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Electoral reforms, integrity critical to credible elections, says Jega

By Adamu Abuh, Oludare Richards (Abuja) and Seye Olumide (Ibadan)
15 October 2021   |   4:08 am
Former Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria, Prof. Attahiru Jega, has said an overhaul of the electoral system in ECOWAS Member States is critical in achieving credible, free and fair elections in the West Africa.

Prof. Atahiru Jega

• ADP urges INEC to test-run electronic transfer of results
• George lauds senate’s decision on votes transmission

Former Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria, Prof. Attahiru Jega, has said an overhaul of the electoral system in ECOWAS Member States is critical in achieving credible, free and fair elections in the West Africa.

Jega made this known during a Technical Session at the ongoing High-level Parliamentary Seminar of the ECOWAS Parliament yesterday (Thursday) in Winneba, Ghana.

According to him, independence, relative autonomy, integrity of the electoral body with a good legal framework will bring desired reforms in the electoral process of ECOWAS countries.

Jega said achieving credible elections also requires the collaboration of all stakeholders, noting that if other sectors are compromised, the electoral body alone cannot succeed in delivering credible elections.

He said: “When we examine the conduct of elections in the last two decades in ECOWAS Member States, we can see some progress that has been made but obviously, there are lots of challenges which remain.

“To address these challenges, we need to pay attention to bringing about substantial and substantive reforms of the electoral processes and electoral systems, which we use in the West African sub-region. Most specifically, we need to pay attention, fast, to the integrity of the election management body itself. This is key because whatever lacks integrity is unlikely to bring outcomes to integrity.”

This came as Action Democratic Party (ADP) enjoined INEC to test-run electronic transfer of votes in the forthcoming Anambra gubernatorial election.

ADP’s National Chairman, Yabagi Sani, who spoke while inaugurating the campaign council for the Anambra poll in Abuja, said the measure would ensure conduct of a free and fair poll in the state.

He also applauded INEC on its victory over the debate on electronic transmission of results at the National Assembly.

Similarly, a former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George, commended the synergy between the National Assembly and INEC on electronic transmission of results.

In a statement, yesterday, George said the move is the way forward for Nigeria’s democracy. “It signifies a significant new dawn in the strengthening of our young democracy,” he said.

He added: “The primitive manual system whereby results are physically carried often gives room for easy manipulation and brazen distortion of the will of the people.

“Physically carrying result sheets from polling units to the wards, the local governments and other levels of administration is not only wrong, it is downright untidy and cumbersome. And it is an absolute trigger for fraud and the disenfranchisement of our people.”