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Atiku urges judiciary assume role of picking INEC chairman

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Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who is fighting to reclaim a supposedly ‘lost’ mandate before the Presidential Election Tribunal has suggested a solution to having credible elections in Nigeria: It is simply by ensuring that the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission and the ‘board’ are appointed by the judiciary.

Atiku said his suggestion is borne out of his ‘patriotic duty’.

At present the incumbent president picks the chairman of the electoral body and Atiku obviously smarting from INEC decision not to call any witness to rebutt his case before the tribunal, wants the power to appoint the chairman taken away.

However, the second leg of Atiku’s suggestion is strange. INEC does not have a board, as it is available in corporate organisations. INEC has a chairman and 12 national commissioners and a secretary. It goes by the name ‘The commission’, not the board. It also has state electoral commissioners and other administrative staff at the headquarters and the states.

Atiku said he has made a suggestion on the need to change the mode of selecting the chairman and the commissioners based on the recommendation of Justice Lawal Uwais headed National Electoral Reform Committee.

Uwais Committee also recommended the creation of Electoral Crimes Commission.

“Obviously, the 2019 elections were several steps down from the 2015 elections in terms of credibility, and as a democrat, I am challenging that election in the right arena, the courts. However, leadership does not just entail getting justice for the past. A real leader knows that in terms of justice, prevention is better than cure”, Atiku wrote on Monday.

“I have been pondering on the question, how can Nigeria have credible elections. Our electoral system needs not just to be brought up to date, by the acceptance of the amendments to the Electoral Act passed by the eight National Assembly, we also need to be up to tomorrow, by taking steps today to ensure that the lapses that made it possible for the 2019 elections to be manipulated or rigged are addressed.

“One way of addressing these lapses is to implement the salient recommendations of the National Electoral Reform Committee (NERC) headed by former Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Mohammed Lawal Uwais. The second, is the creation of Electoral Crimes Commission.

“One of such recommendations, which will enhance the independence of the supposedly Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is the recommendation that the power to appoint the Chairman and board of the INEC be taken away from the President and given to the Judiciary.

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“Of all three arms of government, the Judiciary is the least affected by elections, meaning that it has the highest objectivity in matters relating to the INEC. It is therefore in the best position of the three arms, to appoint a Chairman and board members for the electoral body that are impartial, competent and patriotic.

“This recommendation may seem like a small change, but my experience in life has taught me never to underestimate the big difference small changes can make.

“Nigeria today faces a lot of challenges, chief of which are security and economic revival. To effectively tackle these problems, a government must have an honest and indisputable mandate.

“Where you have an administration whose mandate is considered tainted, such a government will lack sufficient moral authority to tackle the myriad of problems this great nation currently faces.

“I conclude by saying that I do not believe in blaming. Leadership must be solution-oriented, not blame focused. This is why I proffer this patriotic advice. Nigeria must be great again and all hands must be on deck to achieve that”.

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