Former President Goodluck Jonathan is advocating for presidents to be stripped of power to single-handedly appoint commissioners and chairmen of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He said it is in order to maintain the credibility and legitimacy of elections.
Jonathan said this, yesterday, during the launch of Senator Femi Okurounmu’s memoir, ‘The Dream,’ which took place at the Afe Babalola Hall of the University of Lagos.
Jonathan said the confidence of citizens in a country’s electoral process is very vital to the progress and development of any nation.
The former president also said even though he appointed INEC members during his tenure, Nigeria’s democratic process will never progress if the power to appoint members of the electoral body lies solely in the hand of the president.
“Democracy is a process of daily conversation with people, irrespective of their faith, colour or status.
“In this journey, we should endeavour to make adequate arrangements to ensure that the support and confidene of the people must not wane and, to achieve that, the electoral process is critical…
“How you consitute the electoral body, in this case, INEC, is critical. Different countries have different ways of setting up their electoral bodies. In Nigeria, we adopted the military style because when the military head of state wants to hand over to civilians, because they don’t see themselves as politicians, they are the ones that appoint all members of the electoral body. But now that politicians are heads of state, is it still proper for a powerful politician to be the person that will appoint all members of INEC?
“No matter how you compose INEC, people will always raise issues. So, the best thing to do in order for citizens to have confidence in the electoral body is to move that responsibility or shift it a little.
“In Nigeria, the president single handedly appoints the INEC chairman and its members. I also did so.
“I am not talking about the current president, I am speaking in the interest of the country so that when our electoral laws are being ammeded, the procedure for constituting INEC should be reviewed. Some countries have constituional courts and some set up election tribunals which are controlled by judicial officers who are expected to do the right thing. But, from my experience, no one can confidently say that the judges are politcally inate. So, in constituting these bodies that will look into our election, it will be better to have a separate institutin to do that, than for it to lie in the hands of one powerful individual.”
He also advised President Muhammadu Buhari to jettison political considerations and immediately implement recommendations of the 2014 National Conference in order to ‘take the country out of the woods.”
The author, on his part, insisted on restructuring and noted that even though a larger country is more suitable for rapid development than a smaller one, there are sometimes compelling circumstances that may make the dissolution of a country into component parts a necessity for the purpose of a more rapid development.
He stressed that when a nation of diverse ethnic nationalities is confronted with a situation of hostile and mutually destructive relationships among the ethnic components, it is a clear indication of an unstable polity.
“When one ethnic group has unquenchable territorial ambitions over the lands of others and seeks to appropriate those lands for the benefit of local and diaspora members of its ethnic stock, carrying out genocidal attacks on indigenous populations in the process, it is clear indication of an inherently unstable polity that will put the country’s growth in reverse gear.
“Our country is now declining rapidly and our people are moving deeper into the cesspit of humanity. The only way forward is to restructure the polity and revert very quickly to the federal constitution under which Nigeria became independent,” Okurounmu said.