Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, has advocated for the unbundling of the commission to enhance its efficiency. He made this plea on Tuesday in Abuja during a Citizens Town Hall on Electoral Reform organized by Yiaga Africa, the European Union (EU), in collaboration with the National Assembly joint committees on electoral matters,Daily Trust reports.
Jega emphasized the need for improvements in Nigeria’s electoral process, urging the National Assembly to proscribe the issue of politicians crossing carpet between parties. He highlighted that despite some positive transformations in INEC from 2011 to 2022, there is room for further enhancement.
Addressing key areas for electoral integrity, Jega pointed out the importance of examining voting rights and inclusion, political parties, primaries and litigation, security, and public enlightenment. He stressed the detrimental impact of politicians’ cross-carpeting on the political landscape, including elected governors.
Regarding cross-carpeting, Jega stated, “The law is very clear. If you move, unless there is a crisis, a by-election should be conducted. If a politician crosses the carpet as a matter of principle, he should vacate his or her seat.”
Jega recommended a review of the appointment process for the INEC chairman and the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) to ensure a non-partisan selection. He further proposed the unbundling of INEC and a reassessment of the criteria for presidential candidates, suggesting that political parties should meet specific thresholds before fielding a presidential candidate.
During the event, Jega submitted his recommendations to the National Assembly members. Senate President Godswill Akpabio, represented by his Chief of Staff, Barrister Sylvester Okonkwo, assured that the National Assembly is committed to working towards making INEC truly independent. He emphasized their dedication to protecting the independence of INEC and restoring public trust in the electoral process.
Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, Mr. Samson Itodo, stressed the collective responsibility of all stakeholders in making the nation’s democracy and good governance work for the people’s interest. He emphasized the need for active participation and collaboration to ensure a democratic system that serves the nation’s best interests.