By Sodiq Omolaoye
Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, yesterday, expressed concern about happenings in the political space, saying he has a lot of fears about the outcome of the 2023 general elections.
The former vice chancellor of Bayero University, Kano (BUK), however, expressed optimism that the nation will pull through current challenges and have a successful poll.
Jega stated this in an interview with journalists at a colloquium in honour of Senior Fellow of Centre of Democracy Development (CDD), Prof. Adele Jinadu, on his 79th birthday celebration, with the theme, ‘Adele Jinadu and Electoral Democracy in Nigeria: Knowledge Production and Praxis’, organised by the Electoral Hub, in Abuja.
He said: “I have a lot of fears about the outcome of the election. But you see, people like me are what I call an incurable optimists about the future of our country.
“So, I remain hopeful that in spite of the recklessness that we see, in spite of the vandalism that we see perpetrated by many of our so-called leading politicians, we are hopeful that people will mobilise and become effectively engaged in the electoral process so that we have a good outcome in 2023.
“We can’t give up hope. We still have to engage because the more we engage, the more the possibility of change happening.”
Jega, who described Jinadu as a beacon of hope for the next generation, passionate about the need to reform Nigeria’s electoral process, stressed the need for academics to participate actively in politics for the progress and development of the country.
Noting that Nigeria is at a very critical junction when the promises of democratic development are being systemically undermined and eroded, Jega said the nation is in need of good and knowledgeable people who believe in humanity to address the fundamental needs of the people.
Jega added: “He is not just a professor that busies himself and buries his head in the university system but he is also very active, in any institutional or organisational platform that can enable him to share his knowledge and experience to reform our politics, to clean up our electoral system, and ensure that we have good governance in this country.”
On his part, Jinadu stressed the need to take action to unlock heavy fetters placed on democracy and development by the political class, the country’s party system, and the frightening loss of direction in the nation’s pro-democracy civil society organisations.
He expressed concern over the growing vicious attempt to discredit the leadership of INEC to bring about reversals of advances made under Jega and current INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.
He said: “It must be realised that INEC is not the enemy of democracy but those who are afraid of INEC’s daring attempt to routinise electoral integrity as the core of our country’s electoral process and electoral governance and whom we must expose for their diversionary tactics to shift attention from their undemocratic, unpatriotic agenda.”
Director, The Electoral Hub, Princess Hamman-Obels, described Jinadu as an icon of democracy who worked tirelessly in reforming the nation’s electoral integrity.
Source: Guardian Newspapers