On reading the headline titled “All elections should hold in one day – Jega” which appeared in The Punch of Thursday, December 13, 2012, one is bound to give kudos to Professor Attahiru Jega, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the cogent reason advanced by him for the suggestion – to forestall high cost of prosecuting staggered elections in Nigeria – but midway into the full report in one of the inside pages in the newspaper, one is bound to get overwhelmed with utter disappointment and become downbeat on reaching that part of the report where he opined that the long overdue idea will not be feasible for the 2015 elections. Going by reasoning, year 2015 can be described as still far away and this has been buttressed and confirmed by President Goodluck Jonathan, who, when questioned of recent on whether he would again contest in 2015, retorted unambiguously that it was “too early” to be asked whether he would contest in that election or not.
The Independent National Electoral Commission should immediately set in motion the necessary machinery towards actualization of this laudable proposal so that it can be implemented for the 2015 elections. The truth of the matter is that should Professor Jega want this proposal implemented within a short period of six months, Nigerians believe it is a task that he can accomplish if the avalanche of accolades showered on him both nationally and internationally on the efficient, transparent and successful handling of elections so far conducted by the commission under his chairmanship, notably the April 2011 general elections, the Edo and Ondo governorship elections held so far this year, is anything to go by.
On the part of the people, if a referendum is carried out on the acceptability of this proposal, the ayes will surely carry the day judging by the people’s persistent outcry and yearning for plugging of all loopholes that would culminate in bringing down the astronomical costs of conducting staggered elections in the country. In addition, majority, if not all the registered political parties in Nigeria will unflinchingly support the idea and as expected, any of the political parties that refuses to be on the side of the people will be viewed as an enemy of Nigeria as a nation. The situation where Nigeria, as the giant of Africa, will be portrayed as a country that is unable to find its bearing within the shortest possible time on issues of national importance in the eyes of the international community should be avoided at all costs as this will not augur well for the good image of the country.
To bring the brilliant idea to fruition, Professor Jega is advised to send a bill for an amendment to the relevant section of the existing electoral laws for a change in the election time-table, as a matter of urgency, to the National Assembly to pave way for its implementation before the 2015 general elections. The National Assembly in turn should organize public hearings so as to determine the acceptability or otherwise of the laudable idea, moreover, when the people have continued to express their disappointment over high costs in running democracy in the country.
The professor’s convariant aim geared towards pruning down the number of political parties in Nigeria to two which was reported in the headline in The Punch of Friday, December 14, 2012, is another good idea which will no doubt also enjoy the full support of the people. It would be recalled that the fairest and freest general election so far held in the history of Nigeria was recorded under a two-party system in 1993 when the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC) were the only two political parties that slugged it out in that year’s election with the adoption of the Option A4 system.
Adoption of a two-party system in Nigeria for future elections will not only lead to political and economic cohesion but will also bring down drastically the associated costs that usually arise under a multi-party system as is the case today in our country. At the end of the day, money politics will not only be played down, but the high and rising costs of running democracy in the country will be drastically reduced.
There is the need, as a matter of necessity and of national importance for the National Assembly to organize public hearings on this two-party proposal of Professor Jega also with a view to ascertaining its popularity or otherwise among the people and the Nigerian electorate in particular.
Without mincing words, it is imperative for members of the National Assembly to provide the enabling environment for the implementation of the two proposals while all the arms of the nation’s judiciary on the other hand should rise up to the occasion and remain sagacious towards their actualization in the interest of the nation.
This is undoubtedly greater than political parties and individuals in the society, as the saying goes.
God Bless Nigeria!
•Odunayo Joseph wrote from 12, Salawu Street, Iju, Lagos State.