Professor Attahiru Jega, former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has decried the failure of the electoral process to entrench good governance in Africa.
He stated this on Thursday, November 14th at the University of Ibadan, UI, while delivering 2019 Convocation Lecture titled, “Towards Credible Electoral Process and Sustainable Political Systems in Nigeria: What role for Universities”.
He said, “All over Africa, and indeed, to some extent, throughout the developing world, the electoral process is failing to entrench good governance and stable and sustainable democratic political systems as a result of what can be termed as a deficit of electoral integrity”.
According to him, deeply embedded unwholesome practices, such as use of money, violence, incumbency powers, and a range of electoral malpractices and fraudulent activities in the electoral process grossly undermine its utility as a vehicle for liberal democratic development. He revealed that dominant political classes can, and often do, hijack the electoral process through various means, to access power for selfish and self-serving objectives, rather than for democratic development that would satisfy the needs and aspirations of majority of the citizens in the country.
“In virtually all cases, ritualized elections, which lack integrity merely serve to legalize, if not ‘legitimize’, access and control of power into executive or legislative arms of government by people unconcerned with, or indifferent to, the requirements of sustainable democratic development. Hence, such elections do not catalyze, nor guarantee responsive and responsible representation and/or governance”, he said.
Jega affirmed that studies of elections and election observation reports generally, and on Nigeria in particular, exposed profound evidence of persistent electoral malpractices, the enormity and consequences of which undermined the integrity of the elections and the democratization processes they are supposed to engender.
The electoral administrator stated that, “a situational and contextual analysis of the electoral process in Nigeria reveals an incredible level of electoral malpractices and thus acute deficiency in electoral integrity, which are no doubt among the major sources/causes of political instability, weakness and inadequacy of the governance process and eroded legitimacy of elected government I the country”.
For the restoration and entrenching electoral integrity, Jega advocated for continuous legal and administrative reforms, as well as sensitization and public enlightenment, “most significantly, there is need for all stakeholders to strengthen their constructive engagement with the electoral process, with a view to improving, protecting and defending its integrity.”