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‘Proportional representation will curb election violence’

By Anthony Otaru, Abuja   |   27 April 2017   |   2:34 am

INEC

As stakeholders strive to find better ways of curbing electoral violence in the country’s electoral system, a national commissioner, with the Independent National electoral Commission [INEC] Dr. Muhammad M Leky has said that the best option for the country is to explore the ‘proportional representation model.’

Leky said that ‘proportional representation’ elections would help to reduce, if not completely eradicate electoral violence, saying: “by this, I mean that if it will be possible for a party that wins election to carry along those that lost by being magnanimous to give them some percentage in the cabinet or legislative positions at the federal or State levels, such practice will reduce the tension in the land for all and sundry and ensure a free, fair and conclusive elections.”

The call for a proportional representation is coming on the heels of massive violence recorded in the 2015 general elections, which saw the snatching of ballot papers, sharing of innocent blood by political actors and agents as well as subjection of the results to endless legal battles.

Speaking with The Guardian in Abuja, the INEC national commissioner explained that this has become necessary as part of the possible ways to end election violence in Nigeria.

He said: ‘’If the Proportional Representation model is accepted you will find that there may be no quarrels among political agents at the polling boots or station between rival political actors and parties because they know it’s no more the winner takes it all syndrome; it also means that the losing parties or candidates know that they would be represented in the emerging government. If we can have this kind of arrangement, it does not necessarily mean it must be a constitutional thing, you will find that subsequent elections would be better organized in a freer, fairer and transparent manner. If politicians can have this gentleman agreement among themselves, everybody would have been carried along; it will douse the tension that goes along with elections.”

Besides, he called on governments at the state level to emulate Lagos and Kano States that have encouraged non-indigenes to emerge victorious at their state legislative elections as well as ensure that some of them become members of the cabinet.

The INEC national commissioner assured that the Commission would introduce e-collation and e-transmission technologies during the Anambra governorship election billed for November this year, as part of measures to curb election violence.

“The biggest challenge in our electoral system today is the issue of violence like snatching of ballot boxes, stealing of votes or substituting results at collation centres; all these abnormalities give room to killing of innocent people and violence around the transmission of results. So we have found a way out of this whereby through technology, we can minimize if not completely eliminate the scourge; we are going to use e-collation and e-transmission technology to improve the entire process beginning from the forthcoming Anambra State elections later this year.”

Leky also spoke on the recent corruption charges levied against some INEC staff by anti-corruption agencies, noting that it is a worrisome development occasioned by dubious politicians that are determined to compromise the staff.

According to him, “the issue of corruption in our electoral process is worrisome. There are many factors for this but one thing that is very clear is that INEC does not bribe itself; people make attempts to compromise the process and in compromising the process, some take the advantage to snatch ballot boxes or stuff it with ballot papers, so if your opponents are stronger and you can influence INEC officers then you may have your way. This is why the politicians bribe the staff; but given that such happens, you’ll agree with me that there will always be a Judas among the twelve and when you have multiple of twelve then you have multiple Judas. So, this is how people make attempts to bribe INEC staff; this happened in the 2015 elections but the good thing is that all government anti-corruption agencies are already investigating the whole cases.”He said that as soon as they finish their investigations, those found culpable would be released by INEC to face the consequences.


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