Nigeria Toying With ‘Its Destiny’ Without Electoral Reform, Says Falana
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, believes Nigeria needs serious electoral reform in order for things to work well.
The senior lawyer said this during an interview on the latest edition of Roadmap 2019 which aired Monday, the second episode after the general elections.
“No nation can continue to toy with its destiny as we are doing,” he told Channels Television’s Ladi Akeredolu-Ale.
Falana accused the previous governments of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as well as the present administration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) of ignoring the call to reform the nation’s electoral system.
He said, “Unfortunately, for 16 years under the PDP government, the democratic forces in Nigeria, the progressive forces in Nigeria, the human rights community and other stakeholders, tried to impress it on the government to change the electoral jurisprudence to embark on serious fundamental electoral reforms; those pleas were ignored.”
“We are also in that era now, where the ruling party has also refused to embark on genuine electoral reforms and, of course, if for any reason the ruling party is defeated in an election in the future, you will have the same allegations raised by the PDP now (being raised) by the APC then,” the activist added.
He was, however, hopeful that some new democratic forces would have taken over the process, stressing that the country cannot afford to continue in such manner.
The SAN recalled a committee on electoral reform, set up by late former President Umar Yar’Adua, which submitted its report in December 2008.
According to him, the panel led by a former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Mohammed Uwais, made profound recommendations but they were ignored.
He noted that former President Goodluck Jonathan also constituted a post-election violence panel in 2011 and “very serious recommendations” were made but also ignored.
“President (Muhammadu) Buhari set up the Ken Nnamani committee which reviewed all the previous recommendations and added new ones to reflect the current situation. Again, the report has not been debated at all,” Falana decried.
He faulted the failure of the government to embark on genuine electoral reform when recommendations were gathering dust in its archives rather than being put to use.
The lawyer said several court judgments have indicted the nation’s electoral process while the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was making attempt to turn a few of the recommendations into guidelines.
“That is not sufficient and that is why we are in a mess,” he stated.