President Goodluck Jonathan has reiterated his earlier assurance to the international community that he was more committed than ever before to making the 2015 elections more credible than that of the 2011 elections.
The President made this known when he received the outcome of the National Stakeholders Forum on Electoral Reform by former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, the Chairman of Ken Nnamani Centre for Leadership and Development.
He said his commitment to credible elections stem from the outcome of the 2007 elections when even the world leaders were in difficulty of whether to congratulate President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and himself, because of how flawed it was.
“Let me commend you of your efforts, your painstaking commitment to come up with this formidable report or communique that outline some key areas that the relevant department of government will look into it to strengthen out electoral process.
“Anything about elections I’m totally committed. And I used my personally experience when I came on board in 2007 as a vice president, and I promised myself that if I have the privilege to oversee elections in Nigeria, we will do better. In 2007 because I come from a very small state in Bayelsa State and was then the governor. Bayelsa State is totally a PDP state and didn’t see how anybody could win election outside the PDP. But at the end of that election because I had to go to my ward to vote, because everything about politics is local, I was embarrassed when the international observers complained that there were certain bridges.
“ Even though after taking oath of office and the supreme court declared us winners, but each time one travelled abroad, people ask all kinds of questions that even gets one angry. That was when I promised myself that if have an opportunity to oversee elections in Nigeria, no other president or vice president should suffer that can kind of harassment by the international community. That is why the 2011 elections, even though I was candidate, I said nobody should manipulate elections for me. That my ambition and the fate of the country are two different things, the interest of the nation is much mote superior than any other ambition and I kept faith with that. At least at the end of that elections, it was accepted by observers locally and internationally. And I promise that 2015 elections will be better.
“There is a lot of noise in the air but definitely the elections will be better because we must out our legs down and make sure that the right things are done”, he said.
On the recommendations by the National Stakeholders Forum on Electoral Reform, which include the establishment of electoral offences commission, funding of INEC and support for constitutional/electoral reform proposals made by the commission, compliance to internal democracy and campaign finance regulation ahead of the 2015 elections and respect for the rule of law by political parties, the President noted that there were not strange as there were in tandem with what government’s thinking and policy.
Jonathan agreed that there must be a dedicated body “so that people who commit electoral offences will not get away with it. After elections, the matter goes to the tribunal, the only person who looses, is the person who contested that elections. Any other person who committed all kinds of atrocities get away with it and nobody punishes them. And that is why we continue to have that kind of impunity but if people create people for the electoral process those people should be punished and not just about annulling elections. That was why my committee at a time recommended this election offences commission, where we stated that whether elections or annulled or not, there must be process of bringing those who have done one thing or the other contrary to expectations to book. And when we practice this over a period of time we will begin to get it right. We must be compel to be rational as human beings.
“On the issue of funding INEC, we will continue to do our best.
Earlier, in his remarks, Nnamani said, less than one year to Nigeria’s 2015 national elections, legal and administrative reforms remain uncompleted. “While the constitutional reform process instituted by the National Assembly has reached an advanced stage, several issues in the electoral circle remain unattended to. A significant portion of the legal reforms required for the conduct of improved election in 2015 are contained in the Electoral Act. Concerns have arisen over the pace of work on the amendment of this legislation, given that the notice of election will be given by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on October 1, 2014, according to the 2015 election timetable. Out side the Constitution and Electoral Act, INEC requires more resources than what is currently proposed in the 2014 Appropriation Bill, if the election management body is expected to effectively carry out it’s responsibility of conducting free, fair and credible elections in 2015.
“Besides these legal matters, administrative reform issues which do not require the amendment of laws have also not been fully implemented. This is the background on which the National Stakeholders Forum on Electoral Reform was conceived. The forum was designed to assist stakeholders collate the gaps in the electoral reform process, debate ideas, reach consensus and commit to the implementation of the positions agreed to”.
Others on the delegation were Prof. Ebere Onwudiwe,Executive Director, Ken Nnamani Centre for Leadership and Development, Jacqualine Farris, DG Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation, Michael Harvey, Head, USIAD/Nigeria, Mrs. Nino Nadiradze, Director, Peace and Democratic Governance, USIAD/Nigeria, Robina Namusisi, Country Director International Republican Institute (IRI), Bem Oga, Program Officer IRI, and Mrs. Uluoma Osuala, the Acting country director the International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES).
Also in attendance were the Attorney General of the Federation, Muhammed Adoke, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim and other senior aids of the President.