Nigeria and the need to build strong institutions
Sir: Such hullabaloo that greeted the last election will never abate until Nigeria takes concrete steps to build its institutions such that any agency declared as independent will be truly so indeed. For instance, the practice of allowing the president to choose the chairman of the electoral commission is ill-advised and can neither guarantee the much desirable true independence nor the confidence of the citizens in the process.
It will be a different ball game however if the combined houses of the National Assembly is saddled with such responsibility as choosing whoever is to head the Electoral Commission. With that, whoever is chosen will be able to carry out the assignment most satisfactorily without interference from any quarters and will also erase any form of suspicion in the minds of the citizens.
Moreover, a professional body like the National Judicial Council in conjunction with Nigerian Bar Association ought to be responsible for choosing all key officers of the Ministry of Justice if the judiciary is to be truly free from the clutches of the executive.
The practice of allowing the president and the governors to choose some key judicial officers of the state does not allow for true independence of the judiciary and also reduces the citizen’s confidence in the third arm of government.
If professional bodies are allowed to take over these roles, it means that only convincingly credible candidates will be considered for such key posts and they will be able to carry out their duties without any outside influence. It is only when the nation’s institutions are built to be very strong and incorruptible that things will move smoothly and the people’s confidence restored.
Jide Oyewusi is Coordinator of Ethics Watch International, Lagos.