Prof. Attahiru Jega, former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says that improving the integrity of elections is key to democratic development of any nation,
Jega said this in Ibadan on Thursday while delivering a lecture to mark the 71st Foundation Day and Convocation of the University of Ibadan.
The former INEC boss spoke on the topic: “Towards Credible Electoral Process and Sustainable Political Systems in Nigeria: What Role for Universities?”, said Nigeria could achieve greater integrity in its electoral process through the collaboration of stakeholders.
“It is generally recognised that fortifying democracy is vital to sustainable development, but what is not as widely acknowledged is that improving the integrity of elections is key to democratic development.
“Sustainable electoral process with requite integrity is the panacea for democratic development in Nigeria and in all African countries struggling with the challenges of democratisation.
“The Nigerian electoral process has historically been flawed and repleted with profound challenges in all three key phases of electoral administration pre-election, election and post-election phases.
“All stakeholders, therefore, must play a positive role in bridging these gaps,” he said.
The former INEC boss commended the role of the academia in raising the bar of electoral administration in Nigeria since 2011.
He, however, called for more collaboration by way of research, advocacy, training and mentoring of all actors involved, particularly in inventing in-house election-related equipment and technologies.
Jega also urged improvements for electoral integrity and sustainable democratic development through determined efforts, creative and innovative deployment of national resources and endowment.
He said improvements were needed in the areas of legal and regulatory framework for elections, utilisation of technology, inclusiveness, transparency, accountability and competitiveness.
Other areas, according to him, are citizens’ trust and confidence in the electoral process to motivate them for greater participation and nurturing of positive agents of democratic development through attitudinal reorientation.
“It is quite possible to bring about a thriving democracy in Nigeria in spite of evident challenges.
“It would only require a more serious and purposeful engagement with and in the electoral process by all the key stakeholders.
“To ensure that it brings the desired quality representation and elected public office holders who are responsible and responsive to the needs and aspirations of the citizens.
“And that would catalyse and nurture good democratic governance.”
Jega said inadequate and inconsistent legal framework for conducting elections had been used by some politicians to their advantage as well as insufficient and delayed funding for elections among other challenges.
Earlier, the Chancellor of the institution, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar lll, represented by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Idowu Olayinka, said: “all of us should be interested in credible elections that are transparent, free and fair as a bedrock of participatory democracy.”
He commended the former INEC Chairman for his initiative of deploying lecturers in electoral administration in Nigeria.
He said this had proven to be good for our electoral process.
Also speaking, the Pro Chancellor of the university, Nde Joshua said Jega holds an excellent record when it comes to the history of good performance in electoral process in Nigeria.
“Truthfully, our universities have fundamental roles to play in bridging challenges in the electoral process.
“One role is to provide human capital for elections as credible elections are indispensable to the sustainability of our democracy.
“A viable electoral process is germane to the survival of our democracy.
“Kogi and Bayelsa elections are examples that we need a policy that will not only dowse political tension, but will proffer solutions to the political imbroglio we are experiencing in the country presently,” he said.
Edited by Ese E. Ekama
Biden clinches Democratic bid to face Trump in election
Former vice president Joe Biden on Friday claimed victory in the Democratic Party race to take on President Donald Trump in the November election.
“It was an honor to compete alongside one of the most talented groups of candidates the Democratic party has ever fielded – and I am proud to say that we are going into this general election a united party,” Biden said in a statement.
Biden is a long-time member of the party establishment, having served as a senator for decades, and was vice president under former president Barack Obama.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Biden crosses threshold to clinch Democratic presidential nomination
Former United States Vice President Joe Biden on Friday crossed the threshold for the Democratic presidential nomination, according to an estimate by the Associated Press (AP), locking up a contest for the White House with incumbent President Donald Trump.
The AP projected that Biden, now the sole remaining presidential candidate in the Democratic Party, has won 1,993 delegates to the national convention, surpassing the benchmark number of 1,991 needed for nomination.
The estimate came as Biden swept through primaries in seven states and the District of Columbia Tuesday. Although the votes were still being counted, Bernie Sanders, the senator from Vermont who suspended his presidential campaign in April but remained on the ballot, failed to reach the 15-percent threshold, handing more delegates to Biden.
“It was an honor to compete alongside one of the most talented groups of candidates the Democratic party has ever fielded — and I am proud to say that we are going into this general election a united party,” Biden said in a statement Friday night.
This year’s presidential election comes at a time when the United States is plagued by the coronavirus pandemic that has frozen the national economy, and, more recently, when nationwide protests against racial injustice have persisted for over a week following the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, under the custody of white police in Minneapolis.
“The country is crying out for leadership. Leadership that can unite us. Leadership that can bring us together,” Biden said.
Finland’s Social Democratic Party gains popularity: poll
The support for the Finnish Social Democratic Party (SDP) rose to 23.2 percent, showed a poll commissioned by the national broadcaster Yle and published on Thursday.
In the poll, the support for SDP rose by 1.1 percentage points, while support for the Center Party went down by 1.5 percentage points to 10.7 percent, which means SDP has further increased its lead over its main partner, the Center, in the current five-party coalition cabinet. The Green Leagues, also in the cabinet, surpassed the Center as well in the poll.
Tuomo Turja, research director of the Taloustutkimus, one of Finland‘s leading market research companies, noted on Yle that the speed of the ten percentage point increase in the popularity of the SDP since last December is unprecedented.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin represents the SDP, while Finance Minister Katri Kulmuni is chairman of the Center party.
The poll led to an open statement by the centrist parliamentary leader that the party could leave the cabinet. Antti Kurvinen, chairman of the Center Party Parliamentary Group, said on Yle that the party must get its policy goals through in the autumn, otherwise it may not continue. Kurvinen insisted that the government must agree on the “renewal of the labour market” to increase employment.
Elections: INEC to implement measures to mitigate COVID-19 impact – Yakubu
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reassured Nigerians that it would continue to adopt and implement measures to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country’s electoral activities.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Wednesday gave the assurance at the commission’s first virtual consultative meeting with media organisations.
Yakubu solicited media cooperation and support in disseminating required information that would help to protect the health of voters and all those involved in electoral activities.
According to him, as usual, the Commission welcomes media comments and suggestions, as critical stakeholders involved in reporting and analysing our democracy and electoral process.
“The Commission, therefore, values your contributions to policy formulation and implementation,” he said.
Yakubu said that COVID-19 pandemic had necessitated a rethink of many activities that had been taken for granted.
“With regard to the conduct of elections, the world is clearly sailing through uncharted waters.
“Only a few countries have conducted elections since the reported outbreak of the pandemic in December 2019.
“However, health authorities have issued guidelines on protective measures against the spread of the virus and the response to any emergencies that may occur,” Yakubu said.
According to him, the Commission has always accredited media organisations to cover elections and to ensure your unimpeded access to voting locations and collation centres.
“The forthcoming Edo and Ondo Governorship Elections as well as many bye-elections across the country will not be different.
“However, in tandem with the new health reality, accreditation of media organisations for these elections will be done online through a dedicated portal,” Yakubu said.
He pledged the commission’s commitment to continue to ensure that media carried out their responsibilities without any form of hindrance.
The President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Chris Isiguzo, in his remarks, commended the steps taken so far by the INEC in conducting elections during pandemic.
Isiguzo pledged the continued support of the media for successful elections.
He, however, called on the commission to give the same support to the media, especially for them to carry out their responsibilities without any form of harassment by the security agencies.