The presidential candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Professor Kingsley Moghalu, has called for a reform of the electoral system in Nigeria for the citizens to believe in the nation’s democracy.
The former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) made the call while delivering the 2019 Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of Nigeria Ltd’s Nigerian independence anniversary lecture.
Moghalu who described electoral reform as Nigeria’s “job number one” said our record as a democracy in which the will of the people determines electoral ones is a sorry one.
While noting that Nigeria’s elections since 1999 have been trailed by a culture of rigging, electoral violence, voter intimidation, and more recently, direct vote-buying, he said Nigerians are losing faith in the electoral process because they believe, with the significant justification that their votes do not and will not count.
“To quote the Russian dictator, Josef Stalin in the early 20th century, “It is not those who vote that count, but those that count the votes”. It is no surprise that voter apathy is high.
“A total of 84 million people were registered to vote in the 2019 elections. Only 27 million people voted. Given the generally poor performance of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which as confirmed by the reports of independent election monitors was a retrogression from that of the 2015 elections, we are likely to see even worse levels of citizen and voter apathy in the 2023 elections without fundamental electoral reforms.”
Moghalu who stated that Nigeria is simply not practising real democracy said Without electoral reform good and competent leaders won’t be elected because broadly corrupt and governance-incompetent politicians who have captured the system will continue to emerge as elected leaders.
What are the reforms needed?
“Nigeria cannot attain real development on this trajectory. We need reforms in four major areas. First, the whole process of registering to vote and voting is onerous and burdensome. Voter registration and voting must be made easier for citizens.
“Second, we need to create an informed, educated electorate in order to achieve better electoral outcomes. Illiterate and poor citizens form the bulk of voters in Nigeria.
We cannot expect them to assess political parties and candidates in an independent and informed manner. The result is that they vote for the same parties and politicians that have kept them poor.
“Here, I must note that our educated elite and professionals are the most politically apathetic citizens. This must change. Your personal success is increasingly meaningless in a sea of kidnapping, killer herdsmen, poverty and unemployment. We cannot permanently fence out the poor and desperate from our high walls and gated mansions.
“Third, the voting and collation of results must be made more transparent. There is too much room for the fabrication of voting results under our current electoral system. The best answer is electronic/ digital voting, backed up with blockchain technology to manage the risks peculiar to this approach.
“Fourth, INEC as an institution, and the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act needs to be amended and brought into alignment. The independence of INEC needs to be guaranteed by removing the power to appoint the Chairman and Commissioners of the Commission from the President, and placed in the hands of a judicial body such as the National Judicial Council,” Moghalu said.
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