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Nigeria: Jega demands attitudunal change in politicians

The Independent National Electoral Commission’s chairman (INEC), has embarked on the process of enlightening politicians who may want to win elections at all cost, its chairman, Attahiru Jega, made this known yesterday in Abuja.

Professor Attahiru Jega, INEC Chairman

Professor Jega spoke at a lecture titled, ‘Elections and Democracy in Africa: Restoring Nigerian Leadership,’ organised by the United States Embassy.

Responding to concerns raised by some Nigerians about the 2011 elections, the INEC boss said the commission has been engaging politicians in discussions to intimate them on the provisions of the electoral laws, so as to bring civility into the process of political contestation.

Mr. Jega regretted that the political terrain has been tainted with the desperation to win elections, but insisted that it has to change if the nation must have credible polls next year.

“In this engagement, the underlying point is bringing civility into the process of political contestation and campaign, and I think the parties are responding,” he said.

“The terrain has been infused with the mindset of do-or-die attitude. But it has to change. It is something that is deep-rooted and so it will take time to change,” he added.

Mr. Jega said that the commission is re-orientating politicians “for them to have the right mindset to accept defeat.”

On the voters register, the INEC chairman said it was one of the reasons the commission asked for time, and assured that the commission would satisfy the needs and aspiration of Nigerians. He explained that so many flaws were discovered in the previous register, hence it demanded for more time so as to have credible polls.

“We are working hard now to have a new voter register. We are going to satisfy the needs and aspirations of Nigerians. It is a bit slow, but it is going on. The thing is to get it right,” he stated.

Mr. Jega said the commission is prepared to collaborate with youth groups in the country that have the agenda of change, but admitted that it is facing the challenge of identifying the genuine ones.

According to him, some of the groups are being misdirected and, therefore, cannot fit into the commission’s agenda to bring about credible elections in the country.

Repeat June 12

Earlier in his lecture, Richard Joseph, a professor of International History and Politics at the Northwestern University in the United States, said the bomb attempt by a Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab, last December, and last Friday’s incident have implications for the political security of Nigeria.

He noted that something must give way in order to sustain democracy in the country, just as he asked politicians to do away with pursuing electoral victory at all cost.

Mr. Joseph said Nigeria could embark on the journey of claiming democracy, mandate protection, and enthronement of accountability, adding “we cannot run away from what happened on June 12, 1993.”

While praising the leadership qualities of the Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, the professor said the 2011 polls should be used to repeat the credible election of 1993.