A former Presidential Candidate and a Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim has canvassed a further reform of the Electoral Act that will address the recruitment of the leadership of the nation’s electoral umpire, the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC and make it truly “independent” of “external control and influence” before the 2027 election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was established by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to among other things organize elections into various political offices in the country.
The functions of INEC as contained in Section 15, Part 1 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended) and Section 2 of the Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended)
Speaking to newsmen in Abuja on Monday, Olawepo-Hashim recommended that the position of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and National Commissioners should be advertised and not appointed by the President.
He also stressed the fact that the Electoral Act should put the onus of proof of the conduct of credible election on INEC and not on the petitioner.
He revealed that during the military regimes, he and other activists fought for a truly independent INEC, the positions should be advertised, while the National Judicial Service Commission (NJSC) should be the collation agency, independent of the Executive.
According to him, “In 1999, we won the election on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). But who were those that asked for an independent electoral commission? We were the ones . We were not behaving like people who were sure they were going to get power, because we were believers in democracy.
“So, Nigerians need believers in democracy across parties to survive, not APC and PDP. This is beyond APC, PDP. If we don’t ‘sort out’ the electoral system right now, and not six months to election, or one year, the 2027 election is going to be war. Nobody will be going to court. So, we don’t want that now.
” Nigeria need statesmen not politicians. We don’t need politicians in the drivers seats of the reform of our state institutions. We need statesmen to speak up.
Olawepo-Hashim maintained that the “issue of electoral reform is not the business for the opposition alone. It is the business for everyone who loves Nigeria because if we don’t reform the process,
and election can’t be delivered credibly, 2027 will be war.”
He added: “We have to rescue the democratic process because it is becoming meaningless . Why are we having coup d’etat all over Africa? Because people did not see any content in what we call democracy.”
According to Olawepo-Hashim “I know that people have their expectations in the judiciary but judges adjudicate based on law and evidence and the truth of the matter is that the Electoral Act has skewed the balance in favour of the winner of the election and the man who organized the election.”