Jega Speaks On 2019 Election, Says Danger Looms

Former INEC boss, Attahiru Jega

“If political parties cannot organise their internal elections peacefully, how can they engage the other parties with civility in the general elections? It is very  important that this is addressed because if there is crisis in the elections, it is the electoral commission that gets blamed.”

The immediate past Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, has on Monday revealed his concerns over the forthcoming general elections.

According to Jega, 2019 election poses danger to the nation as he also noted that it was only God that intervened in the last general elections conducted in 2015 under his supervision.

NIGERIA NEWS gathered that Jega revealed his concerns when he was delivering the 2018 Democracy Day lecture in Abuja yesterday.

The INEC former boss appealed to the Federal Government to see to it that security operatives display a high sense of professionalism and neutrality in the forthcoming elections.

Part of his submission read: “The first thing to consider is electoral violence and there is no better way to address this than what happened in recent party congresses and its potential danger.”

“If political parties cannot organise their internal elections peacefully, how can they engage the other parties with civility in the general elections? It is very  important that this is addressed because if there is crisis in the elections, it is the electoral commission that gets blamed.”

“So, it is very important that we improve our systemic mechanisms of addressing violence and conflicts related to elections and in particular improving the score of internal democracy within political parties. We may be running out of time, we must try harder and do everything possible within the shortest time. God saved us from a constitutional crisis in 2015″

“I kept giving examples of some aspects of existing legal framework, which could have created a constitutional crisis if not for God’s intervention in 2015. For example, a constitutional provision that requires the electoral commission to conduct a run-off election within seven days is impossible in this country but that is what the constitution says.”

“Why is it impossible? By the time the electoral commission announces the result, it would have been two days and then if you take out those two days, you will be left with five days to prepare for the next run-off election.”

Jega speaking further disclosed that the operation of INEC has always been under great pressures. Speaking more on that, he said: “So it is very very important to accelerate this process of having a new improved legal framework for INEC to be able to do its job because right now, it is operating under serious pressure.”

“Again, we should be mindful of the ECOWAS protocol that we have signed, which requires all signatories to ensure that any amendment to the electoral legal framework is concluded at least six months before a general election, ideally it should be at least one year before general elections. Security agencies should be neutral, impartial”

“The last point I want to make is that security agencies need to display professionalism, neutrality and impartiality.”

‘’This is very important. In fact, in all fairness, the relative success that we had in the 2015 general elections was because of the active engagement of what we call the inter-agency consultative committee and the commitment of security agencies to do their best under very difficult circumstances.”

Jega accused top political office holders of being notorious and corrupt as he revealed that the National Assembly is used to demanding for bribes.

In his words: “I wonder what is happening with intelligence and investigative responsibilities of security agencies in policing our National Assembly. Some chairmen of the committees in National Assembly have become notorious on this issue of demanding bribe with impunity.”

“I have passed through the university system, I have heard so many stories of so many vice-chancellors about the woes they  go through on question of budget and so-called oversight assignments.”

“I am not saying that chief executives are saints but all we are saying is that we must point the search lights so that Nigerians and particularly public office holders should have basic common decency and integrity by which they discharge their responsibilities because virtually everybody seems to forget about what is going on.’’

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