The former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, has expressed concern over the current developments in the political space, saying he had a lot of fears about what would be the outcome of the 2023 general elections, but I hope that Nigeria would survive the challenges and have a successful poll.
The former INEC chairman who was also a former Vice-Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano, during an interview with journalists on the sidelines of a colloquium organised by the Director, The Electoral Hub, Princess Hamman-Obels, in honour of a Senior Fellow of the Centre for Democracy Development, Prof. Adele Jinadu on his 79th birthday with the theme, “Adele Jinadu and Electoral Democracy in Nigeria: Knowledge Production and Praxis.”
Hamman-Obels described Jinadu as, “an icon of democracy who worked tirelessly in reforming the nation’s electoral integrity.”
Jinadu stressed the need to take action to unlock the heavy fetters placed on democracy and development by the political class, the country’s party system, and the frightening loss of direction in the nation’s pro-democracy civil society organisations.
He expressed concern over the growing vicious attempt to discredit the leadership of INEC in a manner to bring about the reversals of advances towards the routinization of electoral democracy in the country, made under Jega and now under Mahmood Yakubu.
“It must be realized that INEC is not the enemy of democracy but those who are afraid of INEC’s daring attempt to routinize electoral integrity as the core of our country’s electoral process and electoral governance and whom we must expose for their diversionary tactics to shift attention from their undemocratic, unpatriotic agenda,” he added.
Although Jega expressed fears about the outcome of the 2023 election, he believed that the country would pull through.
He said, “I have a lot of fears about the outcome of the election. But you’ll see people like me are, what I call, an incurable optimists about the future of our country. So I remain hopeful that in spite of the recklessness that we see, in spite of the vandalism that we see perpetrated by many of our so-called leading politicians, we are hopeful that people will mobilize and become effectively engaged in the electoral process so that we have a good outcome in 2023.
“We can’t give up hope. We still have to engage because the more we engage, the more the possibility of change happening.”
While describing Jinadu as a beacon of hope for the next generation, passionate about the need to reform Nigeria’s electoral process, he stressed the need for academics to participate actively in politics for the process and development of the country.
Jega said that Nigeria is at a very critical junction when the promises of democratic development are being systemically undermined and eroded.
He said Nigeria was in need of good and knowledgeable people who believe in humanity to address the fundamental need of the people.
Jega said, “He is not just a Professor that busies himself and buries his head in the University system; but he is also very active, in any institutional or organisational platform that can enable him to share his knowledge and experience in order to reform our politics to clean up our electoral system and to ensure that we have good governance in this country.