Posted by News Express | 6 November 2014 | 2,456 times
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has warned that the mechanisms for national lawmaking may be in jeopardy, should the outgoing state governors nursing inordinate senatorial ambition be allowed to manipulate the electoral process and emerge winners in the 2015 polls, even as it doubts readiness of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a free and fair election.
HURIWA noted that a nation that yearns for rapid industrialisation and development, to meet up with the rest of the developed and developing economies, should not elect a National Assembly of men and women without good name and credibility, especially when many of these governors have pending cases of outright heist of their people’s money while they were in office as governors for eight years. It asked: “What manner of law will emerge from a bunch of misfit governors who spent eight years without making meaningful developmental strides with the humongous federal allocations and other internally generated revenues? Do they desire to transit to the National Assembly so they can take their brand of public looting of public assets to national height?”
The rights group has, therefore, tasked the national leadership of the registered political parties and INEC to be on their guard to ensure that the process leading to the emergence of flag-bearers of the respective political parties for next year’s elections are transparent, free, fair and peaceful. It also charged the INEC to do more in order to demonstrate to Nigerians that it is ready to conduct a free, fair and open electoral contest next year. “As things stand right now, it is safe to state that INEC is not ready for this arduous national task. And this trend portends greater national catastrophe, if not quickly remedied administratively or through the National Assembly,” HURIWA said in a media release endorsed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Ms Zainab Yusuf.
It expressed concern that the current practice of unbridled emergence of so-called consensus candidates in virtually all the registered political parties has formed the enabling political environment for outgoing state governors serving their second and last statutory tenure in offices to seek actively to manipulate the primary electoral processes of their respective political parties, to ensure the surreptitious emergence of themselves, their wives and mistresses and children as candidates for the coming general election. HURIWA has, therefore, charged Nigerians to resist such sinister plots by these governors that could undermine democracy.
HURIWA noted that a situation whereby political parties shut out some of their members from running for their choice offices in next year's elections does not augur well for a free, fair, transparent, peaceful and open electoral process. It warned that the manipulations going on without any regulatory oversight by the Independent INEC could precipitate greater national uprisings and political upheaval. The rights group has urged INEC, genuine faith-based groups, community based organisations and organised civil society community in Nigeria, to speak out in defence of a transparent electoral contest, to save Nigeria from further unwarranted anarchy which may result as a logical consequence of the on-going active undermining of the democratic principles of democratic choice in virtually all the states of the federation.
HURIWA cited as an example, the situation in Abia State where the outgoing Governor Theodore Orji is allegedly plotting to manipulate the electoral process to ensure the emergence of himself, his wife and his first son as candidates of national and state assembly seats in the 2015 election. They also carpeted the governor of Enugu State, Sullivan Chime, for showing unbridled tyranny in the way and manner he is throwing his political weight to ensure that the deputy senate president, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, does not emerge as the candidate of the ruling party in the National Assembly election, so that he could emerge the consensus candidate of the same seat; after serving for eight years as governor. HURIWA, therefore, warned the governors of Abia and Enugu states not to throw the South-East into political turmoil and violence.
On the lack of adequate preparations by INEC for a transparent and peaceful elections next year, HURIWA cited examples of the inability of the electoral panel to check the excesses of political groups who jumped the electoral gun by embarking on grand-scale partisan campaign for their candidates in all the political parties, even when the extant electoral law does not allow for campaign before it is time. HURIWA also carpeted INEC for doing nothing to check the abuses of election funding and the rampant cases of underage voters, which nearly marred all the previous electoral contests.
According to it, “INEC is definitely not ready for next year’s election. And just like how the morning shows how the rest of the day would be, it is clear that the registration of voters by INEC has been heavily and criminally manipulated with the intention to criminally eliminate certain names of genuine voters from a particular geopolitical entity. This INEC, under Attahiru Jega, has failed and must be replaced with statesmen and women who can conduct free and fair elections next year.
“How come that INEC will stand by and watch the desecration of the democratic process and does nothing? How can INEC stand by and watch presidential candidates borrow money from banks for election and does nothing even as others get generous donations to purchase their forms far and above the ceiling, and this same INEC wants the rest of the world to take it serious?”
•Photo shows HURIWA National Coordinator Onwubiko.
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