3rd June, 2010
As the 2011 election is fast approaching, many people are bothered that nothing concrete seems to have been done by the Goodluck Jonathan administration to ensure it is free and fair even as he keeps assuring Nigerians and the international community that he will organise a credible election next year.
Many are concerned about the inability of the government to commence its much touted plan to embark on electoral reforms to ensure credible election less than a year to the polls. There are also fears that the government might have jettisoned the recommendation of the Justice Muhammed Uwais-led electoral reform committee set up by the Yarâ€™Adua administration.
These fears are justified by the fact that less than a year to the formation of a new government most of the recommendations of the committee on credible polls for the country are yet to be implemented. This was given credence on Tuesday when the Acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prince Solomon Soyebi raised an alarm that time was running out and holding election next year may no longer be feasible.
One of the groups that has been very vociferous on the need to have a credible election in 2011 as against the sham election witnessed in the country in 2007, the Save Nigeria Group, SNG, has once again, sounded the alarm that it doesnâ€™t seem as if the Jonathan administration is committed to giving Nigerians genuine electoral reforms.
SNG leaders, at a rally held in Abuja, lamented that since President Jonathan assumed office, he has not done anything tangible towards giving the country electoral reforms and show that it was ready to conduct credible polls next year.
According to the convener of the group, Pastor Tunde Bakare, â€œNigeria is at crossroads concerning its electoral reforms. There seems to be not too much difference from what we used to have in our electoral laws. If Nigerians are going to insist on irreducible minimum, then we must be able to choose who can lead us.â€
Apart from the fact that the government rejected one of the most important recommendations of the Uwais committee report that the judiciary be allowed to appoint the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the administration has not shown any sign that it will implement any of the recommendations of the committee.
The review of the votersâ€™ register which is also an important aspect of holding a credible election has not been done. It is no secret that the present votersâ€™ register is flawed because it contains extraneous names which had contributed to the rejection of the outcome of previous elections it was used to conduct.
A situation whereby voters queue at designated voting centres and could not find their names on the votersâ€™ list must not be allowed again. It is time to have a credible votersâ€™ register devoid of fictitious names. The time is ripe for the administration to embark on a comprehensive review of the votersâ€™ register.
The Jonathan administration must not wait for members of the SNG to take to the streets before it embarks on credible electoral reforms for a free and fair poll next year and in the future.
The administration must move fast towards setting up a truly independent electoral body with a chairman that will be acceptable to all. We agree with critics that the time is so short now and everybody must work towards having a credible election in 2011.