Former INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, has called on Nigerians to reject peanuts offered by politicians and elect into power leaders who would seek the development and growth of the country.
Delivering a keynote address at a summit organized by the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), yesterday, Jega noted that enlightenment, sensitization, and voter civic education were important, saying it was not only the responsibility of INEC but also a primary responsibility of political parties because, “they are the ones that recruit candidates, prepare them for elections and they want people to come and vote how can they sit back and expect INEC with its limited funds to do that for them.”
He added that the reckless political class does not engage citizens on substance, ideas, ideologies, or realistic programs, all they do is mobilize people based on ethnicity and primordial identities to create us versus them distinctions then it seemed like a strategy for winning elections but now it has been weaponized leading to violence, the elections might seem a difficult task but it was not an impossible task and it would be accomplished.
In opening remarks, the Director General of NIPSS, Professor Ayo Omotayo stated that the summit would be a contribution to the ongoing debate on how to ensure that the 2023 general elections in Nigeria produce a set of leaders that will move the country forward.
Omotayo who was represented by the Director of Research, NIPSS, Professor Dung Pam Sha said that the institute had specially organized the summit to present a platform for political parties and other political actors from government agencies, the civil society, academia, and nongovernmental organizations and developmental sectors with the opportunity to brainstorm and have deep reflections on the state of political parties in Nigeria and how to conduct successful elections.
He urged political parties and their candidates as well as their mouthpieces to conduct their campaigns with credibility saying that they must devoid their campaigns around character assassination thereby heating the polity and creating room for violence and they must desist from creating political violence and canvass for votes fairly.
He further commended the leadership of various political parties, the assistance of the European Union, EU, for its support in the nation’s politics, and the Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC, for making their collaborations work towards raising the standards of elections in the country.
National Chairman of, the Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC, Alhaji Yabagi Sani stated that elections and the power to choose generally were fundamental rights for people to make choices adding that elections should not be characterized by rancor.
Sani said that the conduct of free and fair elections in Africa has always been a hard nut to crack noting that to a great extent, it was leadership that has caused the problems that have led the country to its present situation.
“Nigeria’s political systems have been characterized by impatient exclaims when it is time for the people to make their choice. The country naturally sees elections as a period of violence that is why our borders are closed and cities are shut down on election day even after elections. The power to choose is the fundamental right of the people.”