Former President of Nigeria Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has advocated for the establishment of Electoral Offences Commission in Nigeria to curb the menace of various degrees of electoral frauds in the countries.
The former President made the call when he featured at the 4th edition of the Osasu Show Symposium, themed ‘Rethinking Africa. The Symposium is an annual event hosted by the Founder/CEO of TOSTV Network, Chief Miss Osasu Igbinedion.
The former President who also governed Bayelsa state while speaking on the role of democracy, electoral reforms on the continent of Africa and the power of the people in rethinking Africa said the committee he chaired while he was the Vice President during the then President Umar Musa Yar’dua administration political reforms recommended the establishment of Electoral Offences Commission to punish people who commit offences during elections in Nigeria.
He said, “I am delighted to participate in this 4th edition of the Osasu Show Symposium. I believe this conversation is critical and relevant considering the adjustments to the new normal. Of course you recollect that since I left office, I have been involved in consolidating democracy across the continent of Africa. I have been leading a number of election observation missions in countries that have elections and this is a topic that is dear to me, because the whole world want development, African nations want development and for you to development as a nation, governance structure is critical, who manages the affairs of the states, who manages the affairs of the nation and in democratic setting, those who are elected, it is very critical that you elect the right persons
“The topic talks about democracy, electoral reforms and power to the people. Just like in Nigeria, people are proposing for the establishment of Electoral Offences Commission and the committee that I chaired when I was the Vice President during Yar’dua’s political reforms made that recommendation that people who commit offences during elections should be punished.
“Rather what we have is, immediately the election results are declared, they appoint tribunals and the tribunals take decision and it ends there, while will it end there?
“People have committed electoral offences, there should be special department of government to take over because some of the electoral offences are committed by the police and it is difficult for the police to investigate themselves and that is why you need a department of government that will not participate in the management of the elections but the take charge of managing the fallouts from the elections.
“Immediately election results are declared and they appoint tribunals and the tribunals take decision it ends there. Why will it end there? People have committed electoral offences, there should be special department of government to take over because some of the electoral offences are committed by the police and it is difficult for the police to investigate themselves and that is why you need a department of government that will not participate in the management of the elections but the take charge of managing the fallouts from the elections.
“So when people commit electoral offences during elections, it is not all about wining or loosing but there must be a follow-up, proper investigation so that people are punished for offences committed and if that is done over a period of time, we will now begin to develop a clear conscience for democracy because democracy is all about how people live their lives.
“When we develop to that level it becomes part of our culture, then you can say Africa is moving forward democratically”, he said.
He called on African leaders to ensure that the electoral umpires are made up of men and women of credible characters and for the security agencies to be neutral rather than being partisan
“And of course the electoral management body must be made up of men and women that are credible enough not to listen to people who influence society either from government or outside the government.
“And also security operatives that manage the election must also be neutral and by not playing politics with their jobs.
“Electoral reforms must go in these direction and there must be severe punishment to be given to electoral offenders”, he said.