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Nigeria’s electoral reform: Let Iwu Go – ‘CISLAC’

INEC Chairman, Maurice Iwu

Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and indeed, other numerous Nigerians, particularly those that have been advocating for a credible electoral process in Nigeria, were thrown aback yesterday when the Senate Committee on INEC led by its Chair, Senator Isiaka Adeleke told Nigerians that those clamouring for the removal of the INEC National Chairman, Professor Maurice Iwu were mere dreamers.
Nigerians and the entire world are aware of the damage that the INEC as presently constituted, has caused to the democratisation process in the country since he (Iwu) became Chair in 2005. Even President Umar Yar’Adua acknowledged this in his maiden speech on the 29th May, 2007 when he took over the mantle of leadership and again re-iterated it at the inauguration of the Justice Lawal Uwais led Electoral Reform Committee last year.
The recommendations of the ERC, which included the unbundling of INEC as submitted to the President was testimonial to this fact. More so that the upturning of some of the election results by the courts and the call for re-runs in some cases added vent to the shabby and ridiculous manner in which INEC conducted the 2007 General Elections in Nigeria.
Now that the recommendations are before the President, and with the 2011 Elections by the corner, Nigerians are worried that if urgent steps are not taken to quickly reform the electoral process, the democratic process may be endangered if the likes of Professor Maurice Iwu are allowed to be in the saddle again.
Recently, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and some civil society activists in the country renewed the call for the removal of the INEC Chairman, bearing in mind the dis-enchantment and the lost of confidence in the Chairman by Nigerians. This agitation is not unmindful of Sections 154, 155 and 157 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which clearly stipulates the process of his appointment and removal from office.
However, given the enormity of Professor Iwu’s sins against the aspirations and expectations of Nigerians, we expect that the leadership of this country should harken to the popular voice of the people by speeding up his removal through due process in line with the popular demand of the Nigerian people.
It therefore baffles us to note that against the backdrop of all these, the Nigerian Senate, which is suppose to draw its mandate from the people and be responsive to them, is throwing its weight behind the INEC Chairman. Such unpopular stand portrays the distinguished members of the National Assembly either as beneficiaries of the Iwu’s electoral fraud or that they have de-linked themselves from the golden voices of their constituencies. We also see this act as a consolidation of the massive attendance by the members of the National Assembly and other political leaders during the ‘Thanksgiving Celebration’ organised by the INEC Chairman in December 2008.
We also doubt the position of the Senate on the current Constitutional amendment process, which is expected to approve whatever final proposal that will come from the President on the recommendation of the Electoral Reform Committee.
CISLAC therefore, views the position of the Senate Committee as not only undemocratic but a deliberate attempt to scuttle the smooth march towards consolidating democracy in the country. It also call on the President to as a matter of urgency consult with members of the National Council of State to deliberate and take immediate actions towards removing this enigmatic personae that stands between Nigerians and the much anticipated credible elections in 2011.
Boniface Kassam
Senior Programme/ Media Officer