Former Independent National Election Commission (INEC) Chairman, Attahiru Jega, has warned that the National Assembly will turn Nigeria’s democracy into plutocracy.
“There are other things in the draft bill, for example, monetisation of politics, they have increased the threshold. They said to be a president; you can spend up to N2 billion on campaigns. To be a governor, you can spend up to N1 billion. To be a senator, you can spend up to N500 million, and this is extreme monetisation of politics,” the former INEC boss added. “These are other provisions that the members of the National Assembly need to consider and drastically reduce otherwise, or they will turn our democracy to plutocracy, which is government for the rich.”
Mr Jega also urged the National Assembly to review the draft bill that allows the extreme monetisation of politics in Nigeria, allowing only the rich to participate in politics.
He said this on the sideline of the ongoing ECOWAS Parliament’s High-level Seminar on Thursday in Winneba, Ghana.
The seminar themed ‘Two Decades of Democratic Elections in ECOWAS Member States: Achievements, Challenges, Challenges and the Way Forward’ seeks to proffer solutions to electoral inconsistencies in ECOWAS member states.
Mr Jega, who commended the bill’s passage by the National Assembly, which now gives INEC power to transmit results electronically, said it was a positive development ahead of the 2023 elections.
He added that it was one of the legal frameworks that would guarantee credible elections in the country.
“I have no doubt that Nigeria has the competence and capacity to deeply electronic transmission of results. Since 2012, INEC has been piloting an electronic transmission of result system with robust software, with robust security, and they have piloted it in many elections,” added the former INEC chair. “I am happy now that the National Assembly has agreed for this to be done and has created the legal framework. One of the major areas where fraud takes place in the elections of Nigeria is in the transmission of results manually.”
He explained that electronic transmission of results would wipe this out from the polling units to the ward to the constituency level.
Mr Jega also urged Nigerians to trust the new process, adding that it is wrong to assume that results will not be accurately transmitted without 100 per cent network coverage.
According to him, even developed countries are sometimes confronted with the challenge of a poor network, but once 70 per cent of results can be transmitted electronically, “it is a pass.”
“It is wrong to assume that if you cannot have 100 per cent internet coverage, then you cannot do electronic transmission of results. Who says so?” Mr Jega added. “If you can do it in 80 per cent of the polling units, or even 70 per cent, it is still an A and you will have eliminated fraud in 70 per cent or 80 per cent of the polling units in terms of transmission.
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