…Says Elite Consensus Is Way Forward
A former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Attahiru Jega, says the electoral umpire owes Nigerians an explanation regarding the failure of the commission’s Result Viewing Portal (IReV) and the Bimodal Voter Registration Systems (BVAS) during the 2023 general elections.
The political scientist spoke on Inside Sources with Laolu Akande aired on Channels Television on Friday.
The former Vice-Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano, blamed desperate politicians for allegedly infiltrating the two technological systems introduced by INEC for the accreditation and electronic transmission of votes in the last general elections.
At the February 2023 presidential and National Assembly polls, opposition parties complained bitterly that INEC officials at the polling units were unable to upload election results electronically to the IReV, as stipulated by Section 60 of the Electoral Act 2022. The parties kicked against the manual collation of results and the announcement of winners in the polls.
The electoral body acknowledged that certain glitches made real-time transmission of results impossible and promised to fix the situation but opposition parties approached the courts and challenge the victory of Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who was declared winner of the presidential election. Tinubu later won at the tribunal and at the Supreme Court.
Jega said though INEC meant well, some politicians circumvented the whole IReV and BVAS systems.
He said, “In 2023, INEC did its best under very difficult circumstances and a lot of these difficult circumstances were caused by the mindset of our selfish politicians who wanted to win by hook or by crook.
“INEC has overtime introduced technology to make the process of election results very transparent with integrity but from my own experience when I was in INEC from 2011 to 2015, and I suspect that a lot of that has continued to be so up to 2023, our reckless politicians try to be a step ahead of INEC; if you introduce something today and you try it, they try to be a step ahead of you and beat it by the next election. And of course, they can also use ways and means to not only truncate but to also bypass something that has actually been put legitimately in order to add to the integrity of the process.
“If you ask my opinion, I feel very strongly that INEC needs to tell us more about what happened with the IReV. In fact, at one point, I was even calling for a thorough public inquiry about what happened with regards to IReV. I feel that something has happened, that in spite of the confidence and the very articulate manner the INEC chairman (Mahmood Yakubu) had spoken about the IReV and it then failed.
“I believe that some of our reckless politicians may have infiltrated it and truncated it but INEC will take the blame for that.
According to him, once the cases in court are resolved, we need to go back to the bottom of what happened with the IReV.
‘Elite Consensus Is Way Forward’
Meanwhile, Jega also said emphasised the need for elite consensus to achieve reasonable development in Nigeria.
He said, “The structure of the Federation leaves much to be desired and it needs to be improved upon. If you compare Nigeria as a Federation with other Federations in the world, you can see remarkable difference which if they are not addressed, will continue to push us in the direction identity politics, increased mutual suspicions and undermine governance
“Also, we will need a consensus with regards how to address economic issues whether it is the issue of addressing poverty, increasing economic growth
“Regrettably, may be since 1999, we seem to lack the independence to develop economic growth without the guidance of the IMF and the World. You can listen to IMF, World Bank but at the end of it all, it must be what you think it is right for the development of the country, rather than just yielding to the pressure and arm-twisting to all the things that the World Bank and the IMF are known to do.”
He said elite consensus can be established through dialogue and institutions can be rallied to champion consensus on certain issues.
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