By Arafat Balogun

Former chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Muhammadu Jega OFR, has said that members of university communities cannot and should not be the proverbial ostriches burying their heads in the sand, when there are challenges which they are capable of finding lasting solutions to.

He made this statement at the 71st University convocation lecture titled; “Towards Credible Electoral Process and Sustainable Political Systems in Nigeria: What Roles of Universities?” which held at Trenchard hall, University of Ibadan on Thursday, November 14th, 2019.

Prof. Jega pointed out that dominant political classes can, and often does hijack the electoral process through various means “to access power for selfish and self-serving objectives, rather than for democratic development that would satisfy the needs and aspirations of majority of the citizens in a country. Hence, such elections do not guarantee responsible governance, which is defined as: the provision of political, social and economic goods that a citizen has the right to expect from his or her state, and that a state has the responsibility to deliver to its citizens.”

He also stated that  fortifying democracy is vital to sustainable development  but what is not widely acknowledged is that improving the integrity if election is key to development and sustainable electoral process with requite integrity is the panacea for democratic development in Nigeria.

“All over Africa, and indeed, to some extent, throughout the developing world, the electoral process is failing to entrench good governance and stable and sustainable democratic political systems as a result of what can be termed as a deficit of electoral integrity.  Regularity of elections merely becomes a ritual, which does not yield substantive results or enduring benefits to the majority of the citizens, unless the preparations and conduct of, as well as participation by stakeholders in, elections have integrity.

Electoral Integrity is the absence of fraudulent activities in electoral process. The Nigerian electoral process has historically been flawed, and replete with challenges in all three key phases pre-election, elect ion-day activities and post-election phase.” He also added.

“Universities, as pinnacle of education, research and advocacy, need to engage in the national quest for democratic development and to become more actively and constructively engaged with the politics of democratic representation and governance, of which conduct of elections with integrity is the key. Universities can play roles in the context of research, training, advocacy, mentoring and in electoral administration.”  He explained.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *