country, noting that internal democracy is more achievable under the supervision of a democratic and bi-partisan INEC.