The immediate past Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, has called for the unbundling of the commission and a comprehensive review of the processes and procedures for the appointment of the Chairman and Resident Electoral Commissioners.
Jega stated this on Tuesday at a town hall meeting in Abuja, organized by the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Electoral Matters.
INEC and the 19 registered political parties were noticeably absent at the event.
An investigation revealed that while the electoral umpire was not invited, as the meeting was the first in a series to be held, it was not clear if the invitation was extended to political parties, Punch News reported.
Jega, a professor of political science, also called for a law prohibiting inter-party defections, adding that the practice of jumping from one party to another has destroyed discipline and democratic ethos.
He said, “I will recommend the unbundling of INEC because the Commission has a lot on its plate to deal with, a situation that has made it struggle to meet its core mandate. Some functions that INEC is currently performing should be given to another body entirely to handle if we want to make progress on our electoral journey.
“If we (Nigerians) truly want to improve our electoral process, there is a need to prohibit cross-carpeting by political actors. The frequency with which Nigerian politicians cross-carpet has become a big source of worry.
“A candidate will be elected on the Party A platform, and he gets to the office and joins Party B without first resigning and relinquishing the position he or she holds in trust for the electorate. This has destroyed the essence of our democratic ethos.
“It is my humble recommendation that there should be a review of how political parties field presidential candidates. Look at the number of registered political parties in Nigeria and each fielding presidential candidates, but at the end of the day, only two or three score significant votes while the majority do not receive any votes.
“If we are serious about our electoral reforms, there must be a threshold for political parties to meet before fielding candidates in presidential elections. The rule must be set that parties that fail to secure a certain number of votes will not be allowed to present presidential candidates. There must be sanity in the polity, and we must get it right.
“It is not only a huge waste of human and material resources; it’s absurd to have parties that cannot win a seat in the local council field presidential candidates in a general election. The Electoral Act and INEC guidelines should be reviewed, Jega added.
The founder of The Albino Foundation, Jack Ekpele, called for the amendment of electoral laws to give people living with disabilities the opportunity to fully participate in the electoral process.
Ekpele further called for focus at the grassroots to make governance count for the people in rural communities. This is just as he called for electoral security for vulnerable groups in society.